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Nick Barrett

Welcome to the third in TLCB’s Pro Series;

How to Become a Lego Professional

In this series we’re interviewing builders who have taken their hobby to the next level, and who are now earning an income from their Lego building, either via a full time career, or via side projects such a commissioned creations or book publication. If you’re interested in a career working with Lego, these builders can help you, because they’ve made it happen…

Pro No.3 | Nick Barrett

Welcome to the third interview in our Become a Lego Professional series, and a builder who has been interviewed here before. So what is Nick Barrett doing here twice? Last time we interviewed Nick he was one of the most respected vehicle builders on the internet. He still is of course, and such talent didn’t go unnoticed.

Nick is now employed by the Certified LEGO Professional building company Bright Bricks and earning a living through his building. Over to Nick to tell all…

Bright Bricks

There are probably as many ways of becoming a professional Lego builder as there are Lego builders. However, most seem to have been active in the fan community in some respect first. Having this online resource of other builders’ work to inform and inspire is the great asset that’s pushed up quality across the board, right up to Lego themselves. When I first emerged from a long dark age a few years ago, and tinkered with my ‘80s Technic sets unaware of the existence of so many like-minded fellow builders, my models were… workmanlike, unrefined but pleasing to me.

Finding MOCpages by accident opened a whole world of excellence that, far from intimidating or discouraging me, I found inspiring. Nearly everyone built better stuff than me (and they still take better photos!), and a few even dropped by my posts to say something encouraging. It’s this mutual support that exists in the community that can really make one want to build better. So long as you don’t get caught up in the headless-chicken pursuit of adoration and build with your own goals in mind, you’ll have fun and create models that not only please others but, more importantly, yourself. Looking around at the work of other builders can be truly inspiring, whether they’re Firas or the kid next door. If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Lego land Rover

Being primarily a vehicle builder, I was keen to expand my horizons and try other model types. It’s Lego. Build what you want with it. Anything at all. As much as I like vehicles, I find that I like the medium in which I create them more. There are various competitions around to enter that can stretch your abilities in ways you may never have expected, but when you are given a seemingly impossible task, and a week later you complete it, the sense of achievement is palpable.

If you can build a good looking house, or a diorama, or a statue, anything, you begin to realize there is nothing that cannot be made in Lego, such is the versatility of these wondrous little plastic bricks.

Lego Circus

Now we come to the most important training you can have if you want someone to pay you for building Lego (In my experience anyway. Other results may vary). Should you study graphic design? Art? Perhaps one of the physical sciences would be useful…

Nah. Enter the MOCOlympics. Seriously. Or try any of the competitions that pique your interest on Eurobricks, MOCpages or Flickr. What you’ll have to do in the MOCOlympics is this: produce, quickly, a quality model in an unfamiliar theme in order to advance to the next round. I firmly believe that anyone who’s progressed to the sharp end of this competition, against some of the ‘net’s most accomplished builders, has acquired the skills to do my job.

Lego Bright Bricks

At Bright Bricks, what usually needs to be done is a cost-effective model that meets a certain pre-defined specification within an acceptable time frame. A brilliant model that’s taken too long, or a shoddy one that hasn’t, are not good enough. A model that’s profitable, and enhances the company’s reputation, has hit the sweet spot. You’ll have hit the same sweet spot if you get past any of a dozen notable builders in an MO semi-final.

Lego London Bus

Building to a different set of rules has certainly been interesting. I’ll give you an example. Like most car builders, at home I think of a car to build, find some suitable wheels and scale it from there. At work, if a car is what’s wanted, it’ll have to be a particular size – you’ll have to find a way to make the wheels fit your model. On my London Bus model for Bricks In Motion, the scale of 1:20 meant everything was either too big or too small. The solution was to insert some 6×6 dishes into a small Technic truck tyre to stretch it a bit and voila! It’s the right size. Doing the large spoked wheels for the train models was interesting as well. You never stop learning.

It’s still possible to put your own stamp on a professional model. You never want to desert whatever may have become your style, or way of doing certain things. Even though it’s not necessary, I often insert a Technic function or two into models built purely for display. The boss knows I simply can’t help myself…

Lego Crane

Lego building is often a solitary pursuit, and I do enjoy being in the workshop with other builders, all of us working on our widely differing projects and feeding off each other. I might have thought the background music and general noise might be off-putting, but it turns out the opposite is true! It helps that Lego builders seem to be very nice people.

