Welcome to the second interview in season 2 of our Master MOCer series, and to a builder who has seen his creations appear here at TLCB several times over the years. Carl’s exceptionally realistic models have long delighted the online community, and they’ve now reached the attention of The LEGO Group too.
Yup, Carl has reached the holy grail of Lego-building, as one of his designs has recently become an official LEGO set! Thanks to 10,000 votes via the LEGO Ideas platform, Carl’s magnificent Seven has gone from images on Flickr to boxes in stores! Over to Carl to explain how he got there…
Hello TLCB Readers!
My name is Carl Greatrix, I’m a member of the Brickish Association (U.K. LUG), I’m also the Senior LEGO Model Designer for TT Games / Warner Bros (for the official LEGO video games) and I now have my own LEGO Ideas set produced, the Caterham Seven 620R – 21307.
What car do you drive in real life, and what would you like it to be (and who would be in the passenger seat)?
I currently own a BMW 4 series GranCoupe with many AC Schnitzer parts / modifications (we like! Ed). I’m a die hard petrol-head and have owned 3x BMW M3’s for the duration of 10+ years within my driving life.
I’d like (and have a brand new one on order as I type this ), an AMG Mercedes C43 Coupe (we like even more! Ed). I was looking at the AMG C63 and BMW M4 Competition Pack, test drove them all, but found the AMG C43 to be the sweet spot for me (it wont drink as much fuel!!)
My ideal passenger would obviously be my partner! I have to say that if she’s reading this,…if shes not, then someone like Tim Harrvey, as back when I used to go out on track, Tim impressed me the most when I went out with him, in his car control in the wet when he was racing touring cars.
If you were a LEGO brick, which type would you be and why?
What a strange question! Creatively thinking I’d have to say a rubber hose, as I’m flexible to design briefs, time and the way I look at things to get a model built within deadline. Un-creatively thinking, I’d be a headlight brick, as its the part I find so many uses with and use so much.
What was your first ever LEGO set, and which is your favourite LEGO set or theme?
A general mixed building set when I was 3, back in 1971. My favourite for so many reasons was the first 12v passenger train set 7740. I still have it now.
How and why did you get started in the online Lego Community?
This is an interesting one for me. When I first got back into building, I scoured Brickshelf for weeks on end to find inspiration…..what I found was that even some quite poor models, could have some “golden nuggets” of design / build techniques / part usage mixed into them.
So I started uploading my models onto there to try and put more choices into the mix, it wasnt because I thought mine were good, it was more to just add to the creative fold (take into account this was back when the internet had only been around a few years!)
I started using Lugnet and found people were actually linking and showcasing some of my work, so I got on board with that and started posting myself, to get feedback, etc.
This led to being invited to join Brickish… I actually never saw the point of joing the club so never bothered for 3 – 5 years. I eventually joined up and it was a fantastic choice to do so. Brickish has a wealth of REALLY great builders, so to be able to talk to them more and get to know them at shows, 10 years on I have made some of the best friends I ever known through this club, and the building standards grow each year to really stupidly high standards.
What’s your favourite creation to date, either yours and/or someone else’s?
I pour so much passion into design / building that every model I do is my favourite at the time of building…..that also goes with every work model I produce.
On reflection I do have some real favourites for many different reasons, so the Phantom jet, Harrier, Gazelle helicopter, Caterham 7, and Deltic train would be my personal choices.
As for other builds from fans, James Cherry’s large scale Phantom is pretty much top of my list although he’s sent me photos of his large scale Tomcat during its creation, so that may switch when I see the final result 😉 He is also an insanely nice guy.
How do you start a build, and what make your designs unique to you?
Quite simply the most difficult shaping part first, if you can crack that then usually the rest flows from there, although other sections that you did not think would be as problematic, can often become more difficult than what you started with!
Bury your head in the sand is the best option, just go “la, la, la, the rest will be easy”… then attack it when it becomes a huge problem to the best of your ability! 😉
What makes my designs unique?… hmm… possibly being alerted to the amount of details you can cram into a plastic model kit from say Tamiya, back when I was 6 or 7. Those things really struck a chord with me.
Throughout my life I’ve been between semi-pro model making and LEGO building, so the details I see in plastic or even die-cast models, I naturally expect to try and get into my LEGO models.
I also love to try and get my LEGO models to not look like they are built from LEGO from a distance, as I love watching the public’s reaction when they walk up to them and start to realise that they ARE built from LEGO.
Everyone has their own personal style and preference when it comes to design language, but this is mine. It’s an alternative to open peoples eyes a little wider as to the great potential this medium has, whichever direction you personally wish to take it.
I have to design models within our games much differently, so they have a lot of LEGO identity, otherwise if I use my personal style, the models just look like 3d models in game and not LEGO models. I’ve learnt to have two design heads / thought processes.
What’s coming next?
Who knows? I’m strongly led by passion and inspiration, so whatever starts tickling me the most! It’s hard to explain, I have plans for models that I want to do, but if something starts raising its head and piquing my interest when I’m searching for reference photos of what I’ve planned to build, that pique starts to override my plans. Thats how the Caterham 7 got built and the Gazelle….well, infact most of my models!
I keep saying I want to do a minifig scale Space Jockey ship from the Alien film, with detailed interior. I can see it built in my mind and think I could really do it justice, but I certainly do not currently have the amount of parts required and it would be a mamoth task in terms of time….so who knows? I need to get my Gazelle and Slave 1 finished first!
Where will you put your TLCB Master MOCers trophy?
It’s imaginary??!… I can think of a place to put it, that’s not imaginary, right up your……… 😉
We’d like to say a big thank you to Carl for joining us here at The Lego Car Blog, and we wish him all the best with his official Caterham Seven LEGO set, which is available to buy now! You can see all of Carl’s builds, including the evolution of his Caterham Seven design, via his Flickr photostream.