Friday, September 7, 2012

TBs TechTalk 9 - with Paul Boratko, Crowkillers (Part I)

[Part II]


Hi Paul,

We know the work you have been developing as a builder of amazing large Technic cars, transmissions and engine sub models. We have been delighted with these since years!




TBs: In order to help us better understand how does the LEGO hobby fits in your life, tell us a bit about what you do for a living, how long have you been carrying your passion for fast cars, and where does it come from?

PB: I currently work for my Father’s Autobody shop which he has owned and operated for around 35 years, so I basically grew up around cars of all makes and models, especially high performance muscle cars.


TBs: I remember to have seen your Technic cars for the first time, years ago at your Brickshelf folder. Likely about when you built your first Super Deluxe in 2006.
Despite I always admiring most of them, I must confess my impression at the time was that most of your cars made use of an exaggerated number of body parts, to give them a more realistic look.
Since then you have made a short way towards a more "conventional", or should I say "official" building style, like the one used by the LEGO Designers in their official models. This is something we can observe mainly since your Lamborghini Gallardo model.
Can you tell us about your journey regarding this matter? How and when did you feel the need to make this change, if it was intentional?

PB: Yes, it was intentional. Around the same time that Lego acquired the Lamborghini License, they also released the new style of Panel Fairings. While watching my wife build the 8258 Crane Truck set, and seeing the news parts including the new 5 x 7 open center liftarm along with the new panels, I knew that I had to start designing a new car using these new parts. I had anticipated that Lego probably had a “Racer” themed Technic version of a Lamborghini in the works like they had done with the 8145 Fiorano and 8653 Enzo, so I wanted to try and really focus on doing a Lambo of my own in the style that a real Lego Designer would do to compare to the set model that I “Thought” Lego would be releasing. My first step was ordering a 1:18 scale die-cast model to get all of the dimensions from and after that, I Spent a solid month designing the chassis doing my best to use techniques that were practical, Legal, and proportionally correct and faithfull to the real car. I am still really surprised that  we have never seen an official model in the Technic theme using the Lamborghini License.



TBs: Looking at your first building phase (I'd say, from your Custom AWD till about the 1967 Mustang), can you choose a car you would like to highlight?
Maybe the one that offered the most challenges to build, or to achieve the shapes and functionality you was looking for at that period?

PB: To be honest, I really don’t think that I learned to build properly until I did the Gallardo. I look back at how I used to build and realize that while some of the models were ok, but they were nothing special. The Yellow Deluxe Supercar from 2006 was probably the best thing that I had done during that time frame. Quite a few people have told me that was their favorite car. It incorporated a lot of different mechanisms including the Flex cable system that operated the headlights.

At left one of the initial versions from Paul in Red color, and the Withe Gallardo with black roof built in the past few days, as it should have always been.
The black chrome wheels fit amazingly wheel.


TBs: Among your latest models, we know which one is your favorite! Besides that, in your journey can you tell us which one was the most striking car to build and which one gave you the biggest feel of self-accomplishment, at the time? Why?

PB: Well, the new Porsche 997 GT3 was a request build for a friend in Spain and even though it didn’t have the most features and functions, from the positive responses at shows and through e-mails/comments online, I felt pretty good about the Porsche.


TBs: Have you ever used one of the LEGO Technic official supercars, as a source of inspiration for new ideas and to start building one of your cars (the chassis or whatsoever)? Or even a car designed by another LEGO fan?
If so, which LEGO car has inspired you, to build which of your models?

PB: A bit of both because he started as a Lego fan, but turned designer, and that was Nathanael Kuipers. I got heavily back into Lego again when the 8448 came out and then when I seen Nathanael’s GT Car, I was sold that Lego was going to be part of my life again. Guys like Paul Kmiec, Fernando (Sheepo), and  Nathanael motivate me to try and push the envelope every time that they release a new model. I think we all have a very friendly competitiveness about us.



TBs: Most of your recent cars are 1:10 scale, but LEGO still provides a few wheel solutions for building larger cars. What do you think about trying a larger scale?

