Interview With Peter Norman A Talented Lego Train Head: Episode 22

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Interview With Peter Norman A Talented Lego Train Head: Episode 22


This week we interview Peter Norman, he builds exclusively Lego trains. We also cover all the latest news about CUUSOO, new sets and Brick Magic this weekend.

This weeks Lego guest is Peter Norman.  You can find his works on Flickr.

Lego News

1. Modular Western Town gets 10,000 votes
The Modular Western Town finally got 10,000 votes on CUUSOO!

2. Sungnyemun announcement tallest Lego tower built in South Korea
Lego has now released the official price and release date for the Sungnyemun Architecture set. Lego also broke the record for the tallest Lego tower ever built.

4. BrickMagic this weekend in Raleigh, NC
Make sure to listen next week for Matthews coverage of BrickMagic.

5. Citizen Brick
Check out some of the awesome custom heads and minifigs at Citizen Brick.

Interview With Peter Norman

When did you start building?

  • Fist set around age 4.

Did you have a dark age and, if so, when?

  • About age 14 – 25, c.1990 – 200

What got you back into building?

  • I was bored, surfing online and searched “Lego train”. That’s when I found Ben Beneke’s trains and that was my Eureka moment. I said that’s what I want to do. While in college, stuck in the mountains of Colorado, I modelled wooden RC sailing boats and upon moving to LA and living on a boat I start modelling Lego trains. Go figure. I think in that same surfing session I found Brickshelf and the progression started. I’ve been a member of Bricklink since 2003.

When did you first join a LUG?

  • I tried to join the Southern California Lego Train Club in 2006. They said I wasn’t good enough or not dedicated enough or something. I tried again in 2007 and they let me join. Now I’m the only club member that builds trains. It’s been a really great experience because I like to run long trains and they build great big layouts for me to populate.

You and LEGO Lately

Any recent mocs to note? Josh and Matthews favorite MOC you have built.

  • Vale BB40-9, CSX ES44AC, UP SD7

You’re based in Southern California, correct? How do you think your locale compares to America at large in terms of rail activity? What’s your favorite area in the world in terms of trains – somewhere in the US or elsewhere? Do you do any railfanning in your free time when you’re not building?

  • So Cal is OK for railfanning. There’s a whole lot of UP and BNSF out here, but there’s also some smaller operators that you can find if you look. The Port of Long Beach is the 3rd largest intermodal terminal in the world so there’s always a lot going on down there (about 30 min away). I do a lot of trainspotting as often as I can. When I go on a trip I’ll check out Google Earth and find some promising spots to visit if I have time (and my wife will let me!) I travel to Germany every few years and I love spotting there because it’s all so different from the US. My parents still live in Alabama so when I visit them I have to go check out all the Eastern roads there. As for a favorite place I’d have to say always the next place, because you never know what you’re going to see. That said, Tehachapi Loop and Cajon pass are pretty sweet because of the traffic frequency and the mountainous locale. Deep down I still prefer lush tree-filled settings over desert railroading, but the line of sight is way better in the desert!

If I can recall correctly I remember you mentioning on your flickr stream at one point that you lived on (still do?) a boat. How did that affect LEGO building? Cramped quarters? Pieces always on the floor?

  • Yes, got started on a boat. 35’ S&S yawl. I remember getting the Super Chief super set early on and thinking ‘where am I going to put this?’ (It ended up at my parents house and it’s still there. Thanks Mom and Dad!)  It forced me to be very organized and to really hate BURPs and pieces I just knew I wasn’t going to use. Boats have a surprising amount of space. Alas I’ve been off the boat for 3 ½ years now, but now I have a big garage and a sweet building area.  I have some very funny pictures of the boat interior just before or after an SCLTC show when all my trains would be out getting ready for packing/unpacking. I think they may be on Brickshelf.

Planning any projects for the future? Do you want to start building things besides trains?

  • 1942 Milwaukee Road Afternoon Hiawatha; c.1950 GM&O Gulf Coast Rebel; late 40s California Zephyr

Conventions/shows we can find you at?

  • I’m a member of the Southern Cali. Lego Train Club and we have shows around So. Cal. throughout the year. From mid-November thru mid-January we have shows at both the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA and the San Diego Model Train Museum in San Diego.


Why build trains more than any other theme? What draws you to the genre?

  • You mean ONLY trains! As an adult I have yet to build something that doesn’t roll on track. I had a very picturesque view of a wooden trestle over the swamp out my bedroom window growing up so trains were a part of every day. It was the mainline for the Louisville & Nashville railroad (now CSX) so it was busy too. Occasionally they would ship rocket parts for the Space Shuttle from Huntsville right through my back yard so you never knew what you might see. I’d get up at night and go to the window and stare into the darkness as a train would go by and try to make out what it could be. Because of the lack of Lego trains in the US at the time, my Lego activities were strictly Classic Space. The official sets never stayed together long and I’d make my own spaceships and star bases. Once I discovered that there was another Lego world over in Europe that included lots of trains I was pretty pissed. I managed to get a couple of Lego train sets before my dark ages took over, but it was a pretty sad oval with Space colored railcars.

Tips for people who are trying to transition from just building LEGO sets out of the box into creating original works of their own?

  • Building from sets is important to start with because you need to learn the different pieces and how they can be used. Alternately, you can build with a Lego CAD program and play with pieces that you may not own or may not have even known existed. It’s important to know what pieces are available. Also, don’t discount the simple act of just sitting down with a bunch of odd pieces and trying them in different ways with no specific goal in mind.

Favorite Lego set ever produced? Dream LEGO set?

  • It might sound trite, but I don’t think it’s good to have favotites. 10 years ago I might have had an answer to the favorite question, but now my love is for the bricks themselves because they can make any set past present or future. ie the parts are greater than their sum.

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