INTERVIEW: Bob De Quatre
EBSWF: So, Bob, how did you get into the LEGO hobby? What is it that attracts you in Space and Star Wars in particular?
I guess I get into Lego hobby like most of us here, by being a child playing with Lego… My collection back then was already mostly space themed, with Blacktron and M-tron sets. I’m also a 7th art lover, again mostly Sci-Fi. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was a kid. I was 9 or 10 when I first saw RotJ on my uncle’s TV, he watching the movie while I was playing with… Legos. I have a photographic memory, and some scenes like the Sarlac pit were carved in my mind. I guess that not long after that I started watching the movies and dived deep in a galaxy far, far away…. Continue reading
Today we’re interviewing Bane, a former mod on the German Star Wars forum, Imperium der Steine. He’s also dabbled in photography, and reviewed a few sets here on Eurobricks.
EBSWF: We’re glad you could talk with us Bane, how did you come to like LEGO Star Wars?
It’s an honor for me, thank you for the invitation!
Well, everything began in 2005, when Revenge of the Sith aired in the cinemas. It was the first Star Wars movie I saw, but it wouldn’t be the last. It didn’t took me long to see the other movies. At the time, a good friend of mine was a big LEGO Star Wars collector. He had every possible set… and he infected me with the LEGO virus.
EBSWF: Eurobricks is just one of hundreds of sites out there, how did you come across it?
The first contact I made with LEGO communities on the internet was quite random. I found photos of the awesome “Imperial Inspection” from The Brick Time via Google images back in 2007. A month or so later, I joined Imperium der Steine. As Eurobricks is linked quite often in the news forums I decided to join EB in 2009.
EBSWF: How much did you do for Imperium der Steine? How does it differ from EB?
I left the moderating team of Imperium der Steine in October 2012 due to a lack of time and I left it definitely on Christmas. Three of my colleagues did the same, because of severe disagreements with the admin’s way to lead the community; even though I’m not exaggerating when I say that I worked with the best moderating team ever and I had a great time in the team. All of us were very dedicated to the forum. How much did I do for Imperium der Steine? Many users and colleagues perceived me as a sort of “think tank”. I led a MOC Index project last year for all the MOCs that have been presented since 2006. Thanks to a very efficient and motivated project team, we classified about 3500 MOCs within one month. I also had the idea of making a news blog with news about all the LEGO themes, as we only post LEGO Star Wars related news on the portal, this amongst other things. And of course, the classic moderating stuff like closing threads, helping newbies and deleting double posts.
It differs from EB in many ways. First of all, it’s a German speaking forum and the main focus is LEGO Star Wars, which doesn’t mean that we don’t have non-Star Wars topics. EB is an AFOL community, IDS is open to all ages. The members are between age 11 and 55. When the forum started in 2006, there were two or three AFOLs, even the admin was only 16 years old at the time. Now it’s about fifty-fifty. That mixture between young and old is a pretty cool thing and it works! Every user is respected. The more experienced members help the younger ones to become better builders, same thing with reviews and customs. There are plenty of young people who build better than AFOLs. One of my favorite builders is only 14 years old.
EBSWF: We know you’re an AFOL, but what do people you know think of that?
Who told you that I’m an AFOL? 😀 That’s funny, because nobody knows my real age. We even had a poll in the off-topic forum on IDS where user could guess my age. Quite amusing to see what people think of how old you are. But yes, I am.
My friends know that I am a big Star Wars (and LEGO) fan, they like what I do. I don’t make a secret of it; but in the meantime we don’t talk often about LEGO.
EBSWF: Of course you build with LEGO, but do you have other hobbies?
Actually I don’t build with lego besides of the official sets I buy. I have a very restricted amount of lego parts, I focus on minifigures and on my favorite Star Wars ships.
Yes, I have other hobbies. I love photography, especially landscapes, urban impressions and macro. Good thing I live in Berlin, it is such a great city to take pictures. I also made internships in photo editorial departments of two press agencies 2-3 years ago, which was an awesome experience. I also play badminton, and of course there is no weekend where I don’t go out with friends, if that’s counted as a hobby.
EBSWF: How much time of your free time do you devote to LEGO related activities?
Less than in the last years. As said, most of the time I spent was for the forum. I hope that I can be more active with LEGO photography, now that I left the team. But it seems as if a lot of “real life” work is coming towards me, so… we’ll see. But I’m really motivated!
EBSWF: Have there been any changes or impacts to your life because of the LEGO hobby? Some people have used LEGO practically; have you found any uses for it?
Yes, it helped me improve my macro photography skills. Apart from that, I met new people thanks to community events. Some of them became real friends.
EBSWF: You chose ‘Bane’ for your username, is that because of the Batman character or some other reason?
No, not at all. I read the Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn and was fascinated by Bane’s evil character. Some people say there are some similarities between him and me… (Note to myself: consider to stop using sarcasm on the internet *g*)
EBSWF: Is your sig-fig your own custom? If so, have you made any others?
EBSWF: You are known here on EB for your great photography. How do you get such awesome shots?
I wouldn’t qualify my shots as awesome. There are many things I could do better, but thank you, glad you like them!
