Andrea Lattanzio is the Italian who created the new LEGO Ideas set “Baita”. In this interview we will discover what it means to be a LEGO creator and all the background of this world
If we had to think of a company that in itself channels the values of collecting and having fun, we wouldn’t think so much about it. LEGO in fact, for decades it has been the icon of a world that attracts young and old. In fact, once a set is finished, we won’t be faced with a mere object to display, but an experience that comes to life on our shelves. The thrill of putting together a LEGO construction is, for us, a moment that mixes relaxation, passion and amazement in seeing our goal come to life.
But LEGO is also much more. With the platform “READ Ideas“, the company allows enthusiasts to present their ideas. The creations that receive the most approvals are put up for sale. That’s exactly what he managed to do Andrew Lactantius: the Italian creator of the LEGO Ideas set “Baita”. We at TechGameWorld.com had the pleasure of interviewing him and understanding how this world works best, so let’s start with the questions right away!
In the life of a LEGO creator – Interview with Andrea Lattanzio: the creator of the LEGO Ideas set “Baita”
everything: first of all we thank you for this opportunity and let’s start with the first, classic, customary question: who is Andrea Lattanzio and what does he do in life, besides designing and creating spectacular Lego Sets?
Andrew Lactantius: first of all thank you for this opportunity, for me it is always a pleasure, and an honor, to be able to share my passion with other enthusiasts, and even more so now that my A-Frame Cabin has become an official LEGO IDEAS set. I was born in Milan on May 4, 1974 (yes, on May the 4th be with you Day), I am married and have two children. I deal with fundraising and communication at an important Italian Non-Profit Organization committed to combating poverty and food waste. I’ve always been passionate about vintage cars and motorcycles and when I can I like to do a few laps on my 1980 BMW motorcycle and get my hands on it to fix and prepare it. To tell the truth, I have less and less free time and what I have left I dedicate almost exclusively to LEGO bricks.
How it all started
everything: How did you get into this world made of bricks?
Andrew Lactantius: as for most fans (in jargon called AFOL: Adult fan Of LEGO) for me too LEGO bricks were the favorite playmates during the long afternoons of my childhood. I remember hours and hours assembling, disassembling and looking for the right piece sometimes alone and sometimes with some friends. Furthermore, with an older brother who is almost 6 years old, the bricks were a permanent presence in my house, I found them in my hands right away. In the 70s I played with his Technic and Classic Space, then my first sets arrived: City, 12V trains and Yellow Castle.
Many memories! I loved assembling following the instructions and only rarely built fantasy models, I can say that over the years I have changed my attitude. With the arrival of adolescence all the LEGO had ended up in the country house, fortunately nothing had been given away or thrown away (and I have to thank my mum for that). I was probably living my dark age even if I often went back to peek at the old sets and the bricks in the attic as if I knew that one day I would play again. In the early 2000s, thanks to the web, I discovered the community of LEGO enthusiasts around the world and I could hardly believe what they could build, I was incredulous.
The spark was struck and the desire to get involved did the rest. I started building the first MOCs and year after year I found myself more and more involved in this fantastic world made of colored bricks. The last few years have been the most prolific and full of satisfactions. In 2016 The LEGO Car Blog elects me Master Mocer, in 2018 I have the honor of exhibiting some of my works in the Masterpiece Gallery of the newly created LEGO House in Billund and at the end of 2019 I am elected Builder of the Year by The Brothers Brick. And, icing on the cake, my A-Frame Cabin became a set this year READ OFFICIAL IDEAS, to be precise set number 21338 and the forty-sixth set of the IDEAS theme. My works have ended up dozens of times on specialized blogs and magazines. Despite the limited free time and daily commitments, I continue to build MOCs as fun as the first day.
Commitment pays off
everything: Was the Cabin set your first creation to be nominated on LEGO Ideas?
Andrew Lactantius: in the past I had already tried to nominate some of my projects, I am referring in particular to my workshop for the restoration of old Volkswagens and then, again in 2014 but a few months later, the Volkswagen Surfer pick-up. Both failed to reach the final goal useful for entering the review even if they exceeded, and by far, the 3,000 votes. We’re talking about 9 years ago but it seems like a century if you think about how much the LEGO IDEAS platform has changed, especially in terms of popularity and therefore of registered users, today at over 2 million (!).
