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10K Club Interview: TAYLOR SWIFT'S LOVER HOUSE by donnydings & Icemannn999

Welcome, everyone! This Friday, we welcome a duo to the 10K club. Meet Donnydings and Icemannn999, a.k.a. Donovan and Xander, and their TAYLOR SWIFT'S LOVER HOUSE project. If you are a Swiftie, or simply like pop music, this idea will be sure to impress. Show your support and comments below!



ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    Donovan Cho.

    I’m Xander!
     
  2. Where are you from?
    Austin, Texas.

    I was born in Cincinnati, but I’ve lived in Kentucky for most of my life! 
     
  3. How old are you?
    17.

    I’m 17, almost 18. 
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I’m still in high school so that takes up most of my time, but in terms of employment, I’m a lifeguard, tutor, and video editor. In the future, I hope to double-major in Business and East Asian Studies.

    I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree at NKU (Northern Kentucky University) and I’m a security intern at Cisco Systems! 


     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    Honestly, I get a lot of hobbies out of Lego. I’ve collected Lego for most of my life, and I also enjoy building MOCs and making custom minifigures through sculpting and painting. I used to make brickfilms as well, but I haven’t had time in a while since school comes first. I love listening to music (always bumping Taylor and SZA) and I sometimes play the piano for fun. I’m currently learning to play Enchanted and Long Live!

    I love playing instruments, especially piano, and I train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at my gym as much as I can! 
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    My Instagram is @donnydings77, and my YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/@donnydings) has some old animations, though I don’t really use them anymore. I also use Rebrickable to upload MOC instructions.

    I post my best photos/creations to my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/icemannn999/ 
    But I have a lot more photos on my Flickr https://www.flickr.com/people/195816697@N08/ (My username is Icemannn999 for both) 
     
  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?
    The MOC I’m most proud of has to be my Eras Tour Lego set, which is in this review as well! It’s a roughly minifigure-scale functional recreation of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. I’m really proud of how I was able to accurately recreate the majority of the stage’s functions (raisable platforms, hidden pianos and houses, trapdoors, fireworks, and more!) and include every era. It was challenging to mentally engineer the mechanisms without being able to tangibly feel them, but I think I was pretty successful. I’m also pretty proud of my Kom’rk-Class Gauntlet Fighter MOC. I built this with spare pieces as a larger and more accurate alternative to set 75316. It has retractable landing gear, a rear docking ramp, and can fit 4 Mandalorians + cargo. The cockpit has 360* rotation and the wings move in sync. The official set requires you to move each wing separately, so I wanted to improve that by ensuring that moving one wing would also move the other. Like the Eras Tour, I’m proud of my accurate mechanism recreation.

    Not too long ago, my sister got a set with an ice cream truck in it (60314) and I turned it into a mech! Perhaps not my favorite MOC of all time, but I’m really proud of how it turned out! 
     
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
    One of my earliest memories is building the Sith Nightspeeder (7957) set on my grandparents’ glass coffee table while visiting them in Hong Kong. I think that I’ve always had a passion for creating things since an early age, and my parents introduced Lego as an outlet for that. I’ve probably been a Lego fan at least since I was 4, which is also around the time I became a Star Wars fan. Being able to play with Clone Wars characters and vehicles while watching the show was definitely a big contributor to my early love for Lego.

    I’ve been building LEGO sets for as long as I can remember; As a kid, my grandparents would always surprise me with a new LEGO set whenever I visited them!  

     
  9. What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    I have always enjoyed building Lego, but I think the most important thing about it is that it serves as an auxiliary for the imagination, which I’ve found has begun to dry up as I’ve gotten older. As a kid I could spend hours making up my own stories with Lego, and I’ve lately realized the importance of reconnecting with this part of my identity. Even simply fiddling with a minifigure or two has become an invaluable relief from the stress of IB. Though my time for it is limited, Lego rejuvenates my creativity and greatly improves my mental health.

    LEGO is a very important part of my life. I’ve collected over 500 LEGO sets and I’ve met people online over LEGO chatrooms that I never would have met otherwise. I love this community! :)
     
  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?
    My favorite theme has to be Star Wars. The vast majority of my collection is Star Wars, and it’s the theme I follow most closely. And as I mentioned earlier, my interests in Lego and Star Wars are closely intertwined. I suppose the Star Wars theme has influenced me to build in a more sci-fi, futuristic style, especially around vehicles and their play functions, so the Lover House was a step in a new direction for me. However, I really like the Monkie Kid theme, particularly the sets that most closely adhere to the original story. The new Dreamzzz theme is pretty cool too!

