Interview with LEGO Designer

Posted by Joe Meno.

Designing General Grievous
By Joe Meno


Jens with his other big set, the Millennium Falcon
The designer of the General Grievous set is Jens Kronvold Fredericksen. To those who are Star Wars LEGO set collectors, he’s a familiar name — he’s created more than a few sets, most recently the Ultimate Collector’s Series Millennium Falcon. Since then, he became Design Manager to the LEGO Star Wars theme so he oversees the design of the new and upcoming sets.

Conversing with him on the phone, we discussed this set. The inspiration of the set, according to Jens, is a coincidence – some human character models were considered, but did not work well, as organic curves are very hard to do with LEGO elements. However, mechanical characters worked very well, and were done in previous sets. General Grievous is a combination of organic and mechanical, and with the available colors in the LEGO palette, it was very easy to decide on making a set. Besides, as Jens notes, “I was inspired by the scene in Revenge of the Sith where General Grievous duels Obi –Wan Kenobi. That was very cool.”

The inspiration can be seen in the pose of the model, as Grievous arms are set in an attack pose. The legs however, are in a parallel standing pose. Jens explains, “I wanted to do an attack pose with one foot in front of the other, but the waist twisted too much and made the model unstable.”

In fact, the biggest challenge was overall stability. “The set was designed to look like a LEGO system (brick) set, but it used Technic parts to create the frame,“ notes Jens.  As a result, the Technic elements are for the most part hidden, although some parts in the shoulders and legs are used to enhance the mechanical look of Grievous. System bricks and plates were used in the creation of Grievous’ head, and Jens recalls the challenges he had with it: “I worked a long time and did a lot of versions of the head. And it seems like…if you just move one single brick the feeling of the head changed dramatically and then suddenly, the head just looked right! I have to call it coincidence, I guess, as it was so hard just to imagine the head shape to build. I’m quite happy with the result. ”

There were some other parts used too. Jens used some Bionicle parts for Grievous’ internal organs, as well as an unconventional part for the heart. Jens comments, “ I looked through all the LEGO elements to find some organic parts, and I used the newer Bionicle tentacle elements and for the heart, I used a minifigure hood element.” The contrast in organic versus straight, mechanical parts is a very unique touch on this set.

Overall design and production of the set took around two or three months — with all the projects Jens is working on, it is hard to determine a real amount of time.  The idea for the set was sent to Lucasfilm for initial concept approval, then the design went through the usual approval steps and, if needed, changes from Lucasfilm.

So what’s coming next for the Star Wars LEGO theme? When asked, Jens only answers, “I can’t tell you – you’ll have to wait like everyone else!”

Sometimes it’s tough to be a LEGO fan.

You can read a review on the set here!

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