It’s back! Well, sort of. We parked the Master MOCer series a little while ago when the tenth builder entered into the Hall of Fame, but due to the return of a famous name – and in homage to Spinal Tap – we’ve decided to turn it up to eleven!
Ladies and gentlemen… ok, probably just gentlemen, Firas Abu-Jaber!
When did you first get into LEGO and what was your first set?
Well, I can’t be accurate in answering this question as my parents used to bring me the LEGO DUPLO sets when I was a very little child, but I remember I used to love building LEGO trains and cars from my Duplo pieces. As I grew up, the passion of building in LEGO has grown up with me, and I remember my interest has converted from cars to LEGO space ships and vehicles, and my first decent set was from the M-Tron line, the Stellar Recon Voyager – LEGO set #6956.
With these great sets, I became a big space fan at the time, buying some M-Tron sets and then Space-Police sets. This continued till LEGO brought up the great Model-Team product line, then my passion in cars has appeared again, and with the release of the amazing Helicopter Transporter set #5590, it became my all time favorite set from LEGO, may be till now, this set has a very big part in my heart and always will be.
How did you get started in the AFOL Community?
As soon as I got out of my “first” dark ages. That was back in 2008, when I was googling about cool LEGO cars, to build a LEGO bus for my little niece to play with, I didn’t know there’s a whole LEGO fan community out there, I was searching particularly for cars from Official LEGO sets, when I shocked and stunned by that amazing community and the phenomenal MOCs out there. At that time, I just built my first “AFOL” LEGO creation and posted it on MOCpages, the “cool tour bus”.
What’s your favourite LEGO set or theme?
I’m a car guy (obviously), I love cars in general and LEGO cars in particular, and large scale vehicles have a special place in my hear. As mentioned above, and I know this might sound a bit weird, but my all time favorite set is the Helicopter Transporter set #5590, as it has a special memories in my mind, I was sleeping and dreaming about that set till my father bought it to me in my birthday for $100, that’s a lot at the time!
As for modern LEGO sets, I consider the LEGO Ferrari FXX set one of the reasons I came back to LEGO, a lot of curvy and sloped pieces that impressed me. At the time as I was not familiar with modern LEGO pieces so it became my favorite “modern” LEGO set, until TLG released that fantastic VW Camper set, I just fell in love! A very unique and legendary model with tons of details and functional elements, it’s now my modern favorite set, and it’s on my shelf now and will never be taken apart.
Who is your favourite MOCer?
That’s one tough question! I really have a lot of favorite builders, you should see my “favorite builders” list on MOCpage, it’s a long one! For me, anyone who build something unique in any way is my favorite builder, and I might get inspiration from any builder at any level as long as I see creativity in the work.
Anyway, I don’t know if my most favourite builder is still building or not, I didn’t see something new from him in a long time, he’s Steven Marshall, I really got stunned when I first saw his amazing models, he was a real inspiration for me when I first started my AFOL journey.
What is your favourite MOC?
The Legendary Ford GT! Without any doubt. Even if I made or, going to make any better looking model this will remain my all time “own” favorite! This model took me to another level, in the LEGO community and internationally, as it was featured on the front page of the very famous car enthusiasts website, the Top Gear! To this moment I’m very proud of that.
What’s your favourite brick?
Any sloped smooth piece is my favorite, as I depend a lot on these in my builds, beside tiles of course! But, “cheese slope” is my favorite that I imagine I couldn’t build a model without this piece included somewhere. In general I like the smooth studless look for my models, but I have nothing against showing studs in LEGO creations, as I enjoy looking at amazing MOCs that show their studs all over the web, the overall shape is really what matters here more than the clean look of the MOC, but if the model combines the two, that would be even better for me.
How do you start a build?
In short, I just sit down and put the pieces together. Although it’s not that simple, picking the model that I’m going to build takes a lot of time and thinking, I don’t think any real car could be translated too well into LEGO, not that it’s impossible, with LEGO everything is possible, but some vehicles have tough shapes and curves and LEGO pieces (even though they’re a lot) are limited, and for me they’re even more limited as I don’t order pieces online at the moment, I just rely on pieces from LEGO sets. Then after picking my build, there’s the plan that I use, calculating the dimensions and sorting the LEGO pieces that I’m going to use in my build.
By the way, the plan isn’t something I do on PC or on paper, its just a plan drawn up in my mind, that’s by surfing the net for pictures of the model I’m going to build, and trying to imagine what pieces are suitable for each corner of the model, and then sit down and put the pieces together, that’s it, that simple! But I think making some updates after finishing the model and before posting it online is important, and try to comparing it with the real car, make a world of difference.
What makes your designs unique to you?
I usually don’t like to speak about my work, but you’re very clever guys here at TLCB, you for sure know how to get the info from the person! Anyway, what makes my models unique for me? Well, a couple of things, the fact that I’m limited in LEGO pieces, you should see my working area, very modest and simple. Also, being able to get the overall shape right in my models with all the details and functional elements is really a big challenge in every build, as I usually work on relatively small scale, and my latest SL300 Gullwing is a good example.
Who do you think will be a talent for the future?
Sorry, I’ll break the rules on this question, I’m not going to name one, I’m going to name FIVE! I think they’re already a talent and great builders, but they have even a brighter future in building LEGO models. Here they are without any specific order: Nathanael L, Starscream Soundwave, LEGO Bro, Alexander Paschoaletto, and Harry Gravett.
What’s next, what’s next… Lets see, well I’m not gonna lie, I usually don’t speak about my upcoming models, but all I can say here that it’s going to be a super-exotic, unique, super expensive and limited production car, you guess, I’m not going to announce it, it’s a surprise 😉
It might also be my first LEGO Ideas project – I might post it there to see the feedback about it from the community.
Also, there’s hopefully a lot to come, mostly sports and super cars, as they’re my passion!
Thanks again for TLCB for giving me the chance to be in this great interview, it’s not like any other interview I’ve been in, those were some unique and interesting questions.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Firas for joining us here at TLCB Towers for our Spinal Tap moment. If you’d like to see more of Firas’ work (and you definitely do!) you can visit him on MOCpages and Flickr, plus you can read what the guys at Head Turnerz think are his top 5 creations by clicking here.