Playing with Legos: VCU senior leads adult community of model builders

VCU senior David Hall’s model of the planet Crait from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” took 13 months and 100,000 pieces to build. Photo courtesy of David Hall

Andrew Ringle, Spectrum Editor

Legos aren’t just a hobby — at least not for VCU senior David Hall, who has a Lego Star Wars YouTube channel with more than 260,000 subscribers.

After spending 13 months building a 100,000-piece replica of a battle scene from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” his work was praised by director Rian Johnson on Twitter. But he says he does it all for his audience, a community of “adult fans of Lego,” or AFOLs.

Hall’s YouTube channel, Solid Brix Studios, publishes regular video updates on his building progress. He documents each of his projects — called “My Own Creations,” or MOCs, in the building community — from start to finish, so his fans can watch the entire process. The finale of his latest building series received more than 200,000 views in the last two months.

“There’s tons of people online that make these huge diorama MOCs,” Hall said. “But the difference is that nobody has ever really shown how they make it from beginning to end.”

Some of Hall’s hardcore fans share memes on Instagram about his YouTube channel and his personal life. There’s one account that has even made jokes about Hall’s romantic relationships, using the “Distracted Boyfriend” format to reference two of his previous partners by their first names. Hall said the account could be offensive to some people, but he finds it “really funny.”

“It’s more for my hardcore fans who like to just joke around,” Hall said. “I think the average person might get offended by some of the stuff that’s on that account.”

When “The Star Wars Show” on YouTube asked viewers this year to submit their best builds for Lego “Star Wars’” 25th anniversary, Hall said he had to submit his model of the planet Crait from “The Last Jedi.” He tweeted at the official “Star Wars” account, which has almost 4 million followers.

“The ‘Star Wars’ Twitter account replied and they retweeted it,” Hall said. “I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is going to blow up real quick.’”

And it did. Within a day, “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson replied with clapping emojis and a tweet that read, “The more I zoom the more my jaw drops.”

Hall said this meant a lot to him after spending more than a year on the build.

“The only reason why I built [the Crait model] in the first place was for my fans and for myself,” Hall said. “I wasn’t expecting the director of ‘Star Wars’ to see it, or the people over at Lucasfilm and the whole ‘Star Wars’ crew to see it as well.”

Hall started his YouTube channel in high school, and it eventually led him to study film at VCU. But with his degree almost finished and his online presence growing, Hall is starting to focus on his brand.

Hall makes money through his channel, his webstore and other mediums. But he said he enjoys everything he does.

“The reason why I’m doing it is not because of the money, but because I personally love it and I personally enjoy entertaining people,” Hall said. “Seeing that immediate reaction from fans is the best part of YouTube.”

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