10K Club Interview: Introducing Ryan Harris of SpaceX Falcon 9 (Saturn V Scale)
Time to say hellow to Ryan Harris (aka Lego_Aviator on LEGO Ideas), this week's 10K Club member who rocketed his way into the review with his SpaceX Falcon 9 (Saturn V Scale) creation! Strap in and enjoy the interview with Ryan, who tells all about his creation. Please be sure to congratulate him in the comments below too!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
- How old are you?
I am 34 years old.
- What do you do for a living?
I work as the Chief Pilot at a pipeline surveillance company.
- What hobbies do you have?
Most of my free time is spent on building with Lego and working on activities with my LUG but I also enjoy skiing, playing board games with friends, occasional gaming, and traveling with my wife.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I sure do, I have an Instagram account and a Flickr page.
- 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 am most proud of my model of a Canadian National Railways ES44DC locomotive that I completed in 2019. When it comes to LEGOI find myself mostly building scale models of real life items, usually vehicles, and with this model I feel very satisfied that I captured a great deal of detail while working in a restricted scale.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I have been a LEGO fan for as long as I can remember, I really cant pinpoint when I received my first set but I do know that it was likely the 6940-1: Alien Moon Stalker! Which was released the year after I was born and I still have! I think my true love of LEGO really developed around the age of 6-10 though when I recall building my first MOC’s, usually airplanes with which my brother and I put on “Airshows” for our family!
- 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.
To me LEGO is a way of relaxing and taking my mind off of everyday life, more than just a hobby, it gives me a chance to destress while I focus on the problems presented with my build. I have recently begun attending AFOL conventions and am a member of my local LUG which are both terrific ways of sharing my passion for LEGO and learning from my fellow builders.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
I think the one that I’d label as my favourite is the Architecture series. I have quite an extensive collection from that line and I look forward to the new releases every year. The theme fits very nicely with my love of travel and architecture and I love to have the models of places I have been. In terms of influencing my building style though I would say the creator expert line, those sets are jam packed with great building techniques and creative parts usage.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
I’d have to go with the LEGO Ideas Saturn V. The set does such a fantastic job of representing so many little details of that iconic spacecraft. Not to mention the plethora of creative building techniques!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favourite element is the Headlight brick (4070), The geometry of this element really allows a builder to make very small changes in depth during SNOT construction which allows you to add interesting panels and relief details to models.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
In terms of an official designer, Mike Psiaki. I was lucky enough to discover his builds on Flickr years ago and they really inspired me to reach for more detail and push my builds to the next level. The 10265 Ford Mustang is very high on my list of favourite sets! I also can't let this question pass without mentioning fan designer Ralph Savelsberg (Mad Physicist) whose aircraft builds single handedly brought me out of my dark ages!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I have found a great deal of inspiration by searching for LEGO on Flickr, the image quality is usually very high and there are many terrific groups that you can follow for a steady stream of high quality builds from which to get ideas!
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I’m a big space nerd and so I have been following SpaceX since the early days of the Falcon 9’s development. When the Saturn V set was released it triggered the thought of how amazing it would be to have an entire collection of LEGO rocket models on my shelf! So I got to work on a LEGO model of what I believe to be the most remarkable advancement in rocketry in decades!
^ Ryan building in a sea of LEGO bricks back in the early 1990's
- 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?
Once I had the idea, I checked to see what others had done before me. I found that I was certainly not the first one to build a Falcon 9 but I noticed that a lot of previous attempts really lacked the level of detail that I wanted to achieve. The next step was to find reference photos and technical details of the real thing so that I would know the important features to include in my model. After that it was getting down to building, I prefer to build physically rather than digitally so my method is to sit down and start putting bricks together until I find the technique that works. Sometimes this takes me dozens of attempts at a portion of my model before i get it right.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Easily the hardest area to recreate was the “Octoweb” which is the cluster of 9 engines on the bottom of the first stage. The engines are mounted in a very unique pattern and it took me many tries to be happy with my recreation. Also, the scale of my project was an area of frustration as I built my original submission to be as close to 1:110 scale as possible to match the Saturn V set. I received a lot of feedback from the community that I had made too many compromises in scale to add the details I wanted so when I did a second version, I changed to 1:84 scale which makes the model far more proportional.
- 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 wouldn’t tell myself anything actually! The process of building the model and submitting it to LEGO Ideas was such a fun journey that I wouldn't want to go back and change it in any way.
- 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 model itself took almost a year to complete as I don't only work on one model at a time, but the LEGO Ideas process took over two years to reach the 10,000 votes! It was a slow process but I made sure to add updates as I had them and to share the link to my build through various social media pages and over time I realized that I had a chance to actually make it! The closer I got the 10K the more exciting the process was.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Getting to 10K votes took almost two years from the time I submitted my model so getting to that milestone was a big deal for me. It is such a great feeling to know that so many people out there would like to have my creation in their homes or offices and that they took the time to vote for it. I feel truly honoured to be a member of the 10K Club!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The model uses approximately 1000 elements.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I think the technique that has had the biggest effect on how we build with LEGO today is SNOT, Studs Not On Top. The entire outside structure of my model is built using SNOT to achieve that nice smooth round cylinder.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I used stud.io from bricklink.com to help me design sections of the model when I did not have the parts on hand. It is also very useful for being able to export the parts lists from your models so that you can order everything you need from fellow builders and enthusiasts!
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
The decals for my design were carefully cut out from pictures online and then re-sized, cleaned up and printed myself on label sheets from an office supply store. I now use a vinyl decal maker from the U.S. for my models as it was very hard to do myself and the decals didn't turn out very well.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Build something that you are passionate about and enjoy the process of building, you'll be amazed at how many people love the same things that you do and if you stay true to those things, you will have a successful idea!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
Almost exclusively social media, I posted to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, MOC pages, and a few times to r/spacexlounge on reddit! I know many people who liked the project re-shared and helped me get to the 10K votes! I also took my build to an AFOL convention called BrickCan in Richmond BC, Canada and showed it off in person last year. Meeting up with fellow AFOLs and talking with the public was truly a great time and I plan on attending more in the years to come!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
My favourite is the Apollo 11 Saturn V by saabfan and whatsuptoday. It's an incredible design that the model team really made into the perfect model! As for overlooked, there have been so many amazing space themed models that have been passed over but its understandable that not all the choices can be space models. I did really want that UCS Space Shuttle Atlantis though!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I enjoy the platform because it gives an interactive way for designers to get feedback about their builds and then improve and iterate on the designs. Not to mention it gives the opportunity to earn a spot in LEGO history by possibly having your design made into an official set. My advise for anyone thinking of uploading an idea would be to stick with it, be sure accept the feedback you get as constructive and keep on improving your design throughout the process.
- 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 been considering uploading another project that I am working on… although it isn’t ready just yet. Aviation fans might know it as it's a model of the most produced aircraft of all time!
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