My guest today is someone I admired for a long time now! He’s the creator of Legoformers but has also made other cool creations such as the Nintendo mosaic wall (see above) and also made some really awesome electric Lego devices! His name is Baron Von Brunk and this is how the interview between played out!
3.47: When did you first start making these awesome Lego creations?
Baron Von Brunk: I’ve actually been building original LEGO models since my early childhood, and making some proto-forms of my current works during my teenage years. A lot of my early projects haven’t been chronicled, as I’d merely play with them and then dismantle them for future use. I began making refined projects to showcase online gradually starting with 2008, and had some periods of inactivity as I pursued my career as a graphic designer. The particular LEGO models of mine that you’re familiar with — my polished, refined works — began in late 2011!
3.47: How supportive was your family when you first started creating them?
Baron: As a child, my original LEGO sets were of course mainly as birthday and/or Christmas gifts — hence my parents were generally supportive of me occupying my time with a harmless hobby. Even as a young adult before I set out on my own, my folks were surprisingly okay with the fact that I was a grown adult who owned more toys than an average kid!
3.47: What your reaction like when you saw your Lego designs get featured on various websites?
Baron: I was rather flattered when my work first began to pick up steam! My first project to go “viral” get acclaim from a major site was my first LEGOformer “Plasmashock” — a replica NES Zapper. A follower of mine on Tumblr forwarded the post to his friend at Kotaku, and soon I was beginning a small but steady following of fans who had faith in future projects I’d plan on creating.
3.47: Are you surprised at how big of a fan base it’s grown to now?
Baron: I’ll admit that I have somewhat of a decent fan base, but I could always use more acclaim. Not trying to sound like I’m egotistical nor hogging the spotlight, but I’m aware that amongst the LEGO cliques online, my work generally goes unnoticed. Probably one of my downfalls is how I don’t network as often as I should, such as the LEGO groups on Flickr, whereupon I only occasionally pop in once in a while without being active in the online communities.
3.47: You done a quite a few Legofromers which is just mind blowing! Where did you get the inspiration to do it?
Baron: The idea of making transforming Nintendo peripherals actually goes back to one of my big ideas from late 2011: at the time, I was starting out with making refined LEGO models for the internet, and unfortunately a lot of my work had been going unnoticed. I decided to tackle a huge never-before-done project to make my mark and get the word out there, and that project of course was my giant Super Mario 3 airship “The Fireflower!” As I built that titanic brute gradually in late 2011 and early 2012, I had an idea of unveiling the ship at a small art show in New York, and my plan also consisted of having the ship surrounded by an array of Nintendo-related creations — two of the particular concepts were the transforming Game Boy and Zapper, respectively. However, my idea then was to have the Game Boy and Zapper transform into robotic versions of Mario and Luigi; unfortunately, because of ascetics I was limited to size and design, thus I opted to make the robots look like original designs of my own. I worked on the Zapper first (during downtime of the airship’s construction while parts arrived in the mail), and began working on the Game Boy immediately after the ship was unveiled online. The airship went unnoticed at first, and sort of went viral simultaneously with the release of the Game Boy in mid-March 2012.
3.47: Which one are you most proud of?
Baron: I think my best LEGOformer is my transforming Nintendo 64 “Ultra Hexacon”: that particular model is the most ambitious, the largest, most articulated, and in my opinion best designed. It took several months to complete!
3.47: Which would you say has been the hardest one to make so far?
Baron: That of course would be Ultra Hexacon: I pretty much spent the entire summer of 2013 working on that project, with no time to “go out” or do anything, like traveling or having a vacation.
3.47: How long did it take to make them?
Baron: Making a LEGOformer can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The quickest has been my recent one, “Vantage” the Game Boy Advance. That model was designed digitally via 3D software in just a few days and took about a week or so of fine tuning.
3.47: I gotta ask how much Lego bricks do you have now?
Baron: It’s very hard to keep track of how many I own. I actually have two LEGO collections: my New York collection, and my Pennsylvania collection. Before I moved to New York in early 2010, I left behind most of my possessions in a storage shed in Lancaster, with the intention of picking them up when I’d establish permanent residence. Four years later I’m still in that cramped attic apartment in Queens, and every piece I own now has been obtained since moving here! Both my New York and Pennsylvania collections go into the tens of thousands, with multiple large plastic storage tubs being filled.
3.47: What would you say has been your achievement so far out of everything you created?
Baron: I’m mostly proud of my giant Super Mario 3 airship, although in retrospect there is plenty of room for improvement. If/when I move into my own artists’ loft in New York City, I plan on rebuilding the ship to be much larger, sturdier, and game-accurate!
3.47: What’s your favourite video game of all time?
Baron: Super Mario Bros. 3 — the Cadillac of games!
3.47: As you mentioned recently it was last year you was invited to be at Nintendo World last year for the launch of Lego City Undercover, what was it like? That must of felt like a dream come true for you!
Baron: I was indeed rather excited! Long story short, when my giant NES controller went viral in early 2013, a rep from Nintendo World Store personally asked me to build a display for the release party and to showcase my best Nintendo-related works. It was fun networking with fans and making more of a name for myself, and I look forward to doing more events like that in the future.
3.47: You done a few projects based on none video games such as Star Wars and Ghostbusters to name but a few, which one are you hoping to make next?