Many people think that you need an expensive professional DSLR camera for taking pictures. It’s a sure thing that a good camera can help, but it’s not the most important thing. I’m using a 7 year old Lumix bridge camera. Of course, not as good as a high-end DSLR but still, you can make acceptable pictures with older cameras. My advice to all of those who want to begin with LEGO photography: buy second-hand. It’s much cheaper and the quality is not worse.
It might not be the best method, but most of the time I have no clear idea of what I want to photograph. So I place some minifigs on a neutral background; I imagine what they could say or what kind of relations they could have. When the idea takes shape in my head, there are two possibilities. Either I use the few LEGO pieces I have to build a scene or I keep a neutral background. Playing with light and lightning is crucial. Using different exposure times can change the look of the picture dramatically, that’s why I always make many photos of one scene. When the scene is set, I try different view angles. I also have a little photo studio lamp for indoor scenes, as normal lamps don’t provide the best light.
Sometimes I take my minifigs out for a walk to find natural environments, this makes the picture more dynamic. Passersby might think I’m a freak, but the results are worth it most of the time.
Today we’re talking with Erdbeereis, the newest moderator of the Star Wars Forum. He patrolled the high seas as a Pirate Moderator before joining the Star Wars Staff team, so we must admit that we don’t know much about him.
EBSWF: Thanks for talking with us, Erdbeereis. First off, how were you introduced to LEGO, and how did you discover Eurobricks?
Thanks for having me! I hope that this interview will help the good people of the EB Star Wars forum get to know me a bit better.
I have always enjoyed building with LEGO bricks; when I was little my family always set up our LEGO train around the Christmas tree and we built all sorts of things around that. My parents were nice and often bought me little sets. But I really started seriously around 2007, when I received a small LEGO set as a gift (4939 Cool Cars). For some reason, this set sparked a greater interest, which eventually led to what I am today. I can’t remember exactly, but I believe I found Eurobricks when I was searching for LEGO websites online sometime in 2007. It looked like a good community with some interesting content, so I eventually joined.
EBSWF: How in the world did you come up with the name ‘Erdbeereis’? Are strawberries a favorite food of yours? And why did you choose the chef as your sigfig?
“Erdbeereis” means strawberry ice cream in German. My dad is German, and I was born in Germany, so I’ve always had a connection to the country. I visit my relatives there every year, and there are a lot of great Italian ice cream shops. So, I thought I would honor my German side and my love for ice cream at the same time. Most English speakers always seem to think that my name has something to do with beer.
One of the other things I love doing besides LEGO stuff is cooking (and eating of course). So, I thought the chef would be an appropriate choice for my sigfig (plus I always thought he was a friendly looking guy).
EBSWF: It sounds like a strange question, but do you like LEGO Star Wars? We can’t say we’ve seen much from you in this part of EB, though you have dabbled inbuilding Star Wars.
I do indeed like LEGO Star Wars. However, there is really not one LEGO theme that is my favorite. When I make MOCs, I usually try to build things from my own imagination rather than sticking to something that has already been created by someone else. For this reason, I don’t typically build Star Wars MOCs. That first MOC there was one of my first ones that I ever posted. Truth be told, I completely forgot about it. I think it’s safe to say I have improved my building skills since then. In addition, I’m not a huge movie buff like some Star Wars LEGO fans are, so I don’t have that level of attachment to the theme. That being said, I do enjoy the theme, and I buy SW sets from time to time if they have some exciting minifigures at a reasonable price (this is sometimes difficult )
EBSWF: We know you’re a mod. What’s entailed in being one? We often hear EB staff members complain about their being tricked into accepting the job of being a part of the staff.
I wasn’t tricked, just brainwashed. As a mod I help plan contests and moderate the forum (keep discussions on track, move and merge topics/posts, let people know if they need to change their posting habits, etc.). Sometimes I check up on the EB Star Wars blog to make sure everything is running smoothly.
EBSWF: Speaking of moderating, you were a mod in the Pirates forum for a while; does being a mod of the Star Wars forum differ from what you did over there?
Good question! For the most part, the two forums require similar things. However, a major difference that I’ve noticed between the two forums is the type of members that post. To me, it seemed like most LEGO Pirates fans were pretty laid back. On the other hand, there are quite a few members here that are very particular when it comes to SW related things. For example, the frequent arguments about a model’s accuracy, or the tendency to freak out when the Star Wars universe is changed in some way (case in point the Disney news). While these quarrels can be tiresome, it is nice to have dedicated fans and I think ultimately it is beneficial for our site to have people who strive for as much accuracy to the real thing as possible. That being said, I still like it when we can all just get along
EBSWF: What do you do with your time when you’re not playing with LEGO (or doing something related to the LEGO community), and how much time do you spend on LEGO related activities? Does being a mod affect the time you have to build?
There are many things that I enjoy doing besides LEGO. I love playing sports like golf, soccer, basketball, football, anything really. As I said before, cooking is another thing that is fun for me. Especially trying out new dishes, and making creative and unusual things. I’ve recently been doing a lot of desserts, such as creating sorbet recipes and making cookies. Here are a few of the things I’ve made recently.
Frozen mango parfait
Mandarin orange cake
Sponge cake with buttermilk sherbet
Mango sorbet with cherry sauce
I also do a lot of traveling; I’ve been to 13 countries so far in my life, and I hope to visit many more. Finally, I play drums and piano. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all those things, but I do my best! It all depends on my schedule and the time of year when it comes to how long I spend doing LEGO-related activities. I definitely wouldn’t say more than a few hours a week, but in the winter I do a lot more since I can’t be outside as much.
