Update: Finally got around to building the set! Check out my complete review of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 here
Unless you’re exceptionally young, Ghostbusters would have been a pretty significant part of your upbringing. The Ghostbusters franchise is one of the quintessential pillars of 80s Hollywood and I have many fond memories of the movies and cartoons when I was growing up. When the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary CUUSOO (now LEGO Ideas) project passed the quarterly review and LEGO announced that it would be made into an official set, much of the internet (which is mostly populated by 90s and 80s kids) rejoiced in the fact that we were going get the opportunity to assemble Ecto-1 and finally own minifigure versions of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late Harold Ramis.
This movie is an exception to the general rule that big special effects can wreck a comedy. – Roger Ebert
LEGO Ghostbusters has an official release date of 1 June 2014 and has an Australian recommended retail price of $69.99. It should be available for purchase on LEGO.com on the 1st of June, and I’m quite excited about owning the set! It’s definitely going to be a day 1 purchase for me.
UPDATE: Ecto-1 is now available on the LEGO Online Shop for $69.99. If you hit $150, you can enjoy free shipping as well as qualify for the limited edition Balloon Cart polybag if you spend $100 or more.
Alternatively, if you only want the LEGO Ghostbusters set and are unwilling to hit $150 for free shipping, Barnes and Noble has you covered. It works out to about $64~ USD shipped for just 1 Ecto-1, which works out to the same as our RRP.
I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to chat with Brent Waller, the designer (and fellow Australian!) of the successful LEGO Ideas project. Read on to find out a little bit more about what inspires Brent, Ghostbusters and some tips on making your LEGO Ideas project stand out from the rest.
Hey Brent, thanks for taking the time to answer to speak to us! With the official launch of LEGO Ghostbusters just a few days away – how does it feel knowing that people all over the world will soon get a chance chance to put your set together?
It’s exciting, there’s already a couple of reviews out now but I can’t wait to see the reactions from the general public when it’s released. It’ll be fun to see people’s own Ghostbuster MOCs (My Own Creations) with the pieces and minifigs too.
What made you into such a huge fan of the Ghostbusters?
Being a child of the 1980s it was hard to miss Ghostbusters, the movie itself is what made me such a huge fan – it was 4 everyday wise-cracking guys wearing nuclear powered equipment on their backs busting ghosts for a living, who wouldn’t love that?
Are you excited about the fact that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Rick Moranis might be building and playing with your set?
I have a hard time picturing Bill Murray playing with it, Dan Aykroyd definitely, he seems like he’d get a huge kick out of it, I’d love to see that. Rick Moranis is probably wondering where his minifig is, but I’m picturing him as Dark Helmet from Spaceballs “playing with himself” haha. It’s a shame Harold Ramis isn’t alive to see himself in LEGO form, it’s nice to feel like you’re giving something back to him by having a hand in getting him immortalised in LEGO form.
Tell us a little about the design process of Ecto-1, how it got started and if it went through a lot of modifications before the final model
I started out collecting a lot of reference online, photos of the original Ecto-1 and various fan made replicas. Using those as a guide I built the main body of the vehicle – the first iteration was a lot shorter and I had to lengthen it a bit before it was closer to the real thing. After that I spent most of my time trying to perfect the tail fins, I had several attempts at that before I settled on my final version, maintaining the curved sides as they flow into the back fins was a tricky challenge.
What was it like working with the LEGO Cuusoo team? Did LEGO rope you in to help once the project passed review stage?
The final product was more or less locked down by the time I saw it, thankfully it already looked great so there was no real need for me to have any input. They used my original design as a guide and redesigned it to fit their strict standards of construction and strength. I can only hypothesise, but I assume the development of it was accelerated to meet the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters in June.
You’re pretty active on Cuusoo (now LEGO Ideas), can you tell us about some of your other projects such as your new Stay Puft Marshmallow Man submission?