    My favorite theme BY FAR would definitely be Galaxy Squad. I have pretty much every single set, and they are all SO COOL!! I’d say the aspects of Galaxy Squad I’ve been inspired by would be the sci-fi-ness and the over-the-top action of it all with the crazy amount of lasers! 
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    This is a tough choice, but I have to go with The Legendary Flower Fruit Mountain (80024). Being half Chinese, The Journey to the West is a story that my childhood familiarized me with. I really appreciate having a Lego set that is not only visually beautiful but also full of story-accurate details, especially at a time when Chinese culture is often vilified in favor of Japanophilia. I love the moving waterfall feature and the rock that Wukong pops out of. I’m also a big fan of monkeys, and I think having 7 minifigures of them is pretty neat.

    Definitely set 10188, the original UCS Death Star. I remember when I first got into Star Wars as a kid and I wanted it so bad, I circled it in every LEGO magazine I came across. I was so insanely excited on Christmas when I actually ended up getting it! (Shout out to my grandma for that one!)  

     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    It’s hard to pick since there are so many pieces and ways to approach the question, but I’ll go with the 12x6 Wedge Plate (30355/30356). I just like the shaping overall, and these pieces were indispensable as a kid building spaceships.

    There are a lot of great elements out there, so it’s tough to pick, but I think I’d go with the 1x2 grille slope (10188). I love how the slits are perpendicular to the piece, as opposed to the parallel ones on the normal 1x2 tile, it gives off such a cool vibe. Whether I use them for greebling or exhaust on a vehicle or spaceship, they always look so snazzy!
     
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    I’m not sure if this counts, but minifigure customizer MGF Customs was a big inspiration when I was younger. His work is incredibly intricate and he’s the reason I started minifigure customization.

    There are so many designers/MOC creators that I’m inspired by, so I think I’ll have to pick two if that’s alright. 1. I’ve always remembered looking up to Nathan Sawaya. My grandparents bought me his book, and I remember his art just being so jaw-dropping! I eventually got to go see his exhibit in person, and I must tell you, it is SO worth it! 2. Chubbybots is one of the few LEGO YouTubers that I consistently watch. He is the main reason I build so many LEGO mechs! I highly recommend checking his stuff out, the techniques he comes up with are so innovative and unique. 
     
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by? 
    My Instagram feed has a lot of great Lego content, and I sometimes visit Bricklink when looking for parts.

    I’m constantly visiting BrickLink, whether it’s to find out what color a piece comes in, double-check a set number, or buy pieces (I definitely buy too much, haha). Although, since LEGO owns BrickLink now, I suppose it could count as official, so I would also say BrickSet. that’s the website I use to track all the sets/minifigures I have. 


     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I became a big Taylor Swift fan after her album Midnights. The themes and lyricism of the album strongly resonated with what was going on in my life, and while I had enjoyed Taylor’s music before, Midnights sucked me into the rabbit hole of her discography. With songs like The Archer, You’re On Your Own, Kid, and Castles Crumbling, Taylor weaves a profound depth into her lyrics and has an incredibly comforting ability to articulate in song what ordinarily can’t be put into words. The catharsis I found in listening to her music cemented my fanhood and admiration of Taylor’s work. So when I saw the viral tweet proposing a Lover House Lego set, I knew I had to do it, especially when the official Lego account replied! I must admit that I wasn’t expecting so many other Swifties to join in as well.

    Donny and I both love Taylor Swift. While we weren’t able to go together, we’ve both seen her Eras Tour show live! I think the Lover House is so iconic because it represents each of Taylor’s eras so well. 
     
  2. How long was the process of making the project, 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?
    It took me around a bit over a week of intensely working over Thanksgiving break. My research included learning how to use stud.io since I’d never used it before and rewatching the Lover music video over and over again. Taylor had also conveniently revamped her website to be Lover House-themed for the holiday season, which was useful for finding detailed reference pictures. I planned pre-build by deciding what scale to build at and made a template for the base of each room. Finding a good scale was difficult, but once setting a precedent made things easier later on. I designed the house to function modularly, so I built each room separately and then connected them at the end.

    The whole process really didn’t too long. I’m sure Donny can go more in-depth on that. There was a lot of going back and forth between the model and the reference to make sure everything was accurate! I’ve probably added a couple extra hundred views to the Lover music video (where the house shows up) from just reference alone haha! I mainly focused on the room on the bottom right (Speak Now) and the one right above that (Red). Donny did the main heavy lifting though, he was a beast! 

  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    Properly scaling the house and all of its furnishings down to a minifigure scale was a fairly significant but enjoyable challenge. It’s been months since I finished the build so it’s hard for me to recall specifics, but there were definitely parts that went through dozens of iterations before I was happy with them. I do remember being particularly frustrated with the parts where it was necessary to hang things from the ceiling (Fearless, Speak Now, Red, Evermore), but I’m pretty happy with the end result. Another minor frustration I had was stud.io’s limited minifigure piece/print selection, which made making minifigures out of Taylor’s outfits tedious. Some of the prints and hairpieces definitely don’t fit exactly, but they get the job done well enough.