EBSWF: You’re an AFOL, certainly not uncommon in the LEGO community, but what do ‘normal’ people think of that?
I don’t necessarily advertise my love of LEGO to the world, but I do enjoy showing my friends and family the things I build, or talking about interesting things going on at Eurobricks. The people I share things with usually think it’s fascinating to see the many things one can do with LEGO bricks.
EBSWF: Finally, do you have any plans for future projects in the Star Wars forum?
Well we will just have to wait and see won’t we? I can say there is an exciting event in the works for the near future, but that’s all I will say for now.
Today we’re interviewing Rufus, the special themes mod, as well as a Reviewers Academy Teacher.
EBSWF: Thanks for doing this, Rufus. Firstly, how did you get started with the LEGO hobby, and how great is your interest in LEGO Star Wars, as opposed to other themes?
I’ve been a LEGO fan since I was about 5. I inherited a number of rather beaten-up 1970s sets from my brother, and started my own collection with some of the beautiful Classic Town sets from the early 80s. My first true love though was Classic Space, and I built up quite a sizeable space base from these amazing sets.
Of course, being a child of the late 70s/early 80s, I was also a Star Wars fan. I remember trying – and failing, miserably – to build a Millennium Falcon from some Classic Space grey wedge plates! I never dreamed that, 20 years later, it would be Star Wars that got me back into LEGO. You can blame the original Snowspeeder 7130 for that! I’ve been collecting LEGO Star Wars ever since. For a loooong time, it was ONLY Star Wars, and initially only the UCS sets – I have nearly all of them. Then in about 2006, I was at a conference and a little bored in the evening, so I bought two sets – the A-Wing and the Tie Interceptor – and that got my into System Star Wars and the minifigure addiction caught hold!
Recently, my LEGO interests have broadened greatly and Star Wars is no longer my over-riding passion, mainly because the Clone Wars and Expanded Universe sets don’t appeal to me that much; also I have got into MOCing in a big way and it’s difficult to MOC Star Wars without falling foul of the accuracy fiends! But I still collect the OT and PT sets and will continue to review them. It amazes me that after 13 years of the SW Licence, TLG are still putting out great sets; even though they are nowadays mostly improvements on previous ones.
EBSWF: How did you find this site?
I spent many years thinking I was the only AFOL in the world! Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was a whole community of people like me out there. I first discovered From Bricks to Bothans, but I kept following links to this ‘Eurobricks’ site, and it seemed a much more lively and interesting place, so I figured Eurobricks was for me. Like most people, I lurked here for a long time before finally signing up; what convinced me to join in the end was that I was working on my MOC of the Lambda Shuttle (which still doesn’t have a good System version), and wanted to show it off.
EBSWF: What do the people around you think of you being an AFOL?
Not many people know, and those that do don’t know the true extent of it! Close family and friends know, of course, and I think they look at my LEGO hobby as an eccentricity – an image I don’t try to refute! My wife also being an AFOL is both a blessing and a curse – it’s great to share the same hobby, but we don’t have anyone to moderate our spending. LEGO is inexorably taking over the house!
EBSWF: Aside from LEGO, do you have any other hobbies?
I’m a little bit of a musician. I play the guitar (reasonably well) and the saxophone (extremely badly). Till recently I played in a band doing rock covers in a variety of pubs around London – it was great fun until the usual ‘musical differences’ got in the way! Oh well, I have more time for LEGO now.
EBSWF: How much time do you spend on LEGO related activities?
Too much! Unfortunately, as the collection grows, so does the amount of time required to sort all the parts. Like most, we’ve been through every permutation of sorting technique and still haven’t found the best way.
I probably spend equal amounts of time MOCing, reviewing, sorting, and doing online stuff like moderating. Keeping the variety is important as doing exclusively any one of these things can leave you a bit stale. I have a bajillion things I mean to do – particularly on Eurobricks – but rarely the time to bring them all to fruition.
EBSWF: Has the LEGO hobby changed/impacted your life? Do you have any practical use of LEGO in your daily life?
It has thoroughly taken over! Sometimes at the expense of real life things like mowing the lawn. Mostly, it’s a positive influence – we’ve made a load of great friends around the world through Eurobricks, who started as virtual friends and thanks to the things like the Eurobricks Event and Brickworld have become real friends. Otherwise, I’ve learned a lot through the hobby – particularly with regard to photography and photograph editing with Photoshop.
I did consider building a life-size set of furniture from LEGO, but decided that was a step too far. So no, I don’t really have a practical use for all the LEGO!
EBSWF: Have your moderator duties on EB effected how you relate to LEGO? Why or why not?
Yes and no. How’s that for an answer? Mostly no, because it hasn’t changed my LEGO interests much; though I’ve probably focused more on Architecture than I might have, and it leaves a little less time for other interests like SW. In some ways it has broadened my interests, because sometimes as a moderator you have to go into forums you wouldn’t normally visit, so come across things you wouldn’t normally see; in Special Themes I’ve come to appreciate some of the amazing Arty and Military MOCs out there which I might not have looked at before. Mostly it leaves a little less time for my own interests within EB; for example, I do less in the Reviewers Academy (and less reviewing) than I’d like to.
