Nicola Lawson – Fantasy Building
For a lot of people, building with LEGO is about creating fantasy worlds that they had previously only imagined from books. Nicola Lawson has painstakingly recreated a number of Lord of the Rings scenes in LEGO form as she imagined them. We talked to her to find out more about how this started, and some of the techniques used to create her popular MOCs.
Hello, Nicola. Thanks for taking the time to speak to us ahead of Block Con, Hull. So, tell us, what inspired you to starting building LEGO MOCs?
When I first started going to LEGO events it was just as a visitor. At one event I went to I saw a model someone had built of ‘Bag End’, from the Lord of The Rings. This was before the official sets were released, so as a Lord of the Rings fan I was amazed, and thought that I’d never be able to build anything like that. As I started to spend more time within the AFOL community I found out that the Lord of the Rings LEGO had been announced, and as soon as I saw the minifigures of all the characters, that was it, I was in love. I knew I had to do something with these figures, and Brickshire had it’s first official event coming up, so I decide to give MOCing a try to see what I could do, and once I got started I really enjoyed it so I carried on building, and here we are.
So, your first MOC, what was it, and did it turn out as you’d pictured it in your mind?
It was a scene from The Fellowship of the Ring with the four hobbits on Bucklebury Ferry. It actually turned out better than I expected, especially since I only really planned it out on squared paper before I started to build it. I’ve altered it since then, just to make it a bit more portable, but for the most part I was really happy with how it turned out, and I have had some wonderful comments about it when it’s been on display.
One of your models that has been seen before is the fantastic ‘Watcher in the water’ scene from the Lord of the Rings. How did you come up with the design for the tentacles, and what techniques did you use to make it look so alive?
The tentacles took a while to design, I wanted them to look like they were all alive and thrashing around, but I couldn’t think how to do it at first since they’re all exactly the same. However it occurred to me that they are a flexible part, so once they were secure on the base I used other parts to bend them and push them in other directions and then covered it all with the water. For the water I used 2 different colours of blue for the bulk of it to give it some texture, and then added white studs around each tentacle to give the impression of foam being created by the movement. I used loose stud for the water because I think it looks less static, and I feel that the uneven water level in different areas makes the water look more turbulent.
So when you’re recreating a scene from a book, how does that start?
The thing with creating something from a book is that everyone will picture that scene differently in their own mind. That’s a blessing in a way since you don’t have a strict visual representation that you have to stick to; however it can also be a problem because someone else might see and be disappointed that it’s not how they pictured it. With my Lord of the Rings builds I have the films to reference which means that they are easily recognisable, but with a couple of ideas I have going forward that won’t be the case. It’s a question of finding the balance between making it how you picture it when you read a scene, and making sure other people can see what it is too.
Do you have any plans for other fantasy builds from outside of middle earth that you’re able to tell us about?
Since I absolutely love Disney, fairy tales and children’s stories in general, I have plans for some builds using the new Disney Collectable Minifigures. I want to use each on to recreate a scene from their film or story. Eventually I would also like to build Narnia, but that’s a while away yet. I’m currently working on a few projects, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for people who come to events.
When you’re not making fantasy MOCs, what sets do you buy, and what sets are you looking forward to this year?
I really like the LEGO Elves sets at the moment, the colours are fantastic. Although I buy those sets to use for parts rather than to have them on display. The Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who Ideas sets have been two of my favourites this year since I love the shows, and the attention to detail in those sets is pretty remarkable. That said, the sets I really want to get this year are the Disney Princess sets, like Belle’s Enchanted Castle, I really love fairy tales so those sorts of sets are really exciting for me.
You can check out Nicola’s fantastic models tomorrow at Block Con, Hull. Doors open for ticket holders from 10am, and on the door admission starts at 12.30pm. See you there!