Ladies and gentlemen, since the beginning of July, we’ve been having interviews with AFOLs of different kinds. Today, we take a break from our regular interviews, and start something different: Meet the team of the FireStar Toys blog. As you may have noticed, there is a great variety within our team, and we are all more than happy to tell you more about ourselves.
We start with Pinar, the editor of both the FireStar Toys and the Minifigures blogs, and the Lead Brand Influencer of the company. You may know her as pinar.of.brickland on Instagram, as well. Conducting the interview is Josh, one of our more recent bloggers.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, my name’s Pinar, and I’m an addict… ahem, I meant AFOL, sorry. I studied architecture in college, had to leave my animation education because life happened, worked in a number of jobs that were completely unrelated to each other (think 3D animator and sales manager), all the while collecting LEGO sets and figures. Finally, they caught up and took over my work life, too. You know what they say, choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Thanks to my addiction, that’s exactly what I’m doing now.
On a more personal note, I’m 38, live in Antalya, Turkey with my dad, son, boyfriend, and my two cats. How I find time to get anything done is beyond me.
How did your journey with LEGO begin?
I have vague memories of a DUPLO farm set, very much like this one here. I’ve had 4 DUPLO figures, I don’t remember if there were more, and a few farm animals. I remember making them sigfigs of me, my mom, my aunt and my cousin, even before I knew what sigfigs were, and playing with them for hours. Once I was old enough, my parents got me System sets, those with many minifigures. I’ve had pirates, knights, spacemen, and city folk. I remember being very excited when the Paradisa theme arrived, for I now had “girls”. I’ve created family ties, stories, and played with them whenever I could.
The stories faded as I got older, although I still remember the family tree from my childhood. I kept getting sets when they were available. The parts quickly joined the spare parts box after building the set, while the minifigures went on display. As of today, I have over 950 minifigures, along with some custom printed or custom-made ones.
Fun fact: I discovered a few years ago that the DUPLO set I had as a child wasn’t a real LEGO set. Didn’t change a thing, though, the figures still hold a special place in my heart.
What do the people around you (friends/family/spouse/children) think about your obsession?
My father loves it now, though he didn’t use to. Once he realized that it’s a hobby rather than just getting sets, minifigures or books randomly, he has become really supportive. These days, I tell him about a set or a wave of sets and he’s like “You’re getting it, right?”.
My boyfriend… well, let’s say he bears with it. I’m pretty sure he sees it as a waste of money, but he doesn’t say much out of his respect for me.
My son loves my collection of figures, but unfortunately, he’s not as much into LEGO as I am.
My friends… well, only a handful of them really know how passionate I am about LEGO, and even they don’t know the depths of it entirely. I’ve always kept it a secret from the people around me after getting mocked a few times when I was young(er).
The good thing is, LEGO is contagious, and those closest to me tend to get sucked in after a while, as you can see in the picture.
What is your favourite theme?
You know, I don’t have a favorite theme. If you asked me this when I was a kid, I’d probably say Pirates or Castle, but as a grown up, I just get the figures or sets that I like. I do wish my collection had a main theme, though, it would’ve made my life much easier – and cheaper, too!
Who has been an inspiration to you?
Man, this is a hard question! Let’s see… the first name I can think about is Shelly Corbett. I think she was the first to inspire me to write about LEGO. She even published a few of my articles on her blog. Her photographs were inspirational, too. Apart from her, there are so many great photographers on Instagram to mention. As for blogs, the Brothers Brick and New Elementary are probably my biggest sources of inspiration.
How did you start blogging about LEGO?
One day I got an email – it was a regular email from FireStar Toys saying “These are our newest products” that went to all the subscribers. At the very end, it said “We’re going to start a blog. Would you like to write for us?” The minute I saw it, I was like “YES PLEASE!!”. A few emails later, I was a blogger 🙂
What has been your biggest challenge during this time (besides correcting all my spelling mistakes)?
Hahaha, believe me Josh, you’re not my biggest challenge, and neither is editing. I’d say it’s time and inspiration. When I have something to write about, I can’t find the time to write it. When I finally have the time to write something, my muse decides to take a nap. The challenge is to get both flowing at the same time.
What would you say to those who wants to write their own LEGO blog?
I’d say write. About anything. Like everything else, it gets better as you practice. Read what others write, but not before you write something of your own. If you start reading before that, you’ll most probably find out that what you want to say has already been said by someone else. It’s important to find your own voice, express your own opinions. It may not be perfect at first, nothing rarely is, but it will become easier as you write.
You’ve written over 40 blog posts for FireStar Toys. Hard question, but is there one your particularly proud of?
