LEGO fan interview - Willow project on LEGO Ideas
Tobi's Willow inspired model on LEGO Ideas

LEGO fan interview – Tobi from Germany

26 May 2022

In our latest LEGO fan interview, we speak to Tobi who lives in Germany. He’s been promoting a LEGO Ideas project based on a film, Willow, and I had spotted some great historical vignettes on his Flickr page.

1. Do you remember your first LEGO set? What was it?

Brickset - Black Seas Barracuda LEGO set

“I can’t remember the very first LEGO set. I asked about this question at home again, but unfortunately nobody knows anymore after 30 years. But I do remember that we (my brother who is 6 years older than me and I) owned the pirate ship “Black Seas Barracuda” (6285) and the “Castle Forestmen’s River Fortress” (6077). I was about six years old. Those are my first memories of real existing sets, probably because they were just great. It’s even possible that they belonged to my brother and I just “borrowed” them for a time. However  – I wish we still had them!”

Wow – there are some classic LEGO sets in that collection! I’m sure many adult fans would love to have those today.

Image: Brickset.com.

2. What’s your favourite LEGO set?

“Because I haven’t forgotten them to this day, the two sets above are certainly part of it. As a Lord of the Rings fan, I’m proud to own Bilbo’s hobbit cave, [the Battle of] Helm’s Deep and the ship with the undead. All wonderful conversions.

If I had to name a specific one, I would say that the Medieval Blacksmith is very well done. I particularly like the fact that techniques were used that were rather rare in LEGO sets until then. The colors and color design as well as the many small details are inspiring. All in all it is very reminiscent of a MOC from [the LEGO] fan scene. Cheers to the (LEGO Ideas) designer.”

Even though I’m not a huge LotR fan, the design of the Lord of the Rings sets is really nice – they did a superb job recreating key scenes and locations from the books and films there.

You have a project on LEGO Ideas. Tell us about it?

LEGO Ideas - WIllow submission by Tobi - 1500 votes

“It’s about Willow, a 1988 fantasy classic that I loved as child. [An] important scene of the film, the set is called “Willow – The battle of Tir Asleen

As a fan of the film and the castle theme, I was very motivated. It was my first attempt to build a MOC in a way I can imagine LEGO could build it too. I wanted to create a set that both small and grown-up children (adults) would enjoy. It should offer playability and also have a nostalgic flair for collectors.

In total, the idea has around 2900 parts, including eight minifigures, some animals and of course a two-headed monster. The fortress is constructed in such a way that it can be separated. And many functions are incorporated for fun.”

It looks like a nice model, though I’ll confess I haven’t seen the film it’s based on! I suspect it would be really popular with LEGO castle fans!

4. What have you found hard about promoting your model on LEGO Ideas? What do you think works best for getting votes?

“It’s my first project, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I learn more every day.
In my opinion the most important thing is to be convinced of your project and to have perseverance. No pain no gain. And so I am grateful for every single supporter. Getting advice and constructive criticism can also be very helpful – when you’re ready to give it a go.

I mainly use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share my project with people and to post updates or similar. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s no one solution to reach the goal. Those are my findings to date.”

I think many people on LEGO Ideas underestimate how much time it takes to make the 10,000 votes – it takes a lot of constant effort to push and promote the project to get it to the review stage.

Are you a member of a LEGO User Group? Do you attend LEGO exhibitions in your country?

“There are a few in my area and I plan to visit exhibitions soon. But unfortunately I haven’t visited any yet.

I’m represented in some LEGO fan groups, mainly via Facebook. You meet a lot of nice people there and you can share the same passion. The small and large creations that are shown are fantastic and inspiring.

Also the LEGO fan community is very supportive, it’s amazing. I’m happy when others enjoy my idea. But that doesn’t matter whether it’s an Ideas contribution or an “ordinary” MOC.”

Here in the UK we’re seeing LEGO fan events coming back now the worst of Covid has (hopefully) passed by – I imagine it might be the same in Germany! It’s well worth going along – meeting the LEGO fan community is one of the best things about going for me.

LEGO fan interview - Curie vignette model

“That’s an interesting and difficult question. Definitely the dark variant of a color. They always give your creation that certain upgrade. The first I think of is dark green. So this will probably be my favorite.

It looks a little more precious and lifelike, perhaps gloomy too. It suits what I build really well. I certainly like the color because of my preference for dark, medieval buildings and landscapes.

In general, I think the color variations that are increasingly available are very nice. Even if you have to get enough of them first.”

You sound like me – I love the dark (what LEGO call “Earth”) variations of colours. They can really help make a model look that much more “real” than the more traditional brighter variations.

I spotted a few really nice historical vignettes on your Flickr page too, which make good use of more muted colours for a realistic look.

LEGO model - Luther

LEGO model - Isaac Newton's apple tree

Tell us about some other LEGO model builders you really admire?

“As with the question of sets and colors, it is difficult to limit the selection to at least a few. I often know the buildings better than the designers.

But to name two of them: What Legonardo and Ralf Rangaal build is simply amazing.

The techniques used, the ideas they have and the way they present the buildings are simply spectacular and unattainable (for me). But that also applies to many other designers, who hopefully will forgive me for not listing them.”

Some great inspiration there – I think I’m probably guilty of recognising models more than builders’ names too!

How did you get in to the LEGO hobby as an adult?

“Things came together: I was getting my driver’s license and was given a small LEGO car. That was the first set after many years.

To the same time LEGO sets of my favorite Lord of the Rings films were launched. I was barely up to date and saw these sets in a store. I had allowed myself to buy Gandalf’s arrival, the smallest set of them.

Little by little I bought more sets. First small, later big. First LOTR then Castle and Kingdoms. Build them up, take them down. Build something of my own.

Got an old tool cabinet and started sorting…”

It’s funny how often LEGO fans mention a small set that reminded them of the fun of LEGO In their childhood, and reignited their passion! And I think we can all agree that the sorting starts, and then never ends!