Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mad Physicist Interview, part II.

And here comes the second part of the interview we started last week. You can read it in Hungarian on

Bricksngears: Do you have to wait often for bricks to arrive before you continue building or do you have everything on stock? How many bricks do you have on stock?
RS: Because I always have a list of things I want to build and because I start planning long before I put bricks together, I usually have all the parts I need by the time I start building. There are also parts that I know I’m likely to use in the future (1x2 and 1x1 plates in just about any colour, for instance) and I try to keep lots of those in stock. I don’t really know how many parts I currently have that aren’t part of MOCs, but we’re probably talking a number on the order of 100,000.

BG: You use many special bricks in your models. Where do you get them from?
RS: I can tell you, but then I’ll have to kill you! Only joking, of course. I buy quite a lot of special stuff from people I know through Brickish. I also always check whether the particular bricklink store I happen to be using for my next project has some other useful and rare parts as well. By accumulating small quantities over time you end up with fairly large numbers of rare stuff.

BG: Do you store all your creations when ready, or do you take some of them apart to reuse bricks?
RS: In the last few years I have built a fair few models specifically for exhibitions or competitions and many of those were dismantled soon after the exhibition or competition ended. Most of my stuff stays together for a long time, however. I get attached to my models and when I have to choose between dismantling them and buying new parts, I tend to choose the latter. It’s a bit decadent, I know.

BG: How many models do you store at home?
RS: It’s been a while since I last counted them. A lot! I’ve got about 50 aircraft and helicopters and a similar number of large-scale cars and trucks. In addition to that I’ve got several minifig scale buildings and a lot of minifig scale cars; I don’t even know how many. Most of my LEGO models are still unpacked from when I moved back to the Netherlands.

BG: What are your all-time favorites?
RS: I’m practically in love with my Su-27 Flanker-B model. The real aircraft is a beautiful machine and I was really happy with being able to build one in colours that are a reasonable representation of the real thing (medium blue, sand blue and blueish grey). Another one that I am really happy about and that has been in my collection for years is my black F-14 Tomcat. It has been modified many times over the years, but I’ve had a Tomcat model for at least 15 years. I really like fire engines, particularly American ones, and one of my favourite models is my Los Angeles Fire Department Tiller truck. I have had it for many years. I knew I wanted to build it when I first saw a picture of it and when I finally managed to make it work, I was well pleased. Finally, Brickston Borough. It’s not a single model, but my own little city layout (based on London) consisting of buildings, cars and even a train. It’s a long term project and I intend to keep adding new bits over time.

BG: You have been working together with Legomonster (Ed Diment) to create aircraft for his USS Intrepid project. Do you frequently work together with other Lego enthusiasts?
RS: I have done collaborative projects with other members of Brickish and recently one with Isaac Mazer from the US, but Ed is the person I collaborated with the most often in the last four years. We like the same sort of things and we seem to have skills that complement and challenge each other. When I was in the UK we lived fairly close together and saw each other on a regular basis. His wife also likes to build with LEGO and didn’t mind having a crazy Dutchman in her house now and then.

BG: Any yet unrealized projects for the near and far future? Anything you wanted to build for a long time?
RS: I always have a list in mind of things that I might like to build. I’ve been buying parts for a large aircraft. I’m also thinking of building more helicopters and perhaps aircraft on a larger scale. Lately I’ve been building more Dutch or European vehicles, and I intend to build more of those as well. I’m particularly thinking of DAF trucks. A long-term plan would be to include many of my large scale cars in a large diorama. Unfortunately I have little time to build at the moment. I’ve got more ideas than I have time for.

BG: Do you buy bricks, or also complete sets? Any sets you bought lately? Do you have a favorite official Lego theme?
RS: I buy both loose bricks and sets, depending on what parts I need and on what I can get sufficiently cheaply. The last sets I bought were 3177 (the small city car), 8260 (a small Technic Tractor) and 6751 (a creator dragon). It’s all over the map, really, but if I’d have to pick a theme I’d go for Creator. They are nice sets with parts that are useful for many of the things I do and a decent price per part.

BG: Speaking of Lego products, do you have any preference for older 4 stud wide cars or for the newer 6 stud wide cars?
RS: Mine tend to be 5-7 studs wide, so I obviously prefer the larger vehicles. They are more realistic without getting so big that they dwarf the figures.

BG: Did you ever use Lego-compatible products from another company? Would you try it?
RS: I have. I bought some 2nd hand LEGO a while ago, and without realising it there was a Mega Bloks part mixed with the LEGO; a 2x2 tile. I accidentally used it in one of my models. Lego Monster pointed it out to me and I removed the offensive object immediately.

BG: Do you use any virtual building products like LDraw or LEGO Digital Designer?
RS: I rarely do. I usually have plenty of bricks to work with and do much of the design process in my mind. However, the Intrepid project I’m working on involved building multiple copies of each aircraft design and I did make instructions for three of the designs using LDraw and LPub. I found it easier than I imagined, but I still much prefer building with real bricks. .

BG: Do you use a separator?
RS: Absolutely. I probably wouldn’t have any fingers left without one!

BG: One of your specialty is building cars, yet you do not have a drivers license. How come? Do you plan to get one someday?
RS: I do intend to get one in the non-too-distant future. Why I haven’t yet is a long story. In the Netherlands you have to 18 to get your license and it is expensive. When I was 18 I was already a student and didn’t have enough money. During my PhD I really didn’t have time. Then I moved to the UK, where people drive on the wrong side of the road from my perspective. I didn’t fancy learning to drive there. I also never really needed a car either. I walk, ride my bicycle (I am Dutch after all) or take trains. I’m far more interested in what cars look like than in driving them. I don’t have a pilot’s license either, by the way.

BG: Thank you for your time, happy building for the future!

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