This is transcript of Episode 6: Tullett, Modelbuilder for The Brickman.
Travis Holland 0:07
Welcome to Fossils and Fiction, a podcast exploring cultural and scientific ideas about dinosaurs.
My guest today is Liam Tullett, modelbuilder for the Brickman, a team of Lego builders led by Ryan McNaughton, Australia’s only Lego Certified Professional Builder. Tullett joins me to talk about Jurassic World by Brickman, an exhibition featuring lifesize dinosaurs made from LEGO that is currently on display at the Australian Museum in Sydney. I’m a huge LEGO fan. And as you know, I also love dinosaurs. So I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to bring them together
Tullett, welcome to Fossils and Fiction.
Thanks so much for having me.
Travis Holland 1:11
Professional Lego builder, best job in the world?
Yeah, I must say it is it’s got to be up there. Definitely a lot of fun. Yep.
Fantastic. How did you get into that kind of role? How did you become a professional Lego builder?
So it was always something that I had been passionate about as a hobby. Like, I’d always just had Lego from when I was a kid and kind of never really grew out of that. And I was looking for a job. I just finished university, I was looking for a job in environmental science. I really couldn’t find anything and just saw an advertisement for this job. With Brickman, with Ryan McNaught just advertised on Facebook. And kind of thought, Yeah, I’d love to do that. Like it’s something that when I applied for it, and the first interview was fairly standard, like it was just a normal resume, there was options to attach pictures of anything that I’d built at home of my own design. So I did some of that. didn’t really think anything of it. Like it was totally wide shot, I thought did the first interview that was fairly normal. And Ryan said, right, we’ll, we’d love to have you back for a second interview. We want you to build a model of your own head. And we’ll see you in a week. I then went home and sort of frantically built for a week and built a model of my own head and took that back. And he liked it and gave me the job.
So you studied environmental science at university and then became a Lego builder?
Travis Holland 2:41
There’s not a lot of a lot of direct connection between the two but obviously been a fan of Lego for quite some time.
Yeah, yeah. And there’s a few that I, no one has really studied, quote unquote, the right thing to be a Lego builder. Sure. There’s no real right thing. The most important thing is just the passion for Lego really.
Travis Holland 3:03
So you’re working as part of this team led by the Brickman, Ryan McNaught, who you’ve mentioned a couple of times, tell me about the team and your colleagues.
Unknown Speaker 3:11
So there’s a team, there’s almost 30 of us now. So there’s about 10-11 model builders, we’ve got guys who build the steel support for Lego models, a lot of them, especially the large ones have internal steel structures to keep them stable. So there’s, there’s a team of guys that do that as well in-house, people that design the 3d model. So 3d artists and graphic designers and engineers, inventory as well as people that manage our inventory. We have like, like 10s of millions of bricks, literally, that all get inventoried so a massive operation. There’s Yeah, over 20 of us.
Travis Holland 3:53
Yeah, awesome. Now, this is a dinosaur podcast. So the reason I actually wanted to get your talk about – talk to you – rather than just talking about Lego is that the Brickman team has a touring exhibition of dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, and Jurassic World. And you were in Melbourne for a little while. And now it’s been at the Australian Museum in Sydney. So tell us about the dinosaur. Some of them are huge, and they’re all made out of Lego. So what what can people expect at that exhibition?
Yeah, so we use, we estimate about 6 million Lego bricks to create exhibition that’s based on the Jurassic franchise. And there’s a there’s over 30 models, if you like, almost all full scale, lifesize dinosaurs. So we built it over about a year it took and we tried to just sort of cover the scope, all the dinosaurs from those movies, so they’re not all scientifically accurate, because we have copied the ones from the movies.
Travis Holland 4:55
Yeah, so it’s a touring exhibition. And yeah, just aims to be that experience of the movies in LEGO form.
Travis Holland 5:06
Yeah. Great. And there’s huge pair of Jurassic gates there as well. I’ve noticed, I think, do you walk through those to get into the exhibition?
Yeah, that’s right. So the first thing you see is the Jurassic Park gate. About four and a half meters tall. They walk through those doors,
Travis Holland 5:22
Four and a half meter tall LEGO model. That’s, that’s extraordinary.
Yep. Yep. So our largest piece in the exhibition is the sort of front head and shoulders of a T Rex. And that’s life size. That one weighs about three tonnes.
Sorry, did you say the model weighs about three tonnes?
Yeah. Yep. That’s about there’s about a ton of Lego and then two tonnes of steel inside. Because it’s sort of reaching forward, back to counter counterbalance that.
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s, that’s, that’s an incredible model. The the exhibition started in Melbourne and that was impacted by COVID lockdowns a few times. But I know that it managed to draw the crowds, how did people react to those designs when they first walk in there and see them?
Unknown Speaker 6:10
It was really awesome. So we, we were really lucky for a lot of the lockdown to open, and the TV production being affiliated with Lego masters. So we were doing stuff with them that let us stay open for most of the lockdown in some capacity. So when we finally did get to show the exhibition to the public, we had a big a big event, had lots of people from LEGOMasters come through and friends and family and journalists and stuff like that. And it was a fantastic feeling to be able to finally show up for this work that we’ve been working on for. Yeah, a year, kind of behind closed doors in full lockdown. And just Yeah, it was fantastic. Like, kids out to like, just in awe. Obviously, the Jurassic franchise is one that spans a generation. So you have quite a broad range of people there. Yeah, everyone really loves it, which was fantastic for us.
Travis Holland 7:07
Yeah, of course, Dominion’s coming out very soon now. So that’s obviously building a bit of hype as well.
