Lego SWC scores internet hit

Laatzen - Fabian Moritz is not your average German football fan: he does not mind the relative goal drought at the World Cup and he wants England to do well.

The 19-year-old may have just flunked his school-leaving exams, but his remakes of World Cup matches using Lego figures have become an internet sensation.

"Each goal takes between two and three hours to do," Moritz told AFP in the tiny "hobby room" in his parents' house in Laatzen in northern Germany where he works, fresh from staying up until 03:00 to work on his latest creation.

"I'm a bit miffed by the quality of matches so far this World Cup, it's painful to watch. But for the videos, this is good... A four-three score line would take more than a day."

Commissions

The films - are so good that he has a deal with British newspaper The Guardian to make videos of all the England games, and a contract with the Bild daily for all of Germany's.

"On one day I had more than 340 000 hits on my homepage, it's crazy... I'm getting enquiries from all over the place, from Holland, Denmark, Japan, France, Switzerland, England, and others too."

His Lego version of England's 1-1 draw with the United States, complete with goalkeeper Robert Green's catastrophic blunder has been viewed 1.3 million times.

By internet standards, this is a massive amount.

Stop-motion

Moritz began making the films three years ago for matches of his local club Hanover, using a highly time-consuming technique called stop-motion.

This involves taking an individual photo for every frame of the video, and moving the Lego pieces by hand in between. One goal can require up to 80 photos.

Moritz then makes the film on what he refers to as his "rubbish" computer, using "special tricks" to make the ball appear to fly. He adds the original television commentary.

The attention to detail is awe-inspiring. The figures resemble the players, the crowd jumps up in celebration for goals and Moritz superimposes a red line for offside decisions. Some supporters even have vuvuzelas.

The players

"Franck Ribery is my favourite figure," Moritz says, proudly showing off the French midfielder's blue-shirted Lego double, which looks like it was taken from a Lego pirate set.

England's balding striker Wayne Rooney is instantly recognisable, as is Germany coach Joachim Loew with a hairdo taken from a Lego Harry Potter set. He has hundreds of figures, some of them more than 30 years old.

"What really annoys me is when the figures fall over because I have to work out exactly where it was before," Moritz says. "The goalkeepers fall over a lot."

Moritz chooses for his videos the most exciting of the three daily World Cup matches, but being under contract to make videos of England games has meant he has had to compromise.

German English fan

"For the 0-0 (between England and Algeria) I had to ask what I was supposed to film... It was so boring," Moritz complains.

"The guy from the Guardian said I should make clips of how angry the fans were, and of how Rooney was insulted, and various weird songs, and I managed to put something together."

"I don't have that many hair pieces (for the Lego figures), but it was okay because the England fans tend not to have that much hair anyway.

On his website, Moritz has even posted a Lego version, in black and white, of England's 1966 World Cup victory over West Germany, complete with the famous "they think it's all over" original commentary.

And he doesn't want England to exit the competition early.

"If England get knocked out then I'm going to miss out on money!"

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