Welcome to another 10K Club Interview. Today we meet 18-year-old Axelford and his MATA NUI RISES [BIONICLE TRIBUTE SET]. Bionicle fans are sure to rejoice at seeing this theme in the 10K Club. Let Axeflord know if you love it, too!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
Wellington, New Zealand.
- How old are you?
Eighteen, still a TFOL!
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am studying Architectural Design at WelTec Whitireia and will be finishing that at the end of this year.
- What hobbies do you have?
Well, LEGO building, of course! But also tramping (hiking), Minecraft, drawing, painting, reading, urban exploring, snorkelling and some other hobbies such as stamp collecting and model aircrafts which I sadly don’t have the time for anymore.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
Yes, I only started using Flickr recently so I do not have many MOCs posted there but I intend on adding many more!
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
I recently built a fellow named “Dwayne 'The Croc' Johnson” which I am quite happy with, as I hadn’t built anything in months and the build makes me chuckle.
- How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
Right from before I was born, my parents had cached sets for me, I went straight to LEGO bricks, no Duplo bricks! My first sets were a Dino Attack Buggy and a Police Car with a speed camera. I always liked spaceships, construction and vehicles so Themes such as Mars Mission, Power Miners and Atlantis were right up my alley. I was also the first grandchild so my grandma got down all my mum’s LEGO sets from the attic. She’s very tech savvy so she made a Bricklink account in 2005 and thus from an early age I would browse the catalogue, work to complete sets or order some random parts I liked such as spiders and BURPs!
- What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
In recent years it has been hard to make the time because of school and other hobbies competing for my attention. However, I think I would say LEGO building is a therapeutic pastime for me; it’s fun finding new ways to use a piece or enjoy those ‘ah ha!' moments when a build comes together. Just collecting sets too, is fun.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
Classic Space - I love the cool, sometimes silly designs and the focus on exploration and science rather than conflict. I like that there is a lot of variation of styles and techniques throughout its run. It has shaped my preference for science fiction builds and themes. Although there are a lot of other themes such as Bionicle that have influenced my building preferences much more in recent times.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
Oh, that is too difficult! Some favourites off the top of my head are the Thunder Driller, Sonic Boom, Gadunka and the Saturn V.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Part 52 (29377, 30385 and 28623), Crystal 5 point. It’s not a particularly versatile piece, often being used simply for its intended purpose, as a crystal. And you know what? I love that! I like that nearly 30 years on, its design still looks modern and it comes in so many colours, it really is a gem.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I don’t often think about it, but the LEGO Creator Designer videos were very inspirational at a pivotal time for me, some designers I remember are Astrid, Jamie and Lami. I think that Nick Vas’ work, such as the Bonsai, is very inspirational and I liked to see his insights into sketching models and alternative ideas. As to fan designers…where to begin! As a Classic Space fan, I think I have to say Mark Stafford and Peter Reid have been very inspirational. I would be here all day if I listed every person who has inspired me!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I visit TTV Message Boards daily, which is a Bionicle fan site. However, anything LEGO-related or nerdy is discussed. I’ve also been using Flickr more recently and it’s fun looking through new and very old builds.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
The short animation posted in 2008 on the LEGO website, showing Mata Nui bursting out of the Island. I was quite young and the scale of it all, with the plates of rusty metal falling in slow-motion was very memorable and very mysterious. When I finally became more seriously interested in Bionicle, I was drawn to the design of The Mata Nui Robot as I liked the lanky proportions and ancient mechanical look. Closer to the 20th anniversary of the worldwide release of Bionicle, I felt that Mata Nui would be a fitting build to celebrate. I checked what LEGO builds had been made and I felt that none quite captured what I could see in the design. So I took the plunge.
