Please welcome back Florian (aka BrickHammer)! His latest and already fifth 10K creation: Imperial Island Fort is a blend of nostalgic LEGO fortresses with real actual Caribbean architecture. Imperial Island Fort was one of his first creations inspired by the release of the "Pirates of Barracuda Bay" which kicked off his journey with LEGO Ideas.
- Who are you?
My name is Florian. On LEGO Ideas I go by the name “BrickHammer”.
- Where are you from?
I live in Heidelberg, an old university town in southern Germany, which is often visited by tourists from all over the world because of the town’s beautiful historic center and the famous Heidelberg castle.
- How old are you?
- What do you do for a living?
I am a teacher.
- What hobbies do you have?
Usually, I am an active person. I spend most of my free time training martial arts, mainly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I also like to go on hiking trips or spend time indoors reading fantasy novels and watching movies.
Since rediscovering my love for LEGO about a year ago, I have also considered designing new LEGO MOCs one of my favorite hobbies.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I have just recently started an Instagram page to display my MOCs and show behind the scenes pictures of the building process:
- 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?
My favourite MOCs are my “Steampunk Airship” and my most recent creation: the “Wolfpack Castle”!
My “Wolfpack Castle” is a homage to the Wolfpack, one of the most unique and most beloved subthemes ever created! I tried to combine modern building techniques with the classic look and feel of the 90s!
- How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
I started playing with LEGO when I was about 3 years old and have loved the product ever since. However, during my teen and early adult years, I partially lost interest and focused more on sports and gaming.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I rediscovered my love for LEGO and creative building: I started by buying the recent “Barracuda Bay” set and then went on to design my own ideas with the digital designer stud.io.
- 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, LEGO is both my favourite childhood toy and a creative outlet that helps me to express my love for history and fantasy in a unique way.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
My favourite LEGO theme of all time is the classic castle theme.
My love for the castle theme inspired me to mainly focus my LEGO Ideas submissions on medieval or historic themed projects as can be seen by my three 10k projects: “Imperial Island Fort”, the “Viking Village” and “The King’s Castle”!
My two most recent submissions “Wolfpack Castle” and “Forestmen Outpost” also try to capture the spirit of my favourite childhood subthemes: the Wolfpack and the Forestmen.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
My favourite set of all time is the 6086 castle. For me, it is the best official LEGO castle ever created. It combines playability with a lot of features that can be found in real-life castles and has thus a certain degree of realism while still being an amazing toy for children.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
My favourite LEGO elements are all brick modified with studs on the side. During my childhood, LEGO was mostly putting bricks on top of each other and very rarely on their sides. Nowadays building snot constructions is so much easier than when I first stopped playing with LEGO in my early teen years. When I returned to playing with LEGO bricks I was really amazed by the many new creative ways made possible by these new brick modifieds.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I regularly visit Eurobricks and Bricklink. I can recommend Eurobricks to any AFOL looking for inspiration or simply a good place to talk about MOCs and other LEGO-related things. It is truly an amazing fan forum!
Since creating my own LEGO-focused Instagram profile I have also started to use Instagram for inspiration.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Even though the “Imperial Island Fort” is already my fifth 10k project it was actually one of the earliest projects I designed. The main inspiration of the project obviously was the release of the “Pirates of Barracuda Bay” set which served as the catalyst for my whole LEGO Ideas journey! However, it was also partially inspired by my own interest in history and my love for pirate movies!
- 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?
Once I have an idea that really inspires me the actual building process is fairly short and straightforward: Building the “Imperial Island Fort” took about 5 days.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Since this was one of my first digital building experiences I struggled a lot with the different functions of stud.io. I also was not yet aware of how to create sub-models and thus the building process was a lot harder than it would have been nowadays. On top of that, I had just gotten back into building with LEGO bricks so I was totally unaware of some more recent building techniques. As a result, the “Imperial Island Fort” looks very “old school” when compared to some of my more recent builds.
Concerning the actual design process, the hardest part was to create a layout that made sense from a historic point of view while also being a nice display piece with a lot of playability.
- 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?
It took almost a year for the “Imperial Island Fort” to reach 10k supporters. During that time I submitted a lot of other projects to LEGO Ideas and four of them even managed to overtake the “Imperial Island Fort” by making it to 10k a lot faster. Still, I was never in doubt that the fort would eventually make it.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The build consists of about 1500 pieces.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
Due to the fact that I had very little building experience when I created the “Imperial Island Fort” the build does not have a lot of exciting building techniques. If I were to build the same project today I would certainly build certain sections in a “more sophisticated” way.
However, I am still very happy about the general layout of the island. I especially like the look of the walkway that connects the pier with the fortress. When I designed this section I wanted it to look like the walkway could easily be defended from above due to the positioning of the wall and tower to mimic the layout of actual historic fortifications. So despite the lack of crazy SNOT techniques etc. I am super happy with how the “Imperial Island Fort” turned out.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I use stud.io for all of my designs.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I think it is important that you try to design something that you yourself would love to buy or would have loved to have as a child. Do not try to copy others’ designs. Creativity is key.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
My favourite IDEAS projects so far are the Barracuda Bay and the Medieval Blacksmith.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
In my opinion, LEGO IDEAS is an amazing opportunity to share your projects with the additional upside of having a chance to become an official fan designer! It is a dream come true for everyone who grew up playing with LEGO bricks and always dreamed about having their homemade project officially released.
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- product idea