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10K Club Interview: BenBuildsLego's Indiana Jones Trilogy!

BenBuildsLego on LEGO Ideas, has removed all the snakes possible and created this lovely microscale style LEGO Architecture Skyline! 10,000 of you supported this and now it's tome to hear Ben's journey and hear about how he created the model. Be sure to congratulate Ben in the comments down below too!

About Yourself

  1. Who are you?
    Ben (BenBuildsLego)
  2. Where are you from?
    Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. What hobbies do you have?
    I am a big fan of traveling and photography.  I am not someone who takes leisurely vacations - I am on the move from dawn until after dusk, and my camera is rarely off!  I especially love to explore the history of the place I’m visiting.  My friends and family love to give me a hard time about all the photos of me in front of historical markers and plaques.

    Next year, I am looking to visit some close family friends in Svendborg, Denmark again.  The last time I was in Denmark I was fortunate enough to visit the original LEGOLAND, and this next time I will definitely be paying a visit to the LEGO House!
  4. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    Everyone can see all of my nerdy MOCs on Instagram: @BenBuilds

    I mostly focus on micro-scale Architecture and Skyline-style builds.

    I am also the moderator of the /r/DigitalLego subreddit page where everyone is encouraged to share and discuss LEGO builds made in the computer!
  5. 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?
    One Architecture style MOC that I’m proud of is my micro Musée d’Orsay.  While it’s never possible to create a perfect recreation of a building at microscale, I think this MOC ended up doing a decent job of capturing the overall look and spirit of the famous Parisian museum.  I think the inclusion of the micro cars in front help suggest the larger scale of the building.

  6. 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.
    I look at LEGO as an artistic puzzle, and I love micro style builds in particular since they force you to work within the limitations of the LEGO bricks.  The way I see it, if you have enough bricks and space, you can build LEGO to look like anything; however, with micro-builds you need to be even more careful with your choices to achieve the desired result.  It's always a fun and frustrating process!
  7. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    I credit the introduction of the Star Wars series in 1999 with getting hooked on LEGO as a kid, and I credit the Architecture and Skyline series with bringing me back as an adult.  As kids my brother and I spent countless hours building LEGO (sorry about the mess, mom).  When the two of us built sets together, we would trade-off the building steps by page – but whenever a step called for “X 2” submodels, we would both exclaim “times two!” and we would then both build a submodel regardless of whose turn it was.  It’s a silly tradition that I love that we continue to this day.
  8. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    Anyone who knows me knows that I am the biggest fan of "Star Wars: Rogue One."  I mayyy have been sobbing of happiness after seeing the movie for the first time...So unsurprisingly, I am a huge fan of the Krennic's Shuttle (75156-1).  I ended up modifying the official set to make the wings longer so it is more accurate to how the ship looks in the movie.  My girlfriend still occasionally catches me flying that ship around our apartment while I make spaceship noises.
  9. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    There are so many that I love, but I would have to choose the Jumper (#15573).  Most of my builds are done at a micro scale, so the LEGO pieces naturally gravitate towards a grid pattern.  However, jumper pieces are especially handy for adding half-stud offsets to break up the grid pattern and make a scene more dynamic.
  10. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    It’s impossible to choose just one, so I’ll narrow it down the best I can!

    It’s always a treat to see the awe-inspiring 1:650 scale skyscrapers by Rocco Buttliere.

    Of course, I also love all the Modular LEGO sets and we have Jamie Berard (the Brickmaster himself) to thank for those.  I especially love the overall look and silly money-laundering play features of the Brick Bank).

    And as a lover of micro-scale architecture, Justin Ramsden’s official Hogwarts Castle set is simply a work of art.
  11. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I check out almost every day for the latest LEGO news. (Who am I kidding? It’s every day.)  Additionally, all the creators I follow on Instagram constantly inspire me.

About Your Project

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I love designing Skyline-style MOCs using fictional worlds as the subject rather than real-life cities.  After rewatching the classic original trilogy of “Indiana Jones” movies I knew I wanted to attempt a skyline for them – there are just so many iconic locations and scenes!  To narrow down which locations to include in my skyline, I chose to recreate the places where Indy first obtains each film’s sacred treasure.
  2. 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?
    I designed my project over the course of about a week and a half.  I collected a lot of screenshots from the films to match the look of each location as closely as possible on a micro scale.

    One peculiarity of the original “Indiana Jones” trilogy is that the second movie, “The Temple of Doom,” actually takes place before the first movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  I thought that Indiana Jones superfans would be disappointed if the scenes were not positioned in chronological order and I thought other fans would be confused why the first movie’s scene did not appear first.  I felt “Doom”-ed no matter which choice I made regarding the order.  Being an Indy superfan, I opted for the chronological order. 

    It was only after I originally submitted the project did I realize I could have my cake and eat it too: a modular-style skyline.  With the added ability to rearrange the scenes, fans can choose their own desired order of the skyline!

  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    I actually think I spent the most time working on the statue of Kali Mah from “The Temple of Doom” – it turns out it is really difficult to give a minifigure six arms!  At one point I was able to use clips to give a minifigure an extra pair of arms, with one brandishing a sword.  In the end, I simply could not find a solution that was not overly bulky.

  4. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    It’s not necessarily the fanciest technique, but I’m happy with how I was able to use a SNOT (Studs Not On Top) brick paired with a series of plates to create the façade of The Temple of the Sun from “The Last Crusade.” 
  5. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I used Bricklink, which I cannot recommend enough.  The photorealistic renders are just phenomenal.  I mostly prefer building in the computer since I have almost every piece I want at the click of a button.  Again, I recommend checking out the Digitial LEGO Reddit page for inspiration.
  6. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    The only custom designed print used in my project is the simple “Indiana Jones” tile created in the style of the Architecture Skyline name tiles.  I used Bricklink Studio’s sister program, PartDesigner, to create this piece.  

About LEGO Ideas

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    It’s been said many times before in other interviews with 10k Club Members, but I will echo them I say that it is extremely important to have a captivating, high-quality cover image.  There are so many great ideas on Ideas that I feel may have been overlooked since their cover image did not immediately grab our attention.  It’s really up to the submitter to sell their idea from the very first glance.

  2. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    I’d have to say my favorite is Central Perk (21319-1) – I remember when the set was announced, I was so excited that I had to immediately wake up my girlfriend, who loves “Friends” more than she loves me.  It is the perfect intersection of our favorite things!

    As far as potentially overlooked projects, as a microscale fan, I have to call out the adorable Nyhavn by MathiasJulian.  I want that as a set on my desk right now! Everyone please go and support it!
  3. 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’m sure I will continue participating in all the great contests!  I’m not certain what my next Idea project will be – I’m just waiting for inspiration to strike.
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