Meet Jet Kwan, one of my favorite microscale builders. His works often consist of nanoscale landmarks from Hong Kong, to Vancouver to Paris and more. This is ArchBrick’s first “conversation” style interview so please take time to read the article. You can also check out more of Jet’s work here.
Jet, thanks for taking part in the ArchBrick interview. Could you tell me how you started building with LEGO?
“Thank you ArchBrick for having me in this interview section. I guess I am the same as the other LEGO builders in the world, I started building LEGO when I was a child. As I remember, my dad bought me a LEGO police boat as a present for my sixth birthday. He taught me how to read the instructions and combine the pieces together. Later I found that I could build something else by using those pieces. Then I demolished it and built something like a small house and vehicle. It was really fun to me. After my first LEGO police boat, I started receiving other LEGO presents during Christmas and birthdays. Back then, there were LEGO exhibitions in Hong Kong every year. My parents would bring me and my sister to see the exhibition. I had the chance to see the amazing creations by LEGO experts. It was an eye-opening experience. That’s how I started my story with LEGO. I did give up LEGO when I was a teenager. At that time, I thought LEGO was only for kids, so I gave all my old LEGO to my cousin. Of course that was a silly idea! After I finished my education and started working, I found that LEGO diversified their products and became more attractive. So I started buying LEGO again.”
So you too experienced a dark age (time away from Lego), which is common among builders. After your return to Lego what led you to become interested in microscale?
“When I first returned to LEGO, I only bought vehicles from the City series. After I got a few police cars, a fire truck and an airplane, I found that it was too easy to build. So I changed my passion to the modular buildings. But as all the LEGO fans know, the modular building series is quite large in size. I couldn’t find an area at home to display the buildings so I started thinking to build something smaller. In 2011, I visited the Legoland in Günzburg and I got my first LEGO Brandenburg Gate there. It was my first Architecture model. I love the size of the model and I think it can be a perfect home decor too. So I started to collect other products from the Architecture series. Although I didn’t study Architecture in college, I am always interested in different kind of landmarks and buildings around the world. The LEGO Architecture series only has a few official releases every year which is really a long wait for the fans. So, I started to build my first LEGO MOC two years ago. It was a mini Neuschwanstein castle. I built it because I visited the castle before. When I looked at my inventory, I thought I had the useful bricks to build a mini castle so “why don’t I build my own castle?” I am so lucky that I am living in an area which has its own LEGO store.I can always go there and buy some useful bricks from the “Pick a Brick” wall. Microscale LEGO landmarks require more imagination when you build them, and the detail may not be as accurate as the bigger model. “How to use fewer bricks to build a landmark?” That’s something I always think about. This is the real challenge to build microscale landmark. I like this kind of challenge so I keep building microscale MOCs.”
I’m glad you mentioned that microscale LEGO landmarks require more imagination, which I think a lot of people, including LEGO builders, don’t understand. How do you choose which landmarks to build?
“As I mentioned before, when the landmark is microscale it can’t really show every detail of the construction, like the sculptures of a wall or the style of the windows. So I think I need to decide how to make the microscale model look like the original landmark. First, the color of the bricks is very important. The color of the model should be the same or similar to the real landmark. For example, when I wanted to build the Statue of Liberty, I needed to check if I have enough sand green bricks first. It’s because the color of the Statue of Liberty is sand green. I can’t build a yellow or a blue one.
As every model is small, I can’t show every detail in the model. So I have to determine what should be included. Apart from color, the shape of the bricks is also an important factor. One example is the Bank of China Tower from my latest Hong Kong Skyline model. The real Tower contains a lot of triangles and sharp edges. It’s nearly impossible to present it as a microscale model so I chose only the outline and the color of the tower as the most important elements to build. I used a few blue 1×1 slopes as the edges and a few blue 2×2 bricks as the base. It may not look exactly the same as the real tower but when people use their imagination, they still know what it is.
There are plenty incredible architectures in the world. I would like to build those landmarks that I have visited before so when I look at it I can recall all the good memories.”
It’s really great that you are inspired from your travels. I know I often have the urge to build after visiting architecture in new places. You often display your work on social media, but have or do you participate in any LEGO groups or events?
“I did join a few LEGO groups in Facebook and share my LEGO MOCs there. Those Facebook groups provide a platform for LEGO builders to share their creations. Everyone is using smartphone nowadays. It is quite easy and convenient to share your creations with other people. I visited the Vancouver Brickcan 2017 in April. It was quite impressive as I saw so many masterpieces there. It brought me a lot of great ideas and I learned a few new building techniques. It was an amazing event for the LEGO fans to share their MOCs and exchange building experience. I am thinking of joining and displaying next year.”
It’s good that you post to social media; your landmarks definitely deserved to be seen! In closing, what would you say to any builders how have trouble getting started building micro landmarks. Do you have any other final thoughts?
“I would say building microscale models is more difficult than building a large model. When building a large model, you only need sufficient bricks. On the other hand, building microscale model, you need to know the technique of combining small bricks together. The more models you built, the more experience you could have. When you start building a model, it may not look the same as what you expect but don’t give up! After a few modifications, it will be better. I always modify my MOCs when I get some new bricks.
The Vancouver Lookout Tower is an example of my creation process. I made the left one first. It’s all white because the elements I had for this model were white. After I got more bricks, I modified the model and made it look more similar as the real Tower. The one on the right is the final model.
Thank you ArchBrick once again for having me for the interview.”
Please check out Jet’s Instagram for more great models!