It can be a risk to do the thing you love professionally. I wouldn’t want to experience any kind of Lego-related ‘burn-out’, that meant my interest waned in my own creations or those of others. The thing that’s most pleased me about the whole experience is that, after a day’s work building Lego, I like nothing more than relaxing at home… building Lego!

Lego Bricks in Motion

We’d like to say a big thank you to Nick for joining us here at The Lego Car Blog for a second time. You can see more of his work, both professional and amateur, on both Flickr and MOCpages, including his MOCOlympics-winning builds. You can also read more about Nick’s story in our first interview with him for the Master MOCers series here.

Nick is employed by the Certified LEGO Professional building company Bright Bricks, whose current project is one that will interest all readers of TLCB – click here to see more.

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Nick Barrett

Lego Mini

The Lego Car Blog Elves, armed with sharpened pencils, can be a formidable adversary. They’re huge fans of our next Master MOCer builder and took it upon themselves to ‘invite’ him into the Master MOCers Club. So here at No.8 in the Master MOCer Interview listings is the utterly brilliant Nick Barrett.

Over to Nick to explain all…

When did you first get into LEGO and what was your first set?
It was a very long time ago… I’ve had Lego since I was very little; some of those old early 1970s sets with build-it-yourself people. I still love those old ‘maxifigs’. I remember my first Technic set very well. Christmas 1978; the 852 Helicopter. I loved it and went on to get most of the early Technic sets.

How did you get started in the AFOL community?
I’d packed away all my Lego in my teens and didn’t touch it for 20 years. When my son was old enough to build them, I dug out all my old Technic sets from the loft. So glad I kept them! He’d build the sets (his favourite was 8848 – the first Unimog – which we know as ‘Mr Plow’) and we’d moc together. That was when I started to unleash my creative urges and build the things I couldn’t when I was younger. I found MOCpages by accident and discovered a world of talent I had no idea existed.

What’s your favourite LEGO set or theme?
Definitely Technic. The 8860 car chassis from 1980 was the ultimate for me as a boy; it inspired a ton of mocs then and now. Model Team came during my ‘dark age’ but I really like those beautifully detailed models. I like the large Sculptures sets and Architecture sets as well.

Who Is Your Favourite MOCer?
There are loads out there who always inspire ; the first two I found influential on MOCpages were Firas Abu-Jaber, for his flawless shaping, and Ape Fight – his Rat Rod was very like the stuff I liked making, but better.

There’s a lot of talented people making vehicles now; Ryan Link springs to mind, and Malte Dorowski, Senator Chinchilla, Bricksonwheels, Lino Martins… the list is endless, and they all build beautiful creations in a distinctive style.

I was lucky enough to display at a show alongside MortalSwordsman – who’s nowhere near as lethal as his screen name suggests – and saw the sheer quality of his builds up close and in the plastic. He’s an incredibly nice guy, too. Another talented nice guy is DeTomaso Pantera, whose transporters for classic race teams were spectacular, as are his bird models on Cuusoo.

Outside of vehicle builders, I’d have to say Matt Rowntree, who was and is a complete gentleman as well as fantastically creative.

What is your favourite MOC ?
A diorama called ‘Yipe’ by Matt Rowntree, which features Wile E Coyote, Roadrunner, an anvil and some dynamite. Lots of dynamite. Great fun.

Favourite vehicle MOC is probably still Ape Fight’s Rat Rod; it was a great influence on my way of vehicle building. Favourite MOC of mine is always the one I’m making next.

What is your favourite brick?
The Technic half pin. Before I had a lot of SNOT bricks, I used these by the bucketload. Still do.

How do you start a build?
By deciding which wheels I’ll use, then scaling it from there. Drawings and pictures are essential, and a die cast model is desirable. I usually start building with the hardest part – on a front wheel drive car that’s invariably the front suspension/steering/drive assembly.

Lego Citroens

What makes your designs unique to you?
I like to create something that both looks right and includes some Technic functionality. It’s also important to me that the Technic parts work well. On my larger cars, I like lots of studs – on a curvy shape they add to the texture; while my small models tend to be studless, still with Technic functions when I can include them. Another thing I like to do is make cars that I’m enthused about, which tends to mean old / slow / French or all of the above!

Who do you think will be a talent for the future?
There’s a lot of promising TFOLs around right now. Harry Gravett springs to mind, and Alexander PashoalettoStarscream Soundwave makes wonderfully elegant MOCs, large or small. I remember looking at Sam the First’s LDD Stratos and thinking ‘someone get that guy a ton of bricks!’

