The LEGO Ideas A-Frame Cabin (21338) set, created by user Andrea Lattanzio, is soon to be released. From the beginning, the original project was a great success among the enthusiast community and the news of its production was met with great excitement. The set will be available on February 1st on the LEGO Shop as a preview for LEGO VIP users and from February 4th for everyone!
The project author is Andrea Lattanzio, a user of the LEGO IDEAS platform (here is his profile) and the first Italian to have the honor of seeing his project become a real LEGO set!
I was able to personally contact Andrea Lattanzio with the intention of asking him some questions: Andrea was immediately very kind and helpful, and I take this opportunity to thank him again for the time he gave to this interview!
Curious to discover how his idea for the A-Frame Cabin was born? Want to know what his first set built was, or how he realizes his LEGO MOC projects? The answers to these and other questions are right below. Let’s start!
Hello Andrea, thank you for accepting this interview! Let’s start right away with a question to break the ice: your “A-Frame Cabin” project is about to become a real LEGO set! What did you feel when you learned this news?
First of all, I want to thank you for this interview, it’s always a pleasure and an honor for me to share my passion with other AFOLs and enthusiasts, even more so now that the A-Frame Cabin has become an official LEGO IDEAS set. After reaching 10,000 votes, the following months were months of anxious waiting, until the announcement came from the LEGO IDEAS design team confirming the choice of the project as the next official LEGO IDEAS set.
Of course, I went crazy with joy and even today after months it still doesn’t seem real. The official announcement came on February 22, 2022, a date that was also very special, and finally, I could share this secret with the world, including my family whom I hadn’t told anything for fear of 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! Obviously, from that moment on, a rain of messages came from all AFOLs and enthusiast communities from all over the world.
Even more engaging was the moment of the official set presentation, on Friday, January 13, 2023, a memorable day when I received thousands of messages and congratulations. The community was literally crazy, the reception was beyond expectations and the set became “viral” with hundreds of shares on all social platforms. If you take a look at the comments and the number of likes on my social accounts, you will realize what happened in terms of media. Now we just have to wait for the first days of February when sales will officially start. What an incredible emotion!
You have become the first Italian LEGO MOC Designer to have a project among the official LEGO Ideas sets! What can you tell us about your life? What do you do?
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 work in fundraising and communication for an important Italian Non-Profit Organization. I have always been passionate about vintage cars and motorcycles, and when I can, I like to take a ride on my 1980 BMW motorcycle and also put my hands on it to fix and prepare it. To be honest, I have less and less free time, and what remains I dedicate almost exclusively to LEGO bricks.
Do you remember the first LEGO set you received / assembled?
My very first set was probably a small fire truck (602), but the set I prefer and to which I am most attached, especially for an emotional reason, is certainly the Yellow Castle (375). It was gifted to me by my parents on my sixth birthday in 1980, I remember that day very well, I felt like the happiest child in the world.
G: And what about your first MOC?
A: My first MOC series that introduced me to the international community and made me known were 1:13 scale trucks that I built from 2008 to 2012. At that time, I was obsessed with the trucks of Dutch builder Dennis Bosman, a master in building heavy vehicles in that scale. I probably have to thank him if I started building MOCs. The very first was a Scania 164G followed by a 124L, then two Volvos, and finally two more vintage Scanias. I still have all six assembled and displayed in my country house.
Your social pages and website are full of projects you’ve made over the years: Is there a particular project that you remember with fondness or nostalgia?
It’s hard to answer this question, every MOC (My Own Creation) has something unique and is linked to a memory or a period of my life. Definitely the series of “rural houses” I built starting from 2019 are among my favorites and perfectly represent my style, which has become recognizable, like a “trademark”. Among all, I definitely choose the A-Frame Cabin, but it’s an obvious choice given everything that’s happened in the last few days… but also The Blue Cottage, The General Store, Joe’s Cottage, Into the Wild.
Besides the “rural houses”, I am also very attached to the Volkswagen workshop that I built in 2014 and it was the one that made my works known internationally. Furthermore, no one had ever built a workshop on that scale so complete and rich in details, I think it represents a “milestone” in the world of MOCs. Finally, the Guardian of the Depths, the Trabucco, and the latest Outpost with Outhouse are also among my favorites.
But in general, I love all of my creations, they are like a part of me.
A question to get to know you better: what are your favorite LEGO set themes? And your favorite LEGO set?
I have always appreciated the Model Team series from the ’80 and ’90 and later the models from the Creator Expert series. They certainly influenced my early works. Among my favorite sets is definitely set 5571 from the Model Team series, the famous Giant Truck, or Black Cat because of the black cat placed on the top of the radiator. For me it is one of the most beautiful and realistic models ever made by LEGO and even today, after almost 30 years, it still has a lot to say.
But the set I am most attached to, as I have already said before, especially for an emotional reason, is certainly the Yellow Castle, set N. 375. I also want to remember the 12V train series with which I played for years as a child and among all the trains in the series I prefer the Inter-City Passenger Train, set number 7740.
Every LEGO Ideas set is born from an idea: what was the spark, the starting idea that gave birth to your “A-Frame Cabin”?
