10K Club Interview: Meet Niels van de Keer of Spaceballs - Eagle 5
For this week's 10K Club Interview we're headed to Holland to meet Niels van de Keer a.k.a NvdK, fan designer of the Spaceballs - Eagle 5 project. Being a big fan of Star Wars, the 1987 parody Spaceballs was one that he could enjoy and take inspiration from. Fun fact, this project hit the 10K milestone on the 4th of May - of all days! Niels told us all about his journey to this milestone and how his interest for LEGO started at a very young age.
Help us congratulate Niels on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!
- Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a town called Oosterhout, located in the Netherlands. I still live there with my girlfriend and our hamster Rembrandt.
- How old are you?
I’m 28 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I’m a controls engineer for a machine building company. The job that I mainly do there is programming factory lines in the automotive industry.
- What hobbies do you have?
LEGO! Obviously! Besides that, I’m quite the tech-nut. I’m always working on some project. I also like to travel, am part of a cosplay group, can work my way around the bass-guitar and am a collector of models of movie cars/vehicles
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
As a kid (I don’t know the exact date) LEGO gave me the chance to re-create what I saw or build what I thought of. That hasn’t changed since then.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
LEGO set 21108, the Ghostbusters Ecto-1. The Ecto-1 is one of my favorite movie cars. As a kid I used to build the Ecto-1 from LEGO, at least in my imagination it was the Ecto-1. Thanks to LEGO Ideas, I finally had the Ecto-1 and my favorite hobby combined.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Element 3937 and 3938 combined. This hinge gave me so many possibilities building as a kid. I couldn’t have enough of those.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I’ve always been really inspired by fan designer Orion Pax. He makes a lot of movie related vehicles and really captures every detail in his models.
But when talking about looking up to a LEGO designer, I would say Marcos Bessa. That guy has my dream job
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I often visit the LEGO blog The Brothers Brick; they talk about a lot of MOC’s but also go into depth with official LEGO sets.
I also like to watch the videos on the YouTube channel of Artifex Creation. I really like to see how some sets are built and to view the building techniques
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
There were many reasons for that, I will list them all!
- First off all, I love the movie. I am a Star Wars fan, and because of that I can really appreciate a parody like this
- I’m a big enthusiast of movie vehicles. Sadly, there has never been a single piece of (toy) merchandise for this movie, so I had to do something!
- The eagle 5 is an iconic movie vehicle with potential for being an epic toy, for both collectors and children
- The Schwartz spoke to me
- There are already many MOC’s of the “Eagle 5”. The only thing was that they were too big for minifigure scale or they were the correct scale but it lost its iconic look. So that also gave me the urge to have a go at creating this model.
- Spaceballs is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, so it seemed like a nice opportunity.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The special challenge facing me during the design of this model was keeping the shape of the “Eagle 5” intact, while making it smaller for the minifigure scale. The most difficult part to create in that process was the front of the “Eagle-5”; I wanted it to have a continuous slope from the window to the bonnet without any big jumps in the surface. I was quite happy with the result.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
The rough design came together in about an evening. Fine-tuning and detailing took me another evening. When I’m on the right track with an idea it’s hard to stop working on it.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
It almost took me the full 2 years! Reaching the magic 10.000 votes with only a few days left felt like a relief for the first 12 seconds, after that came a non-stop feeling of euphoria.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
That’s an easy one. I designed the model in LDD so I can give you a very specific number on that: 320 bricks, excluding minifigs.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Create something that isn’t there yet. It should be something that will be an addition to someone’s play experience and/or collection and it should make a person smile just by seeing it.
I think that with those ingredients, a person should be able to create a project that could be successful. To make it successful, the creator has to promote it and make sure the world sees it. Contacting webpages and social media with a similar interest can provide a lot of supporters. But I experienced that asking the people that commented; if they could share the project on social media, worked even better.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
Earlier on in this interview I mentioned that the Ecto-1 is my favorite official LEGO set. But that was a LEGO Ideas project that already has been approved. So instead I will list two LEGO Ideas projects that are still gathering support that I would love to see as an official set.
Gravity Fall Shacktron
I recently came across the Disney series Gravity Falls. Against my expectations I liked this series so much that I watched the complete two seasons in just one weekend. This model is featured in one of the final episodes of season two. The way this mecha comes together and how it is used in that episode, really gives it that “I want that” feeling.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire - Outrider
Besides the Star Wars films there is one video game that always grabbed my attention; Shadows of the Empire. The hero in this adventure flies a ship that (in my opinion) is a worthy opponent for the Millennium Falcon and thus a favorite! This Ship was actually an alternate build for LEGO set 6211, except you would build the regular spaceship. The one used in Shadows of the Empire is the modified version.
- You have other projects on LEGO Ideas, what is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
The thing that attracts me about the LEGO Ideas platform is that it gives the possibility to make dreams come true. (Yes I know it’s cheesy). But I’m walking around with the idea that in the near future there might be an official LEGO Spaceballs set. What also attracts me is that when a project gets support, it implies that you are not alone with the need for a project like this
- lego ideas
- 10k club
- niels van de keer
- spaceballs eagle 5