The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is my direct follow up to the Ecto-1, it’s the next most iconic element from the film so it was the natural thing to follow with. I also saw it as a challenge, I’d done vehicles before and dabbled in mechs but the curves and smoothness of the Stay Puft was no easy task to achieve with LEGO.
What do your friends and family think about your success in designing a set that will be released all over the world?
My kids are too young to really understand (4 and 2 years old) and no one else really shares my enthusiasm for LEGO so I think they’re a bit puzzled by it all. My friends seem to think it’s great though and help by sharing links about it on Facebook etc.
What is your favourite LEGO theme or set of all time?
There’s only two I consistently buy every time, The modular buildings and the collectible minifigs. I do love some of the licensed themes like Marvel and DC but I’m fairly selective on which ones of those I get as they tend to be aimed at a younger audience. Growing up, LEGO Town/City was my favourite theme, specifically Police sets – there was no crime happening in my LEGO town back then with the amount of cops I had.
If you could describe yourself using one minifigure, what would it be and why?
Hmm, tough question. An easy answer would be one of the Ghostbuster minifigs but that’s a cop-out answer. I have a real affinity for the Maraca Man from series 2 of the Collectible minifigs, I just smile whenever I see him, plus he reminds me of the movie The Three Amigoes. He has no real reflection of me as a person though but I have used him as an Avatar on forums before.
What advice do you have for creators and builders looking to achieve success on LEGO Ideas?
The game has changed a bit with the rule changes that come with LEGO Ideas launch, but the advice I’ll give is probably even more relevant now. Firstly you have to do everything you can to make your project the best it can be before you launch, first impressions last and you need to take advantage of everything you can to get your project out there. There’s a limited window in which your project will be in the “most recent” section so you have to make the most of it.
You don’t have to have amazingly edited photos and graphics, you just need to make sure the pictures you do use are clear, particularly when viewed as a thumbnail and viewed in a gallery alongside hundreds of other projects. Is your thumbnail clear and easy to see what the project is about? The image ratio is slightly different in thumbnail view than it is on your main project page so you have to be careful that important text or parts of your project aren’t being cropped from the sides of the image.
Once you have submitted your project, the next step is promoting it. You can’t just rely on wandering traffic on the Ideas page to stumble across your project, you need to actively promote it via outside avenues – forums, websites, Facebook, Twitter etc. This is particularly important if your project is based on existing license or intellectual property. If that is the case then you need to reach out to those external fan bases who may not be huge LEGO fans but may be a fan of the project you’ve submitted and would love to see it come to life in LEGO form. Directly contacting fan sites or forums with your project pitch can bring in a lot of votes from people who otherwise would never come to LEGO Ideas.
I’ve found the best way to do that myself is via YouTube with a video created to promote your project. A video may not be easy for everyone to do themselves but it can help immensely. I had no experience with video editing myself until a few years ago – the only way I learnt was by trying my hand at it and practice. My first few attempts were just a series of slideshow photos put to music before I moved onto full videos.
Lastly, what advice do you have to give to LEGO fans who want to move beyond their instruction manuals into the (sometimes daunting) realm of building their own creations?
Build something you know, it doesn’t have to be from a movie or TV show, it can be something personal to you, a place you know, a vehicle, an object. The biggest challenge is seeing something in real life and trying to replicate it in LEGO form, finding that best part to reproduce a certain detail. Another good way to break free from instructions is to take the parts from an existing set and see what alternative creations you can make with it, there’s a certain amount of freedom that comes from restricting what parts you have at your disposal and thinking of creative ways to use them in the best way possible.
To keep up to date with Brent and LEGO Ghostbusters, be sure to check out his Flickr, Facebook Fan Page and his LEGO Ideas profile. You can also watch a video review on Brent’s Youtube channel, 1980s Something below.
Check out and vote for some of Brent’s other projects on LEGO Ideas such as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
LEGO Ghostbusters will go on sale on 1 June 2014 and will have an Australian price of $69.99.
Special thanks to Brent for chatting with us and for permission to use the images from his Flickr page!