Lego and space, a match made in heaven (Q&A)

In "Lego Space: Building the Future," Peter Reid and Tim Goddard paint a picture of a fantastic society filled with interstellar battleships, new worlds, robots, and more. And they built it all in Lego bricks.

A model from 'Lego Space: Building the Future,' by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard. Peter Reid,Lego Space, Tim Goddard

If there was ever a match made in heaven, it was probably Lego and space.

For years, the Danish toy company has turned again and again to the stars for inspiration, producing by one estimate more than 300 different space-related sets.

With those dozens and dozens of sets as a starting point, Peter Reid and Tim Goddard, both huge Lego fans, decided they needed to put their own spin on the genre. And with "Lego Space: Building the Future," they've done just that.

Their new book, which comes out this week, presents a fictional future space society, filled with interstellar battlecruisers, orbital outposts, all-new worlds, robots, space pirates, and much more -- and all built entirely from Legos.

Reid and Goddard designed and built each and every model in the book, not surprising given their backgrounds. Reid is contributor to "The Lego Play Book," and his Lego Exo suit, which appears in the book, got more than 10,000 votes on Lego Cuusoo, a system that allows fans to promote independent projects for possible manufacture by Lego. For his part, Goddard contributed to the best-selling "Lego Ideas Book" and "The Lego Play Book," and also has worked in product development for Lego.

CNET caught up with Reid by email to ask how and why he and Goddard created their new book, and why Lego and space are such a terrific match. The following is an edited version of that discussion.

Q: Explain the book. Is there a story you're trying to tell?
Peter Reid: We wanted to create a compelling story using themes that will be familiar to Lego fans. A lot of classic sets and ranges are referenced. We tried to create a detailed, cohesive universe based on the Lego sets of our youth.

Peter Reid, seen here, along with Tim Goddard, wrote 'Lego Space: Building the Future,' and even made all the models in the book. Andrew Summersgill

How did you come up with the narrative?
Reid: When we first started, the story was driven by a few key scenes. Numerous rewrites and brainstorming sessions bulked up the narrative. We built lots of new models during the process, and the whole project evolved very organically. There were many photo sessions, and sometimes we lived together for weeks at a time. We got our nerd game on, and it was awesome.

Who do you hope your audience is?
Reid: We want to appeal to readers of a certain age, who remember playing with Lego Space sets -- and also younger readers, who might enjoy a more in-depth view of space Lego.

What do you want readers to come away with?
Reid: Inspiration, and a sense of the endless possibilities as a Lego builder.

What would it cost to buy all the Legos to make everything in the book?
Reid: A lot of money. Tim and I used the finest parts from our Lego collections to build the models. I'd hazard a guess at $10,000. Not that we'd ever sell any of the book models -- they're too precious.

How long did this take -- and how did your families take that?
Reid: Roughly two years. Our families have been very supportive and understanding during this time.

How closely, if at all, did you work with Lego on this project?
Reid: We have friends who work for Lego and told them about our plans for the book, but there was no official input from Lego. It was an entirely independent project.

Why are space and Lego such a good fit?
Reid: Building futuristic Lego models opens up a world of infinite diversity. The creative opportunities offered by the Lego medium are limitless.

 

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