Please welcome the newest member of the 10K Club, Giorgio Tona - a.k.a. Nastonauta and their charming FANTOZZI TAKES THE BUS ON THE FLY project. Inspired by their love of the classic Italian film, Giorgio has built this beautiful vintage-looking set. Don't forget to leave a like for Girogio!
- Who are you?
Hello! My name is Giorgio Tona, “Nastronauta” here on LEGO Ideas.
- Where are you from?
I’m from Genoa, Italy.
- How old are you?
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am an architect.
- What hobbies do you have?
Apart from building with LEGO bricks, I love listening to music, and also playing it: my first instrument was a bass guitar, then I learned to play electric guitar and keyboards, and I’ve been quite lucky to have a lot of friends to play with while learning
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I use my Instagram account @nastronauta to showcase my personal LEGO creations.
- 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?
One of the MOCs I’m happiest with is “Dream big”, a build that I made at the beginning of 2022 for the LEGO Ideas contest “Celebrating 90 years of play in LEGO House”. Combining my favourite LEGO themes during my childhood years (City, Castle and Pirates), I tried to express that sense of wonder that sometimes really makes us go beyond our day-by-day routine and dream of something extraordinary, giving us the strength to reach it.
In fact, this MOC also represents a real dream come true, as it has been selected at the end of the contest to be exhibited for a whole year inside the LEGO House in Billund: dreaming big really works!
- How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
As a child, LEGO sets were already my favourite toys: when the Pirates theme was released I was 7, and I remember vividly as a special Christmas the one in which Santa Claus and my family joined forces to leave the Black Seas Barracuda under my tree: what a wonderful set it was (and still is), the perfect setting for countless adventures over the seven seas!
My childhood has been just the first act of my passion for LEGO products, though: during the first lockdown for the pandemic in 2020, I discovered a new way of enjoying building with the bricks, this time not following official instructions but trying to make something more personal.
- 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.
In the present day, for me, building with LEGO bricks is not only a creative hobby, but also a very interesting tool to communicate with other people, in many different ways: it allows me to express myself through my MOCs, and it also offers me new occasions to meet new friends, personally, during the exhibitions I participate in, or remotely through messages and social media.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
When I was a child, my favourite theme was LEGO Pirates: the minifigures were a giant step forward in terms of details and accessories, and the theme itself ignited my imagination, allowing me to create endless adventures with pirates and imperial officers as main characters.
Today, being more focused on building techniques, I love the Fairground Collection, as it mixes perfectly aesthetics and working mechanisms, as well as the Speed Champions sets, which always offer interesting solutions, uncommon pieces and impressive results.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
There are many sets that impressed me with their beauty or have a special meaning (depending on the age I discovered them, who gave them to me as gifts), but here I’m going to force myself to select just one, based on the beauty of the set itself and the fun derived from it, and my vote goes to the Haunted House from the Fairground Collection (set 10273): the building is astonishing, with so many details and funny “Easter eggs”. The minifigures are amazing and, very important for me, it has really interesting working functions, with the falling elevator being one of my favourite LEGO mechanisms ever. The fact that all the decorations are printed, and not on stickers, is an added feature I appreciated a lot!
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Each time I build a MOC, my favourite LEGO element is the one that allows me to enrich that build in a particular way, or adds a little fun to the whole model; there is one piece in particular, however, that I think has a lot of unexpressed potential, and that’s the tea saucer that came with the Waldorf minifig, from the Muppets collection: it’s a sort of a 1x1 round plate, but with a slightly wider radius, which is very interesting for decorations. I would really like to find more units of it, maybe in different colours, in future sets!
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I clearly remember the moment I saw the photos of a MOC that instantly pushed my imagination forward in terms of what it was possible for an AFOL to build with LEGO bricks, and that MOC was “The Love of a Sailor” by Ralf Langer / Ranghaal: in a relatively compact creation there were so many creative techniques used for such a poetic result, that from then onward, it has been my dream, and still is, to build myself, one day, something with at least a tenth of that charm.
Another fan designer I appreciate a lot for his very personal style and his vivid sense of humour is Byggi, whose creations are really funny, a sort of comic art made with LEGO bricks that cannot leave anyone without a smile.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Being very interested in the new pieces that get introduced to the market month after month, New Elementary is my favourite source of information about new moulds and colours.
Regarding building techniques, I find very interesting Tips & Bricks for its in-depth analysis on how some of the greatest MOCs around are built, while for more general news I love The Brothers Brick, BrickNerd and The Bricks Box.
Finally, I would like to mention two non-English digital magazines that always offer great content: Bricks In Bits in Spanish, and Brick It Magazine, in Italian.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
During the 2020 lockdown, while cleaning and reordering my vintage Castle and Pirates sets, I started to think about a subject for a personal MOC, in order to put into it some ideas I had collected, together with some building techniques I was curious to test.
The scene of Fantozzi taking the bus on the fly came quite immediately to my mind, not only because it’s a movie sequence that I love, but also because it allowed me to build a tri-dimensional model in which I could be in full control of all the elements, including its background (the facade of the building itself): as Ugo Fantozzi says at the beginning of that epic scene, “I’ve never done it, but I’ve always dreamt it!”, and that was for me too the first opportunity to make something I could feel as “mine” and that I could take decent pictures of, without worrying about what real-life setting was behind it.
