• thebrickguy

PART 2 OF 3: CONVERSATION WITH AN AFOL (Eric Tsai - designer of the Optimus Prime MOC featured in Bl



Most of you should know Eric by now, with the bricklinking of the Optimus Prime in our local forums. For those of you who aren’t familiar… he’s the original designer for the Optimus Prime that was featured in Block Magazine issue 16 February 2016. Eric is from Taiwan and has been a Lego fan for most of his life.

After acquiring the build, I was curious about who designed the Optimus Prime and ended up reaching out to Eric. Here’s our conversation as we got to know each other a little better (My own background story shared with Eric removed as I’m not the focus here!):


Ed: How much time did you spend designing the Optimus Prime?

Eric: It took me about 3 nights to complete it, although I did modify the head a little right after I finished it to make it more durable.

Ed: Wow! As it’s quite fragile, I can’t imagine how much "less durable" it was! I can imagine you had to give up stability for the ability to transform though.

Eric: That’s true! But that’s also the main reason why the whole build is fragile!

Ed: Did you create the instructions for Optimus Prime solely for Blocks Magazine?

Eric: Yes, indeed, the Editor of Blocks, Rob, is a fan of Optimus Prime himself and gave me this opportunity to be featured.

Ed: How did Rob find you?

Eric: Oh, that’s easy, he saw my work on Flickr and we communicated via email thereafter. One thing led to another and he invited me to showcase Optimus Prime in the coming issue of Blocks!

Ed: That must have felt exciting for you, being showcased on the international scene! How did you feel when you first heard about it?

Eric: Indeed, I was both excited and nervous at the same time, and it was the first time I had to create instructions for a MOC that’s this complicated. The face of the build had so many shapes and angles so I had to be creative and use tricks to get around it.

Ed: Are you a big fan of Transformers Generation 1 where your design captures the essence from, I mean how old are you? Did you enjoy the cartoon series back then?

Eric: Hahah, I’m 25 and I’ve watched Transformers in my younger days, however, what I remember the most is the Beast Wars series, and yes, I am a big fan of Optimus Prime.

Ed: How long have you been playing with Lego? Were there any “dark ages”?

Eric: I was already playing with Lego as a kid, but started on MOCs as I was growing up. Most of my experience was over the past 5-6 years.

Ed: Do you have favourite Lego Theme sets or do you simply focus on MOCs? How about CMFs?

Eric: I do collect sets, the Marvel Super Heroes and Creator Series are my favourites. I do buy parts from Bricklink and our local Taiwan LUG. I don’t collect CMFs as I fear I won’t be able to collect them all.

Ed: What’s your first or favourite set? And any special meaning behind it?

Eric: That’s easy, it’s a small set from my mother given to me as a birthday gift. It’s the first set I remember getting. It’s the 6773.

Ed: Wow, that really has some special meaning! Are you working on any other projects now or upcoming soon?

Eric: I mainly build Mechs, and try to find some old epic giant robot to build. I also enjoy building movie, games or animation icons of the world that interests me. So I guess it’s a mix of both the classics and also new stuff.

Ed: How often do you bricklink your designs and do you use LDD to work on them beforehand?

Eric: I don’t bricklink that often, but when I do, it’s with friends to save on the shipping costs. No, I don’t really use LDD, I’m old school, I build MOCs with the bricks I have on hand.

Ed: That must have given you a lot of experience. Do you have any tips and tricks for any of our AFOLs out there?

Eric: I follow a great number of AFOLs on Flickr who shares crazy ways to use parts! I study their work and it inspires me to use the same method in different ways and to come up with my own special techniques. And when I do get stuck on something, I don’t do a teardown of the build… I leave it on my table and think of different ways to finish it over hours and days, and you know what? That works most of the time!

Ed: Is there anyone that inspires you particularly?

Eric: Yes indeed, he’s the one that got me hooked into MOCs, his name is Mike Dung (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikevd/)

Ed: I noticed that he’s into Japanese and chibi characters.

Eric: Yes, that’s his speciality!

Ed: Do you engage with your local LUG and do you have any other hobbies?

Eric: Yes, in fact I do share my thoughts with the local LUGs but Mike has more influence in what I do especially as he’s more experienced than I am. And remember when I mentioned earlier about the folks who have “crazy ways to use parts”, I was referring to Mike. I enjoy riding my bike and also movies! 2016 is a big year for superhero movies, we’ve got Civil War, Suicide Squad and more coming up!! I can’t wait to catch them!

Ed: I’ve got one more question, on the cover of Blocks, I noticed that Optimus Prime had his weapon, but it wasn’t featured inside the Magazine!

Eric: You know what? I actually forgot to create the instructions for that part!

Ed: Would you mind sharing the design with me for me to share with the AFOL community in Singapore?

Eric: Sure of course I’d be happy to do that!!!

Stay tuned for Part 3! The Build of Optimus Prime’s Weapon in LDD and complete instructions!

*** Thank you Eric! It’s been an honour for us to hear about how you designed the MOC and share a bit about yourself too! ***

*** additional thanks to AFOL "FrustratedBasketball21" for proofreading this interview!