Blog |

10K Club Interview: Naruto Ichikaru Ramen Shop - 20th Anniversary

It's double trouble! A special contribution today from the twins David and Diego Escalona aka DadiTwins on their new and improved Naruto Ichikaru Ramen Shop, just in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the global anime hit 'Naruto'. Would you like to see this as the next official LEGO Ideas set? Let us know in the comments.
 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    We are David Escalona and Diego Escalona. As you may already know, we are twin brothers and that is the origin of our nickname, DadiTwins.


     
  2. Where are you from?
    We are from Logroño, a small town in the mid-north of Spain. 
     
  3. How old are you?
    We are 37.
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    We work as software and firmware engineers for an electronics and IoT solutions company based in North America, but with an office located in Logroño. We have been working there for 13 years now, on a ton of different software and hardware projects.  

    The funny point is that we both work in the same office in Logroño, as we studied for the same career and got the job the same day! All the achievements we have achieved in our lives have been together. 

  5. What hobbies do you have?
    Besides LEGO buiding? Hehe. Well we share many hobbies (we like almost the same things!) and that is amazing because we can spend a lot of time together enjoying them and collecting things in common. Among others, we love theme parks, manga, anime, everything related to Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars and videogames. 

    We also belong to a cosplay group and love spending time designing and creating cosplays and props for events and conventions. 

  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    Yeah! Over the last couple of years, we have been publishing all our LEGO work in our Instagram account. You can reach us with the user name @twinsbricks.
     
  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?
    During these years, we have created several MOCs. We do not have many bricks and enough room yet to build and create them physically, so most of our creations are digital builds. The good thing is that digital tools have evolved a lot lately and it is easier to create virtual MOCs with photorealistic results.

    There is a very particular creation that we are still working on and is not published yet (wow, this will be the first time this becomes public!). It is a detailed recreation the co-cathedral of our city: “Santa María de La Redonda”. We are creating this as part of a bigger project that includes several monuments of our city.



    Also, and as true fans of Harry Potter, we have designed some MOCs of this amazing saga. One of our favorites is the Honeydukes Express cart.


     
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO come about?
    We have been building with LEGO products all our life. If we remember well, we were 4 when our grandma gave us our first LEGO set: the LEGOLAND 6085 castle. Since then, we cannot remember a single year without LEGO bricks in our hands. 
     
  9. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    We love to design, create and build things and LEGO bricks are one of the best ways anyone can find to express their creativity. We cannot count the amount of hours we have spent building with LEGO bricks. 

    We can assure you that one of the reasons that led to us becoming engineers was playing with LEGO products. It awoke in us a passion to design and create things – and that is what an engineer does after all, isn’t it? LEGO bricks let you experiment with a ton of different parts and mechanisms with the different products it offers. We are sure LEGO products will continue to inspire more and more engineers as it did with us. 

    Our passion for LEGO products also gave us the opportunity to meet new people sharing the same passion, which is difficult to find in our city. 

    And LEGO videogames; we love most of them, but the Star Wars and Harry Potter sagas are our favourites. Looking forward to playing LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker saga - it looks really fantastic! 

  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?
    We both agree that LEGO Western is our all-time favourite one. We own all the sets that were for sale in Spain in those years and had a lot of fun playing with them! We also tried to acquire the sets of the pseudo-remake LEGO did with ‘The Lone Ranger’, but we are still missing a couple of them. If we talk about newer themes, Harry Potter is by far our favorite one. The sets that The LEGO Group develops for this saga get better and better every year. They are very inspirational, especially the Hogwarts icons. We cannot wait to see what 2022 holds for us!
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    Here comes the first discrepancy! 

    Diego: I still think that the best LEGO set is The Disney Castle (71040). I am a total fan of Disney parks, so this set was a must have. I love every single part of the castle, from the base to the top of the main tower. The building techniques used in this set are gorgeous and the interiors are just amazing. It is incredible the amount of Disney movie references you can find in this set! 

    David: The Hogwarts Castle (71043) continues being my favorite set. I was always hoping for something similar, and when it was announced, it was like a dream come true! I am still waiting for the rest of the castle… 

  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?

    Diego:
    I think hinges (any kind of them) would be my choice. They offer a ton of flexibility, possibilities and shapes you cannot get using just standard bricks. I remember I was aware of every single hinge piece we had when we were kids. In those times, we did not have a lot of hinges, so we had to plan our custom builds having those pieces in mind before starting them! 

    David: In my case, I like every brick with side studs. I remember having to ‘trick’ the LEGO plates by connecting the side of a plate to the line between studs in another plate to get that effect. When the bricks with side studs were released, I was like… Finally! 

  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?

    Diego: It wasn’t until we bought the Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters (75827) that I actually went curious about the designers behind the LEGO sets. Then, I discovered that Marcos Bessa was also behind my all-time favourite LEGO set, The Disney Castle (71040). But it doesn’t end there. He was also the author of both Simpsons sets and my lovely Ewok Village (10236)! Amazing! Since then I followed all his new creations. So, I guess he is my favourite designer, hehe. 