EBSWF: Why did you choose ‘Rufus’ for a username?
This has been a secret since I joined EB – do you really want me to reveal it? Prepare to be disappointed! I’d like to say I’m named after the character Rufus in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, or after my Fabuland sigfig, but the truth is rather more mundane.
Around the time I joined EB, I was playing an Xbox RPG called Fable II. You run around with a cute dog who finds stuff to dig up while you shoot bandits. My dog was called Rufus. Told you.
EBSWF: Do you have a favorite Star Wars character?
That’s a toughie. I imagine everyone picks Han Solo, but Han is far too obvious a maverick hero. I think for the Rebels I’d pick Lando – he makes the best of a difficult situation, and works hard to make up for his deal with the Empire.
For the bad guys, I always really liked Admiral Piett. He has a quiet, calm dignity so often lacking in the stereotypically English-accented baddies. You won’t hear him cackling maniacally, or prematurely celebrating his moment of triumph. And he utters the immortal line, ‘Bounty hunters – we don’t need that scum.’ Shame his LEGO figure isn’t so great.
EBSWF: You always make excellent reviews, but how do you go about making them? And how do you decide which sets to review?
Thank you! This question is best answered the other way round.
Generally, I buy sets I like, and review the ones that I feel would benefit from an in-depth look, or which haven’t had a quality review done before. Sometimes I get sent a preview copy of a set to review, which hopefully removes some of the bias inherent in only buying sets I like, but this isn’t likely to happen with Star Wars sets any time soon.
Reviewing is a time-consuming process. For a mint set, I first take pictures of the box, then the contents, then spend far too much time arranging parts neatly. I think this is an important step though: the parts selection may be a factor in many people’s decision to buy one set over another. Then there’s the build process: shooting every few steps of the build, whilst keeping the nascent model and camera in the same positions is a painstaking process, but it does force you to think about the build as you do it.
Once the model is complete, I take pictures from every conceivable angle, and show every feature of the set; for Star Wars sets in particular the minifigure selection is often at least as important as the model itself. I probably only end up using about a quarter of the pictures I take.
Finally, there’s writing the review: for me this can be the hardest part, and writers’ block strikes more often that I’d like to admit. There’s a limit to the number of different ways you can describe the box art of a series!
EBSWF: What was your favorite review?
Oooh, that’s a tricky one. I’m very fond of the UCS R2-D2 review, and indeed some of my earlier UCS reviews (the Snowspeeder was my favourite for a long time, but I think I’ve improved since then. On balance, I’d have to say the 8129 AT-AT review – I went a little over the top, perhaps, but I had great fun posing the AT-AT.
EBSWF: How do you make such great pictures for your reviews? (What’s your setup; what camera do you use; what picture editing software do you use; etc.)
Again, thank you!
Mostly it’s down to practice. A reasonable camera is essential – you can’t do it with a webcam or a mobile phone. I use a bottom-of-the-range Canon 1000D, with the basic lens that came with it, but the equipment I really swear by is the tripod. With a tripod, you can use the best ISO setting and a narrow aperture, and just leave the shutter open for ages (never use the flash!)
My ‘studio’ is simply the dining room table, with some white posterboard and the overhead lighting in the room. It’s really simple, but it did take quite some time to find a setup which produces consistent results every time. This produces a rather yellow raw image:
For the processing, I use Photoshop Elements. I always recommend it (and I promise I get no commission from Adobe for this!) With Elements, you can do about 90% of what you can do with the full Photoshop for about a sixth of the price.
About 30 seconds of editing turns it into this:
Today we’re interviewing Brickdoctor, the newest member of the Star Wars forum team. Best known for his accurate ship models, Brickdoctor has been on the site for quite some time, and has risen through the ranks quite rapidly.
EBSWF: Thanks for doing this Doc, but why LEGO Star Wars? How did you start with the hobby?
I’ve been a fan of LEGO in general for as long as I can remember. Originally, though, I was a Town and Castle fan. Town, because when I was younger, it seemed to be the theme that everyone agreed was appropriate to give as a gift to anyone; and Castle, because, well, what’s not to like about armies of little cartoonish plastic knights marching across the floor?
Star Wars was something that I’d experienced but wasn’t that huge a fan of. I’d seen the original movies and Menace. LEGO Star Wars came along, and, one Droid Developer Kit later, I was hooked on that. Obsession with Star Wars as a whole followed slowly but surely after that, largely thanks to Heir to the Empire.
EBSWF: What was it like to become staff, and how did you find the site?
What’s it like to become staff? Well, the standard response is that when one first becomes staff, one is excited until one realizes that one has been tricked into accepting the job, and then one has to navigate a forum full of scary admins, and…oh, what does this button do? Seriously, though, it’s been an honor to be a staff member for the Star Wars forum. I’m never rearranging that MOC Index again if I don’t have to, though.
I believe that I first found EB when I followed a link from The Brother’s Brick regarding some rumored upcoming Star Wars set. I lurked for a year or so before I joined, though I did so for reasons unrelated to Star Wars. I had seen Superkalle’s topic about LU mode for LDD 3, and at that time the unlock instructions were on a text file that was an attachment, only downloadable by members of EB.
