Special Interview with Luke Watkins Hutchinson a.k.a Derfel Cadarn

We are more than happy to announce you that we are finally able to start a new section in our blog where we will be having the best MOC'ers in the world as our guest for special interviews. The Interviews will be posted as regular posts in our blog stream and will be saved in our Guest of Honor page for future views. Our first guest of honor is Luke Watkins Hutchinson a.k.a Derfel Cadarn who is one of the best castle MOC'ers in the world. Photos from the work of our guest will be presented between the questions. 

All Hallows Keep

Kaplan: We already know you are one of the best LEGO MOC'ers in the world. What can you tell us about yourself other than that. What is your dayjob? Do you have any other hobbies or activities?

Luke Watkins Hutchinson:  LEGO was originally my hobby but I managed to turn it into a job. I went the self employed route and now work for various LEGO Magazines, build commissions and work on larger projects for various companies. My free time is now spent on music and I am a guitar player in a Heavy/Thrash Metal band called State Of Anxiety. We are currently finishing up our first album and will be out on the road playing around the UK from April onwards.

K: Do you remember the day when you got your first LEGO set? Which set was it? And How old were you when you started playing with LEGO bricks?
L: I initially inherited my older brothers collection at a young age but the first real set I got was 6285 Black Seas Barracuda and for a first set you couldn't get much better than that!

 St. Gwydre's Church
K:  What is your best/unforgettable memory involving LEGO?

L:  I remember wanting a particular set as a child, set 6542 Launch And Load Seaport which was released in 1991 I think. A few years after it had been discontinued I was looking around local toy shop and they must have found some old stock as they had one of these in a slightly tattered box marked down to only £20! I remember hiding it behind some newer sets then running off to get my parents in the hope they would buy it. Luckily they understood the great offer of such a large set for such a bargain price and bought it for me. I had such a great fun evening building that when we got back home and that has always stuck with me as such a great memory.

K:  If you have to choose, what is your all-time favorite LEGO set?

L:  6285Black Seas Barracuda will always be my favorite set. Not just because it was my first but because its just such a beautiful design and in my opinion LEGO still have not released a better Pirate ship since.


K:  What is/are your favorite LEGO theme/s

L:  Pirates and Castle are my favorite themes. The pirate theme was the theme I collected most as a child but as I got older I started to turn towards the Castle theme more. I also have a soft spot for the Monster Fighters theme as I love anything to do with ghosts and monsters etc.

K:  Did you have a "dark-age"?

L:  I never really had a dark age as such, even through my teenage years if I saw a set that looked really cool I would always have to buy it. However I must admit that during the early 2000 years I really didn't buy much LEGO as Pirates were gone and the Castle theme was at a low point and the sets didn't appeal to me much. I really got back into buying sets when LEGO released the Viking theme and the Fantasy Castle line and I have never stopped since!

K:  How many LEGO bricks/sets do you own approximately?

L:  Too many! I really couldn't say how much LEGO I have. My loft is crammed with thousands of boxes of sets going back to the early 80's. Then there's the thousands of Blricklink orders, bulk buys from ebay, gifts etc etc. All the local people in my area know what I do so I always get people coming to me and dropping off unwanted LEGO or giving me first refusal on collections they are getting rid of, so there always boxes full of pieces arriving that I have to sort through. Lets just say I could be a rich man if I sold it all lol.

 Princess Ceinwyn & Lady Guinevere

K:  Everyone agrees that your MOC's are awesome in general. What are your favorite top three of your MOC's?

L:  Every MOC I build usually has a special meaning behind it that brings back memories of what was going on in my life at that time. The 3 I am most proud of would have to be firstly 'Ye Olde Forge' because it really was the culmination of my first own unique style and was different to what everybody else was doing. Second would be 'All Hallows Keep' because it was based on a tiny sculptured model that had been sitting on the shelf of my parents house for since I was a child. I remember trying to build it back in 1994 and just couldn't do it. Then I tried again in 2008, still couldn't get right, then finally in 2015 I had the experience, the pieces and colors to pull it off! Lastly I would have to say my most recent MOC posted 'Where The Wild Things Are...' This was a joy to build and really pushed the look I have been creating these last few years. Everything is really starting to come together and I am finally managing to realising the style and look I set out to achieve when I first started building.

 Ye Olde Forge
K: I'm curious. Do you scrap your MOC's after taking photos or displaying or do you keep them? How do you decide which ones you keep?

L:  Apart from commissioned MOC's everything else gets scrapped. I have never been one to keep MOC's assembled, they just take up space and eventually get covered in dust. The only exception to this rule was the 2 sailing ships I built which are still intact and packed away in boxes in the loft.

K:  Do you use any custom or third party pieces in your MOC's?

L:  I never use third party pieces but I do use custom pieces that I make from broken pieces. If a LEGO piece is already broken then I will try and turn it into something usable. I do often get plant pieces specially sprayed in unique colors for certain builds. I was lucky enough to get hold of thousands of large leaf pieces so I decided it wouldn't hurt to get 100 of them sprayed in various unique colors.

K:  What is more important for you in MOC-building, realism or creativity?

L:  With me they both go hand in hand, I have to be really creative to achieve the realism I want sometimes, so they both really have their place together as one when it comes to building.
 Where The Wild Things Are...

K:  If you choose best three LEGO elements that you think are extremely useful for building MOC's which element you pick.

L:  For me, the best 3 elements that allow me to do a lot with would be the 1x1Headlight Brick, the 1x1 brick modified with 1 stud facing out and the simple 1x1 plate. I use those more then anything and they allow for so much creativity.

K:  Do you have any suggestions for the new MOC'ers?

L:  My advice for any builders new to the hobby is to not be afraid to try anything new. Rather then follow the current trends, have a look at things that have not been done and create a style that is 'you'. LEGO is an art form and and its always nice to build things that are instantly recognizable by everyone as 'your' work. Sometimes its a case of using all the different influences from your favorite builders and then merging them all into something different and unique. There are thousands of techniques and styles that have not been discovered or used yet and with LEGO constantly adding new parts to the inventory, the possibilities are endless!

K:  Are you currently working on some MOC's or other LEGO related projects?

L:  I currently have many new MOC's that I have not yet revealed and I am constantly building more. Many of these are for my first book which is dedicated to the castle theme and will feature pretty much all never before seen MOC's.

Hexvale Cottage
K: And a final question. Tiles or studs?

L:  I entered the AFOL scene when the whole 'Tiles' look was just taking off and at first I loved the look and really wanted to go down that road. Due to my lack of a decent amount of tiles at the time I ended up having to make do with the 'studded' look and I have come to prefer it that way. I think it comes down to what theme you are building in, while I do like using tiles and like the clean look of certain MOC's, my style of building has more of a texted look and feel with studs rampant everywhere. So right now, its studs all the way for me!

We thank our guest of honor very much for his participation. 
Stand by for more interviews with the best builders of the world.