    David: For me Justin Ramsden is my favourite designer as he worked on two of my favourite sets: Hogwarts Castle and Stranger Things. He did an amazing job with the castle. It is really difficult to work with micro-scale sets, but the result was impressive. Same with Upside Down (75810), the creativity of that set is outstanding! Talking about fan designers, my favourite one is Bricky_brick. I love most of his designs, especially Pirates of Barracuda Bay and his European architecture sets! 

  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    Almost all the LEGO related stuff we consume comes from social media feeds as we are subscribed to a lot of them. Mainly Instagram and Facebook groups. Also, if someone does not still know Tiago Catarino’s YouTube channel, we highly recommend visiting it! If you are looking for inspiration, this is one of the best places, for sure! 

     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    Seeing as Naruto is our favourite manga/anime as well as one of the most popular and familiar of all times, we decided to design a Lego set around it. The timing was perfect too because Naruto is celebrating its 20th anniversary of the anime series in 2022. Naruto has millions of fans of all ages, and it is well known around the entire world. Children (and adults, of course!) could even play with their favourite heroes and recreate stories of the series. It could work! 

    The place we selected was the Ichiraku Ramen Shop, one of the most iconic buildings of the Naruto series. This place radiates happiness, recalls many beautiful moments of the series and it is a Ramen restaurant after all, something never seen in a LEGO set! It is also a well-known place in the series, so all fans would be familiar with it. We had the possibility to give Ramen a very important role in the set, making this Japanese food a key element of the idea. It was so perfect we could not believe it! 

    We still think that Naruto has a lot of potential (interest in this manga/anime grows every year!), and it could perfectly fit as a new LEGO set for the 20th anniversary of the anime series. There is a totally unexplored and huge market out there full of possibilities. So, we saw in LEGO Ideas the perfect way to combine two of our passions and bring an idea that could become the first LEGO set based on a manga/anime ever! 

  2. How long was the process of making the project did, 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?

    A lot of research work was already done from the first version of the idea. We decided to continue looking for inspiration in the anime and video games to improve the accuracy of the design. 

    Instead of modifying the previous version, we wanted to create this new model from scratch, with a view to make the model more playable and accessible. Although this new model has several similarities with its predecessor, it is not the same at all. We think this decision forced us to invest almost another 3 months in the new version, as we also included new art and minifigs. During that time, we went through different phases, from research and design, to build and graphic art development. 

    Ichiraku Ramen Shop appears multiple times in the manga and anime. There is not much information about the building itself, but some parts were never displayed! We found that even the colors were slightly different depending on the source we checked - was the roof green or blue? The only things that seemed to be clear were the interior of the restaurant, the main facade and the overall shape of the building. So, we understood that we had to complete those different zones on our own with a little imagination and creativity.  

    Konoha (village where the building is located), has a very peculiar architecture as it is a mix of traditional Japanese style, with old and new sorts of technology. We thought that the electric pole with cables and the food market where Teuchi buys the Ramen ingredients were ideal to demonstrate that contrast. 

    The last phase was the design of the custom art and minifigures and we think it was the most challenging one. We developed a lot of new art for this new version and added a new minifgure to the set. Creating minifigures for LEGO characters is a real complex task – even more so if they are anime characters! 

  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    As we mentioned previously, this is not the same model as the first version, so we faced new challenges to deal with while designing the idea. 

    We wanted the building to be slightly bigger to add more details inside, but we also wanted to keep the number of bricks as little as possible. So, we had to combine scale, size and number of bricks in perfect harmony to maintain those 1600 bricks from the first version. 

    Another of the challenges we found was to make the model actually ‘buildable’. When you design digitally, you tend to use any brick and colour because you have total freedom. However, if you want to create a real model you must consider several aspects such as existing colours and prices. 

    Finally, if we wanted to improve the accessibility and playability of the set, we had to modify the way the interiors were accessed. Building it in a modular way was relatively easy, but had several problems with the roofs, cables and accessories. In addition, looking from the top was not ideal for this set as the building is too small. Therefore, we had to think up a new way to access the interiors. Both of us agreed that an opening mechanism would be the best approach. However, the tilted roof was the main challenge. We ended up fixing it with a removable section of the roof so that the building could open without issues. 

  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him? What do you know now that you wish you knew then? 
    Unfortunately, we have to repeat the same thing as the previous version, “buy a better computer guys, you cannot spend over 2 hours for a single render!” 

    We learned several things from the first version, but the roof gave us many headaches (again!). Therefore, if we could know something before starting the model, it would be the technique used to build the roof corners. That would have saved us a lot of time! 

  5. 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?
    This second version of the idea took about two months and a half to complete. It is slightly less than the original idea, as we used some of the previous art for this one. We must admit that we spent a lot of time on the details and put special care in considering the playability. The way we presented the idea in the portal, with the pictures in storyboard mode, demonstrates it. 



