LEGO Fantastic Beasts: Exclusive designer interview

With Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald just weeks away from release, Brick Fanatics heads to Billund to find out how the LEGO sets based on the new movies came to be

While the LEGO Group has covered the entire Wizarding World of Harry Potter n the new wave of sets this year, there is no escaping the lack of attention paid to the new movies. Only one set, 75951 Grindelwald’s Escape, is based on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Thankfully, 75952 Newt’s Case of Magical Creatures, based on the first film in the series, is a stand-out LEGO set and represents many scenes from the movie in just one model.

LEGO Senior Model Designer Mark Stafford spent some time discussing the LEGO Fantastic Beasts sets with Brick Fanatics.

What made you weight the theme more towards Harry Potter than Fantastic Beasts?

Harry Potter is more kid friendly, Fantastic Beasts is aimed at a slightly higher age range as far as we can tell. It also came down to what reference was available, we had stuff from the first movie, but we didn’t know what was coming up and they are very secretive.

During Jurassic World, we asked a question about Chris Pratt’s vehicle, and they went onto the set and took like 40 pictures and sent them through to us, they seemed to be on board although we didn’t know what the entire plot was. With Harry Potter, because their fans are so fanatical, so prone to talking and love the universe so much, they are very secretive and they don’t like to share too much in case it leaks.

For example, with the next movie we knew there was going to be Grindlewald’s escape. They told us that Grindlewald escapes in a carriage being pulled by flying things. Okay, what does the character look like? “Oh we can’t tell you”. Any chance of some concept art or anything? They said, “oh no, we can’t risk that at this point.” So Raphaël, who was doing the set, went away and built a beautiful carriage and we put the Thestrals with the wings on the front. Then we waited, and waited, and we kept reminding them that we needed something eventually. With like a week to go we got through some images and luckily it was close enough to what we assumed, the classic stage coach type thing, that it was possible to make some changes. Raphaël’s an amazing builder.

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How did 75952 Newt’s Case of Magical Creatures come about?

I did the very first sketch model, I thought it would be fun to do a suitcase that opened up into a bunch of rooms. Megan Rothrock used to build boxes that closed up and opened into rooms with spaceships in them, I always liked that idea and I thought it might be possible to make the suitcase work like that. I built a version, which honestly looking back on it is pretty rubbish, and Sam Johnson was the designer on that set. He took the concept of making the suitcase at a size where it could open up into a play set and he ran with it.

Then the brick built creatures are slightly related to the Basilisk, but again Sam’s done a fantastic job. They are brick built creatures, that was the way we decided to go with Harry Potter this time, using new head elements but largely sticking to building to make it more fun.

I think we got the best beasts in there, especially the Niffler, an awesome little sculpt. It’s so cute, I just love that, I can’t wait to build a spaceship for it that’s full of treasure.

The head piece is very versatile and it has a jaw in the final version, so depending on what you print on what you print, this goes to lots and lots of future stuff. Much like the Elves dragons where you get the head and then you see what some of the girls do, the bodies behind, you can make this deformed, post-apocalyptic dragon, the creativity is amazing and if we can get that coming out of Harry Potter as well that would be fantastic.

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There seems to be a lot of excitement for Harry Potter sets, perhaps even more so than the Fantastic Beasts ones.

That’s the thing, Harry Potter now is coming up like Star Wars – twenty years ago the kids who grew up with Harry Potter are now starting to have kids and they are introducing their kids to it in the same way. Harry Potter has that possibility of becoming this massive cultural phenomenon in the same way, especially if the Fantastic Beasts movies continue to be pretty entertaining. Harry Potter is definitely the kid friendly side of it – it’s the pod racing.

LEGO Harry Potter sets are available now at Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be released in cinemas on November 16.

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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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