    Because we had a set room size from the beginning, the main challenge was translating everything to a somewhat minifigure scale built on the model itself. At some points, details did have to be sacrificed and built at a lower “resolution” if that makes sense. 
     
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell them? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    When building the Lego Lover House, I made the mistake of projecting my perception of Taylor’s personal life and relationships onto my artistic interpretation of the music video. It seems silly in retrospect, but I definitely should’ve populated the house purely based on the music video and nothing else. It’s a bit embarrassing that it took renewed and unwarranted tabloid scrutiny upon Taylor for me to learn this lesson, but I think it was an important one to learn. I would also tell myself to look into making custom prints for certain pieces, like the Reputation projector screen and Taylor’s outfits. I was trying to finish the project as fast as possible so I didn’t consider the possibility at the time, but I think it would’ve added a lot to the model.

    A small part of me wishes I could’ve helped more since I was really only able to finish around two rooms. But, I think it still turned out great, and I’m very thankful for Donny inviting me to take part in designing this. 
     
  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? 
    Like I said earlier, it took a bit over a week of intense work. I finished fairly quickly, much faster than I would’ve at any other time in the year since my schedule was luckily pretty free. The week it took to complete the model was definitely much shorter than the 7 months it took to reach 10k, but 7 months isn’t too bad of a time to achieve support!

    Most of the effort was spent building/designing, to be honest. While I did post about it on my Instagram, I was still surprised how (relatively) quickly we gained supporters. 
     
  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take? 
    I actually reached 10k on my birthday, exactly 7 months from the date it went online! Achieving support felt really good and it happened unexpectedly on a great coincidental date. I joked that it was a great birthday present, and it kinda was.

    It was obviously super incredible; I mean it’s not every day that your MOC gets a shot at becoming a real LEGO set! 

  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model? 
    The model is made up of 2763 pieces!

     
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    It has to be either the Folklore stairs (even though I made them face the wrong way, oops lol) or the roof. The roof is made of hinged panels that angle perfectly with the sloped brick wall, and I like how they add texture to the house and have a spot for Anti-Hero Taylor. That isn’t part of the Lover music video, but I thought it’d be a neat addition to include all 10 of Taylor’s eras. I also like the rubber ducks in Fearless.

    It’s a small section, but I’m really proud of how the couch and coffee table turned out in the Red room! 
     
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    We both used Stud.io.
     
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I didn’t use any.

    The designs on custom minifigures were from the Stud.io part picker.  


     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    I think my best advice is that it’s important to understand the market. I knew that Taylor-themed ideas would be immensely popular among her fanbase, especially after seeing the viral tweet. I also knew that Swifties would go out of their way to make TikToks and such promoting ideas that they liked, and I took advantage of this by posting my idea to Taylor-themed groups online and using prominent current hashtags like #tstheerastour. Catering to a large yet specific demographic definitely helped my product stand out and allowed me to focus on a target audience. Some more general advice would be to make your idea as polished and appealing as possible so audiences can better see its merit. Overall, promoting your idea as much as possible helps, but calculated promotion is more effective than unspecific general publicity. For example, posting one Reel using trending audio will yield better results than many Instagram posts just using hashtags.

    Promotion is definitely a big part of it. I’ve seen people having to campaign for months or even over a year to get their idea to 10,000 supporters.
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I touched on this in the previous question, but my main method of advertisement was posting my idea online and asking people to support and share. Once I got Instagram in late March, I posted about it a couple times and also posted a couple Reels. For this particular project though, I primarily relied on the trendiness of the Lego Lover House as a whole.

    I promoted it on my Instagram and shared it on all the various places online I frequented at the time (Discord, etc.) 
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    It’s hard to choose a single one, but there have been many amazing ideas based on Avatar: The Last Airbender! I hope that one eventually will be approved, especially one featuring Appa and the Gaang.

    The Saturn V is my favorite Ideas set I have; I also really hope hachiroku24’s Iron Giant gets approved! And I can’t forget Donny’s other Taylor Swift Idea, the Eras Tour! 
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I love that it gives regular people the chance to have their ideas made into a real Lego set. 

    I love seeing what people come up with for an Idea of something that I also have a shared interest in, as well as the set that comes out of it of course. This interview process has also been really fun so far! Donny would know more about the uploading side of things, though! 
     
  5. 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 doubt I will have enough time anytime soon, but I would love to make a project celebrating the culture of my heritage (I am half Korean and half Cantonese). I’m particularly drawn to making a microscale replica of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the most prominent example of surviving Royal Korean architecture. Korean architecture deserves much more celebration, and it is shameful that so many magnificent examples of it (like the Goryeo Dynasty’s Manwoldae) have been lost to violence and imperialism.

    I personally don’t have anything in the works right now, but that’s always subject to change! 

     
     
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • product idea
  • donnydings
  • icemannn999
  • taylor swifts lover house
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