This week we say hello to Brent Waller (aka BrentWaller aka Mr. LEGO Ideas Ghostbuster) and his Seinfeld 30th Anniversary creation. Learn some more about him, his creation here and say congratulations to him in the comments section down below. Especially if you're one of those who supported his project!
- What is your name? And what's your LEGO Ideas username all about?
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I'm a 3D Environment Artist and Co-Founder at 5 Lives Studios, A Video Game company here is Brisbane, Australia. Our last game was crowd-funded via Kickstarter, a cyberpunk strategy game called “Satellite Reign”. I've previously worked on all types of games at various companies, from Mickey Mouse to Star Wars and Spyro. We're currently working on an unannounced game that I can't wait to talk about but can't yet unfortunately.
- What hobbies do you have?
LEGO when I have the time and occasionally video games, I don't have as much time to play games anymore though these days.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I post most of my work on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/wetwired/), I've been trying to use Instagram more lately too (https://www.instagram.com/wallercustoms).
- 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?
The most challenging, largest and probably my most well known MOC I've made is the one I'm the most proud of. A year or so back I made what I think is still the largest LEGO Batcave ever, measuring around 6 foot 6 inches it stands taller than me. It has a giant vertical Batcave, with a garage full of Bat-vehicles at the bottom, lots of little scenes featuring Batman, his allies and his enemies hidden throughout and all capped off with Wayne Manor on top!
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I loved LEGO as a kid, it was my favourite toy and I'd ask for it every birthday and Christmas. As an adult I was reintroduced to it via the original LEGO Star Wars Video Games in the mid-2000s, they brought back a wave of nostalgia for LEGO. I did some searching about LEGO online and somehow discovered the LEGO Digital Designer program. As a 3D artist it was very easy for me to pick up and use and I soon started building, one of the very first things I made was a Batmobile Tumbler from Batman Begins (This was before The Dark Knight was released) and I ended up figuring out how to use Bricklink and then ordering the parts to make it.
That same design later became my very first submission to LEGO Ideas (back then it was called LEGO CUUSOO) and was my first Ideas project to ever reach 10,000 votes
- 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.
For me, it's a creative outlet, I've always liked creating and making things. After working on a 3D Environment at work, something that began as a hobby for me, I found it difficult to go back to that as a hobby at home. LEGO allowed me to make something tactile and to be creative while also being able to get away from a computer and actually pick up, feel and see the result of my creativity and show it to others.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
The Modular theme has always been my favourite series, The Green Grocer was my first big LEGO set and one of the first sets I bought after coming out of my “Dark Ages”, I always have to get each new addition to the line and have occasionally made my own versions for displays at LEGO Shows.
As a kid I was obsessed with LEGO Police and my LEGO city should never have had any issues with crime as the police force vastly outnumbered the civilian population!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?`
If I'm being honest, it's my LEGO Ghostbusters Ideas project set from a few years back. It was a huge honor to be able to say I helped get that project made into a real set so it will always have a special place for me. Outside of that though it probably is another Ideas set. Voltron and Wall-E were both great, I don't tend to keep sets intact for long though as they often get pulled apart to make into something else!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favourite piece is that fortuitous piece I only have one left of, but it's all I needed and it fits perfectly where I need it to go. I always seem to have this happen when I'm building and it gives me such a weird warm feeling that I'm on the right path with whatever I'm making when it happens.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Probably Marcos Bessa because he did the official design of my Ghostbusters Ecto-1 and then did the amazing Ghostbusters firehouse follow-up.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Brothers Brick has always been my mainstay, from when I came out of my “Dark Ages” to now. I follow a bunch of local and worldwide Facebook LEGO fan groups and subscribe to the LEGO subreddit on Reddit.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I loved Seinfeld as a young adult in the mid to late 90s. I started rewatching them all again online recently and while I was watching, the Friends Ideas set was approved. I thought it was a travesty that Seinfeld wasn't represented so I made an effort to resolve that and make the best rendition of Jerry's Apartment and the gang that I could.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The build was fairly quick, but I spent a fair bit of time finding images for reference and trying to figure out what colour exactly the walls were painted, they seemed to change every episode in some cases!I ended up using a scale model that was released of the apartment a few years back as my main guide to try and match, for layout and detail. The whole time I was researching and building, I'd have the show on in the background.
