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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Tom Jones, The Creator of Boston Dynamics Spot 1:4 Scale Motorized Model

Let's meet Tom Jones aka WalkCrawlRun, the creator of Boston Dynamics Spot 1:4 Scale Motorized Model, and our 10K Club member in focus today. Tom owns a farm that is not only one of his hobbies but is interested in anything related to mechanical farm equipment and vehicles was also an inspiration for his model.



  1. Who are you?
    Tom Jones, WalkCrawlRun

  2. Where are you from?
    Boulder, Colorado
  3. How old are you?
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    At my day job, I’m a VP of Sales for a Geospatial Technology Company, and my education background is in creative writing with a focus on short stories.
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    Well, I own a 30-acre farm where we grow flowers and bale hay and harvest eggs from the chickens and honey from the bees and we sell our output to our neighbors and community at the local farmers' markets. I’m interested in anything related to mechanical farm equipment and vehicles such as cars and trucks but also in the potential to merge today’s wheel-based transportation designs with the leg-based designs from nature to create more eco-friendly modes of future transportation.
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I have submitted 6 projects to LEGO Ideas which pretty much represent the essence of my design ethos: Building biologically-inspired mechanisms that emulate the unique movements of animals in the way that they walk, crawl, run, or jump.
  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?
    Particularly proud of my first Staff Pick: Jumping Frog - Remote Controlled submission from 2014. In a way, the lack of overall success of the Frog submission actually helped create the path to success for the Spot build. The Jumping Frog represents the last build I was able to complete with parts from just a few donors LEGO sets I bought from the local LEGO store, which was the way I had always previously built my own creations since I was a kid: Use the parts I had available to make something new. 

    After the Jumping Frog expired at 254 votes, I started to expand my vision on what was possible (beyond only the limited parts I had available and colors provided from specific sets) and started ordering parts from Brick Owl. The size and scale of the subsequent builds such as the RC Hexapod Walker and Boston Dynamics Spot would not have been possible without this shift in thinking to expand the scale and scope of my builds.
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO come about?
    As early as I can remember. I think I was 7 years old when my parents and grandparents took me and my sister on a weeklong road trip in an RV. They gave me the Legoland Castle System, Set 375, to build during the trip which cemented my lifelong love for LEGO bricks and started the ritual of getting a new LEGO set for my birthday every year.

  9. 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.
    The LEGO system, and especially Technic, is a creative outlet that allows me to quickly and easily prototype and test any new ideas I have for mechanisms that emulate biologically-inspired methods of locomotion.
  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?
    Anything Technic with which I can build working mechanisms.
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    Well, let’s give credit to the first LEGO set I ever bought for myself, Technic Helicopter set 8444. I bought this set when I was in college and feeling uninspired with my direction in school and just wanted to relive a bit of that wonder and fascination that I remembered with my first ever Castle set. More than I could have ever imagined that short build reignited my creativity and established LEGO Bricks as a lifelong creative outlet for me as an adult.

  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    LEGO Technic 15100: Technic, Pin with Friction Ridges Lengthwise and Pin Hole.  This single piece has made it possible to significantly reduce the size of complex technic mechanisms, allowing for smaller form factors than ever before possible in my builds.
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Totally inspired by Uwe Wabra, designer of the Lamborghini Sian. Loved watching the journey videos with Uwe and Jeppe Juul Jensen as part of the Sian campaign. I was especially inspired to see the process behind the build and the initial mockups leading up to the final product which was great positive reinforcement for my own iterative creative process, and the amount of time and effort it takes to build, test, iterate and refine a model as it progresses from initial concept to complete model.
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    Big Fan of Balazs from RacingBrick @ who both inspired me and empowered me with the coding knowledge that made it possible to transition the Boston Dynamics Spot build from Power Functions in versions 1 and 2 to Powered Up in versions 3, 4 and 5.