Baron: Currently I’m still tinkering with a Star Wars project that I worked on most of April. I built a full-size replica of Han Solo’s DL-44 blaster, rigged up with electronics to play sounds and light up when the trigger is pulled! This was an extremely difficult project that almost didn’t see the light of day due to electronics failures, and now I’m currently rebuilding it to be more streamlined and have better performance, and I plan on releasing a tutorial for it on Instructables this summer. Aside from that, I’m also doing a couple of other video game things, however — one of which is yet another mosaic lamp!
3.47: There was a picture of you standing in the middle of a lake and castle behind I think … What happened to that project? I don’t see it on your page any more either
Baron: Was that Brunkland? Way back in 2009 when I still lived in Lancaster, I planned on devoting an entire room of my house to being a giant medieval LEGO city called “Brunkland” — and of course that project never saw the light of day, but might be remade some day in the future when I have more space!
3.47: You recently said you getting t-shirts printed and you own a few yourself, will they be sold on your site sometime in the future?
Baron: Currently my day job involves designing graphics for sports teams, hence I have connections to factories that have sophisticated direct-to-garment machines. I’ve made a few samples of LEGOformer shirts for myself, and because I’m satisfied with the quality, I might get bulk orders in the near future to sell at tradeshows and art exhibits. Stay tuned!
3.47: What’s the best advice you been given?
Baron: To be honest, I generally do things alone with no help from peers — thus without trying to sound too pompous, I haven’t received any relevant advice as either a LEGO builder nor a professional designer! All of my talents and experience has been self-taught through trial and error, or with frustration! Generally speaking, I’m a rather solitary and reclusive person who does things on his own, and figures things out for himself due to curiosity.
3.47: And what advice can you give to others who want to be like yourself?
Baron: My personal advice based on past experiences is to never bit off more than you can chew (not literally, as in biting LEGO pieces): only do small projects you’re capable of doing, and slowly work your way up. Also never jump directly into sophisticated technology like expensive cameras if you lack the ability to use them. Start off with cheap snapshot digital cameras, and gradually improve your photography skills until you can get into the world of DSLRs.
3.47: I know you make it by yourself which is amazing, but would you like to work with someone on a huge project if asked?
Baron: It would all depend on the project. Throughout the U.S., there are adult meetup grounds called “LUGnet”, where regional members make projects for the official LEGO Stores. I’ve been invited to the NYC-area meetings several times, but have always been unable to get there for various reasons. In all honesty, though, because I’m so much of an introvert and a true “maverick” artist, I prefer to do things alone without peers. I don’t even really like the idea of having my stuff exhibited with other peoples’ projects (or various art media) at shows like galleries and whatnot; I’d much prefer to have an entire show/exhibit solely for my work. It sounds a bit egotistical, but rather I’m more comfortable that way.
3.47: You been asked a number of times can people buy your creations which annoy you, but have you had any weird request from people?
Baron: Once in a while people randomly ask to buy my stuff, thus to prevent that I’ve been more recently releasing tutorials so that folks can take a stab at making their own. Otherwise, the requests aren’t really weird at all; rather they’re genuinely inquisitive about costs and stuff.
3.47: Apart from building these awesome sets, what else do you do in your spare time?
Baron: As a day job, I’m a professional graphic artist with a knack for consumer goods: in the past it’s usually been for designing products for consumer electronics, and lately sports promotional products. That being said, I often turn to making graphics for fun and for freelance in my LEGO downtime. I used to paint expressionist paintings a while back, but have been mainly focused on LEGO building than standard hands-on crafts. At the moment, I’m currently trying to get better with taking photos, and also with making electronics via soldering and parts. I also occasionally get into heated political debates with people on LinkedIn when I’m venting frustration!
3.47: You said you adopted as a highway as a publicity stunt but did you think it would still be standing to this day?
Baron: One of my friends in my hometown told me that the sign still stands! The requirement to have a sign like that is to clean up the road four times a year, and although I haven’t touched the road since 2008, I think the reason why the sign still stands is because the PennDOT rep in charge of my highway’s jurisdiction resigned, and had a replacement who somehow forgot about me or something. It’s best not to think about it; I’m just paranoid that if I ever become famous, the sign would get vandalized/stolen, or the road severely polluted out of spite.
3.47: Do you have a room full of your creations?
Baron: Currently in my attic apartment, I have to main rooms: one for sleeping, and one for making projects — like a workshop. That room has all of my LEGO pieces, art supplies, and camera equipment!
3.47: Are you hoping to do more trips to show your creations?
Baron: Eventually at some point I’ll probably buy a van and thus get into having my stuff displayed at conventions, mainly though in the New York area. I might even do a First-Friday exhibit in my hometown of Lancaster, PA — maybe!
3.47: What can we expect from you in the future?
Baron: For now you can expect many more projects that use electronics — as that’s been my recent kick — such as lamps, mosaic portraits, and small laser guns!
3.47: And final question! Anything you like to say to your fans out there?
Baron: Thanks again for all of your support, and be sure to leave plenty of feedback when checking out my projects! I’m always interested in hearing what fans have to say, and occasionally I’ll make changes based on suggestions.
3.47 would like to say a massive thank you to Baron Von Brunk for spending the time doing the interview! Until next time guys!