Machu Picchu, tucked away in the Peruvian mountains, is filled with wonder and so much history. Diego Baca (aka DDBDR on LEGO Ideas) decided to recreate this using LEGO® bricks! And here he is to answer some questions for his 10K Club interview!
And remember to congratulate Diego in the comments below!
- Where are you from?
I am from Lima, Peru but I currently live in Seattle, Washington, USA.
- How old are you?
I am 36 years young :)
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am a UX Design Manager at Microsoft.
- What hobbies do you have?
Without a doubt LEGO is my favorite hobby. My passion for LEGO has recently been rekindled by my 4-year-old son, he also loves exercising his imagination and building all sorts of things. Besides LEGO, I love traveling and visiting places with rich history and architecture. One of my favorite places in the world is Machu Picchu – it has the perfect combination of wonder, excitement, and history. Still on my bucket list, Hong Kong, I would love to see the futuristic skyline at night.
- Do you have a personal portfolio website that you can share with us?
I do have a portfolio site, but it does not have my LEGO work on it; only my UX design work. I have posted some of my LEGO work publicly on my Flickr site.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
LEGO has been my favorite toy as far as I can remember. As a child, I was lucky to have parents that always purchased LEGO for big gift occasions such as birthdays and Christmas (my dad is an engineer and my mom an architect). As an adult, I rediscovered LEGO through Mindstorms, Technic, and Architecture sets. I love these three LEGO themes because they help me explore my passion for computers, engineering, and architecture.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
I have so many LEGO sets I love, so it is very tough to choose just one! If I must choose, I would pick set 8094-1 Technic Control Center. This set has a special place in my heart because it was gifted to me for my 10th birthday. I still can remember how excited and lucky I felt when I got this set. I love it because it expanded my horizons of what LEGO could be and do. This wonderful set has two motors and a programable control center which blew my mind at the time and allowed me to explore possibilities that I did not know could be possible with LEGO.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Choosing just one is so hard! For my choice I am picking element 3649 Technic 40 tooth gear because I am a Technic gear head. I feel there is a handful of iconic pieces in LEGO like the 2x4 brick or the minifigure, for Technic I would argue it’s the 40-tooth gear. This element is wonderful, it’s iconic, useful, practical, and versatile! My favorite color for this element is green, which appeared in one of the Throwbot/Slizer sets in the late 90's.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec is my favorite fan designer. He is super prolific, his sets are works of art, and he does amazing feats of engineering. The things he builds with LEGO Technic are amazing. I also am a big fan of Akiyuki and his Great Ball Contraptions (GBC), he is a LEGO engineering genie.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
The Brothers Brick is my favorite LEGO website, I visit the site every day as part of my morning routine. The creations featured on their site get me inspired and makes me feel a sense of community with LEGO fans all over the world. I also love the site Brick Architect, by Tom Alphin. His reviews on architecture theme sets and LEGO storage ideas are super insightful and well written.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
As a Peruvian my main motivation was to share a part of my country and culture through LEGO Ideas. Machu Picchu felt like a perfect model to promote the beauty and wonder from Peru with the world by having everyone explore this iconic archeological site. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to represent my country in LEGO form. I would also add that I LOVE Machu Picchu, I have been fortunate enough to have visited several times and it is an amazing place full of history, excitement and wonder.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Scale was a big challenge. I started with the intention to make a topographically accurate model of Machu Picchu. The more I researched, it became apparent that it would be impossible to recreate Machu Picchu with 100% accuracy if I wanted to stay within the piece limit for LEGO Ideas submissions.
The challenge was to include enough of the mountain (Huayna Picchu) and several features of the city of Machu Picchu without including every landscape detail. Therefore, the final scale was dictated by the iconic Huayna Picchu mountain, and I worked backwards from there to include as much detail as I could in micro-scale.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
The original model took roughly 1 month to design and build. I started by doing tons of research from photographs and sketched several versions of the model to settle on an appropriate scale. The next step was to design the model digitally using Bricklink’s Stud.io, which took roughly 2 weeks of iteration. Lastly, I ordered all the necessary pieces, built the prototype, and did a few tweaks.
But that was not the end… throughout the LEGO Ideas ‘gathering support’ phase I received a lot of feedback and suggestions from supporters. Therefore, I did several changes to the model including, a version 2.0 in which I rebuilt the model from the ground-up in a much nicer colour palette, added an ornate alternate base which uses cues from Incan art and jewellery, and lastly created an Inca Emperor minifigure.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Oh, my goodness! It was a long journey (almost 2 years) but I felt incredible and very proud, because it was an honor to have my model reach the goal. More importantly it was a big win for Peru and Machu Picchu. I enjoyed having the chance to represent my country and promote Machu Picchu, so people all over the world learn about this amazing architectural wonder.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The model has roughly 657 pieces without the alternate base or 924 with the ornate alternate base.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Promoting a LEGO Ideas project is a wild ride. I am always humbled and excited at the passion people across the globe have for LEGO. When I first submitted the project to LEGO Ideas, I had no expectation, I knew it is very challenging to reach 10,000 votes – I was happily caught off guard when I uploaded it to Facebook and within hours it went viral. I remember my mom called me letting me know she has seen my project on TV and in all major news sites in Peru. Going viral is cool but I am especially proud when fellow AFOLs across the globe send me messages of encouragement or have built the model themselves from instructions I posted online, makes me feel awesome.
The best advice I can give is to submit something you are passionate about and that you have put a lot of time and effort. Your supporters will appreciate and reward you for all the positive energy generated by your creation.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
My favorite Ideas project that got made into an official set is Exo Suit by Peter Reid because I am also a HUGE Classic Space fan and I geeked out at the green space minifigures.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
I have learned a lot in these past two years, I also have made many new friends along the way. In fact, that’s been my favorite part of the journey. The most important tip I can give anyone thinking about uploading an idea, would be to recognize there are so many passionate people that want to see you succeed and help support your ideas. Meeting, talking, and seeking advice from the LEGO community helped me keep a positive attitude throughout the process. To anyone thinking of putting an idea out there, do it! It is an amazing experience and I have enjoyed every second of it.
- 10k club interview
- diego baca
- machu picchu
- 10k club