- 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?
The main reference for my project was, of course, the original sequence from the movie “Fantozzi”: I watched it a million times trying to capture the highest number of details possible.
The movie itself has received several restoration processes in recent years, every time rendering the colours of the original tape with a different “warmth”: I also had to choose, therefore, between slightly different colour palettes for the building and the bus, but in the end, I chose the one that, in my opinion, could immediately put the observer in the mood of something coming directly from the mid-’70s: “medium nougat” and “sand green” are wonderful colours to use when looking for that vintage feeling!
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I think that the most frustrating part of the process was running short of bricks right when I needed them! My collection of spare parts was in its early days during the making of this model, so more than once I found myself waiting for a new order to arrive.
The techniques used in this MOC are nothing extreme; the trickiest part to design, which also required some reconstruction here and there, has unexpectedly been the relationship between the facade of the building and the apartments inside: every time a rolling shutter was lowered on the outside, I had to replace the window frames with modified bricks that allowed the shutter-tiles to be attached, and therefore on the inside, I had to fake the presence of the window (which in fact had disappeared) by “hiding” it with curtains or furniture.
- If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell them? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I really learned a lot during the process of building this MOC, so there would be a ton of things that I could suggest to my parallel version stuck in the past, but would it be the same? I don’t think so: you learn everything way better if you face it directly! So go on, Giorgio, I won’t help you, buah-ah-ah!
- 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?
It took me some months to complete the model, discontinuously: I am not able to be more precise than this (three, five, six months?), as periodically some weeks were spent just waiting for freshly-ordered pieces to arrive.
The building process has been slow and calm: I built this MOC mainly for my own pleasure of doing it, stopping and restarting whenever I wanted.
The day my proposal has been accepted on the LEGO Ideas platform, relaxation gave way to excitement: I could not expect such a fast growth of votes! I received so much support and love from all over the world, by so many people altogether, that I’m still amazed by the kindness and positivity that social media is still able to offer.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
“Fantozzi takes the bus on the fly” reached the 10.000th vote only three weeks after it had been accepted on the LEGO Ideas platform; I remember clearly that the pace of the votes had naturally slowed down a little bit during the last days, even if still remained at the top of the most popular proposals, but in the final hours it went again on turbo mode: it’s magic when you can count the remaining votes with just two digits, then one, and then all of a sudden the race is over and you feel the relief and joy of having reached the goal of 10.000 supporters!
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I am very happy about the reinvented usage of some classic elements: the sceptre, for example, has become a key element for the railing of the balconies, and the old castle turret top has been recycled for the pillars under the elevated road.
As for the techniques used, the part that satisfied me more has been the back of the building, that is the interior of the apartments: I had a lot of fun experimenting with new techniques, and trying new bricks, in order to build detailed pieces of furniture and accessories in such a condensed depth (3 or 4 studs only).
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I built the model directly with physical bricks; I used Stud.io only to study some small details, like the railing of the balconies.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I proudly used already-existing elements only, without recurring to custom graphics: I appreciate those who do that, of course, as it’s a form of art on its own, but I love to build my MOCs exclusively with pieces that are already there: more than a limit, it’s a challenge!
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Even if I don’t have a recipe for a successful product idea, I’m quite sure that a key element is genuine-ness: building something with the main goal of making it popular doesn’t look to me like the right way to effectively make it receive a lot of attention; I truly believe that the best first step is to build something that amazes ourselves, something that we will not get tired of improving day by day: that kind of care will surely show, in the end, and it will appear really charming to many other people.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support for your Product Idea?
I have been very lucky in terms of promotion, as the possibility of voting for my proposal in order to make it considered for official production spread very quickly over the Internet, without me having to do a lot: I am very grateful not only to the 10,000 LEGO Ideas users who voted for it, but also to the many, many people that found my Product Idea worth sharing on different media. I knew Fantozzi was a beloved character, but still, I didn’t expect such a massive, fast and positive reaction for my MOC.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
The LEGO Ideas platform is a wonderful source of inspiration, with so many great proposals coming from builders all around the world: my memory is filled with a lot of different Ideas that made it to the store - and to my house as well, like Yellow Submarine, the Ship in a Bottle, the Medieval Blacksmith - and many others that I watched growing, day-by-day, on the platform. One submission that I really love is The Meeting Point by Brickester: I really hope for the future to see more proposals by him on that subject, as to me he did a truly great job with that Product Idea.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
LEGO Ideas is one of the most welcoming platforms I’ve ever seen; I appreciate a lot the fact that all over the website you can find positivity, motivation and inspiration, with no trace of the “tension” (demotivating comments, aggressiveness) that you can find so easily in other websites or social media: this helps a lot the users, especially the youngest or the ones with less experience, to get involved and participate to the different activities offered.
I surely encourage everyone with an idea in mind to build it and upload it to the platform, but also to participate in the challenges proposed: the need to produce an original creation in a limited amount of time, and the possibility of comparing, in the end, the different projects uploaded, are great tools to grow as a builder and to produce more appreciated creations.
- 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?
I will surely submit other Product Ideas in the future, being that the process is always a great experience, even when the support is more difficult to achieve.
At the moment I’m collecting ideas: I haven’t focused on a precise subject yet, but I hope to be able to do it very soon. I can’t wait to start building something new!
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