BreakingModern – Colin Furze is a modern-day mad scientist. Not the kind that concocts strange potions, but the one who cuts limbs from decrepit machines, fuses them onto other machines, turns on the giant red button and starts a wildfire. He’s a former plumber who has gained a huge following on social media, most notably YouTube, for his inventions. Not only has he made a ton of awesome (usually fire-powered) things, but Colin has also clinched a number of World Records in the process.
We caught up with Colin to discuss his inventions, his mentality as a hack-n-slash creator and what his role with HTC’s Creatography has been like. Check out the interview below.
Video: Creatography | Colin Furze: Garage Inventor
BMod: You say that you started all this as a plumber. It’d be great if you could elaborate more on what were the professional skills taken from that allowed you to do what you do today. Have you always been inventing things? How do you learn about things like magnets, flamethrowers, etc? Are there areas you are learning about now and want to use in new inventions?
Colin Furze: It’s hard to say how much I use from my plumbing days in what I do now, but I think if you’re a practical person, whether it’s welding water pipes or a bike chassis, it’s a similar skill set. I’ve always loved seeing inventions and had LEGO [and] Meccano as a kid. Once I became a bit older I tried making stuff myself, so it has always been there. But I learn as I go — looking at YouTube videos or asking people that may have some ideas, but [all of it] is searched for myself.
BMod: You say on your website that you’re concerned with people’s lack of ability to fix things themselves. I agree with that sentiment, and wonder how you feel about digital engineering vs. mechanical. Many of your projects involve cutting, sawing, welding, etc., but not necessarily programming. Do you have skills in the digital engineering fields as well as mechanical? Do you see this as another area where people should be able to fix things themselves? Why do many of your projects mostly stay with mechanical structures?
Colin Furze: I’ll confess I don’t have many digital skills, but I do plan to change that. I’ve worked with people that have created some brilliant things using Arduino and Raspberry PI mini computers, but I’ll always prefer the physical mechanical approach as it either works or breaks, ha ha. There is no switching it off and back on again.
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BMod: How do you feel about shows like MythBusters? One could argue they are in a similar realm, but there are some key differences. What are some sources, shows or inventors that you respect and connect with?
Colin Furze: MythBusters, similar TV shows [and] other YouTube channels that do on paper what you could call similar things to me are all sources of inspiration, but I tend to find more in the comments I get on YouTube as people can suggest new ideas, refer to something they may have seen before or have tried themselves. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’m on YouTube quite a bit. It seems fitting that ideas come from where they are ultimately released to the public.
BMod: With the X-Men series and your Far Cry 4 tuk tuk, it’s clear you draw inspiration from comics, video games and the sci-fi scene in general. What were some childhood influences that got you thinking about these projects? Were there books, television shows or some sort of event that left a lasting impression on you as a kid to pursue this kind of work?
Colin Furze: The books I liked the most as a child all had things built in them and that’s what’s stuck with me. What I like to build now are the most-exciting, strangest things imagined, and comics, films and computer games are where you find these. I loved the A-Team, Scrapheap Challenge and the tech side of Formula One.
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BMod: Did you set out to break world records when you decided to build the bonfire, scooter and motorcycle? What other records are you keen on breaking? Are you motivated by the record, or just stoked on the invention?
Colin Furze: Records give a socially acceptable goal to a silly task, like making a fast toilet or building a big fire. The record is not just a motivation for me but for others when they hear what I’m doing. It can be the difference between someone helping you or not. I pick records on how exciting they are or if I can make them exciting. As for future records, who knows? I just see what comes along.
Video: GUINNESS WORLDS BIGGEST BONFIRE
BMod: You’ve gained a lot of recognition from YouTube, to the point that you are featured in video games and on television. What do you see as the future for Colin Furze, the inventor? Do you want a full television show?
Colin Furze: Personally I love how things are going right now on the Internet as I have full control of what I’m doing. The Internet is slowly destroying TV as we knew it, so if I get a TV show I get one, but I’m not bothered if it does not happen because in five to 10 years time if you’re king of the Net you will be king of all media …
BMod: What is your favorite invention so far, and why?
Colin Furze: I get asked this a lot and there is no one answer as different projects have been great in different ways, but the one that opened things up for me the most was my world’s fastest mobility scooter. It’s been copied, it’s inspired people and it was my first viral video so it can sit on top of the pile.
All images courtesy of Colin Furze