Introducing Andrey, aka Angry4rtichoke, the creator of Modular Portal Testing Chamber. He based this model on a phenomenal game called Portal 2 which belongs among his favourites. It has come a long way to complete this project and his supporters also contributed with their great ideas. Congratulations and welcome to 10k Club!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
My family moved to the United States when I was very young, we now live in Washington State in the greater Seattle area.
- How old are you?
20 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am an undergraduate student at the University of Washington. Machine learning, data, and graphs (the kind with nodes and edges, not the science fair kind) are topics that get me excited when I learn about them.
I am also a teacher. This quarter I am a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Machine Learning course at the University of Washington.
- What hobbies do you have?
LEGO is my major hobby. Having digital design software to model MOCs is helpful to me when I live away from our LEGO collection.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
The best website is YouTube, I don’t have a consistent place I share my creations but YouTube is likely to be the place all of them get showcased.
- 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?
Some of my favorite MOCs include a massive castle in the shape of a giant skull, adventure maps with traps and working puzzles, and assorted mechs. The castle is not something I have pictures of, and only one of the assorted mechs is documented, appearing at the end of one of our videos (the Winter Special). This Santa mech has giant hands with fingers that move presents between the ground and a large storage container on the back.
Most recently, I am digitally designing the city for our layout. We do not have modular buildings, but we have many bricks, so it seems like it makes sense to design our own city. We have custom roads and a 3D surface. It is not ready to showcase yet, but updates will be appearing on our YouTube channel.
I am also creating many of the sets used in our animations. I am quite proud of the set where a large spaceship is buried in a red desert at an angle, and of a larger scale dojo for brick build animals.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
I have been building with LEGO for as long as I can remember.
- 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.
LEGO is a way to express ideas and share them. My brother and I have been recreating the comics we used to draw in LEGO form, and decided to animate them for our YouTube channel DosBrosComiX.
We take the production process fairly seriously, drafting scripts and casting our friends according to which character voices we think they suit best. My brother is responsible for the animating, and he has high standards for what is good enough to produce. We have been working on an animation that is much better in quality of video and storytelling than those currently on our channel, but it has been a long project.
My brother frequently alerts me when the latest season of Ninjago is released and helps me find the best moments. (Fun fact: in the Serpentine season, when the ninja and Lloyd are retrieving the last fangblade from the volcano, Jay yells “wind!” as his power. This implies Morro’s powers are a subset of Jay’s powers, which I found hilarious when my brother showed me the clip.)
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
It would be hard to choose a single theme as my favorite. Among those that stand out in my memory are Bionicle, Power Miners, and Alpha Team.
I never played with official Alpha Team sets, but I remember first browsing the LEGO instructions repository online and discovering that there existed official LEGO sets that transformed! This was amazing to me, and ever since first recreating those sets in any colors available, I have enjoyed designing transforming LEGO models.
I recall being interested in Bionicle beginning during the Phantoka wave in 2008. Throughout the next few years, I would get more and more interested in the theme, eventually reading every comic and novel. I am still amazed at the depth of the lore for a line of action figures that could have been canceled any year. The storytelling inspires me when I discuss ideas for shows with my brother.
Power Miners was a theme that introduced me to functional models; the sets featured spinning drills and sweeping turbines. They encouraged me to include hidden functional elements inside my MOCs. The rock monsters were also phenomenal! Somewhat compatible with minifigures and fun to play with, they
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
There are several! I have been following JK Brickworks for many years, I was first inspired by their Strandbeest walking ship. In particular, I enjoy their explanations of models. I can’t specifically name the rest, I tend to gather inspiration from all over the internet, both fans and LEGO models and draw from these sources when building. Sometimes I see a technique I want to emulate (an inventive parts usage I want to put into a model), other times I seek out a particular build technique for a specific purpose (angles, circles).
