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Video interview

January 19th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Polish TV programme called VideoGadula has interviewed me about my hobby. The video includes English subtitles, and a full transcription is available in this post.

On December 2010 I’ve had a pleasure of being interviewed by a Polish TV programme called VideoGadula. The programme features video interviews with prominent figures from cultural, political or showbiz spheres, and thanks to it being opened to viewers’ suggestions I got featured too. Below is the full video with English subtitles embedded, and further below you will find a complete transcription of the whole interview in English.

– Lewis asks: where do you get your inspiration from? In general, there are two ways in which I get inspired.  I can get inspired by coming across something, for instance by seeing a dumper truck or a mobile crane, or a different type of machine, or I intentionally search for an inspiration. I have an idea for a model with specific functions and I’m looking for a most suitable machine, like for example a machine with all-wheel drive or with all-wheel steering. I’m searching through some lexicons or books, looking for a functionality that matches what I want to build as close as possible.

– Did you ever think about writing a book? – Lexhoya. I did not, but right now I happen to be in the middle of settling an agreement with an US-based publisher, an agreement concerning writing a book that, I hope, would be released in US before the end of 2011. The book would be a guide into building with Lego Technic, into basics, into mechanisms that can serve as components of one’s own constructions, and also a number of step-by-step instructions would be included. I hope it hits the shelves in 2011, even if in US only.

– Elmo asks: when did you get into the lego brand and when did you start taking it a bit more seriously and building larger more complex models? I got in thanks to my dad, who bought me some Lego Technic sets when I was a kid. I had a number of non-Technic sets before, but once I got my hands on my first Technic set, which was small, with less than 100 pieces, I’ve lost all interest in Lego Castle and such. As for building larger and more complex models, I believe it was a gradual process. Certainly, at the beginning I was prone to mistakes such as building something I actually lacked pieces and skills for, but then as my pool of Lego pieces grew, and so did my experience, it became natural to build bigger. An extreme example would be my mobile crane model that took roughly 3 months to complete and was over 2 meters tall when fully extended.

– Will: what is your favorite MOC? Right at the moment, I believe it would be the Scania racing truck, a model of one that I’ve built. It looked very neat to me, it worked well and was well received. I guess it;s going to remain my favourite for a while, at least until I build something more interesting.

– Marq: what is the estimated value of your collection? It’s a rather tricky question, as there are various ways to sell collections and various way to estimate their value. For instance, I could pull a number of complete Lego sets out of my collection, which would sell at higher price that the loose pieces would. But I would like to make it clear that I am not really a collector. It may appear that I have plenty of Lego pieces, but in fact I buy pieces as rarely as possible, only when necessary, and even then as few as I can. There are some real collectors out there, in Poland too, whose collection requires separate rooms to store, while I can fit all I have on my workbench. There are, for example, collectors who own every Lego Technic set ever released, which is over 300 sets, while I have roughly 70 sets altogether, mostly small ones, with little amount of pieces. Which is why, and I believe it’s a good thing, this hobby is more about skills and ideas than about what’s sitting in your wallet.

– Do you know how many bricks you have – asks Andrzej Niedzielski. My estimate is over 30,000 pieces, with roughly one third bought as loose pieces and the rest coming from a collection of Lego sets.

– How many pneumatic pieces do you have – asks Black_Omega. I don’t really keep an exact record of it, but I tend not to judge builders by the amount of pieces they own.  Of course, with more pieces, for instance with more motors, come more possibilities and better prospects, but I believe it’s all about an idea and skill to use these pieces. Which is why even if I have, for example, over 20 such pieces, it does not make me a better builder than someone who owns 10.

– How much did all your lego cost you over the years? – kyle. I suppose it costed less than it seems, because in fact all these pieces result from 4 years of looking for the lowest bids, for the most attractive offers. I bought most of these at less than their market price, so I believe that they are worth no less that 10,000 zloties, I have paid less that this.