What’s next?
There’s always a list of things in my head I’d like to build. Another Citroen DS (or maybe an SM) with pneumatic self-levelling suspension powered by an on-board compressor. I’m trying to figure out a power-assisted steering system as well. I’ll probably do a big mobile crane soon, with 8860 wheels – I love making something like that work.

Lego Citroen DS

Thanks for joining us Nick and sorry about the Elves, we hope the plasters and Savlon did the trick.

You can see more of Nick Barrett’s incredible creations via the link at the top of this page, or by entering his name in the Search box here at The Lego Car Blog.

Get It Up

Lego Liebherr Mobile Crane

Nick Barrett’s got a big one. It might not look it here, but this 15-wide Liebherr LTM 1130 mobile crane can grow to almost six feet tall! A four part extending boom is the key to such impressive length, utilising reels of string and a full-length ratchet mechanism (no linear actuators here). The entire superstructure can turn too, allowing the boom to slew left and right whilst the control cab can tilt to enable the driver to look along his huge appendage.

Working suspension on all five axles provides a smooth ride, and helps to keep the boom up when the going gets rough, a V8 piston engine is turned via axle 4, whilst steering on axles 1, 2 and 5 allows the crane to get into tighter positions. That’s quite a list, as Nick’s build is packed with playable features, and you can see more – including photos of the Liebherr in its fully-extended glory – at his MOCpage. Click the link to get it up!

Lego Liebherr Mobile Crane

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Duty Free

Formula Zero Gravity Lego

On every flight there’s always one. That lady or gentleman who – when booze is marginally cheaper courtesy of airport tax free shopping – decides to optimise this saving. “I’ll just get a few bottles to take home” they say. Sure they will. Those bottles will be empty before they’ve even boarded. Anyway, this post is for them – and to that one guy who tries to smoke in the airplane toilet – as these models are literally encouraging drinking/smoking and flying.

With most countries doing what Formula 1 wouldn’t (because F1 is all about the monies), and banning alcohol and cigarette sponsorship in sport, alcoholic beverage and cigarette companies are no longer seen on the side of Formula 1 cars.

But there are no rules in space…

This is Formula Zero Gravity, an invention by British Lego Group Brickish, and they’re single-handedly bringing morally-dubious sponsorship back to top level racing! Two of motorsport’s greatest liveries have made the return so far (with more to come), with Nick Barrett’s stupendous Martini Racing F0 racer above, and Jeremy Williams’ gorgeous John Player Special F0 racer below.

There’s more to see of Nick’s build at both his MOCpage and photostream, and you can view Jeremy’s courtesy of Flickr here. Enjoy your flight!

Formula Zero Gravity Lego

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8845 Technic Dune Buggy Review

Lego Technic 8845

We’re great fans of free labour here at TLCB. It’s why we employ unpaid mythical creatures to scour the internet for the best Lego creations, and it’s also part of the reason for the The Lego Car Blog’s Set Review Competition! Yup, we want your opinions on some of the official LEGO sets not yet part of the Set Review Library! – Only not enough to pay you for them.

Anyhow, previous bloggee Nils O has decided that the lack of pay won’t stop him, and thus he joins us here at TLCB Towers to review something a little older than the sets we usually feature. Over to Nils…

The 8845 Dune Buggy was not one of the big Supercar sets, but for me in 1981 it was one of the coolest. It had “only” 174 parts, so with a few weeks of saving the pocket money it was even affordable for us kids. After the first more or less “brick built” Technic sets it was part of the 2nd generation which included some extremely cool parts.

8845 contained a completely new and more compact steering mechanism, a roll cage with new “ratchet” connectors, and – yes! – suspension struts for the rear suspension. The car was so cool with all those functions, I played with it for weeks.

As usual there were also instructions for an alternate model, in this case a more or less strange Dragster. Yes, it had a long wheelbase, a steering and a roll cage, but it had no suspension and was quite ugly, so the main model was rebuilt quite quickly. There were also instructions to motorise the main model, but also without rear suspension, so I didn’t build that version.

Lego 8845 Review

The best way for me to have fun was modifying the set. A HOG steering, for example, was easy to add. With a longer steering column, a second Cardan joint, an axle and a spare tire on the rear end it was done. Today I would add a third 16 teeth gear in the front to add a second, more or less hidden, steering column, but back in 1981 the two (then new) 16 teeth gears from the set were the only ones I had. Continue reading

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Ferrari 275 GTB – Picture Special

Lego Ferrari 275 GTB

This beautiful creation is a near-perfect scale replica of Ferrari’s magnificent 275 GTB, and it comes from a long-lost car builder Thomas Poulsom aka DeTomaso Pantera. Tom’s been busy over the last few years campaigning for his LEGO Ideas Birds project. With his Birds models now in stores around the world it’s great to see Tom back with the genre where we met him.