    This time the idea took longer to reach 10.000 votes. About 6 months. We only made one update in the idea compared to the multiple updates of the previous one. The same applies to the promotional posts in the social media networks, which we only did during the first two weeks. Anyway, 6 months was really fast, and it demonstrates how eager the community is to get an official LEGO Naruto set! 

  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It is always a magic moment and feeling that cannot be expressed with words. This number means that The LEGO Group will officially review your hard work and consider it for production. This is something which does not happen every day! 
     
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    We wanted to maintain the same number of bricks as the previous version as much as possible. Big sets are amazing and really tempting to design, but they require a lot of space for display and to play with and, not to mention, they are expensive! Including all the minifigures (8 in total), accessories and ramen elements, the set has a total of 1696 bricks.
     
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    We are very proud of the overall new building design. We have created it in a way that it can be opened to access the interiors. The time we spent thinking about this mechanism and the modifications needed in the roof was totally worth it. As we mentioned previously, this gives the set a lot of new playability! 

    The ramen and the way we have represented it is also noteworthy. The easiest and simplest way to do it would have been by creating a sticker or decal for a 2x2 round tile. But, for us, that was really flat and simple. So, we decided to go one step further and re-imagine this food in a more creative way. As a result, we created up to 6 ingredients in separated tiles so they could be combined in different ways. Not everybody likes ramen with the same ingredients, right? This also gave the ramen a more important role in the idea, which was part of our initial goal. 

    There are tons of details in the set, just take a closer look at the pictures!

  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    We have used Bricklink Studio 2.0 to create the building and the renders. The tool is extremely easy to use and the renders it generates are fantastic! To apply the decals and stickers to the bricks we used Bricklink Part Designer. From there, you can export the modified bricks to Bricklink Studio in just one click. 
     
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    All the stickers and decals included in the set were made by us. We decided to create everything from scratch rather than picking already created images, so that we could make our own version and scale them to the desired size. 

    We used the minifig templates we had from the previous entry to draw all the decals required by each minifigure; we made around 14 decals for each one. Maybe you did not notice, but most of the minifigures in this new version now use medium legs, so we had to redo many decals! We also added a new minifig and a ton of new art. 

     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    We reaffirm ourselves with the same advice:

    Build something you really like.
    Only building something you really feel is worth building will make your idea transmit all the passion you put into it. Our recommendation is to build and create an idea because you really like it and you would enjoy building, displaying, or playing with it.

    Put all your love into your idea presentation, including the cover image!
    You can’t imagine how important the cover image of the idea is. It is the first thing people will see in the portal and it needs to be attractive; it needs to generate interest to make people click it and know more about your idea. Once there, you should have a nice and detailed description, not just a few lines explaining something that is already shown in the pictures. You should give some more context about the set, the backend, the reasons that led to you building it and why it would be a great idea. You can even use images within the description to make it more enjoyable or to separate sections.
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea? 
    To be honest this time we did not do an intensive promotion of the idea. We made a presentation video that we published on our YouTube channel. Other than that, we posted some messages and pictures in our Instagram account and some Facebook groups during the first two weeks to give the idea some visibility. 

    The idea was already solid enough and it reached 10k votes in its first version, so we were confident that the amazing LEGO Ideas community would support this new version too! That demonstrates the potential of this idea! 

  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?

    Diego: My favorite LEGO Ideas set continues being the Saturn V (21309). The set looks spectacular anywhere you place it. It has something special (maybe the historical moment it represents) that differentiates it from others. About overlooked ideas and besides my own one, I would have loved to see any Hyrule castle become a reality.

    David: Thanks to the vacations contest, Pirates of the Barracuda Bay (21322) is finally in my hands… and it is amazing! It is by far my favourite LEGO ideas product. I love the colours, the display, the Caribbean atmosphere it gives off and the fact that it can become a real ship just fascinates me. About overlooked ideas, well, I must admit that for me, our first version of Naruto Ichiraku Ramen Shop is the best example of an overlooked LEGO idea.
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    We like LEGO Ideas because it is the perfect place to combine your passions. It is an amazing layer that links the LEGO fan community with the company itself. You can express your creativity designing your own LEGO set and let others see it, talk about it and share some ideas. Most LEGO fans have dreamed of becoming an official LEGO designer and working for this amazing company sometime in their lives. We know that having a LEGO set designed by ourselves is not like being an official designer, but it is close enough!  

    If you have something you think could be a good idea, go for it! You need to spend some time preparing the pictures and writing the description, but the LEGO Ideas community will extend you a warm welcome! 

  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?
    We are always thinking, designing, and building new LEGO MOCs. We are not, however, submitting everything to the LEGO Ideas platform, as some are personal and collaboration projects which we wish to retain the rights of the intellectual property for. On the other hand, we have some ideas in mind to work on after we finish our current projects. If we think any of our MOCs has the potential to become an official LEGO Ideas set, we will submit it without a doubt! 

 

  • product idea
  • 10k club interview
  • naruto ichiraku ramen shop - 20th anniversary
  • daditwins
  • david escalona
  • diego escanola
Published
163 comments
163 comments

Opens in a new window