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Os “Space 0937” entrevistam Mark Stafford

O pessoal mais ligado à ficção científica da Comunidade 0937, os Space 0937, têm vindo a unir esforços para melhorar as suas atividades. O próximo Arte em Peças vai ser o local onde o grupo irá apresentar um grande trabalho conjunto. No entanto as atividades dos spacers não se limita aos eventos off-line. O próprio quadro tem sido dinamizado de forma diferente, serão organizados concursos e inicia-se agora uma nova faceta. As entrevistas relacionadas diretamente com o tema.

Mark Stafford foi o primeiro a ser escolhido para uma entrevista pelo grupo. É um LEGO Designer que dispensa apresentações na Comunidade AFOL. No entanto deixo aqui três links (1,2 e 3) para as entrevistas que Mark cedeu ao The Brothers Brick e que podem servir de prelúdio a este artigo.

A maior parte da entrevista irá incidir no tema Alien Conquest, que se estreia este ano e é uma clara homenagem aos filmes de ficção científica série B que proliferaram nos anos 50. Podem comentar a entrevista neste tópico do Fórum 0937!

ALIEN CONQUEST

6989 Mega Core Magnetizer

6989 Mega Core Magnetizer

Mark, most of 0937’s members already know the route to your job at LEGO due to interviews you have given. However to better understand your influences, which is the space sub-theme you prefer and why?

I grew up with Classic-Space and loved it, but there were more than a few sets where the design and functions were not as good as they could have been, and others that did not appeal to me aesthetically even as a kid. If you really pushed for an answer on the pre-Star Wars space lines then I think M-Tron is the best LEGO space theme so far, brilliant looking sets and all with excellent functions, particularly the 6989 Mega Core Magnetizer.

There are also a few fans who’s MOCs helped lift me out of my dark ages and others who made me push at my building skills, Dan Jassim, Chris Giddens, Jon Palmer, Nnenn and maybe three or four others have had an impact on my style of building.

 

When you make a MOC, what are your main inspirations? Comics, movies, TV series, books?
All of the above and anything else I can get my hands on, concept art, computer games and weird looking bits of wood I find while walking the dog! I’m a great believer that the more you put into your head the more you get out.

 

As an AFOL do your MOCs influence your work? And the opposite?
Of course, that’s almost unavoidable. Sometimes I even have to leave a MOC until after a set comes out before I can put it online. It’s normally only a technique or a piece usage, but sometimes there are whole shapes from a set I want to expand on and work into a MOC.

 

Related to the Alien Conquest theme:
What were the main sources of inspiration?
Another Designer, Tim Ainley, came up with the idea that the new space theme could be a classic alien invasion theme inspired by 50’s saucer movies, and this heavily influenced the invaders ships.
Also today’s kids are surrounded by sci-fi imagery from movies and games like District-9, Halo, Gears of War etc. so for the good guys we chose to echo the kind of futuristic conflict based vehicles that feature widely in this ‘space war’ genre.

 

Was the success of some Agents’ sets (eg 8970 and 8635) influential in this theme or in some sets in particular?
We do try to draw a line under each project and try not to carry a lot of design cues or aesthetics from one theme into another, but with the two sets you mention there is actually a direct line to the Alien Conquest sets: through the designers!
The Agents 8635 Mobile Command Centre is a set I was designer on, so there might be some similarities, and its continued popularity of course means I often use it as inspiration for large vehicles.
As for the 8970 Robo Attack the set designer on that was Laurence Dawes who was Design Lead for Alien Conquest. It too drew on 1950’s classic sci-fi memes, it that case a rampaging robot, and it too is popular so it’s not surprising you might see a little of it creep into the Alien Conquest line.

 

Gun-Development

Gun-Development

Although this theme is not licensed, has a new weapon. Was there any controversy about this new weapon at the design team?
The decision to make a new hand held weapon for the good guys was one of the first made on this project. We wanted the traditional ‘laser gun’ from the mini-figure line to be used by the bad guys and looking at the inventory of mini-figure tools realized there was nothing cool enough to stand against it for the earth’s defenders to use.
I made the initial drawings, and Laurence Dawes, the Designer Lead on the project made the 3d files, together we worked through several iterations until we created the final gun.

From the very first meeting we both agreed this was a fantasy weapon, though it should draw from the same video game and movie influences as the good guy vehicles it was never supposed to represent any kind of real firearm. I think the end result successfully walks the line of being a very cool play tool with which the kids can act out their ‘battles’ without become so real it is scary or threatening.

