Blog |

10K Club Interview: THE WIZARD'S RETREAT by Farmfarm

We're back with another 10K Club Interview! Meet Maren Wilker, a.k.a. Farmfarm, and their fantastic THE WIZARD'S RETREAT. A latecomer to the joys of LEGO bricks, Maren has created a delightful fantasy-themed set that we're sure you're going to love. Show your support for Maren in the comments!



  1. Who are you?
    Maren Wilker.

  2. Where are you from?
    Franklin, TN. USA.
  3. How old are you?
    I just had the 14th anniversary of my 30th birthday.  
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I manage a team of Business Analysts and work as a Product Owner for large company in the healthcare industry.
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    The LEGO hobby of course! I am a big into hobbies in general though - I make my own soap (cold process), I recently took up painting, I garden, I read a LOT, and I have an Arduino kit (a few years out of date) that I will one day dive in to.  
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I have an Instagram account where I share all my MOCs and techniques @LEGOfarmfarm. You can also find me on Reddit as u/Justcallmefarmfarm.
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
    The main thing that comes to mind is my Suit of Armor (currently gathering support). It was the most challenging project I have ever designed and I love the final product. I had never tried “sculpting” before this build, so it was very difficult for me. I built so many versions of every part of it before settling on a final design. I ended up building the idea in real life to test its stability and I have it displayed in my office. It is a great display size while only being about 1700 pieces. The Fairy Tale House I built and submitted was my favourite until the Suit of Armor. Finally, the biggest and most fun (in my opinion) MOC I have created is a project I call “Market Crossing”. It is about 8k pieces and sits across the top shelf of a computer hutch in my home. It was a months-long project to design and build.

  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
    I am one of the few that never played with LEGO bricks as a child - I discovered it as an adult about when I turned 30 and went all in. My wife was the one who really introduced me to the wonderful world of LEGO building, as she had sets as a child and loved the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed sets that had just been released at the time. 
  9. What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    The LEGO hobby is one of my favourite things in life. As a hobby, I couldn’t ask for anything more fun, rewarding, and engaging. With LEGO bricks, you combine art and math and engineering in order to challenge yourself mentally - and the results can be so fulfilling. My home office is covered in LEGO bricks.
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    Definitely the LEGO Ideas theme - I just love the variety and the masterful designs! In my opinion, the best sets ever produced have come from the Ideas line, and putting them together has really improved my own building techniques. I learn new techniques and get new inspiration whenever I put together an Ideas set. I love reading about the fan designers and the official designers in the instruction books to learn more about them and get a peek behind the scenes.
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    There are so many to choose from - Pirate Bay and the new Lion Knights Castle are probably my favs, but I also love the Ship in the Bottle, Typewriter, Globe, and Grand Piano. (As I said, the Ideas line is the best!).
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    It is always changing - right now I would have to say the curved slopes as I am doing more with sculpting these days.
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Before I got into the Ideas sets I didn’t really know any designers. After reading about them in the instruction manuals I have definitely identified a favourite - Milan Madge comes up with the most incredible designs - he’s definitely an inspiration to me.
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by? 
    I really like New Elementary - I regularly check there to see the new pieces and colour combinations coming out. 



  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I designed this model shortly after putting together the Pirate Bay set by fan designer Brickybrick (and official designer Milan Madge). I had so much fun with that one and I wanted to do something on a similar scale but with a forest/fairy tale vibe. I love the whole fantasy theme and I thought a LEGO “forest castle” type set could be fun to build. I wanted to incorporate a “live” tree somehow and have living space within the tree. It turned out less “castle” and more “house” than I originally intended, but I was still really happy with the result. I think a big fantasy-themed Ideas set could be a lot of fun!

  2. How long was the process of making the project, 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?
    When I started this project I decided to do some rough sketches first to get a general sense of what I wanted the finished product to look like. I looked at a lot of fantasy-themed scenes online and wrote down some “features” I wanted the build to have. I also try to sketch out little details to help me remember accessories to put in the build. Not all of them made it, and I am by NO means good at drawing, but it gets the creative juices flowing. 
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    There really wasn’t any one part of it that was more difficult than the rest, just the usual trial and error until things looked “right”.
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell them? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    I would tell myself “calm down with the part recolours”. I have matured a lot in my building over the last two years (since I built this) and have a much better grasp of what could make a real set. I went overboard with recolours in this and have had to go back and make some changes to make it more possible (while still maintaining the primary colour scheme that a lot of people liked). Over the last year or so I haven’t designed anything that uses more than 4 recolours (usually I keep it to 1 or 2). This helps me be able to build my digital designs in real life, something I am not able to do with this project.  
  5. 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? 
    The build time was a few weeks - back then when I started a project I worked on it for every waking moment until it was done (or until my family needed my attention! The support period took much, much longer and I was excited that this got to 10k - I only had about 30 days left before the support period expired!

  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take? 
    I was so incredibly happy! It took just about the whole time available (over 2 years). The support for this project had really stalled for a very long time and I didn’t think I would make it to 10k before it expired. Then, over the past few months, I started paying more attention and doing the math and got a bit more excited. I used to calculate every day “okay if I can get x amount of supporters a day, I can make it” except for a while that x number was fluctuating regularly. Finally, something clicked and the support started coming in fast and I got those last 1000 votes really quickly. It was awesome!
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    According to the file, 2914 is the final count.
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    I really love some of the little details like the orrery, the book stand, the lamp posts, and the table downstairs. I also was super pleased with the Bavarian look of the main house. I think that look meshes well with the fantasy/forest theme.
  9. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them? 
    I was not up to speed on Part Designer back then, so there aren’t any custom stickers or prints in this build, but I now use it frequently along with Photoshop in my designs. 



  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    I feel a bit pretentious offering advice, but if anyone is interested here it is! Avoid too many recolours, test build whatever you can physically to ensure your design is both possible and stable, try to avoid old parts that aren’t in production anymore, and focus on the details - no part of the model is too small or insignificant. Think about who would buy it and remember that there is a huge customer base outside of those of us here on Ideas that need to be factored in. If it is something you are passionate about, find ways to project that passion in the end result. If it is something you are just interested in, take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the subject matter so you can get the details right.
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support for your Product Idea? 
    Regular online promotion - Facebook & Instagram.
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    So many favourites! I mentioned a few above. As to product ideas that I’d like to give a shout-out to - I absolutely love the design of the LEGO Cryptex by Ceylon Eren. Such a brilliant idea and very well executed.
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I love the variety of ideas here and the potential for so many amazing LEGO sets. I really encourage people to try to build unique things that aren’t reliant on third-party IPs. It is really, really rewarding to come up with your own idea and bring it to life in LEGO form.
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint of what that might be?
    I absolutely will be submitting more ideas! No hints at the moment, but I am getting ready to start a new project!

  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • product idea
  • the wizards retreat
  • maren wilker

Opens in a new window