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10K Club Interview: Meet Hayden Pye of Kakapo

10K Club Member Hayden Pye (aka FlancrestEnterprises on LEGO Ideas) has been flying high since his model Kakapo hit 10,000 supporters! Hear about his bird, and the journey the two of them went through in this 10k Club Interview.

And as always, make sure to congratulate Hayden in the comments below!

About Yourself

  1. Where are you from?
    I am from New Zealand
  2. How old are you?
    I am 30 years old.
  3. What do you study or do for a living?
    At the time of writing,I'm just a few weeks away from completing a Bachelor of Science, majoring in zoology and marine ecology.

  4. What hobbies do you have?
    I love animals and the natural world fascinates me.I like to spend my free time doing things like going on walks, bird watching, looking in rock pools and snorkeling. I also watch a lot of movies.
  5. Do you have a personal portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I have a Flickr account which has New Zealand birds (and some birds introduced to New Zealand) that I have made from LEGO.
  6. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    I got into LEGO when I was about 3 years old. My dad was stockpiling sets for me before I was born – a lot of the sets I had were several years older than I was. Most of the sets I had were city themed. I think my interest developed from wanting to build a big city. I’d still like to do that, but you need a lot of room! I packed my LEGO away when I was a teenager, but about 4 years ago I saw the X-Wing Microfighter 75032-1 and got it just to have on my desk. I have been back into LEGO since then.
  7. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    The set that I enjoyed building the most was the 75055-1 Star Destroyer. I love Star Wars and the Star Destroyer is an iconic ship. All the different angles coming together when building it is incredibly satisfying.
  8. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    Probably the cheese slope (part 54200, slope 30 1x1x2/3). I like it because it allows for small, sharp angles with no exposed studs. They are vital for the small birds that I make. 
  9. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Matt Benner (doomhandle) and the star destroyers that he makes. They are just unbelievably massive, have lots of odd angles and are filled with detail. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw the Tyrant.
  10. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    Mainly the LEGO subreddit and Facebook groups I am part of – people build some incredible things. For the birds that I make I usually take inspiration from something I have recently seen in the wild or am learning about at the time. 

About Your Project

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    New Zealand is a country that has native and endemic fauna unlike anywhere else in the world. New Zealand has dedicated organisations and groups of people that work tirelessly to protect and conserve our native species which are vulnerable to predation from introduced mammalian predators. The kākāpō is a critically endangered flightless, nocturnal parrot and is one of these species. At the time I uploaded the project to Ideas there were only 149 kākāpō left. However, 77 chicks have recently hatched in the most successful breeding season to date. 

    I built the kākāpō with the ultimate goal of promoting and spreading awareness of conservation and endangered species. This project is more than just a funny looking green bird. LEGO is a product that spans all ages and is popular worldwide. I believe that a LEGO model of the kākāpō could have a profoundly positive impact on both the kākāpō and endangered species in general. From the overwhelmingly positive feedback I have received so far, I know for sure that there are people who previously did not know what the kākāpō was that are now enamoured with it. I hope that if this model were to become an official LEGO set, it would motivate others to learn about endangered species and hopefully spark a passion. I also think that buildable animals have largely been ignored with official LEGO sets and that the kākāpō aligns thematically well with LEGO’s commitment to a more sustainable future. 

  2. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    Some of the elements that I would have liked to have used have never been made in the colours that I needed. For example, I would have used part 24201 (slope, curved, 2x1 inverted) in lime, olive green and dark tan on the underside of the model, but they don’t exist in those colours (although they do now come in lime, but after I made the model). Not having these bricks meant that I had to design the model so there are studs on all sides so I could use part 11477 (slope, curved 2x1 no studs) instead. It does however make for a more interesting build and even though the part does now come in lime green, I don’t think I would change the build. Being restricted by colours and the bricks available adds to the fun of building and makes for some interesting ways to get around certain restrictions. 

    Another difficult challenge was keeping the feathers (part 41740, plate, modified 1x4 with 2 studs and groove) on the wings from not getting knocked off easily, as they are at odd angles and only attach by one stud. Overlaying two more of the same modified plates across the back of the 5 feathers holds them in place with no risk of coming off. It’s a lot stronger than I had thought possible.  

    The hardest part to build was the legs and feet and making sure the model was balanced and not at risk of tipping over. I find legs and feet the hardest part of any bird models that I make. I have redesigned the legs of the kākāpō about 4 times and it is now very stable. The model is robust enough to have survived a plane trip in the overhead compartment in one piece. 

  3. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
    I initially built about half of the kākāpō over 8 hours using LEGO Digital Designer. I built along by hand with any bricks I had available at the time. I then ordered some bricks and spent another 8 or so hours physically building it and making changes. There are often things that appear to work digitally but then don’t work when you try to physically put it together. To get to a roughly finished standard took about 16 hours. Since then I have spent countless hours staring at the model and making tiny changes that probably only I would notice. I would say by now I am up to about 60 hours. 
  4. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    By my count it took 276 days. I was actively promoting the project every day and checking back on the site constantly in hope that it had gained more supporters. It was an incredible relief to get to 10,000 supporters and not having to devote so much time and effort into promoting support for the project. I think a lot of the support came from people who were unaware of LEGO Ideas and signed up just to support the kākāpō. When you consider the sign up process, it still amazes me that so many people from all over the world were passionate about the project and supported it. I watched it tick over to 10,000 supporters at 1.36am and adopted a kākāpō the next morning as a thank you to everyone who supported and helped promote the project. 
  5. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    The main model is 504 bricks and the mini kākāpō build is 44 bricks, for a total of 548.

About LEGO Ideas

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Build something that you are passionate about and actively promote your project every single day across multiple platforms. Think ahead about where you will promote your project and keep track of it so you aren’t spamming it in the same places and annoying people. Physically build your model, display it and contact people and organisations to post about it on social media. 

  2. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
    The project ‘Working Dogs’ by Hsinwei Chi should be way more popular than it is. All three builds are fantastic.
  3. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea? 
    I think almost any child that plays with LEGO has the dream of being able to design a LEGO set. LEGO Ideas gives anyone that opportunity. I like that Ideas gives the community an opportunity to tell LEGO there is a demand for something that they may have not previously considered, or that the community may not have even realized they wanted until they saw it.

    My advice to anyone uploading an idea is to prepare yourself. Don’t immediately upload your model as soon as you think it’s ready, think about it for a few weeks and make improvements over this time. Physically build your model and take good photos of it. Think of all the places you can promote your idea first and make a list. Promote your idea wherever it is relevant and email and speak to people that can help you. Go into it committed to getting your project to 10,000 supporters. 
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