 

Early-Command-Centre

Early-Command-Centre

The format of some sets are very close to some MOCs. Was it coincidence or the LEGO Designers seek inspiration in the work of AFOLs?
Some of us look at MOCs and of course a nice piece usage might be picked up on, but never a whole design. The only MOC that did have a heavy influence was one of my own, a fighter I built

Vics-Viper-MOC

Vics-Viper-MOC

for the ‘Novvember’ Vic’s Viper building challenge on Flickr. It was on my desk when I was describing to Laurence what kind of fighter I wanted to put on the Defence HQ’s launcher and it kind of stayed there all the way through. Actually I guess that does mean there is a link to fans MOCs, but only in a very general way relating to that yearly Flickr building challenge. This was actually referenced in the final stickers with a vipers head emblem on the fighter.

 

 

Some sets of this theme are your own work. What are and which one do you prefer? Why?

Abductor-sketch model

Abductor-sketch model

I seem to have been at the centre of this themes development from the start so asking me to pick a favourite gives me a very hard choice. I made the sketch models for the 7052 UFO Abduction saucer and figured out the light and abduction feature. And the first sketch of the 7065 Alien Mothership, making the large saucer shape out of the rail track elements, was me too. Then with 7067 Jet-Copter Encounter and the 7066 Earth Defence HQ, I made the sketch models and was final set designer too.

HQ-Final

HQ-Final

 

 

 

However all of the alien saucers then took a lot of styling from sketch models by Adam ‘Mister Zumbi’ Grabowski and Michael Fuller made a lot of variations of the good guys HQ and many of his innovations made it through to the final version.

Then there was the rest of the final design team under Laurence; Martin Klotz was the designer tasked with making the abduction saucer buildable. Senior Designer Raphael Pretesque drew the short straw on figuring out the final Mothership and also the tripod. Michael Patton meanwhile made the two smallest sets, he would have done more but is currently doing all of the graphics on the mini-figure line too!

Abdutor-Mister-Zumbi-Sketch

Abdutor-Mister-Zumbi-Sketch

 

It’s incredibly hard to say if I prefer any of them, I’m more surprised by the models from other designers as they find solutions I would never have thought of and this makes it more fun for me to build those sets.

However the set that has the least input from anyone else is the Jet-Copter which was mine from beginning to end (there was a version by Michael Fuller that was designed to do a very different job and therefore nothing from it was adopted into the final set) and I think it pushes the limits of the age groups capabilities. Only the brilliant skills of our building instructions team helped it to be made as a set, so it’s probably pretty close to being a MOC, I kind of like that, so it’s my favourite for now!

Jet-Copter-Sketch

Jet-Copter-Sketch

 

Most of the “spacers” of 0937 are advocates of a more peaceful approach to the theme than space-based conflict.

Abductor-Final

Abductor-Final

More gender Classic-Space than Space Police or even Alien Conquest. We understand that today the conflict is a necessity in some kind of toy. However we also think there is a market for products placed in a more exploratory theme. Is there any chance of the LEGO one day to embark on a theme such as this?


First I want to point out that LEGO space has rarely been peaceful, talking to the original designers of the classic space sets during its concept phase they envisioned it as a competitive ‘space race’ between astronauts in white and cosmonauts in red. Those probes and radar dishes looked a bit like weapons because they knew exactly how most kids would play with them!

Jet-Copter-Final

Jet-Copter-Final

 

That said, I understand your point, and of course LEGO City has just released a space port line with vehicles inspired by today’s peaceful space explorers and their space agencies.

However a LEGO action theme will always look for adventure, though exploration is part of this; it’s unlikely to keep a kid playing with a toy for hours as there are only so many times you can discover something, no matter how cool it is. The role-play by kids ends up falling to conflict, often over a ‘treasure’. In the case of Alien Conquest, the treasure is kidnapped humans, Mars mission it was over mined crystals, Space Police had the more direct conflict of catching criminals. I’m sure one day the exploration aspect will return to the space theme, just don’t be surprised if there are rival factions doing the exploring!

mothership-sketch-model

mothership-sketch-model

Also never forget, though we work hard on our stories and settings, LEGO bricks are building blocks. Personally I hope that kids (and AFOLs) are planning what they are going to use the cool pieces for even as they are building my sets. LEGO models are made to be taken apart and to then build what you want. If exploration is your thing then that’s what you will build. I’m really looking forward to the cool MOCs featuring figures and bricks from the Alien Conquest theme, particularly from the kids, their imaginations are a billion times more powerful than any adult and their creations and enthusiasm are what make this job so fantastic!

 

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