In this interview, Tobias Branig gives the inside story of building TriboStar2, a LEGO® brick model of a multifunctional vessel that is being displayed at the 2017 International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans.
Q: Building a model of a vessel like TriboStar2 looks complex. How long did it take?
A: It took about four months and 450 hours of actual building time, which is an assembly rate of nearly 100 LEGO® bricks an hour. The finished ship is 64 inches (162 cm) long and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. The highest point from the bottom of the keel is 24 inches (61 cm).
Q: How did you get into building LEGO® models?
A: To begin with, I have a solid technical education, starting as a precision mechanic in a small company in Germany. Then I graduated to an industrial master school (Industriemeister), which took about three years. Meanwhile, I got a job for a large German aircraft manufacturer. After I finished my industrial master school, I started working for a new company as a constructor. Now I create 3-D models of different machines and make sure that they can be produced without any issues. This includes production documents, technical drawings and many other things. So it’s natural to have a hobby to create unique models from LEGO®bricks. But these days, it has becomes more like a second job, and I am really happy about that.
Q: Where did you get the idea to build this vessel?
A: My inspiration was a simple 3-D animated photo provided by Klüber Lubrication, Germany. It turned out to be my biggest LEGO® challenge ever.
Q: Where did you get all the LEGO® bricks? Is it a custom set?
A. A model like the TriboStar2 was never built before, so it’s more than a custom set—it’s a piece of art. The size and all the functions are unique. I buy all pieces on an international website for LEGO pieces, bricklink.com.
Q: How do approach starting a project like this? Do you have a plan?
A: Many people ask me how I create this amazing stuff. My short answer is: I see the world in LEGO® pieces, like in the Matrix movie. I visualize every shape, every function in my mind. Normally, I start calculating the size, search for the right pieces to get the shape I want. I get a little help from a virtual LEGO® program. It lets me try different shapes. It’s hard to explain this process. I do not have an exact plan.
Q: Will this model get disassembled?
A: I hope not! There’s too much work and thinking that went into it. I would be a bit sad about that. You may wonder during the building process, if I ever disassemble segments and start again. Not so often, but sometimes I do.
Q: Is it easy to get into technical LEGO® building?
A: Everybody with a LEGO® kit at home is potentially a technical builder.
Q: Who gets the TriboStar2 after it’s displayed?
A: Klüber Lubrication, USA, bought the ship. They are the owners of TriboStar2. I am only the “boy” who created it. Nevertheless, I hope I will see the TriboStar2 at different events and get the opportunity again to be at the helm.
During the WorkBoat Show, come and listen to the story of our TriboStar2:
Wednesday, November 29 at 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 30 at 2:00 p.m.
Friday, December 1 at 11:30 a.m.
To learn more about Tobias Branig’s work, visit www.toeby-design.de.