Blocks Architecture interview sample

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Have you ever wondered about the designers behind the LEGO sets you buy? Blocks Issue 21, on sale now, has an interview with Adam Reed Tucker – the man behind LEGO Architecture. Here is a sample of the conversation he had with Blocks magazine that had to be left out because we didn’t have the space.

You will find the interview after the break...

Adam Reed Tucker is living the dream of many – if not most – LEGO fans. Many know that he has designed sets with the LEGO Group and tours exhibitions of his skyscrapers, but as well as that he has been a speaker for LEGO Education, worked on a DK book and contributed to the Master Builder Academy. It’s all in a day’s work for a LEGO Certified Professional.

But one surprising thing about this LCP is the controversial methods he will employ when necessary. He prefers to be a purist – but is willing to bend that rule when he needs to. 100% purist builders should not read any further.

‘The one area I am not a purist in,’ Adam tells Blocks, ‘is that, if it is absolutely necessary, I will cut pieces. There were times when I needed a 1x11 plate for the rollercoaster. There is nothing that I can do. I cannot take a 1x3 and a 1x8, because I can’t splice them. I could glue them, but I’ll just take a 12 and snip a stud off.’

‘The reason I’m okay with that is because that’s an element that LEGO should have made. But they don’t need to because they’re making toys – which are not based on algorithms and pure geometric shapes. When you are doing turning radiuses, you can’t do everything in integers of two.’

The rollercoaster that Adam refers to is the American Eagle Rollercoaster, part of his current exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It uses 14,500 bricks and measures 12 feet long. From the positive feedback coming from those who have visited the MSI, it seems snipping the odd stud has been very much worth it.

To hear much more about Adam’s life in LEGO, with plenty more fascinating anecdotes and insights, pick up the current issue of Blocks – in shops now and online at www.blocksmag.com.

Elsewhere in the magazine, there’s a conversation with Brickworld Master 2016 Rocco Buttliere, tips on creating the perfect LEGO roof and the Mod Squad tackle 60130 Prison Island.

Image credit: Adam Reed Tucker, J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry

17 comments on this article

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By in Sweden,

I used to cut pieces occasionally when I was little (like 6 or 7). Nothing I'd do today, though...

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By in New Zealand,

The one and only time I cut a piece I sliced my finger down to the bone. I think there's a moral in there for ALL of us!

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By in United States,

If you were cutting pieces, what's the preferred method?

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By in United States,

I'd go with a dremel tool. Let Block-n-Roll be a cautionary tale against hand tools.

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By in Sweden,

As a kid I used scissors on 1x.. plates. Not recommended, as you won't achieve a clean cut.

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By in United States,

a high tooth count hack saw with a simple miter box to help with keeping things straight would easily get the job done. it's just plastic after all; not like we're splitting an atom! :-)

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By in United States,

Ooof! Why cut pieces? The great thing about Lego building is that you are often forced to innovate. If he needs a 1x11 plate, he should change his technique to get around the fact that there is no Lego 1x11 plate, not just cut pieces to get what he wants. That's really shocking coming from an LCP.

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By in United Kingdom,

I've cut pieces before but only when there was no other way, when I had at least one spare of the part I was cutting and when the cut was hidden in the final assembly. For example, I had to cut the back of this minifigure's head to get his cowl to drape over the BrickWarrior habit: http://www.brickshelf.com/gallery/AmperZand/Fantasy/monk.jpg

I use an X-Acto or a pair of Japanese nail clippers depending on the required cut.

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By in United Kingdom,

That's a cool idea.

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By in United States,

^Tim Lydy; he actually had a darn good reason to cut the piece; to form the track and structure of a roller coaster model. Seeing how limited Lego geometry can be sometimes, such a complex model needed a more exact piece then what Lego currently offers. Furthermore it is not a matter of changing "technique or methods" either. There is a clear prototype for his model. This isn't a "MOC" of a random roller coaster, but a nearly scale model of an actual structure. Seeing how often scale modelers cut pieces to make a more exact replica; I don't find it shocking he had to cut a piece of two for a nearly scale replica of an actual coaster.

