We recently had the opportunity to talk with Paul Hetherington and take a tour inside his head to see how he invents such fantastic creations. Our readers will recognize him as the builder of our Creation of the Year 2016, Gotham Theater Showdown, but his creations span a much greater range in subject and technique than many people may realize. Let’s get to know Paul, shall we?
TBB: Can you give us a little background on how you got into the LEGO hobby and what inspires you to build?
Paul: I’ve been into the LEGO hobby since before you could reasonably use the word “classic” to describe old space and castle sets. I bought my first set as an adult in 1991, which was the Space M-Tron Pulsar Charger. Little did I know back then that I had just taken the first step on an epic journey — one that would introduce me to so many amazing people, and have my LEGO creations be recognized around the world. Because back in 1991, as far as I knew, I was the only crazy adult who bought LEGO sets.
There are so many things that inspire me to build. My first creations were just built for my own enjoyment, as there was no way to share them. Then when the internet came along, all of a sudden a local LEGO club formed which I joined. From that point I had a reason to build. The first years of creating were mainly spent recreating local buildings, trains and hot rods for train shows and museums. I found I really enjoyed doing research to ensure that my creations were historically accurate and to scale. I soon became inspired to add some fantasy elements into my creations. I discovered Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and the works of Antoni Gaudi. Theme parks, Mardi Gras floats, and parades were also a great source of inspiration.
More recently, I had the pleasure to work with the artist Douglas Coupland on an installation and came to the realization that Lego has a place in the Art world. I find the Surrealists, especially Dali, and Pop Art, and Comic book art to be particularly inspiring. In recent years my creations have had more of an artistic twist and I see myself going more in that direction. Architecture will always be at the heart of what I do and is usually the catalyst for my creations.
It is not an everyday occurrence for me to get an email from the South Pole. Several months ago, however, I was contacted by Ethan Rudnitsky, who was spending the winter at the US Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, and who asked me for instructions to build a model of an LC-130 Hercules. This is the aircraft used to fly people to and from the station and Ethan wanted to put the model on display in the station. TBB used the opportunity to find out more about LEGO fans at the South Pole in an interview and agreed to supply the instructions, stickers, and the parts to build the Hercules.
Ethan and I had yet to work out how to get the model there. Enter Martin Rongen, a physicist and LEGO fan, like myself, who contacted me from Germany having seen my LC-130 prototype. He was due to travel to the Pole around Christmas (summer in Antarctica) and wondered whether I was willing to share instructions so that he could take the LEGO model with him. How about that? Problem solved! We could ship the whole lot to Germany.
Click here to read the full interview
Imagine Rigney has been combining his love of LEGO and retro-scifi video game Bioshock for years. The Brothers Brick first covered his impressive entrance to the underwater city of Rapture in 2011, and in 2014 Imagine’s breathtaking Bank of the Prophet from Bioshock Infinite amazed us with its stunningly huge songbird perched above the floating city.
Well, we weren’t the only ones who noticed Imagine’s incredible talent — Bioshock developers 2K Games have also been keenly following his brick-built fan art. Recently, 2K contacted Imagine and asked him to build a brick version of the cover art for their remastered edition of the Bioshock games, Bioshock: The Collection. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Imagine set to work, and has turned out this jaw-dropping collage of Bioshock imagery.
In June, French artist Mat Green amazed us with a pair of life-size LEGO minifigures made of steel. Those figures, named Hugo and Pablo, were a classic minifigure and a punk rock LEGO skeleton. Mat has now finished his next project — more classics you’ll surely recognize, the pirate Sparrow and his parrot Jacquot. We spoke with Mat about his work translating these iconic LEGO figures to life-size metal sculptures.
Canadian brick artist Chris McVeigh is one of our favorite builders, and No Starch Press is one of our favorite LEGO-friendly book publishers, so their new book The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book: 15 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer is a match made in holiday heaven.
No Starch released the book back in September, but between a lengthy overseas trip for work followed by BrickCon, I simply dropped the ball — my sincerest apologies to Chris and our friends at No Starch for the delay. But the good news is that it’s now officially the Christmas season, so I guess this is even more timely? Enough excuses. On to the interview!
The Brothers Brick: We first featured you here on The Brothers Brick way back in 2008, when you were taking pictures of chipmunks with action figures. When did you start focusing more exclusively on LEGO?
Chris McVeigh: It happened rather quickly! Pairing Star Wars action figures and chipmunks was a fun challenge, and it motivated me to do more photography of action figures and other toys. Unfortunately, Hasbro wasn’t producing any play sets (aside from large ships), so it fell to me to create my own sets and backdrops for action figure photos. This was a rather time-consuming task that ultimately prevented me from getting on with toy photography.
Click through for our full interview with Chris McVeigh
Did you know that LEGO finally stopped making wooden toys in 1960 when the wooden toy warehouse burned down? What year did LEGO release its first minifigure? When did From Bricks to Bothans start? What in the sacred name of Ole Kirk Christiansen was Galidor? If you’ve ever wanted answers to these and other key questions of 20th-century and early 21st-century world history, you need look no further than The Brothers Brick’s new history of LEGO & the LEGO fan community page.
