Today we congraulate Fabrice Larcheveque (aka AbFab1974) and take a journey with him that starts in space (as many LEGO journeys do) and grew into an expression of his love for classic rally cars. Fabrice goes into great detail with his Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 designed to fit the Speed Champions line. Read along as he shares just how he created his incredible model and how he achieved 10,000 supporters.
Please do help us congratulate him as well for this significant achievement, in the comments below.
- Where are you from?
I am originally from France but have been living abroad for 23 years. Currently the United Kingdom is my country of residence
- How old are you?
I am 44 years young.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I started my career in the car industry as a Design Engineer and now work in the Financial sector.
- What hobbies do you have?
I love spending time with my 2 kids (8 and 10), one is addicted to LEGO and the other is great at arts and craft – 2 passions I share with them. With my remaining free time, I enjoy sports (I am a keen tennis player), automobile design/style and cooking and fine dining (my national roots perhaps – I really, really like cheese and frogs!). Last but not least, I love traveling and experiencing different cultures (I have already lived in 4 different countries on 2 different continents).
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
When I was a young child (late 70s) I fell into a huge LEGO box and became addicted to the small bricks! More seriously, I can’t recall any other toys from my childhood that could offer the same possibilities to stimulate the imagination and be fun, creative, innovative, and technical. So when very young, I got fascinated by the endless opportunity to shape things in LEGO bricks and no doubt that it led me down the path of becoming a design engineer.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
It all comes back to the early days of the LEGO Space sets – the most affordable way to ‘reach the stars’. I have 2 favourite sets that I had the privilege to own:
6929: Star Fleet Voyager from 1981
6890: Cosmic Cruiser from 1982
Nearly 40 years later they remain the gems of my LEGO collection –nearly as shiny as new! However, now my 8 year-old son thinks they belong to him!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
I have always been fascinated by the transparent parts – particularly when they are used to give visual access to intricate LEGO details inside a set.
As an example, WINDSCREEN 3X6, 25 DEG was used to design the cockpit of both spaceships I mentioned above – they bring an extra dimension to each set, in my opinion. Lots of different windscreens have been released by LEGO since – always more complex in shape and offering endless new design opportunities for vehicles, planes and spaceships.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Many of them are a great source of inspiration:
First of all all the official LEGO Designers who created the LEGO Speed Champions sets. That’s the series me and my son are the most passionate about. I am delighted LEGO continues with this series and wait impatiently for new releases. I just hope that it will be extended to a larger panel of carmakers and focus a bit less on recent cars. So many stunning classical cars are SO desperate to be reproduced in small bricks – why not launch a sub-series call Speed Champions Legends or Classics?? I also follow closely some great creators of car models at the Speed Champions scale – I can name a couple of them, who primarily showcase their creation on the site MOCPages: Marc "Edge" R.unde who has built a fantastic set of Audi Quattros from the 80’s, The Evstar with his brilliant Ferrari 330 P4 (a ferocious Le Mans rival of the Ford GT40 in the late 60s). There are so many more talented designers I could name but we will run out of space.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I am an avid reader of the LEGO Car Blog, which provides each day a couple of fun articles on official and unofficial LEGO vehicle creations. The best car designs from all types of scale are presented there. I highly recommend LEGO and car lovers to have a look at it.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Well, I am a big rally fan and the Golden era of this Motor Sport was in the early 80s, with the creation of the mighty Group B: Lots of prestigious cars competed in this group: The Audi Quattro, the Lancia Delta, and the wonderful Peugeot 205 (my model!), which won the Championship in 1985 and 1986. What makes this Championship truly special, is that the cars had to be produced in a small series of 200 road versions, making them both mainstream and very rare. Furthermore, their rally versions were true monsters, being extremely light and powerful (>500 bhp). This made the races particularly fast and spectacular! Sadly, this excess of power was also the cause of dramatic accidents, which led the WRC body to stop the Group B and replace it with a ‘more civilized’ variant in the 1987 edition. As a child in the mid-eighties, I was fascinated by this Group B race and because my parents drove a glorious Peugeot, I was obviously an avid supporter of the 205. I did attempt to create my own version of the car at the time, but with a limited choice of LEGO parts, I did not do justice to this wonderful car. Now 35 years later, with a much larger choice of parts and my son’s passion for LEGO cars fueling me, I thought it was time for a second attempt!
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
When I started my project, my main goal was to make sure that the car was instantaneously recognizable. My main challenge was to achieve a satisfactory level of accuracy at a very small scale (c. 1/43 - the LEGO Speed Champions size): For each surface of the vehicle I have tested various designs, playing with angular pieces, until the shape looked good to me. But the secret of the accuracy was the addition of the stickers (especially the headlamps and taillamps ones), which gave the car its true identity back: Each sticker has been designed from scratch on a drawing programme, scaled to the exact dimension of each brick, then printed on my inkjet printer up to 3 times, to give the right depth of colour. For the rear tailgate, I have also used paint; I have engaged a paint supplier to colour match the white (using a spectrometer) applied painting techniques I have learnt in the automotive world (Primering, Masking). It was a fully artisanal process and I have no doubt that LEGO Engineers will have a much more effective industrial processes to achieve an even better finish. Yet, I am very proud of the end result:
Last but not least – I really wanted to provide this set with a dynamic rally scene. And nothing could be more iconic than a rally car jumping high over a hill! Now, the challenge was to recreate this particular movement statically (I know it is a bit of a paradox!) This needed a strong support to the car, while it obviously had to remain, if not invisible, at least very discreet. I looked in the LEGO parts catalogue and identified the perfect transparent bracket that could be fit for this scene. Although I have not built the scene in bricks yet, it looks good in virtual (see below) and my engineering sense tells me that it should be robust enough to secure safely the car in this flying position:
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
The design on LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) was ready pretty quickly (c.10h hours). However, the creation of the stickers and pictures of the virtual model took quite some time – I guess 30 hours together (over a 2-3 months period). Creating the 1st physical model was quite long too: this involved the following steps:
Part identification and ordering
Printing of the stickers + Clearcoat
Building the model + fitting of the stickers
Advertising the model on social media and following-up on progress, answering questions from fans took
So, all together I have probably spent 80h on this project over a period of 1.5 years. (a bit slow, I know - but I also parent 2 children and have a full-time job!)