EBSWF: How do you like working on the blog, and how much coding/graphical work do you do on the blog and here on EB?
I’ve definitely enjoyed working on the blog. I’m told that employees of TLG read it to keep up-to-date on some of the happenings in the LEGO Star Wars fandom, and I’m proud to be a member of the blogging team. I remember I was very excited when KimT first asked me to be a Rebel Blogger, especially since it was alongside such members as Kiel, Oky, and Cloney O’. (speaking of which, I was on vacation on the day when we supposedly had those giant Rebel Blogger rank images, and I have never seen what they looked like, so if anyone has a screenshot, I’d really like it if you could PM it to me…)
I’ve done some coding work on the blog, but it’s just fixing the choppy HTML that WordPress’ WYSIWYG editor outputs, since the blog uses the online WordPress editor and doesn’t actually let us touch most of the source code. I’ve never coded anything for EB. As far as graphics, I’ve done the big banners for the blog’s header and square banners for links to important pages on EB. On the boards, I’ve just done a couple of tags, though I just finished up a bigger graphic for the forum. Here’s a peek at the header for the updated Forum Index I’m working on:
EBSWF: How much time do you spend on LEGO related activities?
I’m usually on EB throughout the entire day, but I’m just checking in every fifteen minutes to an hour or so, made possible by wireless technology. I get in about a half an hour of time, if any at all, of working with physical LEGO in a day.
EBSWF: What do people around you think of your being a LEGO fan?
My family is made up of what I’d consider to be casual LEGO fans. They like the occasional set in the $50 range for display, and CMFs are popular among them. That’s about as much as they do with LEGO, but it’s enough that they support the hobby. Some of my friends think it’s a little strange, but having my AT-ST prominently displayed in my room never fails to turn the ‘ ‘ faces into ‘ ‘ faces.
EBSWF: Aside from LEGO, what other hobbies do you have?
Not much, to be honest. With the limited funds that I had as a kid, I decided to focus on growing my LEGO collection instead of all the other things that other kids my age would do. The result was that by the time I was a teenager, I had a collection quickly approaching twenty thousand pieces, and I didn’t really have the addiction to action figures, video games, or the like that my peers preferred. (although Hasbro constantly reminds us that our minifigs are action figures ) The only non-LEGO video game that I’ve spent more than $10 on is Civilization V.
Other than that, I enjoy reading sci-fi and classic novels, I’ve played a little bit of baseball, and I’ve done some live sound mixing for friends.
EBSWF: How did the LEGO hobby change/impact your life? Do you have any practical uses for LEGO in your daily life?
One big change was that my first work with image editing was using Paint.NET to resize my images. From there, I started adjusting brightness and contrast, reducing noise, using curves, and, finally, removing backgrounds and compositing. Now, I’ve used Photoshop to do some graphics work for some people I know. (no examples that I can show you, unfortunately)
I’ve made some things out of LEGO: pencil holders, iPod stands, things like that – but I always end up parting them back out when I want one of the pieces I used. Sometimes I do use a couple bricks when I need to quickly hold something up, but it’s always very temporary.
EBSWF: Has anything funny happened to you when some of your “LEGO talk” has gotten into your daily life?
Not really. It’s more like a second dialect for me. I can switch over to “LEGO talk” if I want to, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it in normal (non-LEGO-related) conversation.
EBSWF: Why did you choose ‘Brickdoctor’ for a username, and why do you have a Scout Trooper as your avatar?
Okay, that’s a complicated story. Originally, I picked it out for a Bricklink account that I was going to share with my dad, who is a doctor (optometrist). He wanted to buy himself a Han Solo minifig, and I was a (now failed) minifig customizer who wanted to buy various minifigs to experiment with. Neither of us actually ever ended up buying anything from BL, but when i signed up for MOCpages, I decided to use the name because… well, I don’t remember why anymore. Now I use the name everywhere, so I don’t really want to change it.
As for the scout, my old avatar was a Kashyyyk Trooper, because I was obsessed with the AT-RT during my time on MOCpages. I still think it looks like a very fun vehicle to drive. I switched to the scout because it’s my favorite imperial trooper and because the Kashyyyk Trooper is a PT minifig which doesn’t reflect my favorite era of the Star Wars saga. I’ve recently switched to a new version, with a classic smiley face under the helmet, to make my avatar more of a true sig-fig, and less of just an image of my favorite imperial trooper.
EBSWF: We know you build accurate ships, how do you get started on building one?
I start by finding a ship that I want to build and think I can build well. Usually, that means at least one greebled section and a lot of angles, with few curves. I find some reference material to work off of, and then I just start building. A lot of the time, I start from a section that I already know how I want to build, and I work outwards from there. For example, with the T-47, I already knew I wanted SNOT wings, so I started there. With the T-16, I knew I wanted a big brick-built top fin, so I started there. With the AT-ST, I had built the guns and the front of the ‘head’ already while playing around, so I worked from there. When I look for reference material, I start at this flickr collection, and if that site doesn’t have any, I look at Forbidden Plastic and Modeler Magic. If neither of those has what I need, I turn to Google. (I search for something like “T-16 Skyhopper studio model”)
EBSWF: What do you have in store for the future? Will we see more of your fantastic MOCs? Any ships got your eye? (Though you’ve been doing a lot in LDD we want to see some physical stuff!)