– Marq – have you ever destroyed a Lego piece? I guess it didn’t really happen since my early childhood, when I used to gnaw at Lego pieces every now and then.

– Bachaddict asks: on your workbench, which (types of) parts are in the drawers & boxes and which are loose? I have no fixed system, really, I’m trying to store separately pieces that are small and hard to find among bigger ones, or the ones I’m using frequently, sometimes I keep these sorted by colors or by subtypes. Still, I keep plenty of my pieces loose, because I can find these easily, for instance my Technic bricks which are many in many colors and there’s really no point in sorting them all out.

– James: Have you ever thought about using the Mindstorms NXT? I have, but the time is the issue here. I’m doing some programming at work, and I’m afraid that coupling the passion for Lego Technic and the fondness of programming would result in my having no time left to actually go to work. Perhaps at some point in future I’ll run out of ideas for building with Lego Technic only, but I can’t really say anything for certain.

– Pep: if the Lego Group wants to create new parts and they ask you to help them, what new part do you like to design? I think that with the amount of various parts available at the moment we are able to build pretty much anything, and if I could design just anything, I guess I would go for very strong motors, even stronger than the ones we have at the moment, which could be useful for large, heavy models without the need of using several motors for a single function.

– Zoolish: what is your favourite Lego set and piece? My favourite set is definitely the 8421 set, the mobile telescopic crane. It’s a huge set with nearly 2000 pieces, with plenty of complex mechanisms, and it provides an exceptional building experience which, I believe, is really worth having. As for the piece, I guess the most useful, favourite one here would be the XL motor, with its powerful torque unlike any Lego motor before, which enables us – me and many other builders – to build bigger and heavier that it was possible before.

– Młody asks: is it difficult to set up a building plan and to re-create a vehicle with Lego pieces? I believe it’s a matter of practice, I believe that every builder that deals with models for a while gains certain skills over time. I, for instance, usually start by looking for a blueprint of the original machine, I use it to calculate my model’s dimensions, to estimate how much internal space for mechanics will be available and where, I pick a scale that is best suited to model this machine and to make it work in the most efficient way. Then I proceed to build the internal structure and cover it with a bodywork that has a certain amount of details, as well as custom stickers that I make myself. With large and complex models, I sometimes make a mock-up that gives me a good idea of the size of the finished model, and I’m looking for a way to fit in internal mechanics so that it takes as little space as possible, so that it’s arranged in the most efficient way.

– JP HACK: what does it mean to start on a new design? What steps do you go through to make something new? Like I said about getting inspired, I may start a new project because of something I’ve seen on a street, or because I search for something that would have the functionality I’m looking for. For any larger model, the necessary thing is to find a blueprint that shows the original machine from various angles, that lets me calculate model’s dimension, that lets me see the details. Additionally, some photographic material, photos of the original machine, from various angles, in various liveries – this is important for instance with the construction equipment. When building models of cars, I attempt to model the original engine as well – its look, its set-up, its placement inside the car. All this data can be found in the Internet if you just take some time to look for it.

– Eric Seo asks: do you also work on plastic military scaled models such as Tamiya? I used to work on plastic models for a couple of months, and I started because I believed that it would provide a good reference material for Lego models. For instance, when I was building a model of a tank relying on a plastic model, I was able to learn something about its internal structure and I was able to see details that are usually hidden on the photos, such as the details on hull’s upper surface in the area usually hidden under the turret.

– JP HACK asks: what do you think of what enables you to be good a detail work? How does someone gain this skill? I believe this skill originates from two things: firstly, the experience which makes it easier to choose which details to model and which details to ignore, because when building scaled down models with Lego pieces, there is no way to model every detail. It’s crucial to be able to choose the most distinctive details and features that will create similarity between the model and the original machine. Secondly, the proper documentation, such as photos showing the details, giving the idea of the size, of what is where. It helps to re-create the look of the original thing.

– Black_Omega asks: what do you think the is the most useful piece? I think the most useful piece is the regular Lego Technic pin which keeps our models together. Every large model uses hundreds of these and without it, we would have a serious problem building anything.

