In today's 10K Club Interview, we introduce new 10k Club member Marcin, known as SleeplessNight. Marcin is a great fan of historical architecture and so he committed to bringing back the castle theme to LEGO. He will tell you more about himself and his creation Castle Of Lord AFOL And The Black Knights.
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I have a job all about letters and numbers, that allows absolutely no room for artistic expression.
- What hobbies do you have?
Recently my only hobbies are my kids, books, and LEGO bricks. I also have some interest in photography. A few years ago I drew a lot, hiked, went on long bike tours, and practiced other sports. Well, I need to get back to this...
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
You’re welcome to visit my pages on Flickr: https://flickr.com/photos/marcindski/
and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lego_sleepless_night/
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
I’m never fully satisfied with my creations and in hindsight, I always see lots of things to improve in each of them. On the other hand, before I finish one project, I already have ideas for five more in my head. As a result, lots of work-in-progress projects tumble around my desk (and my disk) and it makes me pretty proud of whatever project I actually manage to finish.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
The first time was obviously when I was a kid, about 8 years old. At that time LEGO was one of the symbols of western wealth and luxury in my communist homeland. So I felt one of the chosen few when my auntie bought me a LEGO gas station for the astronomical amount of 25 illegally acquired US dollars. After the fall of communism, life got a bit easier and I got lots of LEGO sets, but mostly small ones. I was building city layouts (on four baseplates) or huge castles (on one baseplate) out of bricks from all my Castle, Pirate and City set.
I rediscovered LEGO some five to six years ago. At that time I found the whole collection of my old bricks at my grandma’s place. I was also establishing a family and I became curious what the modern LEGO offering looked like. Then I saw the Modulars - and you got me!
- What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons.
For me, it’s a means of artistic expression and a great way to train the brain. It’s something to show and talk about on social media. It’s the one thing that reliably keeps kids away from TV in the wintertime. It’s also something for my beloved wife to frown upon, whenever she finds it in yet another unlikely place.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
My favourite themes have always been Pirates and Castle. I think it’s because of all the tales of knights, robbers, and pirates that we all heard in our early years.
Modular Buildings, on the other hand, have set my current standard of MOC design quality. I love the balance of realism and playability that they present while keeping the size and part count within reason.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Since I was a kid, many new interesting molds appeared, that made lots of interesting new techniques possible – real game-changers! The 1x1 round plate with a hole is the first that comes to my mind. Now I’m waiting for a 1x1 plate with studs on both sides!
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
If I have to call just one, it will be Paoko Sanchez. He is not only the original author of the new Barracuda but he also submitted dozens of other fantastic projects to LEGO Ideas that never failed to impress me.
There are however many LEGO Ideas authors and MOC designers that do absolutely awesome work.
Among the official LEGO designers, I’m very impressed by the work that the Ninjago design team does, even though Ninjago is not my favourite theme.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I follow many MOC designers on Instagram and Flickr, and I participate in many LEGO-related groups on Facebook. There are also a few “utility” websites that I visit very often, like bricklink.com, brickset.com, and rebrickable.com.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
The story is a bit weird. I was experimenting with LEGO maths, in particular using Pythagorean triples. As my kids were a bit too small for LEGO at that time, I put my bricks in a closet and started using LDD. I created a fun model of a castle. And then I went to the LEGO Ideas website and found out about “Castle in the Forest” by poVoq, which was just about to achieve 10k votes. I voted for it immediately. But then unfortunately it got rejected. On the other hand, the Barracuda was accepted for production around the same time and I thought it was only logical to have a castle released under LEGO Ideas as well. People definitely were (and still are) waiting for it. So I thought maybe I could go for it? I evaluated my first model but it didn’t feel suitable, so I decided to make another one. I tried to include all elements essential to a castle – a courtyard, curtain walls, a keep, stables, a gate tower. I also wanted to pack some play features as well as references to the golden era of LEGO Castle. And to add some twist to it all, I also used angled sections based on Pythagorean triples, which I practiced in the previous project. That’s how Lord Afol’s Castle was born.
- 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?
The project took me around two months to complete. As it does not depict any real-life object, I didn’t have to do much research. Of course, I was looking for inspiration for some details in both real-life castles and countless LEGO creations around.
As for the phases, there were at least three iterations of the project – I just had to start everything from scratch twice, because there was no way to finish the build within the 3000 bricks limits imposed by LEGO Ideas.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
So the greatest challenge was definitely to fit within the limit of 3000 bricks. While I had lots of ideas about what to include in this project, it quickly became apparent that real design decisions will be about what to reject. I needed to decide what was essential. And so I had to reject: floor tiling, elaborate roofs, fancy furniture, a secret passage, and a few other play features.
I had to use panel pieces to keep the part count down. But interestingly enough, it turned out that printed panels work really well in conjunction with more modern wall texture techniques. Many people commented on how they liked this old-new look!
Another challenge was to stop refining and actually finish the project.
The most difficult part of the build and one that still needs fixes is the gate tower with the portcullis and the drawbridge.
- 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 just tell myself that it’s actually gonna make it to the review phase!
On second thought, I would also tell myself that there’s a nice option in Bricklink Studio to display only available colors for a given brick – and for grey bricks, in particular, it can be a good hint that the brick in question is out of production for three decades.
- 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?
I think it took over 100 hours over the course of two months to complete the model. It’s pretty likely that all promotional effort took even more time because it included making many alternate versions of the model, like the winter version, Halloween version, gingerbread castle, and so on.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It took seven months, and it was enough to cool the initial enthusiasm. So when the fight was finally over, it was mostly just a relief.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The angled sections in the opposite corners of the build, based on two different Pythagorean triangles are probably the most distinctive feature of this build.
I’m also quite happy about the trapdoors.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I used Bricklink Studio for both building and rendering. Then I enhanced the renderings in a few different graphic programs.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I wanted as much vintage LEGO to feel as possible, so I thought it was okay to stay with the original old LEGO patterns.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
My advice is: put some heart into it! Make it stand out. Ask yourself (and your friends) if your presentation actually draws attention in a positive way. Once you have your project submitted, advertise it, because people won’t vote for a project if they don’t know about its existence.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I posted to multiple LEGO-related groups on Facebook. I also submitted some images to Flickr and Instagram. To keep it interesting as I didn’t want to spam groups with the same stuff all over again, I started creating multiple scenes around the castle. I hope they were fun to watch on their own but they also advertised the project. Making them was also a lot of fun for me although it took plenty of time!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
Among the released projects, my favourite is the Barracuda, as you might have already found out, but I really like (and have bought) some others too.
Now as I look at all the projects that achieved 10k, I find them all so cool! Apparently, it really takes a good design to get that far. So it’s great news that projects not approved for Ideas may get another chance in Bricklink AFOL Designer Program. I really hope it will work out well.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you?
LEGO Ideas is a great place to see some great LEGO designs. I may be most interested in Castle and Pirates and this is what I see when I visit my groups on Facebook. But when I go to LEGO Ideas I can see things that I would have never thought about otherwise, like the hilarious Wallace and Gromit by Tom Gerardin – well, the fresh ideas.
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
I have a few concepts but it’s top secret :D
- castle theme
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