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In today's interview, we speak with Teddy, a Eurobricks MOC Expert and an all round LEGO fan! We talk about things like his massive HMS VICTORY project, right to what his favorite colour LEGO element is! This is another info-packed interview that you have to see, enjoy it mateys!
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Izzy has typed out the entire interview in text for you guys, so if you missed anything due to our poor connections (sorry 'bout that!) you can check them out here.
CH: Hello everybody, welcome to this episode of Classic-Pirates.com’s ‘Behind the Helm’. Joining me today is as always the fantastic Izzy Kilmartin and today we lucky enough to be talking to John from the Hill, or at least that is what his name means in English. Today we are talking to Johan Van Den Heuvel otherwise known as Teddy. He is one of the best MOCers in the Eurobricks community and quite possible all of the online LEGO community. So welcome to the show Johan!
JH: Hi, thanks for having me.
IK: Okay, so what started the LEGO hobby for you?
JH: Ah, to be honest I really cannot remember because I have always had LEGO since I was a little kid, so I cannot remember not having LEGO around. So I have always been into LEGO as far as I can remember.
CH: Do you remember what your first LEGO set was?
JVDH: I think it was something DUPLO like, but the set I remember best was the train (Loud car sound interrupts interview)
CH: Well it seems we know all about Izzy’s neighborhood, who all seem to be racecar drivers, but we missed that. What was that set number?
JVDH: [laughs] 7722
CH: Okay, I’ll just look that up,
JVDH: I actually still have the box from that set I still have the set built up!
CH: I think we’ve just lost Izzy, so um...
IK: I’m still here!
CH: No, you’re still there, [laughs] I am just looking at the 7722 set, this one, ahhh was that battery operated?
CH: Ah it is one of the REALLY old steam trains.
IK: Do you have a favourite LEGO set?
JVDH: My favourite LEGO set would be the Eldorado Fortress
CH: Ah yeah, that is a popular one with lots of people.
JVDH: That was a set that, it took me a year of nagging to get that set. I really really wanted that set, I actually have it built up in my LEGO room as well; it is on the shelf.
CH: [laughs] So is Western your favorite LEGO theme or do you have another favorite theme?
CVDH: My most favourite theme is Pirates and then er, Castle. Um, I actually made a list somewhere. Let me just look it up, er, Pirate, Castle, City, Space, Creator, Star Wars, Batman. (laughs) But actually I sold off all my Batman sets recently. Pirates, then Castle are the order.
IK: That’s a good order to have it in I think. (laughs)
CH: Yes, so you are working on a pretty big LEGO ship project, working on the HMS Victory but in Minifig scale, could you tell us a little about it?
JVDH: When I was young I always build a Dutch ship and I try to make it in Minifig scale, but my brick collection was not sufficient so I had to compromise the scale a big, but unfortunately now I have no pictures of then built. Back in 2006 I was contemplating building a ship of Minifig scale, I was collecting a large amount of data on large ship, and I found that the data on large ships is not really reliable. Because the Victory is still in existence today, you can still visit it, I decided I wanted to build that one. So I got the plans, and I got some books on the Victory and then I started drawing my own Lego plans on how to build that one. Actually I went to Billund with my Girlfriend to get brown bricks for the hull, which has quite an adventure.
CH: I bet you needed a separate suitcase just to bring it all back.
JVDH: Yeah, we borrowed her Grandmother’s car, ‘Game Granny’s’ car, (laughs) and we put the bricks in the trunk and that is how we got it back. So I started to build when I was still in my student room, so the room was devoted to my Victory project.
CH: So you mentioned ‘Game Granny’, what is that about?
JVDH: Well ‘Game Granny’ is Petra’s 82-year-old grandmother; Petra is my girlfriend. She has all the game consoles in her house, she has a normal PC and an Apple PC, she has all the DVD’s and all the games you can imagine stacked in bookshelves in her house. Her living room is like a big DVD shop. All movies that are mentionable are in Granny’s house. (All laugh)
IK: It must keep her young.
JVDH: (Laughs) And she has an interesting system in how she keeps track on them all. Because she used to work in a library so she has a good system to keep track of her DVDs and games.
CH: What system do you use to keep track of your LEGO?
JVDH: I have no system.
CH: What? So you just have it in big tubs, or…?
JVDH: Er yeah, I have like, yeah. I have several big tubs dedicated to the Victory project, of all kinds of different colours. I know in my mind what bricks I have, and which amount of bricks I have. Yeah, my LEGO room has like ten big tubs full of LEGO, because I am not organized. Then several tubs that are organized by colours, then underneath our bed I have like eight other tubs as well which are disorganized. (laughs)
CH: So you have far too much Lego in other words.
IK: Stashed all around the house.
