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10K Club Interview: Meet Robert Bontenbal of Boat House Diner, The Lighthouse & The Dive Shop

As the creator of the 21310 Old Fishing Store set that you can find on shelves around the world, this week's 10K Club member, Robert Bontenbal a.k.a. RobenAnne, probably doesn't need an introduction for many LEGO Ideas members. Nonetheless, Robert is back and with 3 projects in the First 2018 Review there's no doubt that his Boat House Diner, The Lighthouse & The Dive Shop have found a special place in the hearts of many fans.  

If there was a world record for the number of LEGO Ideas projects a member has had in a single review round, Robert would have won it with his 3 projects! That's a mighty big accomplishment and one we suspect we won't see again for a while!

Please help us congratulate Robert on joining the exclusive LEGO Ideas 10K Club again, again and again, and for sharing his story with us!


About Yourself

  1. Where are you from?
    I am from the Netherlands and live in the newtown of Almere.
  2. How old are you?
    I am 53 years young.
  3. What do you study or do for a living?
    I am an architectural drafter and work for an engineering firm.
  4. What hobbies do you have?
    I like fishing, photography and – of course – LEGO bricks.
  5. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    When I was young I loved to play with LEGO bricks, and I remember that my first set was the Firetruck 336 (pcs:77 1968-1970). After getting my two sons, my interest rekindled and we enjoyed playing together with LEGO. Especially the super heroes sets are a favourite of my sons. Our storage room has been turned into a LEGO room for the boys. And me.

  6. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    The Ultimate Millennium Falcon 10179. I enjoy building the big sets and this set has a lot of details and is not simple to build.
  7. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    That’s a hard question. I think the 2x4 LEGO brick which is one of the older bricks and can be the basis for a lot of designs.
  8. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Probably Angus MacLane who designed Wall.E (set 21303). This set was really fun to build. And Adam Grabowski the LEGO designer for the Old Fishing Store (set 21310).
  9. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I like BrickLink for parts and MOCpages to see the designs of others.


About Your Project

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    Fishing has always been my hobby. From fishing in the Caribbean, where I lived for a while, to fishing in Holland. My interest in fishing and my job as an architectural draughtsman came together in these models. Initially I got my inspiration from the HO train model houses, the LEGO Christmas houses and sea villages. 

    After I designed my first model, the Old Fishing Store, I really liked to follow up with these other models, that had the same feeling and would make a small fishing town, together with fun little details.
  2. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    I think that the Lighthouse had a couple of difficult parts, like the structure of the roof and the placement of the building on the cliff. That made it a challenge to design, but also makes it lots of fun to build.

  3. How long did it take to complete the model?
    The most time I spend is in research and drafting the designs, before I build the model in the LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) program. It takes about 6 to 8 months from start to finish to develop a model.
  4. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes – again and again - and how long did it take for each of your projects?
    It is amazing to see how many people are interested in the seaside village buildings.  I enjoyed the process of submitting the designs every time and the reactions of the LEGO community. It is always a huge kick when you reach the 10.000 votes.

    The Boat House Diner took about 13 months
    The Lighthouse took about 8 months
    The Dive Shop took about 15 months
  5. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your models?
    Each model consists of approximately 2200 bricks. That makes it a big model to build, but there is a lot of variety from the structure to the interior and the quirky little details to keep it enjoyable to build

About LEGO Ideas

  1. This is your 3rd, 4th AND 5th 10K project. What’s the secret formula to your success?
    Good question. There sure is a lot of interest in the nautical building sets. I think it makes people think of the little nostalgic villages we like to visit when on vacation.
  2. What is it about the LEGO Ideas platform that attracts you and makes you want to keep posting new projects?
    It’s a platform where you can display your creations with the rest of the LEGO community. You get a lot of comments about your models. I also enjoy to vote for other people’s designs and comment on them. And it’s also big fun to buy an official LEGO model that originated from the LEGO Ideas platform and that you voted for!
  3. Now that these three projects have hit 10,000 supporters, are you already planning further projects?
    Yes, I’m working on some other projects that fit in with the Sea Front Village
  4. Which upcoming LEGO Ideas project are you looking most forward to?
    I have to say the Flintstones by AndrewClark2?
  5. You’ve of course become known as the fan designer behind the Old Fishing Store that launched last year. What have the past 6 months been like for you?
    After my design came out, it was very special to be invited by LEGO Ideas to go to different cities in Europe to show the model. After that there have been a lot of LEGO fairs through Europe that I attended. Also, there were a lot of interviews from different LEGO and Toy sites.


  • lego ideas
  • 10k club
  • robert bontebal

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