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
First of all, I was very surprised by the voting cycle on this particular project: From memory it started normally, reaching the 100 supporter milestone in a couple of days (same pace as for my other projects). And then, on day 5, I saw the number of votes growing exceptionally – I asked myself what’s going on? Thanks to some supporter’s comments, I realised that my project had started generating interest beyond the LEGO Ideas website. So, in the first 10-15 days, lots of articles on my work were produced worldwide: personal blogs, big car magazines, rally website praised my project giving it an unanticipated exposure on the web.
The cherry on the cake was when The World Rally Championship (WRC – the official body ruling Rallies worldwide) and Peugeot UK each advertised my project on social media. As a result, the number of viewers reached some viral levels (c.300k) across the Globe. The LEGO Ideas ‘Staff Pick’ helped my project a lot too. As a result, I stayed nearly 2 months on the ‘weekly most supported’ chart, which gave me a very good exposure and helped building more support. Things went much slower after 6 months, but I received an average 10-20 votes a day, which was enough to reach the magical 10K after 1.5 years.
The last vote happened in the middle of the night and I was unable to sleep that night; I had to follow this personal milestone in live! When it happened, I was very happy but nothing compared to my son’s pride in the project! Since then, he cannot stop talking to the staff in LEGO shops to tell them about this project. Unsurprisingly all of them know the LEGO Ideas website and most of them are aware of my project already. It’s really great!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
543 parts to be exact (well, according to LDD). It is quite a lot, however I am sure that the LEGO Designers, could easily find ways to streamline the model and reduce the parts by 5-10% at least.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
By no means do I consider myself an expert, however I can share a few tips that worked well for me:
- Choose a topic you are very passionate about; this passion will be your fuel for this long endurance race.
- Present the project well; in particular spend some time to produce a mesmerizing cover picture – It is absolutely crucial to quickly capture the attention of the LEGO Ideas viewers, who probably spend no more than 2s to check each new project uploaded on the platform.
- Do a bit of Marketing around your project – specifically use social media, targeting groups who are likely to love your project (in my case Rally and Classic car lovers, LEGO car fans). Many of these groups exist on the main social media platforms – you just need to engage them nicely and they will do their best to promote your idea.
- Make sure you provide regular updates on LDD (improved design or something related to your project) – This will always interest your early supporters and potentially attract some new ones. And if you don’t reach the top – don’t worry – you can always build your model for yourself – it is a huge satisfaction on its own, in my opinion.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
I love the Ship in a Bottle from JakeSadovich77; as soon as I saw it I knew it would go to the top. It is original and cleverly done, using nice LEGO techniques. I also like very much the “Doctor Who” set from Andrew Clark, because my 10 yr-old daughter is a big fan of the TV series. Unfortunately, the LEGO set has now sold out, so I can’t buy it for her – I will have to wait for a re-edition – hopefully!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
It gives power to all LEGO fans to showcase their creativity – a lot of brilliant, unexpected ideas are out there, And the good thing is that it is not limited to real brick creations; virtual ones (e.g. LLD projects) are also welcome, which helps users to create with no constraint of brick availability - so there are now truly no limits to imagination. Furthermore, the LEGO Ideas community is extremely friendly, which makes the site very enjoyable and engaging for everyone. I’d like to take the opportunity to praise the exceptional work by LEGO Ideas moderators to keep the site safe and fun for children. As a parent, I feel it is particularly important that the youngest LEGO fans can interact safely on this great platform! And there are many more children visiting the site than I originally thought – as I discovered during a community event I did in my son’s school earlier this year: As part of this event, I was was invited to do a presentation on my LEGO project and to promote LEGO creativity. I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly a 3rd of my young audience knew about the LEGO Ideas site. For the ones who did not know it, there was definitely some strong interest to visit it afterwards. But my biggest satisfaction on that day was to see all the pupils so engaged with this session. After explaining the essentials of my project, we did a very fun LEGO activity, where all pupils were given the same set of 6 bricks and were tasked to simply unleash their creativity to...
despite the restricted number of parts, majority of children came up with unique designs, and a great pride in their achievements! In fact, it was so fun, that I decided to donate the bricks to the school, which has since run successfully this exercise with other classrooms and also used for a staff team building exercise. I have no doubts that it will encourage young talents to create more and, maybe showcase their personal work on the LEGO Ideas Website! That’s the beauty of LEGO – it is also a truly timeless activity, open to all.
- lego ideas
- 10k club
- peugeot 205 turbo 16