Interview: Nick Dean

Skilled builder Nick Dean was gracious enough to do an interview for YSA, so I've been asking him a few questions over the past few days. Here's what he had to say:


>To start off, could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name's Nick Dean, I'm 16 and a student from Massachusetts. I'm a rower and a *fairly* good student. I started building at that generic age where everyone says they began building and I believe my first set was the Deep Reef Refuge Divers set. I entered the online scene in late 2005 on CSF and now have migrated to Flickr, where I'm most active. I build mostly military at this point, but in the past I built a lot of Space. I'm also the originator of the highly controversial RAMM theme.

>Can you talk a bit about RAMM- when you came up with it, where/when it takes place, what it means, etc.?

RAMM started about 2 years ago when Andrew Horvatits built a Neo-Prussian vehicle. I liked the idea of the reestablishment of early twentieth-century military powers, so I created RAMM, the Royal Austrian Mechanized Military. RAMM is sometime in the future, but not too far from now. The idea is that sometime in the future the world has fallen into economic collapse. Somehow, (don't ask me how) Austria survives. When the country's next-door neighbor, Hungary, is thrown into a coup, Austria intervenes. Obxcrew has created a substory where Austrian troops are fighting Russians in Central Asia.

The major thing that separates RAMM from most themes is that I attempt to control who builds it. Elitist, I know, but I do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, I do this to maintain the quality of the theme. With many themes, although there are plenty of fantastic MOCs, there are tons of MOCs that aren't so great, and it's these that I try to weed out. I also control the theme to keep the story from becoming diluted. Lastly, I try to control the theme because I want to maintain the style. Although Andrew Lee made a great MOC last time I said this, I don't want laser toting hovertanks. It just wouldn't fit the theme.

RAMM recently has been expanding exponentially with new builders creating great MOCs (and some not so great) lately. I just finished the largest RAMM vehicle to date, my Vulture Heavy Lift Dropship, and I'm trying to build a few smaller things at the moment.

>I think you're completely right to control your theme. Are there any subthemes (current or old) that you've always been interested by? If so, why?

When I entered the online scene, the MOCs from Chris Giddens, Mark Sandlin, and others seemed god-like. Recently, though, I haven't found much inspiration in them. Magnus's subtheme is a definite inspiration for me, however. He's got tons of great, modern military vehicles that always cause me to think outside the box in new ways. Plus he's an awesome guy, so you can't get much better than that.

>What do you think of the idea of builder's inventing their own theme/army/faction to build in?

I think it's a great idea. Subthemes are a great way for people express themselves. It allows people to prove their talent in their own way. However people need to talk less and build more if they want to be taken seriously, as well as build well. When people build in others' subthemes it gives them a skill challenge, and when they build in their own, it allows them to be more creative. RAMM is my way to express myself in both these ways. It's a challenge to maintain the style and it's fun to be creative with new vehicle designs.

>What does the future hold for RAMM?

The future of RAMM's up in the air at the moment. I'm getting pressure to open it up and I'm also wicked tired of dealing with the drama. A few people I have consulted have said that I shouldn't, though, so I don't know what to do at the moment. I've been contemplating a contest to mark the opening of the theme, but I again don't know.

 MOCwise I plan on expanding into the other military services more. I have a few naval ship designs I want to try, and I have a few more ideas for aerial vehicles. I'm a little burned out on land vehicles, although I have plenty of things I want to build. I also have been trying to build some enemy vehicles lately. Specifically, I've been trying to build Soviet-styled vehicles for the Hungarian Liberation Front, the main enemy in Hungary. Anyone's welcome to build the HLF.

>Any final thoughts?

Subthemes are a way for people to define themselves. Before building RAMM, I was just another space builder and didn't stand out. But with RAMM, as I noticed at Brickworld, I've been defined in the community. So I encourage anyone to define themselves and to have fun while doing it. I'd love to see more people pick up building Military as well. It's slowly becoming a larger part of the flickr community and the LEGO community in general, and we need every builder we can get. It's a fun theme whether you're modeling or inventing vehicles.

I'd also like to thank Jacob for interviewing me and the LEGO community as a whole for all it's helped me to achieve in the past 3 years.


And thank you for agreeing to do this, Nick. I've definitely learned a lot, and I hope our readers will too.


Mike said...

Well done Jacob, I was just thinking about finding another interview last night. Now I can wait a while.

Andrew B. said...

Great interview.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Maybe link to us so we can get more than 150 hits today? :D

Nannan Z said...

That's what I did before reading the comments. We ought to feature more intervews on TBB anyways.

Anonymous said...


Mike said...

Sadly, 150 is guessing high. We're averaging 100 views per day. Still. I guess we do what we can right?

Anonymous said...

We've been averaging 100-150 views/day. Am I to be punished for choosing an optimistic number? ;)

Mike said...

No no, I'm saying we had 80 hits the other day, and 97 the day before that. It literally IS averaging at 100.
Never the less, we press on!

Occasional driving force of the blog, self-proclaimed Lukas fanboy, and aspiring engineer, Jacob spends too much time building LEGO, not enough time practicing piano, and not nearly enough time doing school. He also enjoys long sentences. In the instance of blogging, he believes in quantity over quality, wherever quantity can be maintained.
One of the cofounders of YSAB, and the founder of YSA, Observing Mike actually being productive is a rare occasion. Mike enjoys making outlandish claims in relation to actually building, pretending he's actually sorting his collection, and making excuses for why he hasn't photographed his MOCs. In his free time he enjoys learning CSS from Spook, photography and poking badgers with spoons.
Occasional builder, occasional blogger, and full-time procrastinator. That's really the only way to describe Dean. He rarely gets anything done, but is a very active lurker. He's probably seen and liked your MOC, but just forgot he had a blog.
Erik is still a teenager.
Lukas is tall, blond, mildly OCD, and doesn't build nearly enough as he would like to, thanks to school. He has a webpage.
Spook (Tim)
The resident codemonkey and graphics person. If something isn't working correctly, it's probably his fault. Fitting to his name, he doesn't post often, but someone has to do this stuff too, right? Spook does build with laygoes, and has his own blog as well.