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K’NEX: What is your first memory of playing with K’NEX?
Sam: I got my first set of K’NEX on my 6th birthday. It was the blue box set with 20 models (I think). Of all the presents I got, which weren’t many, K’NEX instantaneously became the thing to have, in my eyes. The first model I remember building was the seaplane, in the overall scheme of things I had built every model from the book. As I got to the more complicated designs, I enjoyed it even more. My most notable model was the cement mixer, as the truck moved the cement drum rotated, a lot of people were impressed with this (particularly in school). A month later Christmas came and low and behold I got two sets of K’NEX - a remote control car and the 3ft Musical Ferris Wheel, and thus my story begins!
K’NEX: What's your favorite thing you've ever built with K'NEX?
Sam: Over the 14 Years of building/using K’NEX, I had built an array of models but from an early stage, had decided to focus my attention on the Fairground, so I got a collection of models. Where I come from (Hull, Yorkshire) we have an annual funfair which is the largest in Europe. This influenced my model making as I wanted to recreate a smaller version of the fair. I spent most of my available time with K’NEX. Make of that what you will, but some people play X-Box all day, I build K’NEX. My favorite thing I ever built from K’NEX was a more recent build and that was a portable 6ft Ferris Wheel (a replica of M&D's Giant Wheel, Scotland). This model received most attention as it was the ride everyone instantly recognized.
K’NEX: What skills did you learn/strengthen by building with K'NEX (problem solving, critical thinking, innovation)?
Sam: After using K’NEX for many years I gained a lot of skills, more so on the physics side of things. This also helped me with my school work. After a lot of practice I moved away from the instruction manuals and moved to building 24 large, portable fairground rides which recently gained national recognition. This so called innovation helped me build more complex rides such as the Star Flyer which is a swing ride that rotates around a tower as it is lifted.
K’NEX: How have these skills translated into your life outside of building with K'NEX?
Sam: My other side of life has always been linked to my work with K’NEX. My popularity both benefits and restricts me but benefits me none the less positively. I still say if I wouldn't have had K’NEX to occupy me, I would undoubtedly be sucked into the world of X-Box/PlayStation Warcraft which basically would have meant me wasting a vast amount of time (I look at the behavior of my two younger brothers, both of which are obsessed with gaming).
K’NEX: What other interests do you have, besides building large models with K'NEX?
Sam: Outside K’NEX I am very fond of playing piano which I have done alongside K’NEX for the majority of teen life. I am an amateur surfer. Although this doesn’t take up too much time, I still go down the coast on a Sunday for practice and fun. As with everything I do I don't practice my 'art', I master it "Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets. For it and knowledge can raise men to the divine" - Ludwig van Beethoven. I do a lot of Photoshop work and as a Television and Film student I enjoy film making which brought me my 'K’NEX fame' and not forgetting photography.
K’NEX: What is your biggest success this far in building with K'NEX? In your life?
Sam: My biggest success was in 2012 when Tomy (UK) and SOPR found me online via YouTube and Facebook. I was given the task to build a giant sling shot for the K’NEX Angry Birds UK release. However good it was I still think it could have been better, but due to my studies I couldn't devote my time wholly on the project. But apparently it was still great. Other success my models (Big Ben Drop Tower and StarFlyer) have won best model in the Hull model show which takes place on the last Saturday of Hull Fair in October.
K’NEX: Do you have other huge builds planned for the near future? What are they?
Sam: As of New Years Day 2014 I had ceased creating model rides which was both saddening and opportunistic for me. However I have dedicated this year in what I’m calling, 'The Big Rebuild'. I have kept the 13ft StarFlyer ride as that is the original giant, moving away from smaller rides. This year, I will be building giant builds. I have current plans to build a 14ft tall Ferris Wheel (Named: The Endeavour). This will be my flagship model as it will be at each New Year House celebration and will also be on tour with the UK. I also plan to use it for charitable events such as Earth Day, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Earth Hour etc. This will include lighting the wheel with appropriate colors (e.g. Earth Day - the wheel will be lit Green). I also plan to do live broadcasts on YouTube for New Years Eve 2014/15 with a small fireworks display.
K’NEX: What inspires you?
Sam:: I've never been aware of the reasons as to why I do this. I suppose I would like to inspire others particularly younger people to do something else with their time. Don't become banished to your room, never to see the light of day. Open your eyes and think what can I do with my life, childhood is precious. I know that and I’m only 20. Once you leave secondary school and move onto college and then university, life is put into perspective. So I would like to think I can inspire others instead of aspiring to be someone else. That being said I have to thank my single mum who always encouraged my hobby and also too my grandparents. They all still support what I do, even when others see it as a 20 year old playing with a child’s toy. People can have their own opinion but I will never take insult to me or my work.
K’NEX: Do you have any advice for K'NEX builders?
Sam: :To all those that use K’NEX, don't every give up if you really enjoy it, even if its classed outside the norm, never cave in to peer pressure because you may regret it. Never throw any of it away!
K’NEX: Do you have any advice for parents of K'NEX builders?
Sam: Let your child aspire to what they want even if it’s not seen as what a normal child does, because it’s never done me harm. Support their decisions and creativity. I had a step-dad that was thoroughly opposed to my behavior, but I didn't let that stop me. He saw it as an act of defiance and I was told to get rid of my K’NEX. I never did, so I urge parents don't force your ways onto their ideas. They aren't children long; let them be children now. I know if I had kids I would rather see them using their time wisely than being constantly bedroom ridden hooked up to a console day in day out. Encourage Always. Thank you K’NEX for all a great childhood and the opportunities you've given me.