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10K Club Interview: Meet Matthew Nolan and Valerie Roche of SpaceX - The Ultimate Collection

For this 10K Club interview, we feature Matthew Nolan and Valerie Roche (whatsuptoday). A love of space exploration brought these two seasoned builders from opposite sides of the planet together to propose the incredible SpaceX - The Ultimate Collection. Read about Matthew and Valerie, in their own words.


About Yourself

  1. Where are you from?
    Valerie: Paris France.
    Matthew: Sydney Australia.
  2. How old are you?
    Valerie: 50 years old on 29th September ;-)
    Matthew: 46 
  3. What do you study or do for a living?
    I have a professional activity in the French TV field.
    Matthew: I work in banking & finance.
  4. What hobbies do you have?
    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 creation with LEGO bricks since I discovered this wonderful software: LEGO Digital Designer ;-)
    Matthew: Spending time with my kids, movies, travel, camping, palentology, geneaology, and space, particuarly SpaceX and NASA.
  5. Do you have a personal portfolio website that you can share with us?
  6. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    Everything started about nine years 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 Lego.  I was very excited to have it reintroduced to my life 15 years ago when my kids became old enough.  It started with us building kits and when we had enough loose parts it evolved into MOCs, which have gradually become bigger and more complex.
  7. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    I do not have an official LEGO set preferred because I prefer to create my own original designs than assemble the bricks of an existing design :-( Nevertheless, I like the LEGO IDEAS set: WALL • E.
    Matthew: NASA Apollo Saturn V, so cleverly designed and a beautiful model.  I’ve never seen my kids so excited to build a kit!
  8. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    If I had to choose a LEGO element preferred, 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 what’s needed perfectly.
  9. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Yes, we have enormously appreciated the work of the 3 official LEGO designers: Carl Thomas Merriam, Michael Psiaki & Austin Williams Carlson, regarding the improvement and optimization of the NASA Apollo Saturn-V final design. They have done a remarkable job, pure genius!
  10. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by
    I find Bricklink 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: Bricklink – though if my partner asks, please be sure to tell her I haven’t ordered anything in ages! (editor's note: your secret's safe with us, Matthew).

About Your Project

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    Originally we considered doing the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), but switched to the Falcon 9 & Heavy as they were shapes that suited LEGO better and the Falcon Heavy’s first launch was only four months away at the time.  Once we finished, it was a natural progression to add the Tesla Roadster, Dragon Capsules and then the TEL for display.  We then completed other elements such as the transport tugs and cradle so that it would be the complete SpaceX collection.

  2. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate? 
    This was a collaborative project, but as the two designers we’ve never actually met or even spoken to each other.  We live on opposite sides of the world and speak different languages.  One of us designs using LDD, the other only uses bricks.  These challenges gave rise to using LEGO as our common language, which in our humble opinion made the end result even better!

    The most difficult part to recreate was the Stage 1 landing legs, we can’t wait to see what the expert designers at LEGO can do to further improve our model.

  3. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
    The creation of this model lasted approximately 6 months and had several key phases: 
    1. Firstly we did a big documenting job, finding all possible real world pictures and measurments.
    2. Then we converted the measurements to 1/110 scale, which we further converted into LEGO studs.
    3. Finally, we designed, redesigned and built many prototypes in LDD and real LEGO bricks over a four month period.
  4. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    We were overjoyed! It’s a great feeling after long days and nights of design and promotion devoted to this project :-)  To get 10,000 votes took six weeks.
  5. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    2216 LEGO bricks for the 5 Modules.

About LEGO Ideas

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Have your model at a finished standard and take great photos before entering it, as you can’t change the main picture that potential supporters will initially see.  Then promote it everywhere possible and engage with potential supporters, expecting that this may take much more time than the time spent designing and building it.
  2. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
    Valerie: I much like a LEGO IDEAS project from my friend Saabfan, which is the Fiat 500 F
    Matthew: Aside from the Saturn V, I really liked the Ship in a Bottle for its originality and the Old Fishing Store for exceptional design.
  3. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    LEGO IDEAS gives the possibility for anyone to present their LEGO design to a large number of fans, and have the chance for it to be turned into an official LEGO set….just amazing!

    Our advice is to simply start building your project for submission. Our first draft builds were often terrible, but with many rounds of refinement and feedback you can end up with something truly awesome.


  • lego ideas
  • 10k club
  • whatsuptoday
  • matthew nolan
  • spacex

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