I definitely want to build a TIE/ln, TIE/in, and possible a TIE x1. I’d like to do an A-wing, but if I do, I’ll probably just do a replica of Jerac’s model with slight tweaks, because I’m not sure if it’s even possible to build a better model. I’ve done portions of a Y-wing, so I’ll probably finish that someday. And – I know you still read EB, Fallenangel – yes, I will one day build an X-wing.
I’ve been doing a lot of digital MOCs lately because I’m in the process of sorting my collection, and I avoid building large physical MOCs because it’s too easy to pull pieces out when I’m supposed to be sorting them, and never sort them back when I’m done. I’ve also been using a lot of the time I have to build to work on sets for Heroica. I’m going to take a break after my current Heroica quest finishes up, and I want to build some stuff for Historica, but I should be back to Star Wars after that.
The member we’re going to interview today is one of the foremost builders of LEGO dioramas, which range from ninja castles and desert caravans to marching Romans and, of course, Star Wars scenes of all types. In addition to building MOCs, ACPin has also hosted three Star Wars Community Builds on EB.
EBSWB: AC, thanks for doing this interview with us!
Truly honored to be considered for this interview by the staff.
EBSWB: I know you’ve built in other themes such as Ninjago and Winter Village (subtheme of City), but the vast majority of your creations are from Star Wars. How did you first get introduced to LEGO, and why do you build so much more of Star Wars?
First and foremost I’ve been a Star Wars fan (geek) way before Lego introduced the SW line when I collected the SW action figures/vehicles/sets. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who’ve known me over the years that I love to build Star Wars. In fact I’ve done action figure dioramas and was affiliated with various SW fan sites which featured them before I even started with Lego.
Lego sets were the favorite toys of my three sons when they were very young as they started out early with Duplo sets. Then they moved on to Lego Town/Castle/Space sets which are still kept in storage up to this day together with boxes and instructions! (I should probably raid those sets for parts since they’re not played anymore.) No matter what the new toys at the time were (Heman, GI Joe, etc) after they’ve been played out, my sons went back to their Lego sets.
By the time Lego released the Star Wars line and the prequels were shown, the shift on my collection started to move away from action figures to Lego sets. As the Lego collection grew, I was also growing tired of doing action figure dioramas. Then I’ve started helping/playing with my sons build play areas for their sets. Of course, these are more like simple brick structures that they used to build/play/crash like any kids would do! Over time my sons would sometimes complain that I was taking longer to build the structures as I kept putting more detail into them when they just want to play with them! Then they grew up and had other interests besides toys and all these Lego sets were left for me to build MOCs!
As much as I want to build in other themes, I’ve essentially done them to be able to experiment with various techniques/designs that I probably won’t have a chance to utilize if I just stayed with Star Wars. However, I keep true to my Star Wars roots by using SW pieces as easter eggs in the other builds when I can. Droid pieces in the Roman temple and the veggies in the Red castle are some examples.
EBSWB: Your dioramas can be massive. How much time do you spend on LEGO, and what do other people who aren’t LEGO fans think of your hobby?
They usually don’t always start out that way. But when I have the correct pieces to build a larger scale diorama then it can sometimes go crazy (remember Domino Squad Final Run). This particular MOC was featured in the official Star wars blog when it came out!
I don’t watch a lot of TV except for news/sports highlights so a couple of hours in the evenings is when I find the most time to build. Most parents don’t understand/get it but their kids love me to death until they’re told that they can’t play with them!
EBSWB: How did you discover EB, and what made you decide to join?
I’ve had a self-imposed dark-age due to personal reasons that I can’t divulge from mid 2008 through 2009 that I didn’t post anything on my site. I still built some MOCs from time to time during that period but just didn’t share them. Imagine trying to get back up into the stream of things and finding the usual sites (LUGNET, Brickshelf, etc.,) not as active anymore. So I had to find my way again through the various sites of Eurobricks, MOCPages, Flickr to seek those with common interests in the hobby. Finally, after several months of going back and forth I knew I finally found my new home here at Eurobricks!
EBSWB: Is there any particular reason why you build so many dioramas, instead of other types of MOCs? (such as vehicles)
There’s already a slew of MOCers that do a good job with vehicles and I don’t know how many iterations of an X-Wing, TIE fighter, AT-AT I’ve seen through the years. I’d like to tell stories in my works and can’t do that with just vehicles. Though from time to time I’ll build vehicles when the diorama requires one. I’ve done some large ships earlier and maybe will do again in the future.
EBSWB: Do you have any sort of plan of what you’d like to build, or is it just a matter of whatever you’ve seen recently that inspires you?
For the SW community builds, it’s planned as I just pick out what scenes I’d like to create. Other than that whatever comes to mind that nobody has done yet or even attempted to in the realm of Star Wars. For other themes, the MOCs are more from inspiration like
when I knew that the Spartans were going to be released, the thought running through my head was “Wouldn’t it be cool to do a 300 MOC?”. The Ninjas/Samurais came next which brought out the Red Castle (Akai Shiro). Then came the Romans and I did a Roman temple. Come to think of it “Spartans vs Samurais vs Romans” would really be a cool project to do in the future!
