03 November 2021

LEGO® Element Development: the Candelabra – Interview with Henrik Skallebæk

Eero Okkonen (@eerookkonen) resumes our series of Element Developer Q&As today as we speak to Henrik Skallebæk, Senior Mechanical Engineer at the LEGO Group, about the LEGO® Candelabra piece (73117). Then, Eero presents an original MOC using this new element. Transcripts were edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.


The 3-armed candlestick was specifically designed for the LEGO® version of candlewax-and-brass character Lumiere, from Disney's animated film Beauty and the Beast. However, the piece made its debut in the LEGO Harry Potter theme.

Currently, the piece appears only in Pearl Gold and in five sets - two of which include the full Lumiere:

  • 41690 Friends Advent Calendar 2021
  • 43193 Ariel, Belle, Cinderella and Tiana's Storybook Adventures
  • 43196 Belle and the Beast's Castle
  • 76185 Spider-Man at the Sanctum Workshop
  • 76389 Hogwarts Chamber of Secrets

Interview with LEGO Senior Mechanical Engineer Henrik Skallebæk

New Elementary: What was your background before joining the LEGO Group?

Henrik Skallebæk: I worked as a Mechanical Engineer. I have worked for the LEGO Group for ten years, split between two separate stints with the company.

When did you start and which teams have you worked in?

Henrik:  I started in 1998 and my first project was a football LEGO® set. Later on I worked on a number of space, animal, deep sea and adventure sets including many from the LEGO Jack Stone theme. I’ve designed over 100 LEGO elements.

Of the elements you’ve worked on, which are you most proud of?

Henrik: I am most proud of the elements I make that can be used in many different ways by the amazing designers we have. I was also very happy when I completed my first element design, that was linked to a football themed set – we had a great team who collaborated really well on the project, so I remember that one well.

What do you personally call this new element/these new elements?

Henrik: 3-armed candlestick.

Did the design change during development?

Henrik: The element uses standard connections so there wasn’t much to change in the design phase, but we did tweak a few small details. We had 4 feedback loops in the design phase.

Is it ABS or did you need a different plastic? Did the material influence the way the part was designed?

Henrik: This element is made from ABS plastic. We designed some of the edges with a large radius to ensure the element adhered to our strict product safety requirements.  

Did you include any features that deliberately prevent the builder using the element in a way that is not intended?

Henrik: No, but we did design the product to ensure that there was enough space for a Minifigure hand to hold the centre shaft.

Eero Okkonen's MOC with the LEGO Candelabra: Queen Namárië

The candelabra piece is both a handy combination of connection points and an interesting visual element. Here it is placed in the spotlight - on Queen Namárië's brow, with a lone sapphire to complete the crown.


The character evolved around this crown; she's inspired by Tolkien's legendarium, particularly the reigning queens of Númenor - but re-imagined with bright colours often absent from Tolkien-inspired art.

The vertical supports of the side studs don't connect to clip pieces, so the candelabra is connected to the robot arm pieces via two Pearl Gold Tile, Round 1 x 1 with Bar and Pin Holder pieces (20482).

Summary

Often, exciting new LEGO pieces are either useful connectors complementing the System - such as new slopes, brackets and plates - or beautiful sculptural masterworks. The Candelabra is somewhere in between: it is a minifig accessory, and even the body part of a character, but it nevertheless has many connection points in a small space, as this picture by Jonas Kramm reveals:

I'm sure we'll see it in numerous wizard's workshops, castle chapels and festival tables, but it might also end up being hidden in the core of some SNOT masterwork. Steampunk and other brass mechanic pipeheads will find it especially lovable; it's something straight from a steam engine's cab.


I've heard some minor complaints on the middle support being one plate lower than the others. This is not a feature common on real-world candelabras, but accurate to the Disney character Lumiere the piece was modelled on. I don't see this as an issue, as they can be levelled even with a 1x1 round plate with hollow stud, enabling the connection for a candle piece.

READ MORE: Interview with engineer Stephan Breum Steen about the Escalator Link

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10 comments:

  1. Good interview and analysis!

    The gold color is a great introductory color for things like historic or steampunk-style builds, but recolors would also be much appreciated. I wouldn't be surprised to see it appear in light or dark grey at some point for use as greebles or other mechanical features in a Star Wars set.

    In terms of the kinds of figure builds you like to do, I could also see this combined with parts like the harpoon or viking horns to form the end of a trident.

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  2. Amazing work Eero. I'm blown away by the effortless complexity of your build. The interview was interesting too. Keep it up!

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  3. The vertical piece on the left and right seem deliberately designed to NOT be a standard bar diameter. I wonder if this is a limitation of mold design or safety, or if it was in fact to prevent people from trying to clip things on to there? (perhaps not enough clearance to the horizontal bar for a fig hand, so better to eliminate the possibility of a frustrated child?)

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    1. If I had to guess I'd say it's probably to allow bars to be attached farther along the width of the cross-bar (since otherwise the corner where it changes direction would impede some of those connections).

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    2. Andrew is likely right. I wondered if they do bars with lush 90 degree angles, but for example 23444 Bar 1 x 6 x 3 with 4 Studs has exactly that, with a rounded corner.

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    3. Another example would be the BrickHeadz square glasses frames, which have even sharper corners. They also act as a counterpoint to the round glasses, which specifically do include a ridge to keep clips from being attached in a "stressed" position due to the circle's radius, much like the question in this interview was asking.

      Looking at this piece it seems like having both legs of the 90° angle be bars might've even largely prevented either one from being usable at all, so they probably decided to have the horizontal segments be the bars rather than having another two vertical bars when the base already acted as one.

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    4. @Andrew yeah that sounds right good call.

      @Eero I was just looking for some 90 deg. bar parts, the 15534 grappling hook with handle is about all I could come up with. That and 71137a, vehicle exhaust pipe (without technic pin).

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  4. Oh my goodness, how wonderfully creative! I'm referring to Eero's Queen N moc.
    I have only recently rediscovered the joys of Lego after many years. It was so much simpler in my time, with very limited shapes and colours. Reading articles like this opens my eyes to the complexities of designing these bricks which I never realised. And then seeing what creative talent can do with these bricks.. I am filled with wonder.
    SWD

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    1. Thanks a lot! All the curved slopes and archer and wedges offer so much possibilities.

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