The A-Frame Cabin is part of a series of rural houses that I started building in 2019, the first of which was Sheriff Hopper’s Shack from the Netflix TV series Stranger Things. In the following months, others followed until in July 2020, I came across a beautiful photo book with dozens of images of country houses of all types, some very bizarre and particular.
Among these were also some strange “A” shaped huts and it was from there that the decision was made to recreate one with LEGO bricks. To build it best, I researched and discovered that these particular dwellings, or the A-Frame Cabins, practically unknown to us, in the United States are a mass phenomenon, almost the forbidden dream of thousands of Americans.
There are different types, colors and furnishings 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.
G: How does your creative process develop? (Do you use software to create a digital model to experiment with, do you use real bricks, do you make sketches, etc.)
A: I often start with a sketch on paper, it helps me to focus on the main shapes of what I am going to build. I never use digital design programs for my MOCs, I think it is very important to leave room for improvisation during the building phase and this is only possible by having the bricks in your hands. I love “raiding” through the loose pieces to find unexpected and original solutions, in other words to find NPU (New Part Usage). Additionally, for me, photographing the MOC is just as important as building it, and there is no rendering that can match a real photo with natural lights, shadows and colors.
G: Your project immediately caught the eye of Italian users and the international AFOL community: what do you think were the elements that decreed the success of your project?
A: The elements that made it interesting, and therefore made it stand out from the multitude of projects on the platform, were many. The aesthetic impact was certainly strong: anyone looking at it is amazed because it doesn’t look like it’s made of LEGO, so they become curious and click on it. Then the endless details and NPU (New Part Usage) present in the diorama made it unique and different from the classic LEGO sets and MOCs that imitate official sets. The perfectly selected color palette, an original and interesting subject, the A-shaped houses, and the story-telling did the rest.
G: How much time did it take you to complete your project and upload it to the LEGO Ideas platform?
A: It took me about two weeks to build the A-Frame Cabin, obviously only able to build in the evenings and on weekends. I had clear ideas from the start and a real model, in this case an image of a photographic book of bizarre houses, to be inspired by and for which I made few modifications and went straight ahead.
G: From the moment your project was selected, to its production, did you have any contact with the LEGO Ideas team?
A: After being informed that my project had been selected, the LEGO IDEAS design team planned a series of meetings – remotely – to fine-tune the final model together. Working with the designers was very pleasant and educational. From the start, they involved me in the definition of the set, not only informing me of the progress but always asking for my opinion, my impressions and especially suggestions. A unique and very fun experience, I wouldn’t mind repeating it …
G: All LEGO Ideas set enthusiasts know well that the winning projects of the Review Phase go through a review process by the LEGO design team. Often the changes made are minor, sometimes they are more significant: do you feel satisfied with the changes made to your original project?
Personally, I am very satisfied with the final outcome. I was aware that some modifications were necessary. The transition from a MOC to an official set to be sold on store shelves worldwide required adjustments to meet standards of durability, safety, playability, and budget constraints.
Almost everything from the original design was preserved. The trees are different, but that was unavoidable as the MOC’s pine trees were too fragile for an official set. Fans were thrilled to find the hammers in the stone wall at the base of the house, which was a great choice. The shapes and colors are the same as well. There’s also the woodshed on the left, the rocking chair made with whips like mine, and many other details seen in the prototype. I couldn’t ask for more.
The storytelling and overall mood of the set have also changed, but that was expected since the Minifigures in the original MOC were like post-apocalyptic hermits while the new ones represent a happy and serene couple of friends, and they fully reflect the spirit and values of LEGO.
G: We would like to be a bit more “nasty” and ask you: would you like to tell us Three “Pros” and Three “Cons” of the final design that LEGO applied to your project?
A: Let’s start with the “pros.” The set is certainly more stable and playable than mine. I also appreciated that they closed the back part. And finally, the graphic presentation that you will be able to see on the covers and inside the instruction booklets as well as the set logo on the box are really a treat.
As for the “cons”… I would say I didn’t find any. I love this set and it’s perfect for me. The LEGO designers have managed to transform a very particular MOC filled with “illegal” techniques into a real LEGO set: they have done a miracle!
G: What do you advise users who want to embark on the “climb” towards 10,000 votes on the LEGO Ideas platform?
A: Definitely creations inspired by “pop-culture” or based on IP/film have more chance of reaching 10,000 votes. Fandoms can help a lot in this case. And that’s exactly what I didn’t do. I also advise to follow your passions and to run for something original and unique (I know, it’s not at all easy…).
G: Certainly there will be many collectors eager to have you autograph the set box. Are you planning to participate in any events or industry fairs?
A: In early March I will be at the Model Expo in Verona, the most important model making event in Italy that has a large pavilion dedicated to LEGO inside. Probably the most important national event dedicated to building blocks in Italy. Many people have written to me in recent days asking if I will be there, everyone wants to have the set autographed (!). Then there could be a nice news just regarding the possibility of having the set autographed. At the moment I cannot say anything yet, follow me on my social channels to discover all updates.
G: We thank you for the time you dedicated to us. We renew our compliments for the achievement and the quality of your project! We hope to see you soon at work!
A: Thank you for this nice interview and I hope I answered your questions in a complete and exhaustive manner. A warm greeting and ready on the first of February!
This interview was originally published in Italian on our site AffariDaNerd.it