Bringing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to LEGO life

Developing a Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom inspired theme sees a dedicated group of LEGO designers collaborating with the artists behind the movie. LEGO designer Luis Castaneda explains how the process works

With a new LEGO Jurassic World theme recently launched ahead of the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaur fans can get another taste of brick based dinosaur mayhem. The team working on the LEGO theme were not just bringing dinosaurs back to life though, they were also developing sets based on a certain boy wizard for the return of Harry Potter.

Luis Castaneda is a Model Designer at the LEGO Group who was part of the design team working on the sets, and takes time to speak to Brick Fanatics about how the process of collaborating with a film studio works in practice.

Your team has been working on both Jurassic World and Harry Potter – is it an extra undertaking to be working on two huge franchises?

We did it with Super Heroes, when we started. We started Super Heroes as, you could say a generic line, but we were working with both Marvel and DC. They worked their magic, the whole marketing management, business area of it. The point being, it worked, working with those two IPs (intellectual properties). For us designers, it took a while getting used to, but yeah, then after a while the process was as smooth as we normally know it.

Then we were working with Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lone Ranger simultaneously, so that was another exercise in dealing with two IPs at the same time. And now we have that, but Mark Stafford and I, we have a lot of years under our belts – as does the rest of the team, so it’s great.

How long have you been working at the LEGO Group for?

Last October it would be 11 years working for the LEGO Group as a Model Designer.

How long have you been part of “in and out” team?

I was with the “in and out” team before, that was a couple of years ago, when we did the earlier Harry Potter launch and after that, Pirates of the Caribbean. Then I went over to The LEGO Movie team when they started development on that. Then I moved to NINJAGO, I really wanted to be part of NINJAGO, I was on the front end group. So I was in the concept team that developed what came to be the NINJAGO [movie].

Which of The LEGO NINJAGO Movie sets did you work on?

I am the designer responsible for Kai’s Mech, Garmadon’s Mecha Man, Garmadon’s walking shark, then the bridge – Master Falls. That was a challenge because I’m a mech man. It was supposed to be a smaller mech but they cancelled that, so then it was going to be a bridge. I don’t know how to build bridges! Give me a break!

How did you tackle building something so different?

I just network as much as I can. I talked to my colleagues in City and in Creator, because they have more experience in those kind of builds. I just went around and said, “guys, I’m so rusty with bridges and all of that.”
After The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, I saw that the team was already working on some Harry Potter and Jurassic, and I wanted to be part of that. Now we’re developing Overwatch.

LEGO Jurassic World designer interview 8

How much information did you have to develop the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sets?

They pitch us what they can without spoiling the movie, they give us the highlights of the movie and then we do our toy version, our interpretation of those scenes. For us it’s all about making a fun toy. Jurassic World is pretty straightforward. We know there is going to be dinos, we know there is going to be cool vehicles, good heroes and some other humans that are probably not heroes. There’s going to be something going on, the dinosaurs are going to escape from cages and what not, so there’s going to be a lot of catching and chasing dynamics in the movie.

Did you event many original vehicles, or are they all based on concept art and movie designs?

A little bit of everything. With movie based themes, we develop these toys as they develop their movies. So sometimes they have concept sketches of the vehicles and locations, but then they start working on it at the same time as we start working on it. So they end up being quite similar but it’s not a 100% accurate interpretation.
As I said before, our focus is on making these fun toy experiences. So there’s a lot of functions and features that might not exactly be the same in the movie but they represent the fun, the action and the excitement of the scene with what we know best. The helicopter is a good example – we knew there was a helicopter in the script, I think that at that point they didn’t know themselves what the helicopter was going to look like. So in that sense we had a little bit of freedom this helicopter, it made sense in the assortment and they were happy with it. Kids are happy with it.

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Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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