LEGO fan interview with Daniel Gibbs, designer of the LEGO Ideas Shrek model Dan's Shrek's Swamp LEGO model recently made it to 10,000 votes on LEGO Ideas

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Time for our next LEGO fan interview with Dan Bradley, designer of the LEGO Ideas Shrek model which recently received 10,000 votes and is being reviewed with a chance to become an official LEGO set.

Hey! I’m Dan, 24 years old, I live in Greenwich, London and my Instagram handle is @ronaldmocdonald.  I am a finance trainee but sell art and build LEGO in my free time. I am still a massive child at heart, collecting action figures and LEGO sets from my favourite franchises.

As ever, thanks to for the set images.

LEGO fan model

You have a Shrek swamp model on LEGO Ideas – what inspired you to design that?

I have always been really interested in animated and cartoon movies/shows, so it was no surprise that Shrek became a favourite of mine that has stuck with me into adulthood. I got into building MOCs on Bricklink focusing on modulars such as my Tiny-Tokyo upload on LEGO Ideas, but I wanted a challenge. I wanted to experiment with textures and push myself to use bricks in an alternative fashion.

Shrek’s swamp was the perfect choice given the tree trunk walls and foliage involved. There was a huge sense of nostalgia throughout the process, including details such as the Duloc photo, ‘Beware Ogres’ sign and the blue bird Fiona bursts when she sings. The set contains around 1,600 pieces with 5 minifigures plus Donkey.”

LEGO fan model

What was the hardest part of Shrek’s swamp to design in LEGO bricks?

The hardest part to design was the foliage. I believe part of this is because building the walls and interior is more interesting, as you can build small details and easter eggs. The foliage on top of the swamp was more of a challenge, as I wanted to ensure it didn’t end up looking like a plain blanket of green bricks. To tackle this, I approached the building experience as if it were an official LEGO set to ensure it wasn’t too repetitive. I experimented a lot with different sloped bricks, colours, and plant pieces, but it was a last-minute decision to add some vines which improved the texture of the green entirely.”

I can believe that – realistic, natural looking trees can be a challenge to build with LEGO bricks!

How did you get into LEGO as an adult fan?

Brickset - LEGO City Police Station 7498

I grew up playing with LEGO City sets with my younger brother. I recall building the Fire Station (7945), Space Centre (3368) and Police Station (7498), but it was when my partner showed me their LEGO Wall-E set that my love for building was reignited. The licensed sets such as the Ghostbusters ECTO-1 (10274) keep my interest going, the sense of nostalgia as I build a set whilst watching the movie is an incredible feeling. Having recently uploaded a few submissions onto LEGO Ideas, I have set up an Instagram account that allows me to connect with the community. I have since become friends with some awesome AFOL’s making the hobby even more enjoyable.”

What’s your favourite LEGO set of all time?

LEGO set Assembly Square 10255 - Brickset

“This is a very tricky question as there are so many to choose from! From the current sets, I really like Assembly Square (10255) and Harry Potter – Attack on the Burrow (75980). I got The Burrow set for my birthday earlier this year and it quickly become the most enjoyable build I’ve ever completed. The range of techniques and for buildings used within the set are very impressive, my favourite being the rotation between flames and Floo powder in the fireplace.”

“I also have a massive appreciation for the NINJAGO City (70620), which is a grail I would love to own someday. There’s so much going on in that set that I don’t think I’d be able to fully appreciate it until I’ve built it.”

Assembly Square was a lovely build for me – a really satisfying mix of techniques and the resulting mish-mash of little stores around a fountain is beautiful! And those Ninjago sets – if I wasn’t desperately trying to reduce the number of themes I collected, I’d definitely be building all of those large Ninjago sets myself.

If you could bring back one retired LEGO theme, what would it be and why?

LEGO fan interview - Medieval Blacksmith - 21325

Definitely LEGO Castles! Now that we have a more diverse range of bricks and colours, I’d love to see a re-run of Castles. A LEGO Medieval Kingdom would be great as a series, perhaps combining the style of the older sets with the style shown in the Blacksmith (21325). The new castle looks great from the photos I have seen, but I want an even bigger foray into that world. I’m sure I am only one of many AFOL’s waiting for the opportunity to build a medieval town!”

LEGO Castle is always a popular response for adult LEGO fans – easy to see why given the quality of sets available in the past, and with the recent LEGO Classic castle release (Lion Knights’ Castle 10305) being popular, I really hope it spawns a new wave of castle sets.

Which other LEGO model builders inspire you?

“I found Jiwoo Seon (@jiwoo.seon on Instagram) when submitting my first entry into LEGO Ideas. Their build ‘The Clock Tower Park’ is phenomenal and instantly blew my mind, the way they use different pieces to create a wide range of details in the set.

I then saw their Instagram page which again demonstrated their incredibly high attention to detail throughout all their builds. I became friends with @total_brick_head on Instagram, who has started an insane LEGO city, with unique building techniques such as using 1×2 bricks in an alternating fashion to create a curved tunnel entrance for the train tracks. These two AFOLs are huge influences in my builds and inspire me to elevate my work.”

Wow, really inspiring stuff on their Instagram accounts. The Clock Tower Park (LEGO Ideas) looks incredible – somehow hadn’t come across it before!

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