Lego still has a long way to go for the exacting scale modeler. Take for example the Lego train community's long use of custom wheels, side rods, and track as evidence Lego has yet to create a piece to fulfill 'every need' in the community. I am mostly a purist to, but if nessicary I am open to the use of custom or 3rd party parts.

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By in United States,

Tim-

You do know that the master builders that work for TLG use glue and steel armatures all the time and even use special colors not available to the rest of us?

If cutting is the only thing this LCP does out of complete necessity I have no issue with it. His work is amazing and even had the pleasure of meeting him at Brick by Brick, he could not be a more humble and genuine guy.

On a side note he started the Architecture line and founded Brickworld, his mind and heart are in the right place.

He is not an AFOL, he's an artist who uses the brick parts as his medium.

My 2 cents....

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By in United States,

His reasoning seems sound, considering the nature of the piece.

I think we can all agree that there's seemingly little reason for a 1 x 11 plate not to exist, yet it would would be used so sparingly and would cost so much for the new mould that it's hardly worth producing.

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By in United States,

There's a 1x1 piece. There's a 2x1 piece. There's a 3x1 piece. There's a 4x1 piece. There's no 5x1 piece. If LEGO doesn't want to produce 5x1 pieces, then why do they produce 3x1 pieces?

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By in United States,

Those skyscrapers at the start are darn near perfect.

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By in United States,

Adam is a friend of a friend, and I had no idea what he did for a living the one time I met him. Really wish LEGO came up during that dinner!

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By in Canada,

Just for disclosure sake, I know Tucker very well. He is a friend, and a brother, who I keep in touch with close to daily. I love him, and his family to bits.

Before we really got to know each other well, we had a really good discussion about the matter of cutting elements. Tucker's argument was that if Lego does not make it, and they should, then it is fair game to make adjustments to an existing element.

Now also keep in mind, that in designing sets for Lego, he would also do this, then Lego would (in some cases) make a new element for that set. So is it so evil if the activity leads to a whole new element for us to use? It was a very reasonable argument at the time, and it makes even more sense as my own builds become more intricate.

One of the hard parts of using a child's toy for creating art, is the limitations of the stock product. Lego wants to (and does a darn good job of it) make toys for children. The AFOL is a small, and secondary concern.

However, they are making new elements all the time, and I suspect from observing their behaviours, that eventually they will have all of these elements available to their customers. Especially if people on the inside like Tucker take the time to show them how beneficial having these elements can be.

I see that Tucker has his eyes on the future for element availability, and just wants those parts now for his creations. Lego likely would rather take a couple decades doling out new parts to hungry AFOLs who will purchase the sets to get the element. Makes a decent sustainable business plan over the next ever depending on how Lego plays things I suppose.

I have also adopted this pattern of thinking. I have used elements from ALT Bricks, BrickForge, Brick Arms, Brick Fortress, Crazy Bricks, and others. Heck, we have even made our own minifig elements to make a particular moc happen.

Tucker is an amazing artist, thoughtful, caring, and giving. He does amazing work with as little modifications as possible, and his builds are stunning (go take a look at the museum, I lucked out with a personal tour with Tucker and his lovely family, with some amazing, greasy, hole in the wall, burgers afterwards). He is also one of the most modest people I have met.

I suspect that we will have a number of odd numbered bricks/plates/tiles down the road as they get doled out to us.

Dr. Lee Jones, MD, CCFP
Can Google to see some of my builds, and even some I have built with Tucker. Lovely little article BTW.

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By in United States,

Seth-

What a wonderful post and even nicer language. A "douche" really? Be careful making slanderous statements against someone's character or cite your sources.

Sure seems like jealousy or perhaps putting down others makes yourself feel better.

Either way I think Mr. Tucker would not be able to have achieved all that he has if your claims were accurate. Starting Brickworld, Developing the Architecture line and being a Lego Certified Professional - yeah sounds like someone who would make fun of a young girl...

Get a life Seth!

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