- How long was the process of making the project, and what did you have to research as well? What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
The design process was live at the same time I was building over the three months in 2020. I made heavy use of a front elevation view that Christian Faber published. I would have half my screen on that and half on Studio and I would literally get out a ruler, place it on the screen and check I was getting the proportions right across the two. There are about three digital models out there to go off, so there were some differences across them, as well as the comic book appearance. I tried to take elements from all. Another thing I did was print out the pictures and draw on them, writing down possible pieces that would work on the model.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
As mentioned before, losing the progress I had was difficult, as well as learning a new program (Studio). Digital building is cool but a lot of aspects that are easy in real life are hard in it, such as flexible tubes or other parts not connecting when they should! The most difficult part to nail was the face. I did not get it right the first time and revising it to be buildable in available colours and more accurately was very hard. Also, the geometry in the waist pistons and spine was quite hard to get right.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell them? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I would tell myself, you can do it! I would also say: Polish the face design more before publishing it. That is the face many people saw and it was far from perfect; it potentially put off people from supporting. I would also tell myself: Do not announce an update or promise anything unless you’ve actually got an update ready, aim for smaller goals. I would finally say: Don’t worry, the Bionicle community is here for you and they do want to see your project succeed!
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
The design process started sometime in 2019. I started with the head, as I felt I needed to capture the details of that, and then it would set the scale. I then started making the torso and got stuck. Then the computer the model was on stopped working. So, I forgot about it and shelved the project until October 2020. I then suddenly told myself I was going to restart and finish it all by the year's end. By January 1st 2021, it was done! So technically the process took 2 years however the actual build was only 3 months, which is quite short compared to the one and a half years this took to reach 10k.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I was in class when it happened… let’s just say I was not on task that day! I kept refreshing the tab whilst trying to cram in an update I had put off for months. In the end, I ran out of time for that update by only a few minutes but the feeling that this project I’ve worked on for nearly four years was now “safe” and had achieved its goal was unreal. This project has been with me through the end of high school and now has reached the goal as I am nearing finishing my qualifications! It’s been through the pandemic with me as well, so much has happened during its one-and-a-half-year journey and I’m sure a lot who have made projects over this time would say the same.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The first version was around 2077 pieces (I had aimed for 2001, the year Bionicle was released globally) and the latest version is 2149 parts.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The knees were the first bit I built when restarting the model and I’m very happy with the design there. Also, the spine (which Studio insists there is clipping on!) has some 4274 pins threaded along the flextube, with wheels on top which I like the look of. But again, the head and the face itself is my favourite, I used a piece I never had before: part 35480, which finally made it work.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I ended up only using one print, a sign saying “BIONICLE,” I found the font that the original logo was reverse-engineered from and stretched it a bit to get it close to the original.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Build something you like, ideally, something you suspect other people will like too. Make an eye-catching cover image and get in contact with people who can advertise it better than you can, such as big names in whatever community is interested in the subject matter. Other than that I’m not so sure!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support for your Product Idea?
I started by posting it on fansites I knew about (in hindsight there were many I missed). More often than not, my posts were ignored. However, friends and strangers promoted it in communities they were already established in and they had much more success. So, think about how you will advertise your project even before you’ve made it and check where you can go to.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
I love ABStract’s aircraft Ideas, such as their Piper J-3 Cub. I’m also supporting several Ideas in the very same review as me. I think some overlooked ideas are: Bionicle: Head Statue by yannickbuildsthings, needs more love, it has just reached 5k and would be a great desktop decoration. Another is Bionicle - Toa Tahu Awakens, which captures the character of Tahu along with his ‘Nuva’ version, really well. There are many more I could mention - check out who I’m supporting to see what other projects I like.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I built my creation and sort of felt like I wanted to share it and figured I might as well be “in-to-win” so to speak, by entering. When I first heard about LEGO Cuusoo as Ideas was known back then, I thought it was so cool that a fan could get their build made into a set and wanted to try it myself.
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint of what that might be?
A friend suggested another Bionicle idea… I’ll see how this entry does before deciding to commit to it or not. Also, I love trains and so I think an NZR one might be a future project for me.
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