Welcome to the return of Brick Talk, this is a segement of the site where we interview fellow Brick Fanatics, to kick off the return we have grabbed Greyson Beightsthe author of Medieval LEGO book that is due out later this month. We will be reviewing the book later this week, so stay tuned for that.
Greyson Beights is a student with a passion for LEGO and history. His research interests focus on the history of war and the history of late medieval England. He is an experienced LEGO builder whose models have won awards on fan sites and at LEGO fairs. He also coordinates BrickUniverse 2015, a LEGO convention for fans of all ages. So here is our interview with him, enjoy;
I’d like to know if you work from reference pictures, or if you’re just making things up when you’re building.
Greyson: “For Medieval LEGO, I would use paintings for inspiration. Many paintings representing the medieval period are fantastic—colorful and full of action. I even encouraged contributing LEGO builders to take a look at some paintings for inspiration before they started building. “
“One specific example: The Battle of Agincourt artwork in Medieval LEGO was inspired by John Gilbert’s famous The Morning of the Battle of Agincourt. ”
Do you ever travel to castles/museums for inspiration?
Greyson: “I do. Museums are a big inspiration; their colorful exhibits can help show you how to make history engaging. Luckily, I live within a two hour drive of the United States’ capital, Washington, DC, home of some of the finest museums in the country. ”
What particular type of medieval things do you enjoy building most?
Greyson: “Large castles are always fun. I always enjoy building historical scenes, something I had the chance to do often in Medieval LEGO.”
Is there a LEGO technique you used or worked out in order to achieve something that you’re particularly proud of?
Greyson: “Throughout the book you’ll see some new LEGO building techniques: in particular, for windows, trees, forced perspective, and even castle walls. There are some unique wall decoration techniques in an illustration depicting a medieval Oxford classroom.”
Do you have a favorite real castle and if so, which castle? Which classic LEGO Castle is your favorite?
Greyson: “I really like Dover Castle—it has a great history, location, look, and has been extremely well preserved. For LEGO castles, my favorite is probably 6090 Royal Knight’s Castle.”
Would you like to see Castle return?
Greyson: ” Of course. Castle is one of LEGO’s most beloved themes and I think many people have enjoyed the many reiterations of LEGO Castle. I also believe that “historical” LEGO themes such as Castle and Pirates always increases interest in the actually subjects which is great side effect of said themes.”
What do think of the upcoming LEGO theme that will be a mix of Castle and Steampunk?
Greyson: “We’ll have to wait and see. I honestly don’t expect it will be a mix of Castle and Steampunk themes. I read somewhere that the confusion with Steampunk is deriving from the actual word, “Nexo.” Based off what LEGO has shown, I think the Nexo Knights theme will be a Space Knights-type theme. That said, I do look forward to seeing coming developments relating to the new theme in the near future. ”
What other LEGO Castle builders are amongst your favorites?
Greyson: ” Some of my many favorites are actually contributors to Medieval LEGO. These include Isaac Synder, Ben Hauger, James Pegrum, Kyle Ransom, and Henrik Perrson. All of their LEGO building styles are what I coin as “clean” and “solid,” which tends to be more historically accurate, which in turn was a great fit for Medieval LEGO.”
You also coordinated BrickUniverse 2015, what was that like? What is your earliest memory of LEGO?
Greyson: “BrickUniverse Raleigh 2015, held at the Raleigh Convention Center in March, was a lot of fun to do. I had been involved in some business endeavors before, but BrickUniverse definitely tops them all. I actually studied a great deal on European-style LEGO conventions opposed to the ones in North America. I personally like the atmosphere at the events in your continent better and BrickUniverse is almost a hybrid of North American and European styles, perhaps leaning to closer to the latter. Our first event was a massive success and we are having another one in Dallas, Texas, this November and returning to Raleigh, North Carolina, early next April.”
“One thing I love about our event is the benefit to the community is threefold. First, we provide a great experience to AFOLs and TFOL with games and seminars—an experience that is seldom available on such a large scale. Second, we show families (both parents and children) the endless possibilities with LEGO bricks. They see what there can be built, how they can use LEGO bricks to learn engineering or History (Medieval LEGO!), and so much more. Third we help the local community and economy, which at times can be in a drought and could some rain so to speak. Whenever you plought some 15,000 people in a central location over a span of only two days, you’re bound to see local business and the economy in that area thrive.”
“My first experience with LEGO was probably at Christmas when I was five or six years old. That year I received some LEGO Castle sets as presents. An interesting note is that my interest in medieval history is actually what had interested me in LEGO bricks in the first place. It was through the LEGO Castle that I was able to channel what I was learning to 3D visual models. “
Do you have a favourite LEGO Minifigure?
Greyson: “Abraham Lincoln. He’s my favorite United States President and someone who I really look up to. I was very happy to purchase an official LEGO version of him. “
If you had an unlimited number of LEGO bricks what would you build?
Greyson: “I would like to build massive historical scenes in both Medieval and modern history. I would build a scaled replica of Dover Castle and perhaps a scaled model of an American landmark such as The White House or Independence Hall. “
LEGO has a huge fan base among both kids and adults alike; why do you think LEGO has stood the test of time?
Greyson: “I don’t think that there’s one direct reason for its massive popularity. Rather, it is a combination of different things.”
“One of those reasons is that idea of building something and then seeing your finished work in 3D in real time is just simply fantastic. It’s common for a parent who finds their children’s LEGO bricks left on floor to just start building and then realizing that it actually really fun.”
“Another reason is every year people are discovering new uses for LEGO bricks, something that I believe has really been a driving factor in the growth of the AFOL and TFOL community. These discoveries have been both LEGO and fan driven. One year the discovery is with film, the next is with teaching history and I believe these discoveries still will keep coming as people continue to look at LEGO bricks in nonconventional ways.”
What LEGO-based projects are you working on next?
Greyson: “Book two which will again teach history through LEGO. I can’t say too much about the details, but you can be assured that it will be no less entertaining that Medieval LEGO!”
We want to thank Greyson for taking the time to speak to us and to No Starch Press for setting up the interview, if you would like to pre-order the book you can do via Amazon UK.