10K Club Interview: Meet Alexander Paschoaletto of Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (Smoke Squadron)
In the lead up to the expected fall review results announcement, which includes 10 impressive product ideas that qualified, we're back to tell the stories of the fans that built them!
This week's 10K Club member, Alexander Paschoaletto a.k.a. Alex Paschoaletto, hails from Brazil and represents the young talent in the LEGO community! His Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (Smoke Squadron) received a great amount of attention in particular in his home-country of Brazil, for the interpretation of the iconic stunt plane and squadron.
Help us congratulate Alexander on joining the exclusive LEGO Ideas 10K Club and for sharing his story with us!
- Where are you from?
I am from Brazil, more specifically from a coastal town named Fortaleza. It belongs to the northeast state of Ceará.
- How old are you?
I’m 20 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I’m currently on my fourth year of Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Brasília - UnB.
- What hobbies do you have?
Apart from LEGO bricks, I’m a big fan of photography, Arduino projects and, more recently, 3D printing. Actually, I think I enjoy the latter for the same reason I like LEGO bricks: the whole concept of being able to transform one thing into another amuses me.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
When I was a very young kid I had a bucket full of Duplo bricks to play with my sister, but as we moved to a new city named Curitiba they were given away. I forgot about the existence of LEGO bricks until I was 8, when I started to study at a new school that had the ZOOM robotics classes. I then discovered the LEGO System bricks and became fascinated by the idea of assembling my own toys.
That fascination led me to be the only kid I knew at the time who would rather want a LEGO set than a videogame.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Oooh, tough one. I’d say the most beautiful and desired set I ever wanted had to be the 8156 Ferrari FXX, mostly because I am a huge car fan as long as I remember. I never had the chance to find it, though, so if I were to pick a favourite from the ones I bought, I’d say the 10248 Ferrari F40 and its amazing engine detail is my choice.
^ Alex working on a new car construction surrounded by many of his other vehicle based creations.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The 54200 1x2 cheese slope! It’s a very useful piece and almost a requirement for everything I build.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I’m afraid I don’t know any designer, but please send my compliments to whoever created the FXX! I’m always inspired by any vehicle you release, be it cars, planes, trucks or heavy machines.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
I often visit The Brother’s Brick to catch up on general builds, but since I’m mostly a car builder than anything else, the page I usually keep my eyes on is The Lego Car Blog. They are a good source of inspiration for whenever I want to build something new.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I’ve always been an engineering enthusiast, where anything that uses gears to move itself amuses me. That includes robots and clocks, but since I’ve always been a speed fan, what called my attention the most had to be cars and planes. When I moved to Curitiba, my house was very close to an airport, and with some frequency there used to be air demonstrations.
It was there I first got to know the Smoke Squadron and the T-27 Tucano airplanes that did constitute it. Back in 2016 I decided, after having built some “spin-offs” like a Bioshock’s Big Daddy and a Zeppelin, that I’d also move towards the airplane scenario and, since I had some blue and green bricks left, the T-27 seemed like the obvious choice.
Searching reference images I found that the Squadron had updated its fleet to the fancy new A-29 Super Tucanos, so I decided to change my project as well. I’ve liked both the Tucanos since I’ve known them, not only for the way they look, but also for the impressive stunts they are able to execute.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The propeller, no doubt! I remember doing the first versions with a 3-bladed propeller design that didn’t quite suit the A-29 because it has five blades in it, so when I decided to upload the model to LEGO Ideas I had to come up with the correct number first. Of course, I’d use a 5-bladed brick, but as I found out, it looks like such piece does not exists!
^ Alex's design solution for a 5 bladed propeller design to ensure the accuracy he needed for his model
- How long did it take to complete the model?
From the first bricks to be assembled to the first version where I was happy enough to consider it ready, it took around two weeks for the conclusion. But it was my first plane ever, and as many first works, it was pretty… horrible.
As you can imagine I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it, so another week of work lead me to the second version, this one MUCH better than the previous one. But still it had the wrong propeller, so around eight months later the fancy new third version was ready to take its shot on the LEGO Ideas website.
Did it end there? For my Ideas project perhaps, but for the creation standing on my bedroom’s shelf, no. I started to detect the wings needed to be a bit wider in order to correct some proportions, so there is also a fourth version around now.
Long story short, around eight months.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
It felt awesome! I saw the model gain its last 2000 votes very quickly due to the massive help I had from a Youtube Channel named Aviões & Músicas, and of course, from the Brazilian Air Force who first discovered my model a year ago.
They were very gentle and even offered me the opportunity of shooting the speed build video I put on the LEGO Ideas page.
The repercussion this project had here in Brazil wasn’t any small. I even called the attention of the Smoke Squadron itself, and meeting the crew in person was a dream coming true.
^ Alex' LEGO version of the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (Smoke Squadron) next to its inspirational BIG brother
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
When I last counted, exactly 400 bricks. With the latest version though it might be slightly larger now, with 420 or 430.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I’d recommend anyone to only update a creation when they look at it and feel it’s good enough. Don’t do as the speaker here used to do some years ago and upload it as soon as you first consider it finished. Take a moment to analyze if you could improve any part of it!
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
It’s really hard to choose only one. If we’re talking about on-store projects, the Apollo 11 Saturn-V takes my vote, and if the talk is about the gathering support section, I really enjoyed the Hot Dog truck and want one already!
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
The whole idea of having a chance to be a LEGO designer, even if just for one set, is pretty outstanding for me. It’s almost like when you’re building something and get so proud of your work that you think “wow, this could be like a set!”, and actually having the mother of your bricks to agree with you in case it gets approved!
^ Alex speaks to a crowd of visitors at the ExpoLUG event about his LEGO Ideas product idea "Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (Smoke Squadron)"