JVDH: In my Lego room I have the Victory on a big table, but actually in our living room I used the old dining table for my Castle and we actually had to get a new dinner table (all laugh)
CH: Why would you want to do something silly like eat dinner, when you can put a Castle on your table?
JVDH: Yeah, exactly my thoughts, so we eat dinner on the couch for three months. (All laugh)
IK: You mentioned before about getting pieces from Billund for your ship, where else do you get your parts?
JVDH: I went to England to Legoland in Windsor and bought some parts, but they didn’t have a large collection. The Lego store in Germany, Cologne is actually driving distance, but I don’t own a car so I only go there when there is Carnival in Cologne, I’ll buy some of it in Cologne and take it in the trunk home. I buy most of it in Bricklink actually and on Ebay. And I buy parts if there is a good deal or a sale in one of the toy stores near my house. There are actually seven within walking distance, so I will go and buy stuff there as well. Sometimes I just buy sets for the bricks.
CH: I like to look at sets not only the model but also how else I could use the pieces that are in the sets. I have just recently acquired the modular buildings and they are full of great fantastic MOCing pieces. The other thing is I will have to bring my self round to tearing them down and I don’t know if I will be able to do that.
JVDH: I have most of; I have a large Star Wars collection as well. Petra is a fan of Star Wars so I am not allowed to take them down. (laughs) so I have to keep then in one piece. They are in the living room as well, I got one of them from Petra for my birthday and I cannot get myself to take them down either, it would seem a little bit ungrateful if I would take them down I think.
CH: Fair enough, the problem is, the Star Wars sets are so big.
JVDH: yeah well, when we bought our apartment two years ago we went to Ikea and we bought these cabinets for the Lego room, and I have cabinets that have glass doors, so they are all behind the glass doors.
CH: So your girlfriend is a Lego fan too?
JVDH: Only of Star Wars, she is not really into Lego, she is more into playing on the Nintendo.
CH: (laughs) Now you’ve mentioned all the places where you buy your bricks, but how do you buy them? What is your main source of funding for your Lego parts?
JVDH: Well currently I am a PHD student at University, in the Netherlands that is a paid job, so you part of the scientific staff at the university and you get paid a decent salary, a large chunk of it goes to paying the mortgage for the apartment and another large chunk goes into paying for my Lego hobby.
IK: If you don’t mind us asking, how much do you spend on Lego per year?
JVDH: Do you want a dollar figure or a Euro figure?
CH: Either way.
JVDH: Whew, it is a big difference if I also take holidays expenses into it as well, on only Lego I think it is around $7 000 $8 000 or something like that.
CH: Ooooh, every year?
JVDH: Only for the last few years, because I was a student and my income was a lot lower.
CH: WOW! That’s a lot of money on Lego. $7 000?
IK: That’s something to aspire to!
JVDH: It’s quite a ridiculous amount actually.
JVDH: I calculated it and felt quite ashamed for spending so much money.
IK: I don’t think it is anything to be ashamed of. A lot of people have different hobbies and they spend at least that much money on cars or motorbikes and things like that.
JVDH: We don’t have a car because we bought an apartment downtown where I work because all my time is spent at Phillips, you know Phillips the electronics company? They have the largest research laboratory here and I spend a few days a week there and I do everything by bicycle. I live near a train station, and actually the Netherlands is one big traffic jam, so a car has no use actually because you are faster by train or bike than by car. (laughs) From the money I save by not owning a car I spend it on Lego, which is quite a lot because taxes on cars are quite high. But yeah, it is a ridiculous amount.
CH: Hmmm, I wish I had that much money to throw around. Just for the random question of the day, which is your favourite colour, that LEGO have put into a piece?
JVDH: My favourite colour? When I was a kid my favourite colour was trans-blue.
CH: Okay? What about now has it changed?
JVDH: Erm, I think it is now actually tan.
CH: Yeah, I like tan, that’s a good colour. Because it’s, I don’t know, it’s like, I like it a lot.
IK: Lego just has such a large range of colors now it’s hard to chose. There are some really nice colours, I personally like the sand-blue.
JVDH: Yeah the sand-blue is nice as well. I like all the sand tones; they allow me to make something that is not so flashy in colour.
CH: Yeah it is more realistic; I am also a fan of the Dark Red in that respect.
JVDH: Yeah Dark red is a good colour as well.
IK: It looks good with gold… Have you ever had a dark age?
JVDH: Yeah when I was in University when I was 18 till I was 25, I didn’t pay any attention to Lego. I worked in a… I don’t know about Australia but her when people are beginning they have the strangest jobs, I was working in Metal shop, a Metal coating shop, until I was 18 I spent most of earnings from the Metal coating shop on Lego but when I went to University I didn’t spend any money on Lego anymore.
IK: SO what did you do with all your sets for those years when you weren’t using them?