EBSWB: Even though dioramas are what you usually build, you’ve also amassed some smaller armies. Do you try to build up armies based on dioramas you want to build or are working on?
You got that right, I don’t buy as much I did before especially with the new sets that come out unless I’m planning to use them in a future MOC. The older armies like the Gungans and Stormtroopers were bought during the earlier days of really good clearance sales. Every now and then, there’s good deals to be had in some stores for the battle packs that increase the numbers of my armies. Don’t have a clue as to the exact number that I have but it’s good enough to populate the dioramas that I build.
EBSWB: How has the LEGO hobby changed or impacted your life? Do you have any practical uses for LEGO?
On the internet, you’ll probably find “ACPin Lego” with thousands of hits and I’m just four countries away from hitting 100 that have visited my site! In real world, I’m just like everybody else who leads a normal life with a stable job and family. After having my works shown out in public before in a Lego store and much recently in a train/toy show, I’ve considered to do more of them now that I’ve become affiliated with the NJ GardenSLUG which does trade/charity shows around the tri-state area. One of these days, I’ll plan and actually go with my MOCs to one of the brick conventions.
Practically none except that it’s my hobby which brings out the creative juices from my head into reality through the bricks.
EBSWB: Other than LEGO, do you have any other hobbies?
Long distance running like half-marathons/marathons is more important than my Lego hobby. That’s why I rarely build on weekends because I’m either training for a race if not running on one. From the start of the year 2012, I’ll be doing at least one race every month gearing up to the New York City Full Marathon in November. Though on my downtime I’d go back to building MOCs to relax/soothe/recover after the runs. My wife and I also do ballroom dancing and line dancing when the occassion arises.
EBSWB: So, why did you choose the name, ‘ACPin’?
Not much to it, the first two letters are the initials for my first name and middle name. Then Pin are the first three letters of my last name. Earlier it was “ACPin & Sons” as my three sons did ideas/parts of the builds which then became just ACPin when their interest in the bricks have gone.
EBSWB: What MOCs will we be seeing in the future from you? Anything in particular that you’d love to build one day?
More Star Wars MOCs until there’s no more to be done! I tried to do Mecha one time and I really suck at it.
Today, we’re going to interview the one and only Star Wars hoarder: someone who has inspired wonder, awe, and envy in the minds of
Clone kiddies LEGO Star Wars fans everywhere. He has more Kashyyyk Troopers than some people have clones of all types, and he is not without skill in building. It’s our pleasure to bring you this interview of mutley777.
EBSWB: Firstly, mutley, thanks again for doing this interview with us!
Thank you for asking me.
EBSWB: So, how did you become a fan of LEGO, and why is the Star Wars theme your primary interest?
Well like a lot of older fans of LEGO, I was a big fan as a kid. My first set I remember buying myself was the Classic space 924 Space Cruiser. I loved that set and bought many more Classic space sets as a child. As a eight year old I moved into the start of my LEGO Dark age and moved on to my next passion, Kenner Star Wars figures and ships! This was of course fuelled by the movies which I was always a fan.
The love of Star Wars never died and when TLC decided to release a Star Wars line back 1999 it was probably inevitable. It’s funny but I was not the person who bought me my first Star Wars set, it was my wife (girlfriend at the time) and boy does she regret that one!
EBSWB: How much time do you usually spend on LEGO? What do the (non-FOL) people you know think of your being an AFOL?
Not as much as I would like but still probably to much!
Most of my family are pretty good about my LEGO addiction (yes it is and most addicts are in denial ). They all either buy me sets for my birthday or give me LEGO vouchers if I have asked for them. Friends all like to talk about it but that is normaly as far as it goes.
EBSWB: How did you discover EB, and what made you decide to join?
I found EB back in the very early days when they broke the story of the 10131 TIE Collection. I lurked around the site for a few months and liked alot of what I saw before joining in early 2005 (Wow has it really been 7 years! )
EBSWB: You’re well-known for your massive clone armies. What made you decide to be an army builder? (other than the sheer awesomeness of so many massed minifigs )
Well I started collecting Stormies when the Final Duel sets came out and I had discovered BrickLink too. That was probably the start of my army building. The arrival of the Battle Packs was when things really started to get out of hand! I bought 13 of each of the first BP and the numbers went up with each year!
The final scenes of Attack of the Clones was one of the main reasons I wanted a large clone army.
EBSWB: Is there a particular minifig among your legions that you like having a large amount of, or do you just build armies of whatever’s easiest to obtain?
The plain Clone Wars Clone. They are such a great looking figure and Look amazing in large numbers!
EBSWB: You hoard sets that don’t necessarily become a part of your armies. How do you decide to buy multiples of a set, and how do you store them? And, most importantly, where do you find the willpower to leave that much LEGO sitting around unopened?
I only buy multiples of generic ships / vehicles. Gunships, AT-TE and TIE Fighters and the like. The one of stand alone type sets, Falcon and Slave 1 that kind of thing.
Most sets end up in my loft/attic. I do open quite a lot of them contary to what alot of member think. Only last weekend I spent a afternoon in the loft opening sets and emptying them into Zip lock bags.
EBSWB: You’ve also built a few MOCs. When do you decide to work on one of those instead of on the next addition to your armies?
