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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Animal Crossing: New Horizons Paradise by Tiago Catarino

Congratulations to TiagoCatarino, who is a full-time Youtuber doing LEGO videos, former LEGO Model designer, and author of Animal Crossing: New Horizons Paradise! This model was inspired by the 2020 life simulation video game developed and published by Nintendo. 


  1. Who are you?
    Tiago Catarino

  2. Where are you from?
    I’m from Portugal.
  3. How old are you?
    I’m 34 years old.
  4. What do you do for a living?
    I’m a former LEGO Model Designer! Now I’m a full-time LEGO Youtuber!
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    Aside from LEGO, I like to watch Anime, Movies, and Netflix. I also love to play games like Rocket League and Hearthstone, but haven’t been having the time lately!
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    My Youtube Channel is usually up to date on what I’m doing!

  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
    Do the LEGO sets I designed while I was a Model Designer count as MOC’s? If so, I’m super proud of designing the Ship in a Bottle LEGO Ideas set 21313.

    After leaving LEGO I did a Globe which I’m quite proud of since it was super challenging to figure out the stand (heavily inspired by the one on the Ship in a Bottle).

    I also like the swing MOC that I did. I feel it has some really neat building techniques, but it took me literally a month or two to find the perfect solution!

  8. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    At a very young age, I think I was 6 or 7 when I started playing with my cousin's bricks, and soon after I got my first LEGO sets. After that, it really never stopped until now except for some dark ages during my teenage years.
  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 the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    It’s so many things! It’s a tool that lets me unleash my creativity in ways no other tool could. I’ve done films, I’ve done photography, I’ve done 3D, but nothing comes even close to LEGO bricks.
    As a kid, I would build toys I couldn’t have out of my LEGO bricks. As an adult, it led me to get my dream job of working for LEGO as a model designer!
    And after that amazing experience, I was still able to turn it into a full-time job with my Youtube Channel and I couldn’t be happier to still be allowed to play with LEGO for a living! Is it too much to say that LEGO is my life?!
  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?
    I will always go back to Creator 3in1. I could be biassed since this was the team I was working on at LEGO, but it truly feels like the theme that comes closer to what I believe is the best thing about LEGO, building, and rebuilding. You get 3 instructions to build different models out of the exact same LEGO pieces. How cool is that to show you what you can do with the bricks?
    And the theme heavily inspired my style of the building since it will usually focus on brick-built details over pre-molded pieces of things like cars, animals, and such.
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    70620 Ninjago City! It’s an amazing building experience, not repetitive at all despite its big size, neat building techniques and the functions are pretty awesome like the crab restaurant, the rooftop sushi bar, and others. Lots of inspiration to be found from just that single set!
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    It has to be the 1x2 plate. It is such a simple element yet I use it in pretty much every build that I do, and sometimes it feels like I don’t have enough! With a lot of them, you can create circle shapes (although it’s a bit of an illegal technique), good to recreate brick buildings, wall textures and so much more!
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Mike Psiaki. As a fan, I built the Creator 3in1 31023 Yellow Racers helicopter, and at the time (2014) I was completely blown away by the building techniques that now became common practice in LEGO sets. After I was done with it I told myself “I need to know who the designer of this set is!”
    Little did I know that 2 years later I was working together with Mike in Creator 3in1 and it was amazing seeing him at work. Whenever I or any other colleagues were stuck with a particular problem on our designs, we would come up to him and he would find a solution within minutes. He later got the title of Design Master for a reason. Every LEGO set Mike designed teaches me something new about the bricks that I did not know previously, and that’s amazing considering how long I’ve been playing with LEGO myself!
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I love Youtube, I’m there browsing every single day, and it’s a place where you can find the most amazing LEGO creations and content from lots of different people so that for sure inspires me! Also to the point where I want to push myself to do more and better LEGO content to hopefully also inspire others!



  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    Last year, Animal Crossing was literally everywhere! Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, magazines, blogs, websites, it was really hard to miss. So naturally, I went and looked up what the fuss was all about!
    I fell in love with the bright colors, clean objects houses, and overall design of the game and in my mind, I immediately said “Oh this would be awesome in LEGO”
  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?
    It wasn’t a long preparation, like I said I started looking online to see what the game was all about, looked into some gameplay videos on Youtube and then went googling for images of iconic ingame things I could turn into LEGO form. This only took a few hours.
  3. What special challenges or frustrations did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    The house was especially difficult to build because it has lots of angles which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you consider a square-based system like LEGO. The side walls were built using small steps of half a plate, figuring out the angles on the roof was also hard, but after that was done the rest of the build was rather quick.
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    I should have reached out to my friend Pedro Sequeira earlier to ask him for some help to design the minifigures. Early on after the project got submitted, lots of people commented on the fact that the project was missing minifigures, so maybe if I were to include them right from the start instead of including them later on as updates, the project could have been more popular right from the start.
  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?
    I built the entire thing in a few hours spread across a single weekend. Taking pictures, editing them, preparing the project for upload, then making the updates with the minifigures and promoting the project definitely took way longer! Like 100 times longer.
  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It took 9 months to reach the 10k votes and it felt really good! I was able to hit yet another cool LEGO milestone! I wasn’t jumping for joy or anything like that since it didn’t happen overnight. When the project got to around 7k votes it was getting support at a steady rate so it felt like it was only a matter of time until the project would hit 10k which eventually it did.
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    I would say between 1200/1500.
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    I quite like the Community DIY Workbench, as it feels to be really close to what the in-game object looks like. It was also fun to design as it required some interesting building techniques to get the looks right.
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    Pedro helped me out with the minifigures and for that, he used and Photoshop.
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    There are no prints but the minifigures and their objects were created digitally.


  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas Product Idea?
    Stay away from IPs and types of builds that LEGO already makes like Creator Expert vehicles and Modular buildings. Be original with your build, have fun, and don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to the presentation of the project. It is worth delaying the project submission to spend an extra week taking better photos thinking of proper descriptions and planning how to advertise your project.
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I shared the project in Animal Crossing and LEGO Facebook groups, Reddit, Instagram, and Youtube, using my own channel to also promote the project. I had to be consistent about it, while not spamming these places, and I believe I have replied to 99% of the comments I’ve had on the project in the LEGO Ideas platform and out there as well to show appreciation for the time people took to look at my project regardless if it was good feedback or bad feedback and whether they supported or not.
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    The Boston Dynamics Spot by WalkCrawlRun looks awesome and is my favorite right now. The LEGO Insects by hachiroku24 is, in my eyes, a bit underrated but when it gets to 10k, which I truly believe it will in time, will be a very strong Product Idea that might actually turn into an official LEGO set!
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea? 
    The possibility that anyone could literally be responsible for having LEGO make a LEGO set out of their idea is amazing. Becoming a fan designer and having your LEGO set displayed in a toy store, and knowing that it has the potential to reach and inspire thousands of people across the globe is a feeling that is very hard to top.

    A tip for people thinking of uploading a project would be, take your time to prepare for a killer project submission. A good presentation image can make all the difference between having people clicking your project, or having people keep scrolling on the platform.
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    I want to submit more Product Ideas, but still unsure what exactly!
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • animal crossing
  • nintendo
  • animals
  • house
  • nature

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