May the 4th can be an exciting time for Star Wars fans, thanks in part to sales and promotions going on. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities have taken on a somber note because, on April 30th, the 7’3″ (2.21m) Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew died at age 74. With only barks, grunts and growls, the occasionally belligerent but always lovable Chewbacca became a pop culture icon. Kale Frost built this heartfelt tribute to Chewbacca and the towering British-born actor who donned the iconic fur costume to play him. With tools in hand, his back to the viewer and facing a bright light, this composition conveys the message nicely.
Peter Mayhew had a form of gigantism that can cause crippling joint pain and poor blood circulation. In 2011 he and his wife Angie started the Peter Mayhew Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life’s traumatic events. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, said that Mr. Mayhew was “a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character.” In a statement, George Lucas said of him, “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature.”
The LEGO fan community is mourning the loss of kindhearted and prolific builder, Arthur Gugick of Ohio. On March 30th Arthur and his significant other, Barbara Becker, were tragically killed in a car accident. If you ever attended North American fan events like BrickWorld Chicago or BrickFair VA, you may have run into Arthur before. At these events, you could catch a glimpse of his elaborate architectural builds and mosaics. Arthur was featured in the Winter 2008 issue of BrickJournal magazine, and he was even contracted to recreate his model of the Taj Mahal for the Australian independent film, Taj (2011).
In addition to being an avid LEGO enthusiast, Arthur taught math at Beachwood High School. He was passionate about his job and had a knack for harnessing his creativity to make math fun for his students. In an interview with ABC News 5 Cleveland, Ed Bernetich (who had been responsible for hiring Arthur) commented:
I was very sad because he is one of a kind. He’s a total unique individual. There are many great math minds, but sometimes they don’t relate to other people very well. And here we had a guy with a mathematician’s brain who also was extremely skilled at reaching kids.
Arthur’s death has been a difficult time for Beachwood School District staff and students, whose lives he has touched over the years.
Ever the mathematician, Arthur approached his LEGO models from a mathematical angle. Some of his structures utilized calculus, and he even wrote his own software for building domes like the one on his Taj Mahal. According to Arthur, “I look at my buildings as more an exercise in mathematics than necessarily an art form, which might be a little different of a take than other people do, or maybe it’s the same… For me it’s a puzzle” (BrickJournal – Winter 2008).
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.