10K Club Interview: Meet Marcus Ramsden & Mike Ling of Red Arrows Hawk
10K Club Interview: Meet Marcus Ramsden & Mike Ling of Red Arrows Hawk
Help us congratulate Marcus and Mike on joining the exclusive LEGO Ideas 10K Club and for sharing their story with us!
- Where are you from?
Marcus: I was born in York, England.
Mike: I was born in Biggin Hill, on the outskirts of South East London.
- How old are you?
Marcus: I am 31 years old.
Mike: I will be 38 years old in April 2017.
- What do you study or do for a living?
Marcus: I am a Flight Lieutenant Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force. Currently I work in a project team responsible for the airworthiness of the Rolls-Royce Adour Engine. I have been in the RAF for 7 years.
Mike: I am a squadron leader (equivalent of major) pilot in the Royal Air Force. Currently I am Red 10, the Supervisor of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows.
- What hobbies do you have?
Marcus: I love Skiing and motorsports. I have raced go-karts from an early age at a variety of levels and would like to progress into car racing. In my free time I relax by building LEGO models.
Mike: My main hobbies are following Formula 1 and flying aeroplanes (I fly private light aircraft outside of my day job). LEGO is my hobby of choice for relaxing in the evenings when my young daughter has gone to bed!
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
Marcus: I grew up playing with LEGO from a very early age. It’s the only toy I can remember playing with. My parents supported my hobby and took me on several trips to LEGOLAND Billund and Windsor. Anything is possible with LEGO! I believe my passion for playing with bricks inspired me to follow a career in engineering.
Mike: I have been building LEGO sets from a very young age – my mother used to sit me in front of a big box of bricks and I would be entertained for hours (much to her pleasure!). I particularly enjoyed the early Technic sets and I vividly remember being rather challenged building the Pneumatic Excavator one Christmas evening.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Marcus: Like RAFRed10, my favourite set is the Ferrari F40. I think this is because I grew up with the iconic Ferrari supercar during my childhood with many people also relating to it. It’s a fantastic model with lots of detail. I am currently building the Porsche GT3 RS which is on a different level. It is very technical and what the designer has achieved with all the moving parts is incredible.
Mike: I have most enjoyed building the Ferrari F40 recently. The detail is superb and the design is fantastic. I have dismantled and rebuilt it around 5 times in a year!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Marcus: I don’t have a single favourite LEGO element. When I was a child I particularly loved elements that brought models to life like the 2x2 police siren sound element and the 1x4 flashing light element that operated by the LEGO 9v battery box. I love all elements now as each one brings back fond memories from my childhood.
Mike: I genuinely love the standard 2x4 brick. It is so iconic and I had a huge box full of them when I was younger. The creativity the simple brick allows is really what has made me a LEGO fan and I hope it does the same for many children nowadays. The fact that the 2x4 brick is where the whole of the LEGO success started and all of the development of the design occurred through that element is a great story in my opinion.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Marcus: I am inspired by Mike Psiaki. The Ferrari F40 is a work of art and to achieve the angles of the car using LEGO bricks is more than impressive. He was the inspiration behind our Red Arrows Hawk LEGO Idea and many of the bricks are similar.
Mike: Mike Psiaki. As mentioned before, the Ferrari F40 I think is amazing! I have also enjoyed building his Creator Blue Power Jet and I enjoy that he is a fan of aviation.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Marcus: I follow Brickset.com and a number of other LEGO groups on Twitter as they keep me update to date with the LEGO ideas and helped looking at how we could use elements on our Red Arrows Hawk.
Mike: I often visit Brickset.com to keep up to date with the wider LEGO community. It’s also useful for finding elements with a useful search function.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Marcus: Going to an airshow when I was 8, watching the Red Arrows for the first time whilst running around with a Red Arrows inflatable plane! That really inspire me to follow my dreams. It doesn’t matter who you are or what age, flying has an ability to inspire and innovate – especially across the important subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths. I wanted the feelings of inspiration to be shared through the Red Arrows as they are a British icon and many people have grown up watching them amaze the crowds. I would love the model to be used to enthuse the next generation to achieve their dreams through dedication and teamwork – like I did.
Mike: I have been a pilot with the Red Arrows for 9 years now and have wanted to be a pilot with the team since I was 2 or 3 years old. My passion for being involved with the world famous team forged my link between LEGO and the Red Arrows.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Marcus: The scale of the model was a real challenge. Finding elements that worked with each other and didn’t alter the scale was difficult especially when designing the plane to house minifigures and have a retractable undercarriage!
Mike: The Red Arrows Hawk jet has lots of smooth sides and curves that are rather difficult to recreate in LEGO. It’s also challenging to make it the correct scale to get the right proportions to house the minifigs in the cockpit.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
Marcus: It took just over 6 months working together with RAFRed10. We both started off with our own models then combined the best parts and spent a lot of time refining the model to make it look as realistic as possible but not overcomplicating the model.
Mike: My job is very busy so it wasn’t an overnight process! Long evenings and weekends and I would say it probably took in excess of 6 months all together. I have a very patient girlfriend!
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Marcus: Over the moon. To reach over 10,000 votes in just over 5 weeks. It’s been incredible, with international coverage on television, newspapers and social media. We were amazed at how much attention the model received. Reaching the magic 10,000 votes wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s amazing support. Thank you!
Mike: It took around 5 weeks to reach 10,000 votes. The amount of support was incredible and such a buzz tracking its progress on the Ideas website. We were utterly delighted when we ticked over the magic 10k figure! What a feeling!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
Marcus: Approx. 420 pieces.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Marcus: A model that inspires and innovates proves to be successful which people can also relate to. The model, LEGO Ideas narrative and social media campaign are as important as each other.
Mike: A model that captures people’s imagination seems to prove more popular in the support gathering stage. A theme or idea that people can relate to also helps.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
Marcus: My favourite project is the Yellow Submarine as it’s so iconic. Just like the song, it’s simple, different and fun! It’s great to see that it appeals to all ages.
Mike: I have enjoyed building Wall-E. I think that is a great set and probably my favourite although I also like the creativity that has gone into the Beatles Yellow Submarine.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Marcus: The ease of use and other model builders having a capability of providing feedback. The whole process was very easy to follow from start to finish. At the start we never imagined we would reach 10,000 supporters. If anyone is thinking of uploading an idea – go for it! Follow your dreams as anything is possible.
Mike: There are so many LEGO fans across the world. It is so amazing to have the opportunity to see your own idea immortalized in the famous bricks and potential to be produced on a large scale to be sold worldwide. If uploading an idea, take lots of photographs that show the model off in situations that capture imagination. Include in the statement what inspired you and what you think the model will do to inspire others