It’s not every day that you find yourself on the top deck of a vintage 1950s RM-54 Routemaster double-decker, but it seemed the perfect setting to speak to the designers of the new LEGO Creator Expert set. 10258 London Bus is one of the large, detailed D2C models released this year, recreating a classic symbol of the UK capital. The Brick Fanatics review of the set referred to it as ‘a worthy addition to the LEGO Creator Expert range in a build that has been beautifully thought out’.
JB: It’s one of those things that we know is a strong icon. We have so many vehicles now and normally we would exit things – it’s out for a couple of years, then it goes. But the cars, people love them. So you end up having more and more cars on the shelf and we were trying to think of something slightly different to those that could fit that particular market. That’s the nice thing about being in Creator Expert – we’re not locked so rigidly to having to always do the same thing. You could say that the modular buildings are a little more rigid, likewise the seasonal sets, by the fact that we try to follow a similar formula. But with the vehicles there’s so many options – everybody is attached to cars and vehicles in some way.
Why did you decide to go for the older style of bus over the new one?
JB: There’s something about if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It’s the icon and it was able to last decades. We felt that this is the worldwide icon that has even been shared now in other countries, in other colour schemes. That we could also do modern signage that belongs on this bus and also one that’s retro, that was fun.
Being able to change the time periods is pretty cool.
JB: We come from a history with some of the more recent cars, we include multiple plates so that way if you are from Australia you have Australian plates, or in the UK you have UK plates. We can’t cover everybody, but if we have an opportunity that makes sense, if this vehicle was particularly known somewhere then we’ll try to include that option. It stems from that flexibility of customisation or choosing your time period, because different people will connect with this bus from different years. It’s giving them a chance to highlight that as a story.
Morten, were you involved from the beginning of this project?
MGW: Actually, the very first sketch was done by Morten Rauff and Mike Psiaki together but it was a very different build by the end product. There was a lot of change before the final version was approved. We did about four sketches and kept going over the last one until we got it just right. There were a lot of challenges involved such as splitting the bus yet keeping the inside open, and having a clear and elegant spiral staircase. Whenever I was stuck I could talk to Jamie and Mike – they are really good at knowing all the different systems and what works – this bus is really a team effort.
Is the final model an amalgam of different real-life references, or did you pick one model of bus in particular?
JB: We actually saw one in Denmark at one point, so we took a trip out to take some pictures of it, but what’s interesting is we noticed it was a bit different to other ones we had looked at. They actually vary quite a bit, depending on which one you are looking at. There are subtle changes in seat colour, positioning, window structure – some are short and long, wheel arches change, and yet they still have the same overall look. It’s when you look at the details you realise it’s not quite the same.
MGW: We looked at many, many different ones and just tried to hit the middle ground.
JB: Really, it’s as long as we can find a reference out there that does work. If you asked a designer to be that specific to it, it’s going to vary based on their experience. As long as each person shares the opinion that it’s the London bus, then I think we’ve accomplished it.
Do you think we might ever see an iconic London black cab to go alongside this set?
JB: I’m the last person on earth that would ever say if we will or won’t do something, because my experience in the company has been that there’s always a new opportunity that changes the constraints or desire for certain things. If tomorrow everybody is asking for laser-beam panda bears on skis, maybe that changes everything where all of a sudden we start thinking about doing that. I’ve just grown to appreciate that every year it’s a new slate when we can start over. We do have some ideas on certain things, but within that there are still choices where some are more appealing than others.
MGW: Sometimes we can build a concept and shelve it, then it becomes more relevant to bring it back at certain points in the future. It’s often the iconic-ness and stories that help us decide what to do.