PB: I used to build in a larger scale, but I decided to change it up and go smaller because the larger wheels were getting harder to find and I wanted to start building models that had most parts (especially the wheels) that were easily obtainable to people who may want to also build the model. If Lego introduces new larger low profile tires/wheels in the future, I will most definitely go up in scale again... I think the last 1:8 car that I did was a 1969 Camaro 2 years ago.


TBs: As you love cars, have you ever considered designing some different sort of Technic cars? I mean a F1 car or even some kind of Off-Road vehicle?

PB: I started building a Truck chassis with independent rare trailing arm suspension, but I lost interest in it. I am sure that at some point I will try to do something else.


TBs: Or have you ever considered trying a totally different style of building, to give form to your creations? For instance something like Firas Abu-Jaber's cars?

PB: Firas is one of my favorite builders in the world with system elements, but I don’t have any desire to switch up building styles.  I’ll just sit back and admire his amazing work as I do with Sariel’s (Paul Kmiec) combination of System and Technic.


TBs: I'd divide the creation of cars like yours, in two main challenges. The chassis with its subparts and functions (suspension, steering and transmission) and the aesthetics in the form of body work.
Which of these is more important to you? Which one challenges you most or in which one do you invest more of your creative time?

PB: It’s probably and even split, for example with the Vampire GT, It took me 3 month to get the Gearbox right. I was showing the prototype to some guys at Brickfair in August 2011, but I didn’t get it perfected until September. After that at one point I spent 2 weeks getting just the doors of the car right. I usually try to start with something new in a car as the initial concept and build around that and normally it is the gearbox.



TBs: Which one of your cars was most difficult to create, or to achieve the exterior look and functionality you were aiming for?

PB: Easily the Porsche because the pressure was on the get it right and it was supposed to represent the “real” car. I like to think that I nailed the chassis being practical and functional, but the achieving the curves and style was really tough in that scale. I am not going to lie, there were many times that I was ready to give up on it.  I can remember so many times being heavily motivated to start working on a certain part of the car and then 6 hours later I had nothing done, I would go to bed and wake up and walk through the dining room and stare at the accomplishments that I didn’t make the night before.
During building many of my cars, my wife would walk into the room and she could always tell when I was frustrated and ask “What is wrong?” and I would tell her the problem, and she would always say, “You’ll figure it out, you always do.”
My wife is my real inspiration. Even though I was building before I met her, It is hard to say if I would still even be building had we never met.



TBs: Almost all of your cars have a more conventional or innovative transmission gearbox. Although two of your most iconic cars didn't get one, which is probably one of the fundamental features to really put a Technic car into the Supercars category.
You know I'm talking about the Gallardo and Murciélago Lambos. What prevented you from trying a gearbox in these?

PB: 2 things, the scale was too small to properly add the type of gearbox those cars required  and when I built the Gallardo, I was trying to build a car that could possibly rival a “racer/Technic” style car that Lego may have released.  I actually offered the Gallardo Model design to Lego several different times before I ever posted pictures of it online, but as expected it was denied.
To be honest, I only built the Murcielago because people were complaining about the lack of suspension in the Gallardo and that the steering wheel didn’t work. And I really wanted to do another car in Yellow, this time using the new styled panels. I don’t think the types of gearboxes that those 2 cars have in real life are possible to do correctly in that scale without failure. I toyed around with linkage transmissions years ago, but there is too much monkeying around with them to engage the gears properly.




TBs: While you are a talented builder you don't seem to master other skills from this digital era, like other builders do. However you managed to attract others to cooperate with you and help to highlight your work. I'm talking about the amazing work with the recreation of crowkillers.com by your webmaster, and cooperation from Eric Albretch (Blakbird) and Jurgen Krooshop in preparing building instructions for your models.
How do you feel by gathering such enthusiasm around your work?

PB: I am just more “Hands on” when it comes to everything. Juanjo Montilla from Spain is my webmaster now and he contacted me out of the blue last December and showed me an amazing new design concept for my website, which is 100X better than it previously was.
I have to admit, the first time that I have ever been blown away was when Eric Albrecht contacted me back in 2009 and told me that he had build my Gallardo in CAD and sent me a few JPG pictures. It was very overwhelming to me and still is. I still can’t believe how fast Eric works with those programs. Jurgen is equally amazing and has real talent in building. I really envy and respect those guys.





To be continued!...    Next Monday.

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