- What special challenges or frustrations did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Apart from trying to figure out what colours to use, the build was relatively straightforward, the biggest challenge was trying to cram as much detail from the show into the kitchen, all the cupboards, items in the cupboard and on the bench-tops. The biggest frustration, because it was all created digitally, was figuring out HOW to create and render it all digitally.
- 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?
I wish I knew how popular it would be!, I posted a couple of other Ideas projects just before Seinfeld, one of which I thought would do much better than I did and I expected Seinfeld to kind of fizzle out, but it was the complete opposite.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
It took less than 2 weeks to put the actual build together. Of that, the actual build of Jerry's apartment was only 3 or so days of that, the rest of that time was doing the designs for the minifigs and preparing the Ideas page and pictures.
When compared to the 3 months I spent promoting it, it's just a fraction. Over those 3 months, for sometimes a few weeks at a time I'd create new content to spread the word almost every night. Partially because it was so much fun recreating all those classic scenes from the show.
^ A behind-the-scenes peak into what it takes to create some of the incredibly high quality rendered images Brent used to promote his project
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes – again- and how long did it take?
A relief to be honest! I could finally relax and stop promoting it, though I SHOULD be now promoting the other active projects I have...and finish the others I have in the pipeline.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The final scene of Jerry's Apartment has around 900 bricks including the minifigs.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
All the little bits of furniture, while they didn't use all that many advanced techniques, were fun to make. It was a fun challenge accommodating all the angled walls and built in furniture at the same time too.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I built all of Jerry's Apartment and all of the accompanying builds I used to help promote the project with LEGO Digital Designer. After I was happy with the designs I'd import them into Mecabricks where I could then export into Blender, create the designs for the minifig decals and then render the final images.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
For me there's 4 elements to creating a successful Ideas project.
The first is obviously the Idea itself, it needs to be something that you feel pretty strongly that more people than just yourself will like, what is it? What does it do? Can you picture it in a box on a shelf? What would someone who bought do with it? Would they play with it? Display it on a desk? What is its purpose? In general I refer to this as “The Hook” it can be the subject matter itself (Friends Coffee Perk, Flintstones, Wall-E, etc.), it can be a cool unique feature (Maze, Pop-Up Book) or interesting build with display potential, something someone might have on their desk that could promote discussion with anyone who saw it (Fish in a Bottle, Tree House).
The Second factor is the build itself, are you confident you have a great idea with a “Hook”? You have to make sure your build is as good as it can be before submitting. While you can now thankfully edit Ideas projects, first impressions still count and it's best to come out on a good footing then trying to scramble and improve iteratively later.
Third is presentation, a great idea and a fantastic build can be let down with poor presentation, if you're images and photos aren't clear and showing the build in its best light, you're doing a detriment to the hard work you've done on your build and potentially losing votes of support as people overlook your project.
Lastly is promoting, you can easily spend 10x as much time if not more promoting your project than you did creating it. You can promote every day in every place online you can think of however, but if your Ideas doesn't have a great hook, a good build and solid presentation, your promotion will only go so far.I have seen projects succeed with poor presentation and a so-so build, but they made up for it with a great hook and good promotion, but if you can do all of them to the best of your abilities, you increase your chances greatly and hopefully if you have done it really well, people will promote your project for you without you having to do anything.
^^ One of many promotional images that Brent created to share online via social media and other channels.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I always create a video, I find it's a good succinct way of showing off your project and everything it's about in a short amount of time. Along with images, I share them everywhere I can think of, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. Most of my projects have been based on licenses, so I find online fan communities for them and share the videos and links there.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
As I mentioned before, Wall-E and Voltron, I like the look of the Dinosaur Skeletons, I hope to pick that up soon.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
For me I love the excitement of potential projects, even projects that aren't my own, when someone presents a new project that sells itself and you just think “I want that” and have to click support, no questions asked.
It's hard to compel someone to sign up and vote based off something you've made and presented to the world, so it's all the more special when you see someone do that for you project, because you know the feeling when you see something you like and vote.My advice for someone who is thinking about submitted a project. Just make sure it's something you're passionate about, I feel like that comes through in the project, if you're passionate about it, you'll put in that extra effort to make the build just right and get just the right photo to use for the main project image. If you're not sure about it any step of the way ask a friend or someone online for some honest opinions, criticism is the best tool for improvement and it will only help your projects chances.
- 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 have more ideas than time unfortunately, I have at least 3 in various stages of progress from just concepts to 90% complete, I may not even finish all of them. I had a bit of a burst of Ideas submissions in 2019 that I really should step back and promote more before submitting anything else new
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