The page starts in 1932 and is up to date through the end of 2016, though we’re confident that there are a lot of important dates and events we’ve missed along the way. We’ll be adding more information based on your feedback and as we uncover more sources like Dave Eaton‘s “AFOL History Project.”
We’ve also updated and expanded our LEGO dictionary of AFOL jargon, with double the entries of the previous version, including entries for the commonly used names for lots of parts and building techniques.
“Are you busy in May?”, was a question I got in an e-mail early this year from my friend Ed Diment, co-director of Bright Bricks. The organisers had asked them to build models for a LEGO event in Dubai and to get in touch with fan builders, with large collections of models they would be willing to display at the event.
The event in question was Stack and it was the first of its kind in the Middle East. I’ve been very fortunate to attend many different LEGO events in Europe and in the US, but I knew this one was going to be special.
As an adult LEGO builder and physicist, I think some people would argue that I am somewhat of a geek. One geeky thing I hadn’t done yet was attend a Comic Con. This changed last weekend, when I joined eight other members of Lowlug in displaying a wide variety of pop-culture LEGO models at Comic Con Amsterdam. Among them was Wayne Manor by Monstrophonic, which TBB blogged in July.
11-year-olds are notoriously problematic — or at least I think so, having worked with unruly preteens as a lifeguard and summer swim instructor back in the day. Now that The Brothers Brick is a tween, you never know what trouble we’ll get up to. One of the things that frequently lies ahead of the tween LEGO builder is that he or she will enter what adult builders in hindsight call the “dark ages,” that time in your life when LEGO matters a whole lot less than, well, all the other things that teenagers typically do.
The thing is, The Brothers Brick has already been through a bit of a LEGO dark ages, as real life caught up with many of our long-time contributors back in 2013 and 2014. Hey, it happens — we’re all volunteers and our families and day jobs always take priority over LEGO. The good news is that we’ve made a number of significant changes to how we run things around here, and we think you’ll agree.
After we wrapped up the Battle of Bricksburg at BrickCon in October, we recruited a cadre of 10 new contributors, from all over the world. Over the years, TBB contributors have hailed from the US, Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Croatia, South Africa, Turkey, Russia, and Mexico. We feel that it’s important to reflect the diversity of the global LEGO fan community — while we write and publish in English, there are TBB readers everywhere. A few weeks ago we even interviewed a group of LEGO builders and TBB readers in Antarctica! About only bits in the following coverage map that aren’t blue are North Korea, Eritrea, and Western Sahara. Globally, that’s more than two million people who visited Brothers-Brick.com over the past 12 months.
Click through for more about you and everybody else who reads TBB
Bricktastic is an annual fan show held in Manchester in aid of Fairy Bricks — a charity which aims to brighten the lives of sick children by providing hospitals with LEGO sets.
This weekend saw thousands of LEGO enthusiasts descend on the show to see displays from some of the best UK builders, gawp at massive creations, try their hand at Mindstorms robotics, and enjoy some building of their own.
Here’s a short overview of some of the cool things Brothers Brick saw at the event, starting with the awesome Bright Bricks dragon which towered over the exhibition space…
Click through to see more pictures from the event
It seems that wherever there are technical and creative people, there is also LEGO. LEGO has been taken into space to the International Space Station and, as it turns out, there is also LEGO on the South Pole. Recently I was contacted by Ethan Rudnitsky, who works at the U.S. Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, located on the geographic South Pole in Antarctica, with a question about building a Hercules aircraft out of LEGO, with the purpose of displaying the model at the station. Ethan is part of the crew who are spending the winter there. He told me that there are other LEGO enthusiasts on the station as well and that, as part of the last supply flight in February, the crew were sent a shipment of LEGO sets.
LEGO models and their builders on the South Pole. Builders, from left to right: Ethan Rudnitsky, Rachel Cook, Christian Krueger, Jennah King, Chet Waggonger and Adam Jones. Photograph courtesy of Christian Krueger.
We’ve taken this opportunity to find out a bit more about life and LEGO on the South Pole, by asking Ethan a few questions via e-mail.
Read the full interview after the break
The LEGO community lost a great man this past week. Daniel August Krentz (1937-2016) was a retired set designer for LEGO, and his contributions and impact to our community are vast and deep.
Daniel began building with LEGO in college, in the 1960s. Soon, his creations gained the attention of the right people and he found himself recruited as a designer, moving from Chicago, IL to Billund, Denmark. Daniel was the first Adult Fan of LEGO to be hired as a designer for LEGO. He began designing in the 1970s, continuing until 1999.
Even if you’ve never heard his name, you know his work. You’ve played with the sets Daniel designed, as his work likely helped form your LEGO childhood. While the list of sets he designed is extensive, below are a few of the more nostalgic sets he designed:
- 375 Classic Yellow Castle
- 6067 Guarded Inn
- 6074 Black Falcons Fortress
- 6078 Royal Drawbridge
- 6081 Kings Mountain Fortress
- 6267 Lagoon Lock Up
- 6276 Eldorado Fortress
Last year, Bricks Culture interviewed Daniel. The author, Are J. Heiseldal, has kindly posted the interview online for others to read. I encourage you to take the time to read the article and reflect on Daniel Krentz’s impact on our community.
Thank you, Daniel, for all of the wonderful memories.