Congratulations to MOCingbird the author of BASEMENT & SEWERAGE! Have you ever wondered where the wastewater from LEGO modular buildings goes? Or what would the basement under the LEGO building look like?
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- 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?
To me personally, MOCing is a process of creating (in the sense of inventing) rather than of designing, taking the "C" in "MOC" very literally. I’m always trying to find ideas that have never been built before rather than doing something differently that’s already known. At the same time the unique idea also has to have a high level of usefulness and visual appeal, just being unique won’t suffice. That’s why I’m very proud of BASEMENT & SEWERAGE as it incorporates all these qualities.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
Creator Expert and Ideas are the themes I like most. I don’t think any theme has really had a significant influence on my own creativity. But as for the creation of unique Ideas projects, I guess that is more of an advantage.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
LEGO Ideas Birds (21301). This set has proven that birds can actually succeed in the LEGO Ideas Review.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The red 2x4 brick. Because it’s not just a brick, it’s a symbol.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
LEGO Ideas fan designer manfredt has submitted several great projects that would deserve a lot more attention – from flying cars to animal skeletons, he’s got an amazing variety in his portfolio. I also really like the Ideas entries of grumblebricks, another very talented fan designer (and also an outstanding author by the way).
- Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I watch LEGO videos on YouTube a lot and I especially like Austrian LEGO YouTubers "Bricks Go WILD". Another personal recommendation is German channel "Brickstory".
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
The concept for this model spontaneously came to my mind when I was yet again thinking about new architecture or CITY-related ideas for LEGO fans no one had ever built before but lots of builders and collectors would like to have once they’d get to know about it. To my knowledge, the urban underground as a whole had not really been explored much yet in the LEGO universe – not only in terms of what is going on below the ground in a building, but also regarding the subterranean world of the rest of the city.
Thus I was asking myself questions like: Why does no Modular Building have a proper basement, while about every real house has one? What do you need those drainages on every Modular’s pavement for if the rainwater isn’t going anywhere from there? Why is there nothing going on beneath the baseplate of your LEGO CITY when there’s so much going on beneath in real life? Not only in terms of crucial infrastructure and people working underground but also regarding all kinds of funny and/or mysterious stories that could be happening there all the time. I instantly knew I could really make something of this idea. But I was also aware that the model had to be very attractive visually at first sight – and a cut-away view into a sewer seemed just like the perfect idea.
Since I wanted the model to be of use to as many LEGO fans as possible, I designed it to work as a stand-alone set and also as an underground extension for Modular Buildings and CITY layouts which have a lot of customization potential, too. Moreover, it was supposed to be for all ages, so I made sure it had a great display and play value at the same time.
- How long was the process of making the project did, 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?
From the initial idea to the finished Ideas model it took about half a year, I’d say. I took all the time I needed for every single room to look realistic and nicely detailed for display, while also keeping everything interesting and accessible for play. Most research I did on the sewerage section and on the equipment inside the mechanical room. After the original build was completed I built the model a second time from the ground up (thereby disassembling the first one) to see whether I still liked all the building decisions I had made on the first go. I changed what I didn’t like anymore after having seen the completed first version, and incorporated final enhancements here and there.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Creating the model itself never became frustrating at any point. But taking the pictures for the Ideas project page really gave me some headaches when I realized it was kind of impossible to capture the entirety of the model from just one perspective. Simply because it had TWO main views: One from the front and one from the top. In hindsight, I’m honestly thankful the cover image I had originally chosen for the project got rejected by the Ideas team on the first upload. Seriously, had the project been approved with this original main image, I think reaching 10K might never have happened.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I would hand myself a comprehensive list of sports scores for the months to come. What's the harm of a little info on the future - maybe I could place a couple of bets…
Kidding aside: Had I known back then which unexpected direction a large amount of the 10,000 supporters would be coming from, I’d have focused the promotion activities a bit differently from the beginning to get to 10K even faster. Right from the start the feedback and support by the LEGO community was fantastic as if a lot of LEGO fans had always been waiting for this model, though it was introducing a unique new idea – witnessing the community’s great open-mindedness for this completely new concept was a very pleasant experience. But what really surprised me: I also instantly received amazing feedback from a variety of occupational groups who were all able to relate to my model, each for their own reasons. Soon it became obvious that not only LEGO fans loved the model, but that I had also created kind of a must-have set for a lot of professionals working in jobs related to the underground infrastructure the sewerage part of my model reveals.
More and more professionals started commenting on the project on social media and the Ideas page after voting for it, saying they were so happy about the awareness and recognition their work received through my depiction of the sewerage. But not only sewer workers and professionals from the water/wastewater industry responded in such a positive way to the scene revealed by the front cut-away: Engineers and especially civil engineers told me how delighted they were to see this realistic looking sewerage infrastructure (designed by them in real life) in a LEGO model that could soon be standing on their office desks, and that would also be raising public awareness for their profession. Next were sewer rehabilitation experts, plumbers, and even architects and geologists. It really was like every single industry branch somehow involved in planning, designing, building, running, and maintaining this crucial part of the urban infrastructure was very pleased and thankful for finally seeing such a LEGO set paying tribute to their work. All the more because the model was also able to playfully educate kids about the related topics and all the important, but often "invisible" jobs involved.
- 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?
After a big British association for civil engineering professionals had published an article about my project in December 2020 the news about the model and the voting slowly started to spread on a lager scale within the different industries I mentioned above. It took a while but some months later a big wave of feedback and support by professionals from all over the globe then came in primarily via LinkedIn where the project got 2,000+ "Likes" and hundreds of comments on different posts – granting BASEMENT & SEWERAGE a phenomenal final sprint, eventually going from 9K to 10K votes in only 7 days.
Even now I’m still amazed at the number of enthusiastic reactions my project received on LinkedIn, revealing a high demand for the set from outside the LEGO community, too. I mean seeing big associations for civil engineering and the water/wastewater industry, big companies, organizations committed to the theme of "Water, Sanitation and Hygiene" (WASH) around the world, industry journals, renowned business leaders all posting about the project or leaving likes and comments – it was just kind of hard to grasp that they were actually talking about something I had built.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Reaching 10,000 votes took a little less than 11 months. It was a real roller coaster ride concerning the speed at which new supporters were coming in: While going from 8K to 10K in only 26 days was like flying with a jet pack, advancing from 4K to 6K felt like a debilitating march through the desert that lasted 134 days. I remember that long stretch as the most difficult part of the whole campaign. Thus reaching 6K and then 7K was almost as relieving as finally crossing the goal line.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
During the long building process described above, I at some point lost track of how many parts I had really used. The weight of the model including figures and items is 1890 grams. Piece count estimations by supporters and reviewers have ranged from 1900 to 2800 parts, based on the known weight. So I guess the actual count is somewhere in between.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The secret mechanism hidden in the basement wall for opening the Janitor’s trophy cabinet under the stairs is my favorite feature. It works so flawlessly and the stairs pop up so smoothly, I could be pushing that button all day long.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I can’t really give any general advice for creating a successful project. It all depends very much on the builder’s creative philosophy, style, favorite types of models, etc.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
As for tips it again depends a lot on the builder and the model. From my point of view, there’s no "recipe for success". What has worked for one project might totally fail for another one.
- 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?
I’ve created a new project already, it’s 100% complete including the description and all the pictures. According to my (extensive) research, it’s once again a unique idea. Something that has never been built before, but a lot of LEGO fans should like, I suppose. Yet for some reason I’m still on the fence about what to do with it and when.
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- product idea
- lego idea