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Not really, I am actually looking for something like this. Usually, I type whatever I am looking for into a search engine and browse images.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Portal 2 is a phenomenal game that I loved to play. I always wished I could play with it through LEGO, and created several prototypes of elements of the game in different scales. I still have some of the graph paper on which I drew the designs during middle school classes. Years later, LEGO Dimensions was announced, and one promotional video featured LEGO versions of characters from Portal 2. This inspired me to complete the prototypes I had designed many years earlier.
- 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?
The process was very long. I iterated over seven years, improving designs in my free time. I made the most progress when supporters of my project began suggesting features and ideas, their creativity directly improved this set.
- What special challenges or frustrations did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Ensuring that all elements conformed to the modular system was challenging. Modularity was a necessity of this set so that builders were able to create any test they could imagine with a limited quantity of parts.
I struggled the longest with designing panels that could be positioned in any direction, extend, while also compactly folding into a seamless configuration with nearby panels (a property called “packing” in mathematics).
The Chamberlock doors were challenging because I wanted them to open and close, and also fit a figure through them. This was the element that differed the most from iteration to iteration: I completely redesigned it each time, and finally arrived at a design that looked good, functioned almost accurately, and allowed figures to pass through.
The exterior system was added last, and I am not completely satisfied with it. The elevator was also challenging to create because it is a glass cylinder that moves vertically. I found a design that looked accurate and allowed the doors to open. The scaffolding which allows test subjects to walk behind the test to elevators and observation rooms is bulky and more part intensive than I liked, particularly the elevator landing. I will keep iterating on these to try and improve them.
- 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?
Promote digitally, have fun gathering support. Making animations is time-consuming but fun!
- 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?
I wanted this model to be as accurate as possible to the source material, so I spent over seven years designing and updating digital models. Any time I was on a plane or a long bus ride I would tinker and experiment with new designs, and during the hottest days of the summer, I would sit on the bed and develop the elements.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I officially submitted the project on July 13, 2019, and it reached the last vote on March 22, 2021. The feeling was wonderful, I was very thankful for the support I saw throughout the project. My favorite moments were when I would browse the internet, and see that someone else took the time to promote this project, posting about it or writing articles. It made me happy to see that others shared my enthusiasm for the build.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
Less than 2500, and more than 1800.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I wanted this build to be as fun to play with as possible, which naturally led to including play features. With Aerial Faith Plate catapults, extending crushers, opening chamberlock doors, and moving elevators, this set is more similar to a playable test chamber than a display model.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I designed this model over many years in LEGO Digital Designer. Were I to re-create the model now, I would start modeling in Studio 2. With this model, I was locked into LDD and the rendering system I was used to in order to keep the project images consistent over time.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
My greatest regret in creating this project was not learning how to develop custom digital prints and insert them into LEGO Digital Designer.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Find people that are excited about your idea and share your enthusiasm with them. I was fortunate to have supporters who also loved Portal and with whom I enjoyed messaging on platforms like LEGO Ideas and Reddit.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I created and handed out little cards with images and QR codes, displayed posters, and also promoted them digitally. Digital promotion returned many many more supporters per time invested, I don’t think posters and physical materials are the way to go.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Designing an official LEGO set has always been one of my dreams, and it was wonderful to have a chance to achieve that dream. I think there are tips throughout this response, if I were to summarize: promote digitally, get comfortable making renders if you design digitally, enjoy the process of gathering support because realistically, chances of being selected as the set to be produced are not enough to justify going through the process if you don’t enjoy it. Chat with supporters, it always brightened my day when they commented with an idea or suggestion. You can do it! :-)
- 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 am thinking about it! One idea I might submit is of the Airship from the choose your own adventure game series Henry Stickmin. I created this Airship model because it is something I want to physically build, and it makes sense for me to post it to LEGO Ideas in case other people also want one. It is not a large model, but it does depend on an IP.
Perhaps I may also submit any especially cool models my brother and I create for our animations.
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