I made another attempt in 2016 but more to please a fan of mine who insisted a lot and saw an easy success that didn’t arrive on time. I let it go for many years until in 2021 I decided to try again more or less seriously. The curious thing is that my first choice was the Into the Wild diorama, very popular especially in North America, but LEGO rejected the application.
So in March 2021 I found myself at a crossroads: give up and put a stone on it or try again with another creation of mine. By now we all know how it turned out: almost by chance I nominated the A-Frame Cabin, a MOC that I had built and presented in the fall of 2020 and which had become very popular in the international AFOL community. After only 42 days the project reached 10,000 votes and Norton74, that is me, finally became part of the much coveted LEGO IDEAS 10K member club. The rest is history these days, it couldn’t have gone better than this.
From the initial idea – Interview with Andrea Lattanzio: the creator of the LEGO Ideas set “Baita”
everything: explain to us a little how the process works: after having had the idea for the creation at the base, how do you actually continue? Let’s imagine you use some kind of software… Tell us!
Andrew Lactantius: I often start with a sketch on paper, it helps me focus on the main shapes of what I’m going to build. And that’s how I started with the A-Frame Cabin too. I never use digital design programs for my MOCs, I think it’s very important to leave room for improvisation during the construction phase and this is only possible by having the bricks in my hands. I love “running around” among loose parts to find unexpected and original solutions, in other words to find NPUs (New Part Usage). I assemble and disassemble until I find the right balance between shapes, colors, proportions and details. Furthermore, for me, photographing the MOC is as important as building it and there is no rendering that can match a real photo with natural light, shadow and color.
everything: How did you react to the news that one of your sets was going to be serialized?
Andrew Lactantius: the months following the achievement of 10,000 votes were months of anxious waiting until the communication arrived in which the LEGO IDEAS designer team confirmed the choice of the project as the next official LEGO IDEAS set. Obviously I went crazy with joy and even today after months it doesn’t seem real to me. The official announcement then came on February 22, 2022, a very particular date, and I was finally able to share this cumbersome secret with the whole world, including my family to whom I hadn’t told anything for fear of dangerous leaks. The only person I had shared the news with was my wife.
It was truly an incredible emotion, I still can’t believe it! And obviously since then there has been a shower of messages from all the AFOLs and communities of enthusiasts from all over the world. And even more engaging was the moment of the presentation of the official set, Friday 13 January 2023, a memorable day in which I received thousands of congratulatory messages and comments. The community has literally gone crazy, the reception has been beyond expectations and the set has gone “viral” with hundreds of shares on all social platforms. If you take a look at the comments and the number of post likes on my social media accounts, you will realize what has happened in the media. Now we just have to wait for the first days of February when sales will officially begin. What an incredible emotion!
Why a cabin?
everything: why did you choose a cabin as the star of the set?
Andrew Lactantius: the A-Frame Cabin, translated as a baita into Italian, is part of a series of rural houses that I started building starting in 2019, the first of which was Sheriff Hoppers’ cabin from the Netflix TV series Stranger Things. More followed in the following months until, in July 2020, a beautiful photo book came into my hands with dozens of images of country houses of all kinds, some very bizarre and particular.
Among these, some strange “A” shaped houses also stood out and from there the decision was born to recreate one with LEGO bricks. To build it in the best possible way, I read up on it and discovered that these particular homes, or the A-Frame Cabins, practically unknown to us, are a mass phenomenon in the United States, almost the forbidden dream of thousands of Americans. There are different types, colors and arrangements but all are characterized by the typical “A” shape. I can say that it was love at first sight and immediately, technical times permitting, I got to work.
From draft to final model
everything: how long has it been since you created the first draft to the actual completed model?
Andrew Lactantius: it took me about two weeks to build the A-Frame Cabin, obviously being able to build only in the evening and on weekends. I had clear ideas right away and a real model, in this case an image from a photographic book of bizarre houses, to inspire me and for which I made a few changes and went quickly.
Unity is strength – Interview with Andrea Lattanzio: the creator of the LEGO Ideas set “Baita”
everything: how was the approach and support with the LEGO designer?
Andrew Lactantius: after informing me that my project had been chosen, the LEGO IDEAS design team planned a series of meetings – remotely – to fine-tune the final model together. Working with the designers has been very pleasant and educational. They immediately involved me in the definition of the set not only informing me of the progress but always asking me for my opinion, my impressions and above all indications and suggestions. A unique experience and very…