MOCing is one thing I really wish I made more time for. I have a Hoth MOC that has been a WIP since December 2007. I am even still buying parts for it from time to time. I have also been working on a Endor Ewok village MOC that is still very much unfinished. I will give you guys a sneak peak at that one.
EBSWB: How has the LEGO hobby changed or impacted your life? Do you have any practical uses for LEGO?
When I was a kid everyone said I would be a Bricklayer/Builder because of my love of lego and that is what I ended up doing with my professional life.
EBSWB: Other than LEGO, do you have any other hobbies?
I have been a Gamer since I was 12. I started with the Sega Master System and have had many consoles and many PCs since. I am currently playing Assassins Creed Revelations PS3 and Crysis 2 PC (I’m a little behind, I know)
I also like to go mountain biking (it is good to get out side sometimes ).
EBSWB: What inspired the name, ‘mutley’? And why did you add the ‘777’ at the end?
Mutley was a bit of a nickname at school and so I have always used it for my online presence. The 777 part is just that 7 has always been lucky for me.
EBSWB: What additions to your army can we expect in the future? Is there any minifig coming out in 2012 that you have your eye on?
Geonosians ! I am up to 50 so far 10 of them zombies . I have wanted a Geonosian Battle Pack for a long time so I hope we might get one next year for Attack of the Clones 3D release.
INTERVIEW: Clone O’Patra
How did you start with the LEGO hobby and why Star Wars?
I started with the hobby when I got a little Pirates set back in the day. But I suppose it turned into a hobby once I wasn’t a little kid any more and I was still buying LEGO. Why exactly that happened is hard to say. Why Star Wars? Probably because of the original Star Wars line more than anything else. I wasn’t totally into Star Wars then like I am now, but just as LEGO sets that line was killer what with the cool minifigures and Lightsaber accessories and vehicles that were unlike anything LEGO had done before.
How much time do you spend on LEGO? What do people around you think of your being an AFOL?
It depends on what you mean by time spent on LEGO. If being on EB and other LEGO sites, then a bit of time. But if it’s physical LEGO, sadly I don’t have much time to spend on it any more. People are accepting of my being an AFOL. If anybody questions, I explain it this way – having a LEGO hobby is no different than, say, collecting stamps or action figures, which plenty of adults do. There’s denying that, and since most people actually think LEGO is cool anyway, they like it.
How did you discover Eurobricks and what made you decide to join?
I don’t know how I discovered it, but I was probably looking for LEGO news at the time. I decided to join so that I could join in the Star Wars rumors discussion thread.
You’re known as one of the best reviewers here in EB, how did you start with the Reviewer’s Academy and ultimately become a teacher?
Wow, that’s a big compliment right there! I just try to be lighthearted and fun in my reviews. It’s LEGO after all. Anyway, back when I joined the Star Wars review index wasn’t nearly filled out, so I posted two reviews of classic sets, but my pictures were pretty terrible (I updated one of them after graduating the RA). It was suggested that I join the RA, so I said heck, why not. I became a teacher because, well, I didn’t quit. It took me a while because my picture skills really needed a boost, but I can say I’m quite proud of my progression.
Among all the reviews that you’ve made, which one was your most favorite and why?
That’s tough to say, really tough. I’ve made so many, I can’t exactly remember them all without help (luckily I indexed all of my reviews on my profile page). I suppose some of my favorite are 7110 Landspeeder because that’s one of my favorite original Star Wars sets and I love those minifigures, 3344-3346 Ninja Mini Heroes Collection because I got to play around with Ninja minifigures for a couple of hours, and 30141 (Dude with Large Jetpack) because I went totally crazy in writing that one since there was so little to the actual set. It’s a bit harder to maintain as much silliness with a bigger set (though I still attempt it to some extent)
How did you get the idea to start a single-pane funnies thread? Did you expect it to be as popular/successful as it has become?
As I said in the OP, I was inspired by the single-pane cartoons that pepper The New Yorker. I never expected it to become as popular as it has become, but it also took a lot of effort to make it that way. If you notice, there was about a year-long gap where it died, and I had to rejuvenate it by making a huge batch of funnies and updating frequently. Nowadays, nobody even likes my funnies any more! But that’s life. I’m satisfied that I created something that a lot of people enjoy; I didn’t need to be in the front lines.
Who’s your favorite SW character?
Hmmm… probably Obi-Wan. He’s so suave.
Aside from LEGO, what other hobbies do you have?
I make movies sometimes.
I know you’ve explained this before but for the benefit of those who don’t know, what’s the reason behind your online monicker ‘Clone O’Patra’? And care to explain your SigFig?
The monicker and the SigFig go hand-in-hand. When I joined, I wanted to create something clever for my avatar and name, something distinctive. Like what generally happens when trying to think of things, I just turned to some recent LEGO: the CW clones, and Irina Spalko. The Spalko hair looked pretty ‘Cleopatra’ to me, so stuck on a clone that makes pun #1:’cloneopatra.’ But that wasn’t game, so I styled it like an Irish name; thus: ‘Clone O’Patra.’ The unintended side effect was that some people (specifically Big Cam) thought I was a girl.
What can we expect from CloneyO in the near future?
A review every now and again. You can probably expect a Wolverine review, but don’t count on it. Deciding to do a review for me is usually a spontaneous decision.