Lego Ferrari 275 GTB

Built as a collaboration with TLCB legend Nick Barrett this Ferrari 275 replica was commissioned by the owner of the real car, someone who clearly has an equal sharing of money as taste! Being a partly Nick Barrett creation this 275 GTB features a fully working and beautifully engineered chassis underneath the spectacular full-stud bodywork. More details of this will likely surface soon, but until then you can check out the stunning exterior images via Tom’s Flickr photostream at the link above, plus you can read more about the builder (and his past collaboration with Nick) in the very first entry in our Master MOCers series here.

Lego Ferrari 275 GTB

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853 Redux

Lego Technic 853 Set

Our review of LEGO Technic’s 853 / 956 Car Chassis set is the most viewed individual page on the whole of The Lego Car Blog. It might have been flawed, but 853 is the grandfather of LEGO’s Supercar range, without which we probably wouldn’t have had some of LEGO’s best ever sets.

Previous bloggee, Master MOCer and Lego Professional Nick Barrett thinks it’s the most important set LEGO have ever made, and he’s given it and brilliant re-boot for the modern age. Updated using the latest Technic parts Nick’s 853 redux costs about half as much as the original 1977 set, yet retains all of its charm.

There’s an inline four-cylinder motor up front, a two speed gearbox in the middle, rear-wheel-drive, working steering and adjustable seats, all as per the original set. We think it’s the perfect candidate for the LEGO Ideas platform, and if you think so too you can let Nick know; take a trip to either MOCpages or Flickr to see more.

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Fifty-Six Ford F-Series

Lego Ford F-100 Truck

It’s been a ridiculously busy few days here at TLCB. Thanks to several online contests running concurrently our Elves have been finding huge numbers of top quality vehicles for us to blog. As February draws to a close we’ll be able to slow things down a bit, much to the relief of our typing fingers, but we’ll part the month with one final contest entry, and it’s from one the best builders anywhere in the world.

This incredible 1956 Ford F-100 pick-up comes from TLCB Master MOCer and Professional Builder Nick Barrett, and is his entry into the LUGNuts ‘100 Ways to Win’ competition.

At a huge 44 studs wide Nick’s truck is one of the most detailed models of the year so far, but with such complex curves we think all 44 studs were probably needed! Underneath that beautiful full-stud bodywork is a full Technic supercar chassis, with a perfectly recreated V8 engine, 4-speed gearbox, working steering, and – somewhat weirdly – adjustable air suspension.

There’s a whole lot more of the classic Ford to see, including some great engine and chassis images, on both MOCpages and Flickr.

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Twin Jeeps

Lego Jeep CJ5

These two delightful CJ5 Jeeps were discovered by a happy Elf today, built by previous bloggee and Lego Professional Nick Barrett. Nick’s work has appeared here several times over the years and his latest builds are everything we could want in a LEGO model. Both are beautifully realistic on the outside (whilst sturdy and playable too), and underneath each Jeep has gone a different route to achieving technical realism.

The red version is built on a traditional studded chassis and is all-mechanical, with live-axle suspension, a two-speed gearbox with selectable all-wheel-drive, mechanical steering and a working straight-4 piston engine.

The white version, whilst near identical externally, sits on a modern studless chassis fitted with Power Function remote control drive and steering, alongside the same two-speed gearbox with selectable all-wheel-drive and live-axle suspension.

There’s more to see of both Nick’s mechanical and electrical versions of the classic Jeep on MOCpages and Flickr – click the links to his MOCpage and photostream to see all the images.

Lego Jeep

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Aventador!

Lambo1

Perhaps the only part of the Volkswagen group of companies that will remain unaffected by the emissions scandal is Lamborghini. Customers buying a 690bhp, 6.5 litre, V12 engined car, probably won’t be surprised that its emissions are quite high and its fuel economy is best measured in miles to the pint. Still, there are some compensations. You can top 200mph when you pop down to the shops.

