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10K Club Interview: LEGO® MINERALS by ddf72

Today we meet Dario Del Frate, a.k.a. ddf72. Dario is the creator of a rather unique and stunning LEGO Idea. Inspired by trips to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Milan with his grandparents, Dario presents to us all, LEGO® MINERALS. Which one is your favourite?



  1. Who are you?
    Dario Del Frate 

  2. Where are you from?
    Milan, Italy.
  3. How old are you?
    I’m 49-years-old.
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I am a partner and manager of Cemengal, an EPC company in the cement sector.
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    I play and build electric guitars, travel, dive and build plenty of LEGO sets. 
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
    The Disneyland Paris micro-scale Castle. When I finished the actual build my wife Sandra told me: imagine if you could open it like a doll house!!! I tore it apart immediately, redesigned it, bought plenty more pieces and there you have it! I love the overall proportions and the way I managed to use some bricks - the centre oval is the tray from the butler of Series 9! On top, it opens like a doll house. 

  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
    I started as a kid with some classic Space sets, back in the early 80s. Left it until my mom, for Christmas 2009, gave me the Winter Village Toy Shop, 10199. We built it together with my kids and I thought: I need more of this stuff. I have been building and collecting plenty since then. My wife and kid share the passion.
  9. What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    Thanks to my job I live a busy life. I travel constantly and LEGO building (as playing the guitar) is my safe haven where I can relax and enjoy myself. Also, I share my passion with my family, so it is a wonderful time together! I follow the AFOL community, all major bloggers, the rumours etc. I look forward to all new releases.

    I am also a collector, but due to space constraints, I cannot display that much! As for MOCs, I tend to work mostly digital, then buy the bricks and finally build. 
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    The Winter Village Creator line brought me back to the hobby. Also, the sets are not too big, perfect to display and with nice building techniques.  
    My kid and I are Star Wars fans – I modded the 7965 Falcon from 2010 – so SW is the theme we possibly build the most. Harry Potter is also great. Finally, Architecture is my favourite when I build on my own: so technical, so small. I love it.  

  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    Hogwarts, 71043. I love the scale, the techniques, and the theme. It's absolutely stunning. The Ninjago City trilogy is also amazing: the techniques again, the colours, the liveliness of the build. It’s a gorgeous set.
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    I love micro-scale and I need SNOTs. The smaller the better when I build, as it's trickier and requires quite a lot of imagination on how to find the “perfect” brick. It's challenging. So I would say that the modified 1x1 brick 87087 is essential, together with the 1x2 plate.
  13. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by? 
    I guess all of them! But anyways, Jangbricks, beyondthebrick, Tiago Catarino on youtube. And of course brickset, thebrickfan for blogs and news. TheBrothersBrick for MOCs. 



  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I have been fascinated by minerals collection since I was a kid. I as wrote in the presentation of the Idea, my grandparents used to bring me to the Museum of Natural Sciences of Milan on Sundays and sometimes bought me a very small mineral… so it’s a memory I truly cherish. 

    I am not a mineral collector nor an expert, I simply love the aesthetic, geometric colours of the crystals. When we travel, natural museums and mineral collections are must-sees! 

    One day, working on my Micro Disney Castle, I find myself playing around with the roof pieces which I used for the main tower. As I assembled it, I thought: this looks like a perfect hexagonal crystal, an aquamarine maybe. In that moment I decided I would build the minerals. 

  2. How long was the process of making the project, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    It took me around 2 months, during the lockdown, to design the first 5 minerals. The collection then grew to 10 pieces over the past months, which I released as updates on the Ideas page. I also re-designed some of the original ones, to use available bricks, avoid recolouring and have better overall stability.  

    The specimens are inspired by real minerals from famous locations across the World. As I told above, the aquamarine was born from the main tower of my Disney MOC (as anybody can see).  

    I already had an idea of the other minerals I wanted for my collection so, I basically surfed the web to look for the most “iconic” specimens which I thought I could build  

    That’s how I got the pyrite, geode, and quartz, which are very “classic”! The rhodochrosite is my personal favourite and I had to have it! Once I identified the minerals I started the design on LDD (as always). I am used to it. Then I imported the design over, looked for available bricks, redesigned… It’s a long process, I guess you guys at The LEGO Group know!  

    I love photography and has a great rendering engine, so I spent quite a lot of time getting the best images I could, playing a lot with extra lights around the minerals (I used luminous and chrome bricks as light emitting/reflecting sources). 

  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    Some crystals, like pyrite and aquamarine, are quite straightforward. The geode is complex. It’s a hollow sphere with studs on both the inner and outer surface. It’s a very nice, tricky build.  
  4. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters? 
    As I said, the first 5 minerals went down quick but I kept working to add more pieces for several months afterwards! Promoting was fun! I got in touch with so many people from all over the world. It took me 20 months to hit 10K and I enjoyed every single day.  
  5. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take? 
    I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

  6. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    1097 bricks for the 5 original specimens: Aquamarine, Rhodocrosite, Pyrite, Geode (both halves), Quartz and their stands.  
    The black tourmaline counts 197 pieces (all available) while the blue cap with 110. The elbaite has 125 bricks. The red beryl 69, the pink tourmaline 98.
  7. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    The rhodochrosite (red cubes over black) is based on some very famous (and expensive) specimens from the Sweet Home Mine in Colorado, USA. It is very recognizable also thanks to its matrix (the rock on which the crystal grows) which in this case has needle quartzes. 

    In the first model, I used the flower stems, in trans clear (which would require a recolour) to replicate the quartz. Then the minifig posing stand 65578 came out in trans clear. I had to use it, but there is a complication: it attaches stud-under, not above. So I had to redesign the whole model to have a base with both upwards and downward studs. I am very happy with how it looks! 



  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Well I guess there is space for everyone, tastes and opinions can be so different, so go for what you like! In general terms, more “canonical” themes such as trains, modular buildings, and castles are more prone to gather votes directly from within the Ideas platform, while ideas like mine can use support from outside, so get ready for some promotion on social media!
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea? 
    I used mainly FB and IG. I was astonished by the interest, support and love that the project generated. I have come to know hundreds of people, inside and outside the scientific and geology community, foundations and of course LEGO AFOLs. I am humbled by the fact that several high-profile institutions contacted me and are in love with the project! Did you know that 4 LEGO Minerals are now displayed at the National Museum of Geology of Greece?!
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    I love the Jazz Quartet and Starry Night! They are awesome! I am so happy they were selected. To me, that’s what the Ideas concept is about!
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    It’s amazing that a huge company like The LEGO Group has managed to involve their fans in such a way! Through Ideas, anyone can become - literally - a LEGO designer. The Group can only be praised for this truly unique feat!
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint of what that might be?
    Yes, in time. It flies.


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