Master builder interview

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Sariel

LEGO® builder and Youtube superstar

Sariel: I’m not doing this for numbers, I do it because I enjoy building

He has every single Technic set since 2014. That would be around 200 sets and 300.000 pieces.
Owner of this impressive collection is Sariel, and that is a damn good reason for us to make an interview with him, even if he says that numbers are not important. 😊

LEGO® ideas

Arctic Exploration Vehicle

3347 supporters

Most viewed video

RC Maus Super-heavy Tank

4.4 mil. views

Books

LEGO® Technic builder’s guide

2nd edition

When did LEGO® fever hit you, at first? When was your first exposure to LEGO?

Same as most of us, I got exposed to LEGO sets as a kid, I got my first one around the age of 8, I think. It was a tiny Formula 1 car with a minifigure, just a handful of pieces, really, but the minfigure was really cool. And then I got a tiny fire engine with a fireman in a uniform and that was even more fascinating. Then I went through some Castle and Pirates sets and stuck with Technic in my teenage years until I felt I was too grown-up to be playing with LEGO. And then when I was in college, I felt the need to build something mechanical again and I found that I can now buy many of the sets I’ve just dreamed about as a kid from the second-hand market. I guess I just never stopped from there 🙂

225k+

YT subscribers

710+

Youtube videos

18k+

Facebook followers

How did you, at all, get interested in LEGO®?

I think when I got my first LEGO set, which was in mid-’90s, what impressed me was the quality of LEGO pieces and minifigures as compared to other toys from that era. And I loved that you could endlessly create new things with your pieces, although I only got the little sets, up to 200 or 300 pieces I think, so I always felt this need to get my hands on more. But basically, what felt special about LEGO is that every set could be combined with any other set, so as your LEGO collection grew, your building possibilities grew with it. And there seemed to be no end to them, which felt magical to me as a kid.

When you were younger, did you ever have problems because of LEGO®? With family, friends… 😊

Absolutely not. LEGO was a well-loved toy for all people I met. My friends from school had their sets and we visited each other to play. I had a few colleagues whose families were relatively well-off and I remember that one of them had a LEGO ship with sails and shooting cannons, while the other had a yellow Technic crane with pneumatics. Both of these sets just blew my childish mind back then.

If you can turn back the time, what would you do different in your past (related with LEGO®, of course 😊)?

OK, there is one thing I would do differently. I would buy the 10221 Super Star Destroyer when it came out. Or two. I just love this set but the price is so prohibitive now that even if I bought one, I would feel guilty for spending so much money on it. And knowing LEGO, if they ever re-release it, it’s going to cost like $1000 now with the Disney license and everything.

How big is your parts collection? What is your favorite set? How many sets do you own now? Do you even know that?

I’m not really a collector, I’m a builder with pretty limited  room space, so I actually put a lot of effort into buying as little as possible. With more pieces things get more complicated, you need more storage room and you need to organize things in more advanced ways. Plus, I have to keep in mind that me and my family live in a rented apartment and we’ll have to move out someday and moving with a large LEGO collection is problematic, to say least. I actually sold many of my Creator and Architecture and Star Wars sets when I was moving in with my wife, but you know, these are just things and your priorities change with age. But to answer your question, I guess I own somewhere under 300,000 pieces and probably around 200 sets. I have every single Technic set since 2014, for instance. It’s difficult to point a single favorite set but I’m certainly very fond of the 8421 Mobile Crane and the 8043 PF Excavator. Amazing sets, given the limitations that existed at the time.

Which project are you the proudest of? And Why?

I usually focus on my future plans more than on what I’ve already built, but I’m certainly proud of my Two Truck 2 from 2011 which weighed 5 kg and included 17 motors and I think close to 20 meters of wires. It was a serious project that involved a lot of planning and finishing it made me feel that I’ve really accomplished something to be proud of. As for more recent projects, I’d say I’m proud of my Renault FT-17 tank which required a lot of creativity to fit everything I wanted at small scale and in a rare color, and I’ve enjoyed building the big Soviet 8×8 truck, the MAZ-535 in dark green.

Where do you find inspiration for new projects?

There are two sources, usually. One is seeing some interesting machine, for instance as soon as I saw Porsche 917K in Gulf livery, I knew I just had to build it. And the other is looking for some functionality, for example I thought it would be interesting to make a tank model that can “kneel” on its tracks like e.g. the Swedish Stridsvagn 103 does, but it can also lower and raise suspension like e.g. the Korean K2 tank does. So I found a real tank that does both these things – the joint German/American prototype called MBT-70/KPz 70 – and I’ve started working on it. You could say that sometimes the inspiration comes from the looks and sometimes from the functionality.

How do you measure your success? (number of subscribers, views, likes, money…or with something else)

Let me put it this way: I’m not doing this for numbers, I do it because I enjoy building. And, to a lesser degree, I enjoy filming too. If there’s a growing number of people willing to watch my stuff, that’s great and it’s a valuable support for me, but the only real measure for me is: am I having fun building this model? Of course, I sometimes build something that I’m not that much interested in because there is a demand for it from the audience, like the Maus tank, and of course I want my videos to be watched rather than ignored, but what keeps me building for 13 years now is just having fun with LEGO models. Personally, I think that if you’re into this hobby for views or money then you’re looking at it wrong and sooner or later you’ll end up burned out and disappointed. But hey, let everybody do what they want.

What is the biggest LEGO® challenge you have had to deal with so far, and how did you solve it?

I’m currently dealing with a challenge of building a large and complex floating structure with LEGO, and it’s quite absorbing. Since LEGO structures aren’t watertight and I don’t want to glue anything, I’ve used blocks of the XPS isolating material as “inserts” that sit inside the hull of a model and keep it afloat. That ensures buoyancy but there are still many structural challenges. I just hope the whole thing won’t sink at the end!

You sailed with LEGO® based catamaran, you were driving LEGO® bus, you have fought with LEGO® tanks… What is next? 😊

Well, how does a 2-meters long floating recovery ship that will pick wrecks from the bottom of a pool sound?

How much time did you spend to make Unofficial LEGO® Technic builder’s guide? I want to do something like that when I grow up. 😊 Maybe. That depends on your answer. 😊 😊

The first edition took me about 18 months and I’ve worked with a large team of people: editors, redactors and such. It was an enormous task: basically, for 18 months straight I would come home from work and sit down and write and re-write stuff until late into the night. I really don’t think I could do that today, not with a family to take care of. And then the second edition required extra 6 months of work, but I think it actually went relatively fast because I had more experience this time and I still worked with the same people and we had practice in teamwork.

Can you list the top three comments which you get on your YT channel?

That would be “First!” and “Where did you buy it?” and “How much is it?” if we’re talking about how common they are.

Would you bring your bass guitar to BuWizz Camp 2020?

Probably not since I haven’t had time to practice in years so I would only embarass myself 😉

Number 13 is bad luck, so we can not end the interview with 13 questions. 😊 Say whatever you want! 😊 😊

I hope to see you guys is Slovenia and I hope it won’t be ruined by some silly virus!

Thank you Pawel

Follow Sariel aka. Pawel kmieć

Favorite LEGO builder interviews