Sophie, 38, who refers to himself as an "AFOL" or Adult Fan of Lego, has been constructing animals and robots for 20 years. He finds he is in a unique yet satisfying place in his life because of his Lego work and his job as a private teacher of robotics in the New Jersey/New York area.
"When you are a pioneer, it is not easy to find a peer to share notes with," he said. "The students and people I work with honestly want to know more. That is a goldmine for me, not only in the monetary sense, but in the reward in simply doing so for the sake of sharing knowledge."Becoming a Legomaster
How does one become a Legomaster?
It starts with a Lego set, of course, which is what Eric Sophie received as a gift when he was 8 years old. It was a Classic Space set, which allowed young boys and girls to construct spacecrafts and related structures.
Sophie simply would not "lego" of his favorite toy as he moved around the United States as a child. He was one of two sons of a father who worked for Pan Am Airlines. These days, his mother still helps him move his Lego art from event to event.
"She's always telling me: 'My car is not a truck!' when I need a second vehicle to lug around tons of boxes filled with show-bots," Sophie said. "So, in some sense, my family gets it, but maybe not so much."
After a childhood developing his Lego skills and an interest in things electronic and mechanical, Sophie found success in his early twenties winning second place in a model-building contest at the Newport Centre Mall.
But a few years passed before he came to the attention of Lego itself. In 1999, he was one of four artists featured in a news article on their web site about artists using Lego. In his case, it was a 6-foot-long Praying Mantis that took him three years to build.
"They loved it," Sophie said. "They published it on their site, and we have been friends ever since." One block at a time
Sophie said there is a relationship between the building blocks of plastic and the building blocks of life.
"For such an inorganic thing, a plastic brick, combined infinitely in geometric ways, to be able to mimic organic designs is amazing to me," he said.
Currently, he is working on a robot called the Grelnix, which will be 3 feet or higher whenever he finishes. He also wants to update his Robo Quad, a 6-foot-long robotic panther, and rebuild the Jamocklaquat, a 4-foot tall fully robotic biped that is a favorite among Lego fans. He also wants to create a more utility-oriented robot he will use as a teaching tool.
Sophie was asked which Lego product he would be, if he could be one.
"I would be clear 2x4 brick, so you could always see what was in my heart," he said. "No, I would be one of those clear smoke colored wind-screen canopies that came in the Bat Man sets, because I think that Lego part is sexy!"
His works can also be seen at: www.biomechanical bricks, www.Brickshelf.com/ Gallery user: Legomaster or at www.MySpace.com/legomaster. Sophie can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments on this story can be sent to email@example.com