Special Interview with Thorsten Bonsch a.k.a Xenomurphy

Hello LEGO enthusiasts. We are starting the week with a exciting interview. This week's guest of honor is a builder from Germany, Thorsten Bonsch a.k.a Xenomurphy who is known for his great action scene MOC's and the amazing Arkham Asylum MOC. Photos from the work of our guest will be presented between the questions.

Kaplan: We already know that you are an AFOL. What can you tell us about yourself other than that? What is your day job? Do you have any other hobbies or activities?

Thorsten Bonsch: I earn my living as a media designer, which is a fancy word for advertising artist, which is also a fancy word, now that I think about it.
Anyway, I adore anything that is creative or allows me to be creative, so my hobbies include drawing, painting, making movies, writing, the use of 3D software, moulding, computer games, board games, books, movies, music (though I’m completely unmusical), TV series, audio books and comics.

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?

T: I’m not sure if it was the first set, but I remember some of my first sets, the yellow Classic Castle (Set #375) and  the classic Space Scooter (Set #885). I was very proud of the Space Scooter and when I wanted to show it to my friend and brag about it, I realised that he already had the much bigger classic Space Transport (Set #918). What a sad day – hahaha, no, not really. We loved to play with LEGO together. Nevertheless, I started playing with LEGO in general years before, with my older brother’s LEGO collection. There might have been sets included, but all the instructions and boxes were missing and he kept his bricks in an old kitchen drawer.

K: What is your best/unforgettable memory involving LEGO?

T: To be honest, there are several and it is hard for me to decide which one was the best:
a)    When I got the Galaxy Explorer (Set #928).
b)    When we build Star Trek phasers and communicators out of LEGO and played with them outside.
c)    When I got introduced to the LEGO community due to a contest.
d)    When my first MOC got blogged by a very influential LEGO blog.

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

T: Apart from the old ones that I mentioned above, my all-time-favourite set would be the Fantasy Era Castle Chess set (Set #852293). I was very lucky to get my hands on that set some years ago for a reasonable price.

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

T: That is superheroes for sure. Marvel and DC. I grew up with LEGO and comics likewise. Both played (and are still playing) important roles in my life.

K: Did you have a "dark-age"? If you had one when did you return from your dark age and how?

T: I stopped “playing” with LEGO at the age of 14 or 15, when the first Home Computers came out and I dedicated my whole spare time to those new creative tools by trying to develop my own games.
My interest in LEGO grew again in 2007, though it took almost three more years before I started building again. I saw a brickfilm, based on the movie “Evil Dead” and it was my main motivation to delve into LEGO again. 
I’ve also had some kind of “dim ages” about year ago, due to health problems. With a bit of luck, that period is completely over soon.

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

T: I’m really, really bad at guessing. I’ve got a long shelf full of unopened sets and probably 20 or so shoeboxes full of bricks, plates, tiles etc.

K: What are your favorite top three of your MOC's and why?

a)    The 2010 Doctor Who TARDIS console room
This was by far the most complicated MOC that I’ve ever created. It was a nightmare trying to stay as close as possible to the original blueprints, but in the end, it came out better than I ever imagined.

b)    Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin
I’m a huge fan of everything that has to do with architecture, especially New York’s architecture. That MOC allowed me to test some techniques and everything came together very well.

c)    H. P. Lovecraft’s Study
This MOC is about one of the best horror literature authors, furniture and the right mood. I gave my best to come up with a creation that is worthy of H. P. Lovecraft and in addition to that, I wanted to capture the perfect mood in the main shot – a typical 80s horror movie mood.
It was also a lot of fun to build all the different furniture pieces.

K: Do you scrap your MOC's after taking photos or displaying or do you keep them? How do you decide which ones you keep?

T: When the space in my apartment allows it, I keep some of the smaller MOCs occasionally, like the Skyrim MOC for example, the Tetsuo MOC or even some of the larger ones, like Spider-Man vs. Sandman.
I also kept both TARDIS console rooms, since they grew dear to my heart.

K: You have published a great LEGO book, Arkham Asylum. What can you tell us about the book?

T: Well, I didn’t really publish it. Everybody can download the digital version (PDF) for free. Some people think this book contains instructions, but this is not the case. It’s a making-of book, like the ones they do for movies. It shows the complete building process, from the first idea, early sketches, building tests, scrapped concepts, inspirational sources and details to the finished MOC. Arkham Asylum was a huge enough project to justify such a book.

K: You use outstanding mosaics in your MOC's especially for the decoration of the floor and those look awesome. Where do you get the idea for the shapes and how do you manage to fit them so well?

T: There is no stunning secret behind it; in the end, it is nothing but a lot – and I mean really a lot – of monotonous work. I used mosaics in only three of my MOC's, in Shining, in the Dolmen and in Orsinium. All three of them are based on either a movie or a game and as a result, I had references and had to make sure to come as close to them as possible.

K: If you had to choose three LEGO elements that you think are extremely useful for building MOC's, which elements would you pick?

T: Every element that fits into your actual MOC is useful, hahaha. I think it is a matter of taste and building techniques. If I had to choose, I’d pic
a)    1 x 1 brick with stud on one side
b)    1 x 1 Tile with clip
c)    1 x 2 Plate with one stud
I use them quite often, because they allow me a lot of freedom, snotting and building in strange angles.

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

T: Build and post as much and as often as you can. Order parts that you need for your actual MOC, but also buy sets from time to time. This way, you learn easy and fast about new parts. Look what and how other FOLs build. Try to find good sources of inspiration. Work (build) your way up – almost nobody starts as a perfect builder. Enter contests.
But most important of all: Have fun building. Enjoy it. And do it for you, not for the community or to gain appreciation.

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

T: I always immediately start working on a new MOC once one is finished, sometimes on two simultaneously. The advantage is that when I can’t continue working on the first one, because I’m waiting for a brick order, I can work on the second one. This way I avoid an idle state.
Right now I can’t get into detail, since I’ve got several projects in mind but haven’t decided yet with witch of them to start, resp. to continue.

K: Are you member of a local LUG? Do you participate in collaborative builds?

T: I’m a passive member of the international VirtuaLUG and a very passive member of Germany’s 1000steine. Due to my health problems, I haven’t been able to participate in any activities lately. But since I’ve started building again on a regular basis, I think it is the first step into the right direction.

K: And the final question. Tiles or studs? 

T: After my dark ages, I created MOC's with mixtures of tiles and studs, because studs are so characteristic for LEGO. Then I started to hide almost all of them, since such MOC's look “cleaner”.
Meanwhile, I show studs when they fit or in other words, when they can represent a texture I want to show, like grass for example. I’m not afraid of studs anymore, but I’m using them sparingly.