Yargh! Hello Pirate fans, and welcome to another episode of Classic-Pirates.com’s new interview program, ‘Behind the Helm’! Today, strap yourselves in as Captain Zuloo slips into his special interviewing armour to delve into the story of Pirate Moderator, SlyOwl. Now for those that don’t know, not only does Sly do a heap of work around the forum, but he is also one of the best pirate MOCers in history. So let’s give him a big hearty welcome!
C-P: Hi mate. Let's get started! How did you get into LEGO and pirates in particular?
SlyOwl: I've been building with Lego all my life (well, since I stopped doing Duplo, at about 3 years old), and have been into it ever since. I guess it was when my parents got my sister and I one of the brick bucket "starter packs" that I got hooked, but it wasn't long before I started getting sets from specific themes.
C-P: Ok. What was your first set?
SlyOwl: I think that my first Pirate set was 6237 Pirates' Plunder, but I didn't know I had it until recently, as it explained the Imperial Guard and seaweed I had, but I didn't have the box or instructions. I didn't get any actual big sets (only the equivalents of the Impulses of today), except for Pirates' Chest. That had some Islanders, and they immediately became my favourite faction. I'll admit that I diverged onto space and castle for many years after that, but in 2006 I started looking on eBay for old pirate sets, and picked up Enchanted Island, the BSB and SES. That about restored my love of pirates, but now it shares about equal building time with Castle.
C-P: So castle is your second favourite theme? Why?
SlyOwl: I guess it covers a wider range of factions (Vikings, Ninja, Castle), but also I see it as more expansive: there are more MOCing possibilities with it. Now, I ain't saying that Pirates is limited, but it's easier to build something new without going totally off the rails in Castle.
The Castle sets are also a part of it, as sets like Crossbow Attack are much better value to me than the equivalents in the current Pirate range (Cannon Battle), as you get an extra minifig for the same price. As a MOCer, the range of parts (and bulk of parts like 1x2 bricks) are better in sets, whereas a ship isn't as useful for MOCing with, apart from for ships. However, the themes overlap considerably, and there's quite a range of Castle-Pirate borderline concepts that haven't been explored fully, in my opinion.
C-P: That’s quite possible. And what do you do for Classic-Pirates.com?
SlyOwl: I used to do the frontpage, but now there are others who do the bulk, so I just chip in sometimes. What I mainly do is regulate the forum and index MOCs, reviews etc. in the (very) extensive indices on Classic-Pirates.com. I also do the promo graphics for any contests, and help run them too.
C-P: And a very good job of that you do too! Obviously many people in the LEGO community look up to you, who do you see as a role model?
SlyOwl: Oh, the standard: Hinckley and Sinner! But also the rest of the staff, and the Fellows on Eurobricks - the small community they have is fantastic. Outside of Eurobricks, Hippotam (Marcin Danielak) and Dunechaser (Andrew Becraft) have a lot of respect from me, not just as bloggers and MOCers, but as people too. In fact, Hippotam is one of those who have delved into the Pirate-Castle borderline area, such as in his Last Journey.
C-P: In regards to your latest creations: ‘Tortuga? Aye, Tortuga!” and “Charyblantis”, where did you find your inspiration for them?
SlyOwl: I generally have an idea from nowhere in particular, and then as I look for inspiration for the finer details, my MOCs pick up elements from various sources. For example, Tortuga contains a heavy POTC influence, from the Disney Ride as well as the film. Charyblantis was a concept quite familiar to me, but I couldn't find anything which actually matched the idea of being sucked down to a mystical world through a whirlpool, so I'm not sure where that came from. The design of Charyblantis was heavily based on this picture so I guess while the ideas for my MOCs are from ambiguous sources, the elements contained are more directly inspired.
C-P: Of these two MOCs, which is your favourite? Why?
SlyOwl: It'll have to be Tortuga. It's got a better atmosphere, and I enjoyed building it more. Charyblantis didn't come out quite as I wanted it, and I'd have preferred to tile the whirlpool and not to have used yellow sand. Tortuga is also something I've been meaning to do for a long time (Nassau and Rodrego were early incarnations), and there isn't much I'd change about it, apart from the under-textured red roof.
C-P: Well both were awesome! What is the best MOC you have ever made, in your opinion?
SlyOwl: That depends on what criteria. If it's new techniques, probably Cheddar Gorge, my first proper MOC, where I unleashed a lot of new stuff. Castaway t' Neverland and Armadarctic go together as some of my "cleanest" MOCs - there's lots of elements that I like - ruined mine, beach shanty, cliff, smooth shore, caves, palm trees... everything.
C-P: Awesome. And where do you get your bricks from? Bricklink? LDD?
SlyOwl: Bricklink. I've never got on with LDD, and the parts selection isn't all that great.
I tend to value sets based on the minifigs and any useful MOCing pieces in comparison to price, and thus I don't buy many. However, I often find that the parts I don't look on as useful come in handy sooner or later, so I should probably reduce my Bricklinking (it's quite expensive because of the exchange rate at the moment too), and go for sets more, even if some of the parts aren't as useful.
C-P: What can we expect from you in future?
SlyOwl: Um... I'm not really too sure. Currently I've got a small MOC on the go, similar to Tia Dalma's shack in POTC-2, but I don't know if it will develop the way I want it to, and I may just abandon it for another one. After that... who knows? I'll enter contests if they come along, and there'll be normal MOCs in-between.
C-P: Well I have no doubt you will complete your MOC with great results. What about as far as Classic-Pirates.com? Where do you think the site is headed?
SlyOwl: Well, it's getting bigger and bigger by the day. I can't see any major changes happening soon, so I'll be continuing with what I'm doing for the while. With the Shipyard functioning, it's plain sailing ahead!
C-P: And, finally, where did you get your username from?
SlyOwl: I needed a name to cover all my Lego internet activity and I just plucked it from the air. I don't particularly like it, but it's going to stay with me.
C-P: Cool! Well thanks very much for joining me on ‘Behind the Helm’ SlyOwl! It’s been brilliant talking to you. See all ya seadogs next time!
SlyOwl: Thanks, Zuloo!