Actually, there are two. The first one is the LEGO Glossary. I’ve spent countless of hours on that, and I’ve learned that I really know nothing about LEGO. I’ve read every glossary I could find online, and tried to make mine include everything that an NLP (a non-LEGO person) would ask about. Come to think of it, there may be some entries even a regular AFOL would ask about.
The second one is the Evolution of LEGO Animals. I’ve always been fond of animals, LEGO or otherwise, but in the last few years LEGO has really went crazy creating new animal moulds and managed to make me go crazy about them, too. Learning how it all started, which came first, which haven’t been touched for years and so on was really enjoyable to write about.
Do you have any exciting blogs in the pipeline that readers can keep an eye out for?
Always! Our team of bloggers have so many surprises – even for me!
How long have you been collecting LEGO? What made you start?
I’ve been collecting LEGO ever since I could remember – and probably even before that, since I still have some of my DUPLO figures. Unlike some, I never had a dark ages period. I’ve always got a few small sets whenever I could. However, ever since my discovery of Bricklink in 2013, my collection has been tripled. Not sure if that’s a good thing, though 🙂
What do you collect? Sets? Minifigures? Rare parts?
I mainly collect minifigures and animals. I don’t have space to display the sets, but even if I did, I’d probably still stick to minifigures. They remind me of my childhood, and bring back my fondest memories.
I’m very picky about the minifigures I get. I usually try to pick the “happy” ones. I figure there’s enough in life that makes you sad or angry, no need for minifigures to remind that. Most of my minifigures live in my perfectly happy, impossible world – like the one from the LEGO Movie 2 where everyone is singing and dancing all the time.
Are you a purist? Or do you collect custom figures as well?
I used to be, and in a way, I still am. In a weird way, I feel uneasy when I swap the pieces of my existing minifigures, so I usually put them in their rightful place after their job is done. However, I do have some custom printed minifigures and some purist customs I have made. I even have some fake figures, though I don’t display them along with the originals. The only exception to this is my fake Batman figures.
What has been your biggest challenge in acquiring something you want?
Money! And availability, too. There are a lot of sets that don’t make it to Turkey, and when they do, the price is almost doubled thanks to the customs and exchange rates. I think I was born in the wrong part of the world!!
You often create awesome minifigure images to promote blog articles on Instagram. Do you enjoy toy photography?
Very much so, although I wish I had more time to take photographs these days. I’ve started toy photography in 2015, and even wrote two very amateur books on it a few years later. Looking at the pictures I’ve taken, I can see that I was able to spend more time on photography back then – probably why they are better than the ones I take today.
What kind of gear do you use?
I usually use my iPhone X, since it’s always with me. Come to think of it, I’ve almost always used Apple products for my photography. I started with an iPod Touch 4, continued with an iPhone 7+, and now this. There’s a Fujifilm FinePix HS10 camera somewhere in the house that I experiment with from time to time, but none that I’ve shared so far.
Would you say you’re more of an indoor or outdoor kinda person when it comes to photography?
Mostly indoors. I do love the lighting conditions outdoors, the crisp look of minifigures, and the challenge of getting an appropriate background for the pictures, but the summers are always too hot and the winters are always too cold. In other words, I’m too lazy to go outdoors 🙂
What kind of preparations do you make before taking a picture?
Once I get an idea, I look for the appropriate figures/parts I need to use. Then I arrange them as needed, and take pictures until I get something I like. Sometimes it takes 2 shots, sometimes 20. I have a square box I use, and some colored papers for the background. From all this, I think you can conclude that the shortest answer to the question is “I don’t make a lot of preparations” 🙂
How much do you edit afterwards? Do you have a favorite software or app?
Usually not much. I use Snapseed to adjust the warmth and the brightness of the images if needed, Photoshop Fix to remove unwanted dust, cat hair (!), or the occasional wire, and Photoshop Mix to add my watermark. If I want to add an effect or filter of some kind, I look through what’s available in Pixlr, Photofox, PicsArt or Brushstroke until I find something I like. I did recently install Nception, too, and looking forward to experiment with it, if I ever get the time!
What is your biggest challenge when photographing?
Same with blogging: Time and inspiration. Though with photography, inspiration is more of a challenge lately. I can’t think of anything to photograph, if you can believe it.
And that’s it for our first Meet the Team interview. Thank you, Pinar, for taking the time to answer my questions. As for the rest of you, don’t forget to check out Pinar’s Instagram page where she shares the most recent blog posts and, occasionally, her toy photography.
Editor’s note: Since this is a good chance for me to shamelessly advertise myself, here’s a stop-motion I’ve prepared around the time the first LEGO Movie came out. I’m particularly proud of this one, and still shocked how I had the patience to go through with it, even though it’s short!