Transcribed by Adam Leuenberger
Terrance Pinkston, Jr.: Terrance from MuggleNet.
Alice: Nice to meet you.
Terrance: Nice to meet you. Wow. That's all I can say; I'm speechless. We saw it on the news story that we posted, and I was like, "That is pretty cool," but I did not expect it to be on this scale.
Alice: Yeah, it's pretty big.
Terrance: How many images did you use as a reference?
Alice: That's a really good question. I have a stack of printouts that I made, and I have all the books, so I will often scan those in and then print them out so I can have just the page. Hundreds and hundreds of pictures. Any picture I could get of any spot I would use it because, as you know, it changes over the various movies, and trying to make that all mesh in a way that works for this medium is...
Terrance: I was going to ask you what point of reference, which movie rather, did you use?
Alice: I tended to use where it was most developed. For example, Gryffindor Tower is a pretty good example of that. In the books, it's in the other courtyard on the corner, but you wouldn't be able to see it, and it would be too small for the scale of the rest of the courtyard. The movies made it a pretty iconic structure - its own tower with four corner turrets and a cone on the top - and I thought that was more important than being geographically correct in the right courtyard. So I took that, and then as the movies went on, you saw more of the space, and also things like [how] they would pan out from through the windows, and you could see where the tower was in relation to other buildings.
Terrance: I see you have the dragon up there, so I was assuming you used Goblet of Fire a little bit.
Alice: Yes. All of the books are represented. In the Defense Against the Dark Arts class, all of the teachers are represented in the classroom. Either [with] the minifig itself or some aspect [of the character].
Terrance: Wow. I know you get this a lot.
Alice: [laughs] It was an interesting experience because when I'm building this, it's mostly in the middle of the night. I got pretty tired at the end of the five months of building. And I'm building it because I love it. I didn't have perspective on what other people would think because that's not why I was building it, and to have this amazing response is overwhelming.
Terrance: Did you figure, as you were building it, what you were going to do with it?
Alice: It's for my kids to play with.
Terrance: Can I be one of your kids?
Terrance: That's great. How much... it takes up a lot of space. Do you have an entire room dedicated to it?
Alice: I have a LEGO room where I build, but because it comes apart in sections, all the flat boxes stay stacked up, and I have places where I tuck in. So it's not allowed to be played with all the time, but we went through a serious Harry Potter phase. We have a Quiddich pitch in the backyard, a Harry Potter birthday party, costumes for every character, Quidditch robes, dress robes... I even made a Mr. Hooch outfit for my husband. So he's the quidditch referee.
Terrance: That's great. Are you planning on adding on to the Wizarding World? Diagon Alley, perhaps?
Alice: There are a few things I didn't get to just because it took a long time to get this done. I wasn't planning on adding anything to it because I was planning on taking a break but realistically people have noticed the quidditch pitch. That seems to be a major flaw in my design, that I didn't include a Quidditch pitch, so I'll probably [inaudible].
Terrance: What's the scale you used?
Alice: A minifig is six bricks high, and so everything has to scale to that. All openings, rooms, everything can actually scale a [minature figure] but I actually [inaudible] in mind. Kids' hands are pretty small; my hand is not. So I want to have access to all of the rooms as well. Anytime I build a room it has to look correct on the outside, but I also have to have access points to play inside of it. For example, the Gryffindor common room has five different places where you can get to it. Because, in this case, something interesting is going on every single wall and I have not only wanted to be able to see it, I wanted to be able to get to it. Here [inaudible]. You can see this is the boys' dormitory. It is a full room so you can play with it from above but you can also play with it, the scene, from the front. It's set up to be when they're eating the Weasley Brother treats that make them make all kinds of animal noises. Each boy has his bed that has something personalized to that boy. There's Scabbers, there's the toad, there's the Remembrall... Something that makes it that particular boy's dresser. And their bed. Ron has his patchwork quilt on his. So in this room, I wanted to have the message board here, I wanted to be able to see that. When you walk in through the trap door. This wasn't big enough to get your hand in, so then I made this one here so you could also see the portrait of McGonnegal. In the Gryffindor common room, there is a picture of her, and that's what this is here. And on the other side, there are the two aristocrats which is another picture that is in the room. On this side, you can see the fireplace and the little seating area in the very back corner. That was an unusual architectural detail that they included. The fact that the fireplace wasn't in the corner but there's a little seat where you can sit in the back. There's the chess set and two chairs here. Some Chocolate Frogs. Then on this side, a little door, a tight door, so you can see the other side through that as well. I can take off the roof. So it's built so that this is a pretty important feature, these wooden beams, but you can also take this out so if you want to play from the top you also can stick your hand in. That's pretty much how any space is, it has multiple access points so you can play with it. And this is also one of the more difficult engineering problems because LEGO doesn't make inverted cones; it only makes cones that go up, not down, so I had to figure out a way to make the studs reversed on the bottom of these and somehow transition for them to go back pointing up. So this is all upside-down LEGO here and then this is right side up.
Terrance: Any glue holding it together?
Alice: No glue. Just tension. It's called clutch power the way LEGOs stick together. There are various ways to get LEGO to reverse the stud order. Because it's round, it makes it even more difficult because you can't use the traditional techniques, because that's all based on square bricks.
Attendee: My mom keeps telling me to glue my little brother's LEGO sets together. He plays with them roughly enough that it breaks them and I'm like "No," I refuse to.
Alice: I'm not a total LEGO purist - meaning I use some things from third-party manufacturers - but I don't glue things. That's a little bit sacrilegious.
Terrance: You must have been in contact with LEGO to get some custom pieces?
Alice: No, none of this is through LEGO. This is all just LEGO that I've bought on my own. I have a few things... I have a friend who makes capes, so he made me some special capes to match statues. In the scene where Harry is being introduced to Quidditch, he hits the Bludger through the crossed swords and there is a particular style of a cape that that statue is wearing, so I had to make me some capes in gray so that I could put them on my statues. And he printed this unicorn tapestry for me. I know the tapestry used in the room is a real medieval tapestry. LEGO doesn't make that, so I said, "Hey, take this LEGO part," so the shape of the tapestry is an official LEGO shape, and I had him print the unicorn tapestry on top of it for me.
Attendee: Are the chessmen actual pieces?"
Alice: Yes. The little tiny [ones] were used in the collectible minifigs. You know how they have Series 1? Right now they are on Series 9. The little trophies of the sumo wrestler and the soccer player.
Alice: Probably fairly good. I wasn't thinking about taking it again, but if I do end up doing the Quidditch pitch I might be persuaded.
Terrance: How long will it take you to build the Quidditch pitch?
Alice: I don't think it will be that long. Mostly, it's the minifigs. I have to have minifigs that are for all four Houses, and LEGO has only made them for two. LEGO has never made anything for Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. And they never did Cedric, which is too bad. That's the first hurdle to cross. There are places online where people have made decals that you can use. I just have to find a way to do that and get several hundred minifigs.
Terrance: Thank you so much for answering our questions. We appreciate it.
Alice: Sure. Do you have a particular favorite space? Not necessarily this castle but in Hogwarts in general?
Terrance: I am partial to the Potions classroom.
Alice: Did you see Potions yet?
Terrance: No, not yet.
Alice: Potions are on this side. Potions are right here.
Terrance: Oh, okay.
Alice: Quite a few months of research.