– Andrzej Niedzielski: it is written somewhere in your website that Lego contacted you to help them in developing some models. Can you compromise which models these were and what were the problems Lego had with them? It was not about helping them to develop models, but about reviewing prototypes of new parts from the Power Functions line. I was given certain parts prior to their market release, and I had a chance of using these, without showing them publicly, of course, and of giving my opinion and my suggestions back to Lego. I am not at liberty to disclose more details, and I was not at liberty to show these parts until the release of the sets they were included in.

– Simontomi asks: do you have time to build in the weekdays? And when do you build? I’m building mostly over weekends, but in some weekdays is spend a couple of hours after getting back from work on building. I’m not building all week long, I sometimes take a break for a couple of days, without even touching a single Lego piece, and most of my activity takes place on weekends – this is also when I take photos or film what I’ve built. I believe that if you keep things well organised and well planned, you can build what you want to build in a relatively short time – at least this is how I can keep building no less than 20 models a year, with my personal record being 37 if memory serves me well.

– Simontomi: do you get angry when something is just not going to work? A little bit, yes, of course, but I stick to the creative approach, which means that I keep trying various solutions until I find one that works as intended. It takes little time usually, although I admit there is a mechanism I’ve been struggling with for roughly 2 years, and which I will hopefully get working next year.

– Simotomi: do you have problems with some models that you can’t solve, like ticking gears? I have problems, and I’m trying to solve these early in the building process. If the problem can’t be solved by reinforcing the mechanism or by some minor adjustments, I move on to try something different – sometimes what I was trying to achieve with motors and gear wheels takes Lego pneumatics to work properly. I believe than trying out a variety of approaches and finding the most effective one is crucial when building complex functional models.

– Eric Seo: do you use trial and error in your creations? I obviously do, just like everyone else, but in order to keep the building process short I’m trying to expect as far as I can, to expect how its internals will look, how its parts will work together. Naturally, I can’t expect everything, so there is always some trial and error involved, and the look and functionality of the complete model are rarely identical to the intended ones, but I believe there is little trial and error in my building.

– Black_Omega: do you prefer building in studfull or studless? I don’t really have a preference here, I view these as two sides of a single system, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and in my opinion the best results come from combining the strong points of both.

– Does this hobby allow for a balanced private life? Do you feel you’ll have to give up your hobby at one time – asks Mike. This hobby allows for a private life as balanced as possible for a person who is a passionate, I mean if we assume that it’s an important thing in my life, but not the only one, then it allows for a reasonably balanced private life. There are little differences, for instance instead of watching football matches with my friends, I watch new Lego pieces with them, we exchange ideas and opinions, or we go for an off-road Lego race outdoors. I don’t know what will it be like in the future, whether I’ll become tired of it eventually or focus on something else. I think that starting a family, having children may be a difficult moment with little or no time for building. Luckily, playing with Lego pieces is a multi-generational experience, so I will probably never get completely rid of Lego pieces, because they may become interesting to my kids one day.

– Ogden asks: when you are no longer building Lego MOCs, what are you going to do with your huge supply of Lego pieces? I don’t really know at the moment, right now I have building plans for at least a year ahead. No matter how much I build, there are always roughly 20 or so items up on my future projects list. This is why I find it hard to think of building no longer, but it can obviously happen. I may run out of ideas one day, I may come across something even more interesting, I may simply have no time for it anymore.

– Bachaddict: which set(s) (that you do not have) do you want the most? There is this large set with Lego Technic space shuttle, I don’t remember the exact set number, but I believe it was released in early nineties. A huge, complex set with lots of motorized functions, including a satellite that could be pulled out and deployed, rotated, and basically it let owner re-create what he saw in videos of real astronauts working in outer space.

– Bachaddict: do you ever sell pieces or sets? Not really. I believe that any part in my possession may eventually come handy, even if I can’t think of any possible use for it at the moment. On few occasions I have attempted to buy some newly released sets very early and then to re-sell these in Poland, but somehow I was unwilling to sell these and I kept them.

