Chris Giddens: Mr. Pre-Classic Space
Chris is a big name in the LEGO AFOL community. And “why” do you ask? Well, for a number of reasons. For one, he is well-known, especially among Spacers, as the guy who created Pre-Classic Space, referred to as PCS, for short. Originally most of this series was posted at pre.classic-space.com, (a sub-site of Classic-Space.com), but nowadays Chris does his posting at Flickr under the name Fazoom.
Because of his PCS theme along with collaboration with Mark Sandlin, the two were asked by LEGO to design a couple sets in the LEGO Factory line. Chris’s Pre-Classic Space became known as “Star Justice” in set 10191, and Mark’s 3vil (3 times the evil) became known as “Space Skulls” in set 10192. These sets were available from April 2008 to June 2009.
Furthermore, Chris and Mark were interviewed by Joe Meno for the Summer 2008 issue of BrickJournal magazine (pp. 52-55).
I had the privilege of meeting both of these guys several months ago when I joined up with DixieLUG, a LEGO users group based in North Georgia. (Being one of the few AFOL’s in the state of South Carolina, I have to deal with a long-distance LUG relationship. In the meantime, I’m very thankful for the online community!)
My original interview with Chris was mostly done back in September, but many things happened between then and now, or else you’d have had this lovely post sooner. We’ve also added a couple other questions about more recent events (bottom of the page). So the MOC pictured and discussed here isn’t his most recent, but is still a brilliant blend of PCS building technique and some great work in Photoshop.
Can you give us a little background about yourself? (i.e. what is your “day job” and what does that have to do with/not have to do with you as an AFOL, particularly a “space” guy)?
CG: My name is Chris Giddens. I’m married with one little boy and one little something on the way. I serve as Minister to Children at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church in Silver Creek, GA. I use LEGO quite a bit with our kids. We have buckets of LEGO in our preschool rooms, but mostly I use LEGO as a great illustrator for elementary kids. It’s fun that they know I like stuff they like. There’s a lot of nerdy boys who brighten up when they know I speak their language of LEGO. It’s lots of fun. I’ve always been a space guy and I probably always will be. It’s my mode I guess. I used the process of building my latest MOC to illustrate some basics of building a Solid Life.
I remember last time I saw you (oh, back in May) you’d just picked up some Agents 2.0 sets in addition to some of the Space Police sets. Are there particular themes outside space that you find provide good piece fodder for your space building?
CG: SHHHH!!! Folks will hear you. Just kidding. Wait were you being all passive aggressive? “oh back in May”… just say it, you’re a lonely AFOL. Anyway, most LEGO themes are great for spaceparts, cuz with space you can do just about anything in your imagination. But, the trend lately is to pack sets with technic lift arms, bionicle bits and car fenders. It doesn’t help.
It looks like you are pretty exclusively a space guy. Do you dabble in building other themes as well? (and if so…what?)
CG: Usually when I build outside space, it’s to give someone something. I made a series of family scenes for some friends and neighbors. I built a train for a guy retiring from the railroad. I have a Cafe Corner and stuff like that. I’ll build this and that every once in a while, but it’s mostly just space.
Juno SV-7 Deep Space Science Vessel
Tell us about your creative process for the Juno, i.e. where did the spark come from and how did you take it from there to the creation we have in your Flickr Photostream?
CG: Juno started with the engine section. I build it, had it on my work table for a couple of weeks. Then I pondered, “what kinda ship needs a slow cruising engine with Warp pulse pods?” I honestly said that. I’m sick, I know. Then SCIENCE VESSEL sensor lit up and I started thinking about it and sketched out an idea… the Jedi Starfighter ring was lying there and wanted to join the party.
Do you ever think through story lines for your MOCs (i.e. this ship has this feature because Captain Pekirk is going to need it for …)?
CG: Oh sure. I usually imagine out who does what, and why and stuff. This ship has a valiant captain, a lovely pilot, and the old scientist aboard. They exist within my own PCS universe… Mark Sandlin and I have done some stories.
And if, so, can you share with us a bit of the story line for Juno?
CG: It’s an old freighter, converted for exploration. It can carry individual science pods to anywhere in the galaxy. That’s… about it.
A couple of your shots look like you set them up in Photoshop or some other photo-editing software. Do you do your own Photoshopping, and is it something you just learned on your own for LEGO, or do you use it for other things as well?
CG: I have Photoshop, I learned some in college, the rest just bluffing my way through. I do use it here at church to make stuff.
I see Jake show up in a lot of your pictures. Being a dad of two little boys myself, I know there can be some interesting conversations regarding the difference between “Dad’s LEGO stuff” and “son’s LEGO stuff.” (i.e. mine say, “When can I get all the cool LEGO sets like Dad” and I say, “as soon as you start paying your own bills…”) How does that work for you? 🙂
CG: Heh, well we have some rules for the LEGO room. If it’s on my tables, it’s off limits. Everything else is fair game. My tables have my work, my small detail bits and prebuilt tidbits waiting on a MOC. All bulk brick and figs are in large drawers and stuff around the room. He’s welcome in those. He also has tubs of his own. We also have an agreement, if I build him something and he chucks it against the wall to crash it, it becomes my bricks again. It seems to work well. We go and spend a few hours every week in the LEGO room. We’re going to build him a big ship soon.
You got in on Angus MacLane’s CubeDudes. What compelled you to create the set you did?
CG: Cuz they’re awesome. I got to know Angus through flickr and facebook and stuff a while back. Turns out he actually bought one of my SLAM kits from 4 years ago. He’s a nerd culture, comic book, scifi nerd like most of us. The compelling thing about them is they detail such complex characters in such simple terms. I am amazed when someone does some thing incredibly cool with such small tight building. I can’t do that. As to the characters I built, I love the Big Bang Theory Show. It’s like Real Genius for today (without bunny slippers and giant balls of popcorn. It helps my wife see that I’m not the only one of my kind in the universe.)
How did BrickSouth turn out?
CG: BrickSouth 2010 was awesome nerd fun. We created a new “deal”… Munchkin Counters. Steve Jackson created the cool card game Munchkin a few years ago, then he spawned StarMunchkin and I was in. Mark Sandlin intro’d me to the game and we played it at BrickSouth 2009. I thought about making some sort of level counter out of brick. Mark and I made a couple and the rest of the card players did the same. They were neat. The display at BrickSouth was double what it was last year. The Florida train club joined with the Georgia one for a large display, we had space and a fantastic World Theater creation. We ate BBQ, laughed, and had bunches of fun.
Do you plan to make it to Brick Magic? any other conventions this year?
CG: Apparently, cons and my schedule don’t like each other. I haven’t been off to a Lego convention since 2006. I miss it bad. They seem to fall on dates I have work or family commitments. I hate air travel (but will do it in a pinch)… so that hasn’t helped. NWBC looked promising this year, but it hits on my son’s fall break, and my whole family is vacationing together then. BrickMagic is on Mother’s day I think… that ain’t happenin… so we’ll see what the future holds. One day someone will say “Giddens? That wizard’s just a crazy old man”