We have today, something you were probably not expecting.
An interview with Uwe Wabra, the LEGO Designer behind 8258 Crane Truck. The 2009 biggest LEGO TECHNIC set and one the most fantastic TECHNIC flagships to date.
And so, here it is the first part of the interview, for your delight.
Hello Uwe! Thanks a lot for accepting to take the time to answer some questions for TechnicBRICKs (TBs ) and thus letting fans to know a bit more about you, how the 8258 set was born, and the creative process for the TECHNIC models.
What we already know about you:
You should now be about 37, working at TLG for 12 years and you have been involved on the design of Racers, Bionicle and several TECHNIC sets.
Among your art drawings, collecting and handball hobbies, you have also created some amazing models for us. The Tow Truck (8285) and Enzo Ferrari (8653) to give just a few examples.
Thanks for creating this year’s TECHNIC flagship model! It seems it is getting a very good acceptance among the TECHNIC fans.
Personally I must confess this model turned out to be a much better surprise than I have imagined from the first images, when they started appearing online. Also the B-model is in the same quality/appealing level, which should be a quite difficult goal to achieve and doesn't always happen.
I also imagine it was not easy to come with a successor for the last big flagship (the Markus' Bulldozer), which was a tremendous success. Partly also because the debut of the Power Functions System, with so many motors and other PF elements included.
TBs: How did you come into the great job of being a LEGO designer?
Uwe: I send in a job application to LEGO with pictures and video of my LEGO models. They then invited me to an interview and I got the job.
TBs: Why a Crane Truck for 2009? Where did you get the inspiration? Due to its "similarity" with the 8285 (subject, scale, functions, etc.) it seems large trucks are among your favorite models!?
Uwe: We thought it was time for a big truck again as we know it a kind model that our fans and customers like. As always, inspiration comes from real life models.
TBs: How does it happen? Was it your proposal to the Designers team to create the Crane Truck, or the model was assigned to you as part of the intended line-up for 2009?
Uwe: It’s a kind of a mix between the two; we do a lot of brainstorming and concept models which we then present for the management team. They then approve the model line up for the year.
TBs: Do the Designers keep a "secret" list of ideas and sketches, waiting for an opportunity to include them in the next year’s collection? How much creative freedom do you have designing for LEGO?
Uwe: We have a lot of creative freedom and often build concept models that are saved for later use. Everybody of course have their own favourite model that they would like to see on the market.
TBs: Did you design also the B-model, or was it developed by other TECHNIC Designer? Did you collaborate in the design of other sets too? Any from the 1H2009 too?
Uwe: Yes I designed the B-models as well. I also designed the B-models for 8259 mini dozer and 8260 Tractor. When designing the big models it doesn’t leave time for doing a lot of other models.
TBs: Usually how does it happen for other sets? Are their B-models designed by the same people who create the respective main models, or are they given to other Designers in the team?
Uwe: That’s different from model to model and depends on who is busy. But we try to make it the same person, as he knows the elements in the model better that anybody else.
TBs: When the 2H2009 models design process was started, were the new parts, like the new TECHNIC frames, gear racks, perpendicular connector and panels, already available or decided to be developed? Or did they come a bit later and the model went through another design step?
Uwe: Our new elements for a given launch year is often developed side by side with the models, this gives us a chance to build with the new elements and still have time to make changes to the elements.
TBs: Were the new parts designed with the new models in mind, or is it a totally independent process because the new parts somehow filled a gap in the TECHNIC parts system?
Uwe: It’s both. If we see a gap in the LEGO Technic building system, we try to come up with a new element that closes that gap, but models can be the reason for a new element as well.
TBs: I found very interesting the usage you made this year with the recent Linear Actuator brackets, inside the gearbox and to some extent into the crane boom too. Was this part already designed back in 2008 with such application in mind, or was it something that came later to your mind during the creative process?
Uwe: We did play with that feature back in 2008, but it wasn’t until the development of the 8258 crane truck, that we found out how handy it was.
TBs: The new curved panels look more interesting for totally evolving fairing needs, but somehow more limited too, because they do not intermesh with the 7mm ribbed hoses. They seem to integrate better with SYSTEM models too. How do you see it? Do the new panels intend to completely replace the old ones, or can we expect to see those being used by TLG again?
Uwe: The new panels are designed with LEGO Technic in mind. They are designed in uneven modules so they fit better with the stud less LEGO Technic system.
To be continued...