Nick Barrett’s version of the Aventador might be even faster, as it lacks the aerodynamic drag caused by wing mirrors. However, that’s being very picky, especially when you get your eyes into the details of this 1:10 scale monster MOC. The car is roughly 25 studs wide (or 1/4 of a SHIP) and the Technic axles used for the windscreen wipers don’t look out of place. Nick’s car has all of the working features that you’d expect from this Master MOCer. It includes Hand of God steering for playability and Nick’s take on the Aventador’s rear windscreen. Click this link to MOCpages to see more.

Lambo2

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SHIPtember 2015 Review

PIco

The darkening skies outside The Lego Car Blog’s skyscraper can mean only one of two things. 1) The Elves have opened an apocalyptic portal to Hades again or 2) it’s autumn and time to brace ourselves for various sci-fi themed building months. The TLCB editorial staff are renowned for our lack of comprehension of sci-fi. We would actually be more comfortable facing a hellish hoard, armed only with Mr. Airhorn (our Elvish research team is pretty hellish and we deal with them on a daily basis). However, we have a duty to our readers to bring you the best of what internet Lego has to offer. So we’re girding our loins and proudly present our SHIPtember 2015 Review. SHIPs tend to be long and pointy, but we thought that we’d focus on some of the more unusual SHIPs from this year’s Flickr thread.

At the top of this post is Pico van Grootveld’s massive EVE online custom Scorpion battleship. Coming in at 130 studs long by 120 wide and 70 tall, this SHIP is a real departure from the typical long & thin configuration. Click the link to see more photos of this monster, include one of Pico attempting to “swoosh” all 22lbs of it. Also going wide was Matt Bace with his Klingon D5 Deuterium Tanker. It’s unusual for us to feature a virtual build but the quality of the details on this SHIP, especially its wings, warrants its inclusion. From reading conversations on Flickr and MOCpages, Matt has also thought carefully about making his Klingon ship structurally sound, which can be lacking in some LDD models and Klingon starships too.

Matt Bace

Bob Hayes went down the retro route with a SHIP right out of Dan Dare and covered in studs. Patrol Ship 014 comes complete with a crew of six minifigures, a cargo bay and one of the smoothest hulls in SHIPtember (Bob says that he thinks of studs as smooth, a bit like Nick Barrett does).

Bob Hayes

Looking like Blacktron’s version of Blake’s 7’s Liberator from Hell, Josh Derksen’s “Demon’s Maw” is an impressive piece of design and engineering. This SHIP is approximately 112 Studs long and 50 studs in diameter and contains two Power Functions XL motors, plus a load of lights from Brickstuff. It’s worth clicking this link to see the working star drive and appreciate the scale of this build.

Josh

Possibly the most graceful SHIP in this year’s collection was Michael Steindl’s “Mikajo”. Michael used brick-bending type techniques to create the compound curves of his SHIP’s wing in just three days. This was a real contrast to his other SHIPtember build, a huge, thuggish Blacktron Missile Boat.

Michael

Lastly, TLCB regular F@bz, came up with this eye-catching use for all of those brick separators that accumulate at the back of your Lego collection. His Juuken Spaceship was built in a day a features 36 of the orange tools.

F@bz

We thought that we’d finish this post with a contrast to the SHIPs with their thousands of bricks. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again on this blog: it’s not how many bricks you use but how you chose to use them that counts. Featured below is Simply Bricking It’s “Shiptober”.

SHIPtober

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The Last of the LR Defenders

Lego Land Rover Defender

Land Rover’s brilliant Defender dies next year, after more than 50 years of continual production. In celebration of this amazing vehicle MOCpage’s Nick Barrett has recreated the iconic off-roader in its final 2015 specification. His long-wheelbase 110 Station Wagon includes the four-cylinder turbo-diesel powering the last generation of cars, opening doors, hood and tailgate, plus folding seats working steering and working suspension. There’s lots more to see at Nick’s MOCpage – click the link to take a look.

Lego Land Rover Defender

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Become a Lego Professional!

Lego Bright Bricks

It’s Easter weekend and TLCB Team are much too full of chocolate eggs to blog. Luckily for us we’ve been joined by a special guest to keep the content coming. Yup, it’s No.3 in our How to Become a Lego Professional series!

Not put off by his first encounter with TLCB Elves, Nick Barrett joined us here at TLCB Towers for a second time to tell the next chapter of his incredible Lego-building journey.

Since his last visit as a Master MOCer Nick has been hired by the Certified LEGO Professional building company Bright Bricks and is now earning a living through his building. How did he do it? Click the link below to find out!

Click here to read Nick Barrett’s Bright Bricks Story…

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