–  Aneta asks: what’s the origin of your hobby? How long does it take to build? My hobby started with my dad, who never played with Lego pieces, but bought me some sets nevertheless. When I became a teenager, playing with Lego pieces seemed childish to me and I quit it completely for a few years, with my collection stored somewhere up in the attic. Then, as I was over twenty, I realized I still want to build something, I got my old pieces back, started shopping for some new ones, and so it started. As for the building time, it varies a lot, depending on complexity level, on the sheer size, and on how precisely I can plan ahead. It can take from a single week up to three months with a single model.

–  Zurek: how much money did you earn with your constructions? Do you have a full-time job and build when you’re back home? I didn’t really earn any money because I tend not to sell what I build, I just find it hard to part with my pieces or my constructions. I did, however, sell certain mechanisms of my design on few occasions, for German schools with teachers looking for Lego models of how, for instance, a gearbox works. As for the building, yes, I have a full-time job and I build when I’m back home, usually just a couple of hours before going to sleep.

If any of your questions was left unanswered, feel free to ask in the comments.

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  1. Sariel
    December 13th, 2013 at 11:38 | #1

    @Piotr P.
    W każdym moim filmie masz tę informację: na Bricklinku.

  2. Piotr P.
    December 13th, 2013 at 00:03 | #2

    Gdzie kupujesz klocki, jeśli kupujesz je luzem? Czy kupujesz je na kilogramy czy sztuki? Gdzie mógłbym kupić felgi (takie jak z tyłu) do Twojego modelu: http://sariel.pl/2009/01/dragster/

  3. andrew
    December 31st, 2012 at 05:19 | #3

    i got your book and i really like it!

  4. Sariel
    August 16th, 2011 at 18:57 | #4

    I don’t know.

  5. jade2448
    August 16th, 2011 at 18:56 | #5

    how big will the book be?

  6. Sariel
    April 26th, 2011 at 20:59 | #6

    Erm… I haven’t written a half of it yet. I’m glad you want one but have patience until, let’s say, December. Maybe.

  7. mike
    April 26th, 2011 at 20:38 | #7

    did the book alredy cam out or does it still have to come out?

  8. fifer253
    February 17th, 2011 at 23:13 | #8

    I just watched the video and it is great I love the new tow truck!
    I have the spaceship set and I think it is pretty cool.

  9. Sariel
    January 25th, 2011 at 10:31 | #9

    I kindly ask you to read this: http://sariel.pl/faq/

  10. January 25th, 2011 at 10:11 | #10

    From where did you buy all those bricks and what’s the software that you use?

  11. Sariel
    January 25th, 2011 at 08:00 | #11

    Forbidden techniques are certain ways of connecting parts that may result in damage to these parts. For example, you can make this http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=4085b hold this http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=3069b and it will stick together nicely, but the first part can sustain permanent damage from doing that.

  12. bachaddict
    January 24th, 2011 at 23:36 | #12

    What are some types of forbidden techniques? You have made me very curious 🙂 @Sariel

  13. bachaddict
    January 23rd, 2011 at 23:56 | #13

    If each of your Facebook fans donated 20 cents, you’d have more than enough money to buy 8480… @Sariel

  14. Sariel
    January 23rd, 2011 at 23:23 | #14

    I’m using MLCad and LDView – as you can read in the FAQ section.

  15. Joan
    January 23rd, 2011 at 23:07 | #15

    I have some questions for you @Sariel. Do you use any kind of CAD software to design your models? If yes, wich one? I’m about to build my first “big” lego model but I have no idea where to start bulding. How should I build the chasis?
    If you finaly publish the book I will absolutely buy it.


  16. Sariel
    January 23rd, 2011 at 11:13 | #16

    Yes, of course. If you’re so kind, you can do it by PayPal, my PayPal username is searme@o2.pl. Thank you very much.

