The show was to air on 10 September, and they wanted the model a few days before. I wasn't sure I could build a bust in less than a week (it would take a day of two to FedEx it, at least); nor was I even positive I had enough of the right pieces to do a decent model of his head.
I told the producers of the show that I would see what I could do.
I had never tried to build the head of an actual living person before... much less a model that would be presented to that person on national television. No pressure... just build the thing. If you can. Quickly.
That very night I sat down and looked around to see how many yellow slopes I had in the various sizes... regular and inverted. Traditionally LEGO models of people are done with yellow skin tones, so that was the plan.
I started with the eyes and built outward. I had been given no official photos of Mr. O'Brien, so I just printed out a couple I could find from the web.
I didn't have an unlimited amount of yellow slopes by any means, but I did have just enough to fashion a model of a head that ended up just over 13 inches tall.
Building a LEGO bust is all about caricature, finding the features of a person which people most easily recognize and exaggerating those. For Conan this is obviously the bright hair and the long thin nose.
I think I was able to capture those fairly well, especially since I ended up designing and building the whole thing in about 6 hours.
Unfortunately, the timeframe was so quick that I did not have time to glue the whole thing together. Later in the week I got a call from NBC saying that it was damaged when it came out of the box. They assured me that they had gotten back together and it would be given to Conan.
The actual appearance of the bust on the show was very brief. Even in those quick shots I could tell it had been damaged (and in my mind not well repaired) -- but that's the way it goes. Maybe next time I'll be given a bit more lead time.
Fellow LEGO enthusiast, Mike Crowley, managed to get some screen shots. To the right you can obviously see the damage to the model (note to self: MAKE TIME TO GLUE EVERYTHING).
Here are some links of the undamaged bust before I shipped it off: #1, #2, #3.