JVDH: Actually I stored them at my grandmother’s attic.
CH: Is that ‘Game Granny’?
JVDH: No she is Petra’s granny. She is my own granny, so I stored them there and didn’t pay much attention to them anymore.
CH: Oh well glad that you came back.
JVDH: Yeah, when I went to university I spent most money on drinking beer and chasing girls. (all laugh) Then I went into doing sports, which I hadn’t done until during my life, and I went n doing that 7 days a week for 2 or 3 hours a day, after I finished doing my other hobby I went back to Lego, which was quite fun. I really enjoy doing it again.
IK: The drinking beer and chasing girls is another expensive hobby to have.
JVDH: Yeah, then I got hooked on one girl and so I didn’t have to go chasing anymore so I just ended up drinking beer. (All laugh) I have a beer fridge in my Lego room. It is a fridge specially dedicated to beer for when I do Lego.
IK: And does that help you MOC better? (laughs)
JVDH: Er, no!
CH: Damn, I was just thinking I had discovered the secret to building awesome MOCs.
JVDH: Captain Green Hair visited me a while ago and we were planning to build on the Victory together but all we did was drink beer from my beer fridge and then we couldn’t build Lego anymore. (All laugh)
CH: Well that doesn’t surprise me from Captain Green Hair.
JVDH: (laughs) I have a friend of mine, I think he’s alcoholic but I am not sure, and he drank so much beer that CGH couldn’t follow anymore and he had to drink Cola. (All laugh)
CH: (laughs) So did you ever get into the LEGO video games?
JVDH: Yeah, we bought Lego Star Wars for the Nintendo.
CH: The original one?
JVDH: No the Complete Saga.
CH: I got myself the original Lego Star Wars game, it had Episodes I, II and III. That was fun, making minifigures jump around. The best part was when you killed people all they did was fall apart. There is no blood and guts the just…
IK: Crumble into little bricks.
JVDH: Is this for The Complete Saga?
CH: No, just the first 3 Episodes.
JVDH: Is it similar?
CH: I’m not sure, I have never played the Complete Saga, and maybe one of our listeners can confirm that for us.
JVDH: We bought a big couch in our living room.
CH: Is that the one that we were eating your dinner on?
JVDH: Yeah, actually we have one part of the couch is extended so you can lie down, that is for Petra so she can play games. (All laugh)
IK: Does ‘Game Granny’ have all the Lego Video games?
JVDH: I think she has The Complete Sage and Indiana Jones.
CH: I can just imagine my grandmother playing Lego video games. (Laughs)
JVDH: She used to call us up, when she got stuck in the game and would ask us what to do.
IK: You will have to get her the Harry Potter one when it comes out.
JVDH: (laughs) Yeah, I think so.
CH: Ahhh, that is fantastic.
JVDH: When people visit her house they say it looks like a big toy store, how do you say? A big playroom.
CH: Do you attend many LEGO conventions around the world?
JVDH: Well no actually, No. I only went to Legoland once before but not to any adult events no.
CH: You plan on taking the Victory MOC to Legoworld 2010 don’t you?
JVDH: Yeah, Captain Green Hair and I have set the deadline for our ships to be finished by Legoworld in October next year. If we push ourselves to build on it.
CH: Do you think you will be able to complete the Victory by then?
JVDH: Uh, it is a lot of work.
CH: Well last update I saw of Captain Green Hair’s ship it looked fantastic but not something I could complete in 12 months.
JVDH: Yeah, well with something as massive of this, you buy a large amount of bricks, a large amount of plates and you put it on the ship and you think, ‘oh I’ve done a large chunk’ but actually it is not significant because somehow you need more bricks. (laughs)
IK: Are you part of any LEGO organizations like LUGs and LEGO Train Clubs etc?
JVDH: No actually, well I only post on Eurobricks.
CH: So you use on Eurobricks the screen name of “Teddy” where does that originate?
JVDH: Well it is also my real life identity as well because my friends call me Teddy. I was on a committee some years ago and they had coats, and put that coat over my winter coat and I looked like a big chubby teddy bear, so my team mates started to call me Teddy, and actually that nickname stuck and now everyone calls me Teddy. Some people don’t even know my real name at all.
CH: (laughs) That’s great. Okay well, thank you very much for joining us on this episode of Behind the Helm. It’s been fantastic talking to you, and finding out a bit about drinking beer and building with Lego, and finding out a bit about the Victory MOC, we all look forward to seeing that complete. I’m quite sure it will end up being something quite spectacular. You might look back at the prices and think it was a lot of money to spend on one model. It’s been fantastic talking to you, and thanks very Izzy for joining me and assisting with this interview.
IK: No problem
JVDH: It was nice to talk to you both.
CH: Yeah, keep it up and we will see you for the next episode of Behind the Helm.