Yeah, yeah, we have a few things. I can’t really say much. But we do have some stuff in the pipeline from that, which is good.
Travis Holland 7:21
So there’s some secret things that you can’t let us sit on yet that coming? Is that be saying?
Travis Holland 7:28
No, nothing? Nothing yet?
Travis Holland 7:32
Oh, fair enough. Make sure you make sure you let me know. And I’ll I’ll pass it on. Did you make any changes for the Sydney stop from from when it was in Melbourne?
Yeah, so we added a life size baryonyx. And so that sets out the front of the exhibition as a kind of teaser as to what the exhibition was about. So that was a whole, the baryonyx is posed on a very dynamic angle, kind of leaning forward to the tail, right up in the air. So very tricky model to build, like a lot of curves and lots of shaping. Yeah, really great to see that one.
Travis Holland 8:10
You mentioned the curves. And you said previously that these dinosaurs are more like the ones from from the Jurassic franchise rather than scientific ones. What kind of references did you use? Did you get anything from the producers of those films? Or did you sort of just Google a lot of images and go from there?
No, almost all of it came directly from Universal, like, obviously, a lot of this stuff, because it was affiliated with Jurassic had to be approved by them.
Travis Holland 8:38
It’s a licensed exhibition, absolutely yep.
So they were Yeah, yeah. So there were a lot of 3d models we had from them. And then they were put through with our 3d artists and converted and the colors were transferred across as faithfully as possible within the limitations of Lego colors. So yeah, everything was really quite heavily based on what you see in the movies.
Travis Holland 9:03
Which, which of the dinosaurs did you get your hands in? You’ve explained a bit of how the workshop works. Do you all sort of have had a role in everything? Or do you break it up into teams? And how do you go from there?
Almost all of it. Everyone had had hands on because all of these dinosaurs are so massive almost all of them everyone was involved in I think there was only two or three dinosaurs in the end of it I wasn’t involved in at all. But the favorite thing I did. I did a few little minifig things of the arrivals of both the Jurassic World movies – that that big cruise ship that arrives and brings passengers to the island as well as the plane landing on the like the army base from the start of the second World movie. So it was good to get do a little bit of detailed minifig sort of stuff have a bit more freedom with that will be the favorite thing.
Travis Holland 9:58
Yeah, minifigs have so much expressiveness, there’s so much that you can kind of do with them and do these little scenes, but it’s really cool that you get to replicate some of those iconic scenes as well.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, because so much of the exhibition is a massive lifesize, dinosaurs. I really wanted to take that opportunity and cram as much detail as I couldn’t say little minifig dioramas
Travis Holland 10:25
Awesome. I’m nowhere near your level of skill, but I’m working on a build myself that comes from Jurassic World, the main street with Mosasaur lagoon and the mosasaur coming up, so I’ll put that out soon.
Yeah, fantastic, I’d love to see it.
Travis Holland 10:43
It’s minifig scale. So did you ever think that your builds would end up in the Australian Museum? It’s such an iconic institution and some of your work’s displayed there. It’s pretty cool.
Yeah. No, no, never in my wildest dreams like as such. Yeah, I never thought I’d be able to say anything like that, you know, from going from kind of just having Lego as this hobby at home. And then, you know, expanding that out to a Lego room and home and then expanding that to a job even. It’s still kind of like, yeah, it’s a really cool thing. A really cool thing to get to be able to say.
Travis Holland 11:20
Yeah. Do you have a favorite dinosaur?
I could think about this and I think I’m gonna stick with the same answer that I had when I was about six years old. And go with Diplodocus – Diplodocus. I really have a good reason I had I liked that dinosaur when I was a kid. Now. I haven’t haven’t been anything better
Travis Holland 11:41
You know, I think I think the size of a diplodocus is something that really draws in attention. And you’re absolutely right, though. When you pick a dinosaur as a kid, that becomes the one that becomes your sort of icon going up and going forward, I think
Yeah, it’s hard to beat the first one that you chose.
Travis Holland 12:00
Absolutely. Can you let us in on any future stops from Jurassic World? Where will people see the dinosaurs next?
It’s still up in the air a little bit. But I can say that it will be staying in Australia for a while. So the next stop is definitely in Australia, which is good. I think not not traveling too far.
Travis Holland 12:21
I’ve seen some, some Jurassic fans online who’ve been bragging that we have this fantastic exhibition here in Australia. And it’s been in Sydney and Melbourne so far. So I think people can draw their own conclusions where it might head off to next.
Yeah, yes. It is always good to see other people from other cities complaining, I suppose, then it’s not in their city yet. That’s always a good feeling for us.
Travis Holland 12:47
You know, in Jurassic, there’s things in the US like the Live Tour, which have these use huge animatronics, and puppets and things on stage. And it’s like, I wish that could come here. But I’ll tell you what, we’ve got Lego exhibition, and it’s pretty great.
Yeah, I hope we can provide them some good competition for that.
Travis Holland 13:06
Fantastic well as as Dominion gets closer and and is released. I hope that continues to draw the crowds. Tullett thank you so much for joining me for this interview, and good luck with the builds an the exhibition.
Thanks so much, and thanks for having me.
Travis Holland 13:27
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Tullett, ModelBuilder for the Brickman. Jurassic World by Bregman is open until July 17 at the Australian Museum, Sydney. See exhibition.thebrickman.com for more information.
Thank you for listening to the Fossils and Fiction podcast produced by me, Travis Holland, with the support of Charles Sturt University. The podcast theme music is Sonora by Quincas Moreia via the YouTube Audio Library. Find more content on our social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Tiktok. Show notes are available on the website fossilsfiction.co. You can subscribe to the podcast on all major podcasting platforms.