10K Club Interview: Introducing Harry Finkel and Seven Dwarfs, with The Seven Dwarfs' House!
“Magic Mirror on the wall, will my Seven Dwarfs' House project reach 10K votes or not at all?” Designer of The Seven Dwarfs' House project, Harry Finkel (aka Hanwasyellowfirst) is this week's 10K Club Interviewee!
And of course, please congratulate Harry in the comments section down below!
- Where are you from?
I come from London in the United Kingdom.
- How old are you?
- What do you study or do for a living?
I studied Jazz Guitar at University and now I work as a Video Games Designer.
- What hobbies do you have?
I play guitar and occasionally I still gig and I love it! I also enjoy playing video games, tennis and of course creating my favourite things out of LEGO!
- Do you have a personal portfolio website that you can share with us?
I have a Flickr account and Instagram account, set up as Hanwasyellowfirst - I upload all my LEGO shenanigans on those, feel free to follow me and say hi!
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I have loved LEGO for as long as I can remember. My older brother and I spent hours waging wars between Blacktron and Mtron, Pirates and Indigo Islanders and building custom Star Wars ships and scenes…
One of my clearest childhood memories is spotting The Speeder Bikes set (7128) on a display stand in a supermarket in 1999. When I arrived home, I ran upstairs with the set hidden behind my back. My brother was in the exact building position I had left him in. I exclaimed: “What are the two greatest things of all time!?” Without hesitation he answered: “Star Wars and LEGO!”
There was no going back from that point, and not much has changed in the last 20 years!
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?`
This is too difficult to answer! Black Seas Barracuda? Megacore Magnetizer? The Medieval Market Village? The Battle of Helms Deep? Ninjago City Docks? UCS Falcon? I can't remember how many times I have got to the end of building a set and thought, this is my favorite set ever. I do know that when the UCS Falcon was rereleased I couldn't let it escape me for a second time, I had to have it!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Hmm… I think probably anything from the ‘SNOT’ family or - Studs Not On Top. Purely because they opened the floodgates for design possibilities.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
That is a really difficult question too. There are so many talented builders out there, everytime I go pursuing I see something fantastic, it’s great!
The design team on the first wave of Lord of the Rings LEGO rock. The whole first wave was fantastic and exceeded expectations. The sets really captured the essence of the films. The palettes, details, rock work etc and minifigures really felt like they had raised the bar. I graduated from university the day the first wave was released in the UK, so naturally my student loan went towards all of it.
I also have to mention Hans Burkhard Schlomer. Having been extremely lucky to build The UCS Millenium Falcon (75192) I have to say, hats off to that man!
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I recently joined Instagram and found it a fantastic source to see some incredible designers’ work. I also find myself checking out what's new on Brothers Brick, Brickset and Bricklink for all my specific brick needs!
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I grew up on the Disney Classics, as many of my generation did. So Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was part of childhood.
My fiancee also grew up on the classics and she too remains a pretty avid fan so it was really nice to have a LEGO idea that meant something to both of us. (I don't think she feels the same emotional connection to the UCS Falcon as I do…)
I wanted to pay homage to Disney's first feature length movie. I had been toying with the idea of making the Dwarfs’ House for some time and had a loose concept in mind. I knew the Dwarves themselves would translate wonderfully to LEGO, as LEGO really captures character and charm.
This year I saw the recreation of the house at Disneyworld and knew I had to make it! It’s such a pretty house. I’m sure many builders reading also constantly wonder how you would build what you're looking at out of LEGO? Seeing the building in front of me made my imagination run wild. This excitement meant it had ticked the box for an ideas project worth pursuing.
In addition I thought if I could create a version I was happy with, it would allow for lots of playability and displayability. I was really attracted to the idea that the building (even without the Dwarves), would be desirable as a LEGO set. So hopefully there is something appealing in the project for all LEGO fans.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I wanted the house to speak for itself as a standalone display piece, but also I wanted people to be able to open it up to play and have fun. Making the house fully playable and displayable was a must and a difficult challenge. There was a fair amount of sketching ideas and iteration.
The bedroom was a particular challenge. I knew I had to include the bedroom, as there are one or two iconic scenes set there, but this meant squeezing in 7 beds! Balancing the aesthetic of the beds themselves with the desire to keep the overall scale realistic for a LEGO set was tough. I was happy with the final result, but there are many bed designs that were rejected first!
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
When I find an idea I'm passionate about I'm usually straight out of the gates at full speed. This was the case on this project. I really wanted to try and capture the charm of the building. I did, however, end up taking a month or so away from it when I was thinking carefully about how I wanted the build to open up etc. I hit a brick wall, so to speak, and the time away from it was very useful. So overall I think 3-4 months from concept to submission.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes – again- and how long did it take?
It was pretty surreal, and very exciting! It still hasn’t really sunk in. I was at work on a Friday afternoon. A few AFOL colleagues and I were frantically hitting refresh! It took a little under 3 months.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The house is around 2250 pieces.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I think the hardest part is finding an idea you are really passionate about. The build and the submission are time consuming and hard work, but this is much easier to tackle if you really believe in your idea!
Personally, I find it really helpful to sketch out ideas first. Often I can throw out an idea or at least identify problems early from trying to draw how it would function.
Don’t be afraid to reassess your design if you’re getting stuck!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
My fiancee treated me to the Old Fishing Store (21310) for Christmas, and that is a lovely set!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
LEGO has such a huge and diverse fanbase and there are so many amazing builders and imaginations out there. I think it is fantastic that LEGO provides these people with a platform to show their work and chase the dream of having a LEGO creation become official. The community is also fantastic and supportive.
Have a set of criteria in mind for what you think constitutes a strong LEGO set, and challenge your idea against those criteria. Does is offer playability? Does it display nicely? Is there something in there with wide reaching appeal? Does it strongly represent the core of your idea? I find this approach helps me choose my ideas and shape design decisions whilst building.
Also, the work doesn't stop at submission. You need to send out your build to groups that your set is aimed at. If people like it then you've verified your design and you're on your way! Have fun!