10K Club Interview: Meet Matthew, Mark & Valerie of SpaceX BFR Starship & Super Heavy 1:110 Scale
Introducing Meet Matthew, Mark & Valerie. Who are they? They're the bright minds behind the SpaceX BFR Starship & Super Heavy 1110 Scale! Hear how they launched their design here.
And be make sure to congratulate Matthew, Mark and Valerie in the comments below too!
- Where are you from?
Mark: Wollongong, Australia
Valerie: Paris, France
Matthew: Sydney, Australia
- How old are you?
Mark: 18 years old
Valerie: 50 years old
Matthew: 47 years old
- What do you study or do for a living?
Mark: I am studying mechatronic engineering and computer science at the University of Wollongong.
Valerie: I work in the French TV industry.
Matthew: I work in banking & finance.
Image above: Mark, left. Matthew, right.
- What hobbies do you have?
Mark: Building and designing LEGO, 3D modelling and printing, modifying and painting Nerf blasters, VR (Beat Saber is my personal favourite for exercise), creating and programming solutions to small everyday problems and gaming
Valerie: My hobbies are much diversified. I love everything about nature, sea, mountain, science, space, photo and general culture. I like to create and invent. I love to travel and discover new horizons. I have become a fan of creating with LEGO bricks since I discovered this wonderful software: LEGO Digital Designer ;-)
Matthew: Spending time with my kids, movies, travel, camping, palaeontology, genealogy and space, particuarly SpaceX and NASA.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
Mark: I was raised on LEGO (after primo and DUPLO), and have been designing and building since a very young age.
Valerie: Everything started about ten years ago when my husband found a trunk containing his old LEGO bricks from the 70s, which has given us this family passion for LEGO.
Matthew: Some of my favourite memories as a kid are of playing with LEGO bricks. I was very excited to have it reintroduced to my life 15 years ago by my kids.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Mark: Hmmm. It's a tough choice. I'd say either the new UCS Millennium Falcon (75192) or the LEGO Ideas Saturn V (21309) by our own Valerie Roche, however the Star Wars imperial dropship (7667) from 2007 was one of my favorite sets growing up, and I still have its elusive shadow trooper displayed proudly on my shelf.
Valerie: I really like the new LEGO set: 10266-1 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander because it's a very accurate and clever model, well done to its designer :-)
Matthew: Saturn V, so cleverly designed and a beautiful model. I’ve never seen my kids so excited to build a kit!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Mark: Probably the EV3 programmable Brick, since I have used it to make many functional creations around my home.
Valerie: If I had to choose a preferred LEGO element, it would be: The 1X1 W, 4 KNOBS 4733 because, to create a new design, this brick is the center and also the ideal starting point. Also, it opens, in 3D vision, the creative space towards the maximum of directions, and it allows to be able to assemble elements together with their female sides, and one can then have studs on several sides ;-)
Matthew: The unusual or rare piece I’ve never seen before, that after much searching fits the need perfectly.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Mark: The official designer I look up to the most is definitely Jens from the LEGO Star Wars team, as for fan designers, it's tough to choose between Rebel Builder with his awesome scale ship models or madoca1977 for his amazing technicolor builds.
Valerie: The LEGO designer: Lars Joe Hylding for his remarkable work on NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander and of course the designers of the Saturn V rocket: Carl Merriam, Michael Psiaki & Austin Carlson, regarding the improvement and optimization of the LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn-V final design.
Matthew: I recently met Jens Kronvold Frederiksen after many years of admiring his Star Wars LEGO designs. Jens is a fantastic ambassador for LEGO and a wonderfull person to speak and share LEGO stories with!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Mark: rebrickable and the r/lego and r/afol subreddits are my primary sources of information and inspiration when designing new projects, however newelementary provides me with information on all the newest parts that I can use in builds.
Valerie: I find the Bricklink website very practical to acquire old or rare LEGO bricks and also, during the creation of a real LEGO brick model, it offers us the possibility of knowing if these bricks will be available and at what price, in the contrary case, to be able to change these bricks for available others.
Matthew: Aside from Bricklink, I enjoy seeing the designs on EuroBricks, BrickVault and Brothers Brick.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Mark: Ever since Elon Musk's 2016 presentation on the ITS, I was inspired by the idea that in my lifetime, a completely reusable rocket would be able to take us to Mars, colonise it, and be affordable enough for everyday people like me to go at some point. It just seemed revolutionary.
Valerie & Matthew: Originally we considered doing the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), but switched to the Falcon Heavy as it’s shape suited LEGO better and its first launch was only four months away at the time. Once we finished, it was a natural progression to the BFR which was renamed Starship-Super Heavy by this time as its design had also changed making it more suitable for building in LEGO.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Getting the design to be truly circular and exactly to scale took the longest to perfect, with our final design needing a 1/4 of a plate thickness of offset to get the tiles in the right spot in order to bring it to exactly 1:110 scale with the real rocket. However the most technically complex part is definitely the engine assembly on the bottom of the first stage.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
The initial design didn’t take us too long, probably a couple months, however throughout the design process the real life design kept changing, including a complete change in materials from carbon composite to stainless steel, which required us to rebuild the entire outside of the rocket from white to silver.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It felt amazing to have collaborated in another 10,000 supporter LEGO Ideas project, being the “Community Approved” Starship - Super Heavy means so much to us.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
2345 bricks for the complete set including Starship, Super Heavy, 3 Microfigures, stand and display panel. The 1/110 rocket measures 107.2 cm high and has a diameter of 8.18 cm.
About LEGO Ideas
- This is your second 10K project. What’s the secret formula to your success?
Definitely a lot of work to make it exacting and include all real world details, creating it in real LEGO bricks with decals, and then lot of updates on the modeland tonnes of promotion!
- What is it about the LEGO Ideas platform that attracts you and makes you want to keep posting new projects?
The idea of crowdsourcing a design and having it made into a real LEGO set that can be on store shelves just seems awesome, and the chance to have that would be amazing.
- Are you already planning further projects?
Yes, of course - maybe a new rocket but it’s still now top secret ;-)
- Which upcoming LEGO Ideas set are you looking most forward to?
The future ISS LEGO Ideas project, of course!