  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    My particular design ethos is biologically-inspired mechanisms that walk, crawl, run, or jump.  The Boston Dynamics Spot robot represented a new opportunity for me to test my functional design theories with a well-publicized and popular cultural icon that possibly had enough interest and followers to help garner the 10,000 votes needed to be considered for an official LEGO Ideas set! Which it did!
  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?
    By repurposing the endoskeleton (frame + Motors and axles) and leg geometry from previous designs, I was able to build and test the concept with an initial prototype within a few hours. Within 3 days I had a draft version 1 that just needed the yellow parts for the exoskeleton to resemble Spot. After ordering parts from Brick Owl I was able to complete the initial version 1 model that was submitted to Ideas after just a few weeks of building. Iteration on the geometry of the legs and location of rubber bushings for traction on Version 1 continued up until the release of version 2 which, upon popular request, added steering to the model.
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    Functional walking movements on different surfaces such as hardwood floors, tile, and carpet remain the most challenging aspect of any build I take on. The design reinforcements needed to keep the model from tearing itself apart as it continues walking for long periods of time is the second most challenging aspect of this type of build. This is why I don’t digitally build models. Many times, my initial mechanism ideas work in concept but are not robust enough to work effectively over time and need continued design iteration, improvement and reinforcement. This is impossible to test today in a static 3D building environment such as LDD or, but would be fascinating to attempt in a future state tool that leverages the Unity or Epic Unreal engine physics-based engine under the hood.
  4. 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?
    Trust your gut. Get the model out there and then continue to refine and evolve based on feedback from the community.
  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?
    It was much easier and faster to build the model than to reach 10,000 supporters! Thank you to everyone who shared and promoted the build to reach this review stage! Couldn’t have done it without you!
  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It was awesome to see the support from the community voting for and sharing the submission. It took 5 months from initial submission in January of 2021 to reaching the 10,000 vote milestone in May of 2021.
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    Version 1 had just under 1,000 pieces at 941. Version 5 probably has about 1,300 pieces, but I don’t count until I am 100% satisfied with the completed build!
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    The cameras on the side of the Spot robot were a tricky design element that I completely omitted from Version 1. Spot’s side profile is the primary area that I have concentrated on improving. For instance, version 5 uses qty 2 1x1 and qty 1 2x1 black tiles to achieve this effect, but the ½ stud spacing between them was a difficult problem to solve. I have continued to iterate the design over the multiple versions built (1-5), even since the voting ended at 10,000 votes. The rest of my focus has been to address the areas of common critique from the community related to the proportions of the design, and length of the body in comparison to the length of the legs and range of movement. So these are the areas where I have been focusing my most-recent improvements of late.
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I build physical models which allow me to test and iterate the walking functions in real-world conditions.



  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Build your dreams and share them. As long as your product idea represents the height of your skills at that time and the best LEGO pieces you have access to in order to complete your vision, that’s all you can do. I definitely support and vote for builds that represent all different skill levels. My own skills have evolved significantly over time as has my build budget, but I still appreciate any build where it is evident that the designer did the best they could with the pieces and parts available to them.
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea? 
    The interviews I did with Beyond the Brick and Racing Brick were probably the most effective at spreading news of the build and garnering interest and support from a large audience of LEGO enthusiasts and supporters. Building a LEGO Ideas submission that spoke to those content creators and made them want to do the interviews was critical to securing their support.
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    LEGO Ideas 21103: Back to the Future Delorean built by m.togami and Team BTTF. I love this movie, love this car, and love the way that the build allowed me to recreate the modifications to the car for each of the 3 movies, especially tilting the wheels parallel to the ground to prepare for flight!

  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    When I first joined Cuusoo, the predecessor to LEGO Ideas, I loved the fact that it was a forum for any amateur LEGO designer like me to get the attention of professional LEGO designers like Uwe Wabra and Jeppe Juul Jensen and potentially secure a job at LEGO one day. It’s like the premise of one of my favourite 80’s movies, the Last Starfighter, where a videogame is actually a recruitment tool for space pilots. My hope was that LEGO Ideas was a recruitment tool for future LEGO Designers!
  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?
    Yes, of course. Let’s just say that my next product idea submission will either walk, crawl, run or jump!
  • robot
  • motor
  • science
  • technic
  • engineering
  • technology
  • engine
  • dog
  • walker
  • motorized
  • 10k
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • product idea

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