Inside the Customizer's Studio: Morgan19, Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our interview series with minifig customizer Morgan19. Today we will be debating the merits of 'green stuff' over 'sculpey'...what's that? You'd rather hear us talk about creative re-purposing of found objects and their applications in the area of minfig design?! Ookaaay, but we had some really good material on 'green stuff'...

You are very inclusive of the parts you use to customize minifigures (action figure parts, Mega Bloks accessories, etc.), and you often receive negative feedback for doing so. When did you start utilizing parts outside of LEGO in your designs? Why do you think reactions are so strong against their use?

"I don’t recall specifically, but the first non-LEGO parts I used were probably for something in the Halloween set. Although I love LEGO to death and it will always be my main building toy brand, sometimes a third-party part or a random piece not intended for building just fits the bill when LEGO’s parts palette can’t do so. Keeping my overall options open and not limiting my parts selection really helps my general creativity in that I often find myself thinking of alternative uses ('NPU!'), piece combinations, or final figures that just aren’t possible with standard LEGO.

That being said, I can honestly say I’ve never bought a full-price MegaBloks set. But finding one on sale for 90% off and challenging myself to use its pieces on a LEGO figure can be a fun creative exercise. I won’t limit working with a part just because of its name.

Sometimes the resentment towards using non-LEGO parts baffles me, but overall I think the general stigma towards them is just that: they’re non-LEGO parts and people are displaying brand loyalty to LEGO in the best way they know how. I don’t mind that opinion so long as someone isn’t rude enough to tell me I shouldn’t be using non-LEGO parts because they don’t like it. It’s my creativity – let me do what I want and they can do the same."

What is a trip to the toy store like with you? Do you often find yourself seeing everyday objects as potential fodder for minifig design?

"Absolutely, I’m constantly on the lookout for anything minifig-scale that can be worked into a figure: action figures in general have been a gold mine, but I’ve also found uses for a bizarre range of other items...Little bells from a craft store to random vending machine toy parts have all been sacrificed for a figure, though sometimes the best satisfaction can be found just using a regular LEGO part in a non-regular way, like the reflective ball from a LEGO pen .

Right now I’m brewing ideas for some figures using a Chapstick cap and those little garbage bag twisty ties..."

Based on my calculations, you likely spent a fair number of your formative years in the 80's and early 90's (in my opinion, the heyday of the action figure). If Doc Brown were to pull up in the Delorian right now and take you back, what action figure line would you most want to mine for parts from that period of time?

"Now that you mention it, I have ridiculously fond memories of the Battle Beasts toys. Their weapons in particular are sized perfectly for LEGO hands and could really add a nice bit of variety to a minifig’s arsenal. (Hmm, I know I’ve got a stash of them around here somewhere...) Beyond that, I’d probably go for the same type of stuff I look out for these days — GI Joe and Star Wars figures are usually good sources. Like the Battle Beasts’ weapons, those figures’ accessories are often proportioned perfectly for adaptation to LEGO."

Before we wrap this up, I want to extend a big thanks to Morgan for taking the time not only agree to participate in these shenanigans, but also to promote the site on Flickr all week. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to talk to great guys like Jas and Morgan, and hopefully you've enjoyed the series so far. I'd like to finish my session with Morgan by asking a question that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine...

What would be your dream LEGO project? What stands in your way from making this happen today?

"In all honesty, it’s the simple things... I’m looking forward to eventually having space for my entire brick collection, room to sort pieces, and a clear area to consistently work without having to pack it up each night."

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