  17. Mr.M
    January 23rd, 2011 at 11:03 | #17

    can i donate money to you for you to put towards future models?

  18. Mike
    January 21st, 2011 at 19:44 | #18

    in a way I can understand that.. you can find and record just about everything..
    But I think they shouldn’t bother about videos that have stuff as background music, not for the purpose of sharing the msuci itself. Anyone who watches your vids to get the music kinda misses the point 🙂

  19. Neil
    January 21st, 2011 at 01:15 | #19


  20. Sariel
    January 20th, 2011 at 19:44 | #20

    Nope. And I have little choice with YouTube just waiting to defend some copyrights.

  21. Mike
    January 20th, 2011 at 19:34 | #21

    I’m surprised noone asked about the music you put into your videos 😛 I noticed you have faves you use over again sometimes like Helloween. Do you like Dream Theater?

  22. Mike
    January 20th, 2011 at 19:10 | #22

    ok, thanks!@Sariel

  23. January 20th, 2011 at 13:26 | #23

    Hello again Sariel. I really like your outlook in the answer you gave to Niel. I couldn’t agree more. It’s like me working on my truck (the real one) to make it look and perform how I want it to. I have worked in mechanic shops and just really didn’t have the joy from that, that I get from doing stuff to my own vehicles. Congrats on the interview! It was a great insight into the life of a great builder. You do have an impressive collection to me. I am sporting about 4000 – 5000 pieces. But as you said, this does NOT determine how good someone is at building. It honestly forces me to be MUCH more creative to accomplish a look or function that I want. Keep up the great building!

  24. Sariel
    January 20th, 2011 at 12:54 | #24

    It’s No Starch Press.

  25. Mike
    January 20th, 2011 at 12:14 | #25

    Concerning the book you’re about to write: I’m wondering if the publisher is wiiling to publish it worldwide. I think I’m comfortable with English and Lego too that I could help in translating it. Can you tell which publisher this is? I might want to look them up later, and maybe bring together a Hungarian edition with some Hungarian publisher 😛

  26. Sariel
    January 20th, 2011 at 07:43 | #26

    I have no idea. I can only guess, and my guess is that they didn’t see me fit to design stuff for kids.

  27. January 20th, 2011 at 00:44 | #27

    Following your opening for Lego Technic Builder, do you know why you were turned down. Because with all the stuff you have built, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t like to have you. You don’t have to answer this if you aren’t comfortable. I was just dumbfounded that Lego turned down your application…

  28. Sariel
    January 20th, 2011 at 00:16 | #28

    To be perfectly honest, there was a job opening for a Lego Technic designer in the first half of 2010, and I have sent my portfolio to apply, but they turned it down right away.
    Career in Lego design has many advantages, but certain disadvantages too. It means moving to a completely different country, it means dropping the career that I already have (and which I like a lot), and all of this without any guarantee that you will succeed as a designer or that you will enjoy it. There are vast differences between building for your own pleasure and designing an official Lego set. Among those is a long list of restrictions (set’s target price is one, but also some techniques of building are strictly forbidden), and you have to remember that you’re designing it for kids at all times. So, there are many risks involved into turning your hobby into your job – you can’t build what you like and you don’t build for your own pleasure. You even have to build when you don’t feel like building.
    Having said that, I’m happy they turned me down. I like things the way they are for me now – a job for a living and a hobby for a pleasure, one not interfering with another.

  29. Neil
    January 19th, 2011 at 23:57 | #29

    I have a question, if you’re comfortable answering. Have you, in the past, looked at a career with Lego, building and designing models? If so, why didn’t you take it? (I’m 14, and looking at a career with lego, but I’m not sure if I want to…)

  30. Mike
    January 19th, 2011 at 22:39 | #30

    playing Lego Technic with my kids… that’s exactly what I wanna do sometime in the future.. 😀 😀 way to go! 🙂

  31. lewis
    January 19th, 2011 at 19:22 | #31

    thanks for answering my question!

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