[I began talking with Jef on Wednesday. Click here to read part one!]
CQ : I see that you’ve have an affection for the Technic sets along with the basic LEGO. What’s your excuse? Is there a preference, or are they all awesome?
jeffwith1f : It’s all part of the same system. That’s perhaps the most remarkable thing about LEGO. A piece of LEGO from the 60′s will click onto a piece of LEGO made today, which will even snap onto a DUPLO block, or can be integrated with Technic, or MindStorms, or Bionicle or even the weird, vaguely Connex-like Znap stuff from a couple years back. It’s all part of an integrated system of elements, all of which work together interchangeably. It is truly an awesome feat of engineering that standards set with basic bricks back in the late 40′s have been able to be held both constant, yet continually expanded to the play system we have available today with LEGO.
CQ : Have you used the LEGO Digital Designer?
jeffwith1f : Never used any of the digital designer stuff, I had no real interest in MindStorms, I am even wary of the kits that have electric motors and battery boxes (although I do have many). I am a purist for the hands on, all plastic experience, and despise toys that require batteries to be enjoyed, so I avoid them where possible. I think the best LEGO can be enjoyed by any child, without access to a computer, and will keep running on imagination power, long after a battery powered toy would be waiting for a refill.
CD : The ‘no battery’ thing is a great philosophy, and one that’s being adapted by a lot of small, new companies all around – but I have to say that the Digital Designer is a great way to play if you’re low on bricks! Seeing as how these ARE expensive items, what’s the most you’ve spent on a set?
jeffwith1f : Recently I picked up the Millennium Falcon Ultimate Collectors Set, it ran me something like $750 after taxes. Ouch. It also took 6 months from order to arrival time. It took me 38 hours to put together (I did time lapse photography) and it currently sits on my desk at work, where I get a lot of strange looks from people, but it’s great geek bait.
CQ : Are you a completist, or do you just pursue the things you like?
jeffwith1f : A bit of both. I obviously can’t purchase everything that LEGO makes, but I do try to keep complete collections within my interests. I try to get most, if not all, of the Technic line available at any given time, and until 2 years ago, I had complete Star Wars lines, as well as the first three sets of Harry Potter Lego. I also tend to buy anything that is aviation related that LEGO makes, as model airplanes are another hobby and I appreciate the cross-over.
CQ : Do you have a ‘holy grail’ set that you’d like to find? What’s been your greatest find while hunting for LEGO?
jeffwith1f : I’d really really like to find the Technic Seaplane # 8855. I see them from time to time, but for some reason I never feel like I have the [money] to get it at the time.
CQ : Has your collection of LEGO brought you anywhere interesting? Met anyone?
jeffwith1f : It’s pretty much been a labour of love in isolation as an adult, although I do bring some of the things I make to work and decorate my office space with them, which usually elicits some conversation. I did get to be on Television though. I answered a Craigslist ad looking for collectors of LEGO that my wife forwarded to me. As it turns out, a locally produced television show called “Collectors Showdown” on the Treasure HD channel, available on Bell ExpressVu, was looking for a pair of LEGO fans to pit against each other in a test of skills and knowledge. I seemed to fit the bill. I ended up going head to head against a mother of two who was, believe it or not, a larger fan of LEGO than me, and while I held my own, she handily beat me at both the test of skills and the test of knowledge. She was awesome, and it was nice to be able to talk LEGO to someone that didn’t glaze over as I started to ramble on about kits from the catalogue a decade ago. Even the staff at the LEGO store were not really able to keep up with me on that front – they know current items, not so much items offered in the mid 90′s. It was a good day out, I had no problem losing to my worthy opponent fair and square. As an added bonus, the television show is on a channel that no one I know sees, so I’m fairly certain I dodged a bullet there.
CQ : Are you a member of the Brickmaster Club? I found it to be very rewarding.
jeffwith1f : Nope. LEGO fan in a vacuum. I seem to recall signing up for some LEGO community site shortly after the show because my opponent belonged, but honestly I never go.
CQ : LEGO aren’t your only collection. What else do you collect?
jeffwith1f : My other primary collections are Guitars – I have 23 at the moment – and diecast airplanes… almost too many to count.
I seem to go through phases that last about 3-4 months where one particular one is grabbing my attention most, and I take some of my discretionary income (of which I am fortunate to have some…I am not rich though) and pick up some items in my current sphere of interest. I have been on a guitar kick for the last while though. I recently came into a very rare Gibson Moderne, that I had been looking for for at least 14 years (I nearly fell over when I saw one in the store, it was the first one I had seen that wasn’t a picture), I had to sell a couple of other instruments in order to afford it as it was quite dear, and I currently have a very odd Gibson Reverse Explorer on order arriving in the fall, which should give me time to save up for it.
CQ : With your love of LEGO, planes, and Lego planes, is there any interest in constructing a LEGO guitar? I’ve seen some interesting mods!
jeffwith1f : I did start to build a LEGO flying V, but found that I did not have enough wing elements to make up the body and get the angles quite right. I did not want to butcher too many kits to do it, so that’s a project that’s on hold for the time being, but it has crossed my mind that If I have crossed my love of LEGO and aircraft, why not LEGO and guitars? One day….
After talking to Jef, it confirmed my suspicions that some of us, if trapped on an isolated island in the middle of the sea and limited to three items (real or imagined), would want to bring along food, or water, or a boat. LEGO Maniacs, provided with an infinite supply of LEGO, would have a great time building shelter, devising Technic fishing rods to catch fish autonomously, and organizing a vast water collection system, all out of LEGO.
I’ve already started the sketches, just in case.