10K Club Interview: Introducing Daniel Van Zonneveld of The Castle in the Forest
Time to say bonjour to Daniel Van Zonneveld (aka poVoq on LEGO Ideas), this week's 10K Club member whose Castle in the Forest submission was inspired by all the great childhood memories playing with LEGO Forestmen.
We hope you enjoy the interview where Daniel tells us all about his creation. Please be sure to congratulate him in the comments below too!
- Who are you?
My name is Daniel Van Zonneveld.
- Where are you from?
I live in Charmes-sur-Rhône, in Ardèche, France.
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
After working 10 years conducting maintenance and rehabilitation projects for a social housing company, I chose to quit the job to do something very different but with a very important purpose for me. I now work for a French Bible publisher. As to the building projects, I’m very happy to be able to continue exciting creations with the LEGO bricks.
- What hobbies do you have?
I’m very active in my local church, especially with the music group. I play drums and the bass guitar. My passions can sometimes overlap because I’ve been able to use my LEGO creations during a Christmas church service to tell the story of Jesus' birth.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
- 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 start most of my MOCs with a challenge for a special building technique. My last big project was the XXL version of the ‘Siege the Castle!’ LEGO Ideas project. This project was particularly challenging because of all the angles in the landscape.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
As a kid I always played with LEGO bricks and I continued building until I was 21. When my wife bought me my first big LEGO Castle for my 30th birthday I just started to build castle MOCs again. I was very happy to be able to share creations with my boys and it just became a hobby that got bigger and bigger!
- 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.
I think LEGO is the best toy to express of your creativity in 3D. Every kid or adult can create something completely unique. The possibilities are endless because there are just so many different parts and colors. I just like to admire the beautiful builds I set up for display.
- 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 favorite theme has always been Castle. Castles always have a very interesting design and they also have all kinds of clever defensive mechanisms.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
My favourite set is the medieval village from 2009 (set 10193). I just love how it’s detailed, the architecture of the houses, the peasant minifigures, the animals, and so much more!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favourite part is « plant leaves 6x5 » (part 2417). With this part a LEGO scene can come to life. This part was new in 1987 and the first LEGO sets that came with that part, were the 3 forestmen sets ! More than 30 years later, it’s still the same part that is used to decorate many of the most beautiful LEGO sets.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
The creators of a LEGO stop motion movie called Bound really amazed me. This family worked together on their project for 5 years! It has a lot of special effects, the buildings and landscaped are really beautiful, and they have a very special message to share!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I watch YouTube videos of Brickvault and Beyond the Brick. When I look at the MOCs that are shown from around the world there is always a new building technique to discover. It encourages me to try out to find new building techniques myself!
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
When I got my first LEGO forestmen at 6 or 7 years old, it was almost like love at first sight. As a kid I always built and drew pictures of the forestmen in trees and castles.
I found my drawing notebook that I had in school at age 10, and saw that it was filled with drawings of the LEGO forestmen hiding places. For many years I’ve imagined a forestmen base with a big tree, a cave, a prison, a river…I could say these were the first sketches of my project I started to imagine 26 years ago!
- 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 moment I got my idea it took me a little more than 5 months. The building process with stud.io was very slow because I keep doing something over and over again until I’m finally satisfied with the result. When I completed the stud.io version, I created my brick built version. This made me go back and forth a few times between the stud.io version and the brick built version to improve all kinds of details.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
For weeks I just couldn’t be satisfied with the way I created the top floor and the battlements. I remember it was very frustrating because I felt it wasn’t good enough. I had to take a break for some time, but after that I had no problem to finish it.
- 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?
It took me over 5 months to finish it. Promoting my project seemed just a matter of a days. It quickly became very popular.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It took a little less than 3 months to gather the 10,000 votes. I admit that I’ve been watching the evolution every day. When it reached the 10K it was a wonderful and very exciting moment!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The final count was somewhere around 2030 parts. To be honest, I can’t really say the exact number because I keep changing little details. There are even some minor changes between some of the final pictures.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
My favourite sections are the battlements at the top of the Castle and on the front. For both of these sections the challenge was the same: It was not just about building with the SNOT (Studs Not On Top) building techniques, it was about how I could go back from SNOT to SOT (Studs On Top). For me, this was a new building experience.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I used stud.io to build and render the model!
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
For the torsos of 3 of the minifigures I drew them with paintnet. That was almost a pixel by pixel job. It was the squirrel part was even more time consuming. I tried to create a 3D file and I tried many brick built versions. This all didn’t work out so I finally got an existing 3D image on the internet that I modified in Partdesigner.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
You would need an original idea that you are very passionate about. Once you have your idea take your time to make it as good as you can. Include some interesting building techniques. Choose the right size. Your project needs to focus either on play value, or on display value. If it can have both it might be even better!
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I placed some comments on forums and I shared my idea with people I know. I’m particularly thankful to all those who took the time to share my project. It was amazing to discover articles on brick-fan websites and videos on YouTube that invited people to vote for my project!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
My favorite LEGO Ideas project is the Sheriff’s Safe by Il Buono. I would like to mention some projects that I consider overlooked:
Vintage Bus Garage by Seppbdemba
The Colide Sprint – concept supercar by Mandylion777.
Brickston Square Tram Station by B0OO0M
I’m not a bus, car or train fan but I support their project because they have a very original design and a very original idea!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
The possibility for a LEGO fan of creating something that can become a real set is very attractive. If you think about uploading an idea, you need to show you’re passionate about your idea. Many people who will see your project will not click on the support button unless you’ve managed to convince them with something very special.
- 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 plan to make a mill and some medieval houses but I haven’t decided yet if I will make them as projects for LEGO Ideas!
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- daniel van zonneveld
- castle in the forest