On a nice cold evening in Perth, Western Australia (yes it does get cold here!) I’m sitting here tucking into a lovely home made pasta and knocking back a red wine. Not normally a scene that stirs emotions and thoughts around LEGO – Well that is unless you’ve just seen one of the best Italian Restaurant LEGO Modular MOCs. Thanks to Olímpio Alexandre (Alex) that’s exactly what just happened and it is a masterpiece!
Being partial to modular building (owning 7 and 2 MOCs) I can’t help but fall in love with this beauty. Alex designed his modular over 3 floors and a roof level encompassing all the Italian greats:
- Ground floor is a busy modern pizzeria with big open kitchen, takeaway, dine in, scooter garage for deliveries and of course dripping in the Italian colours of green, white and red!
- First floor covers a cocktail bar that acts as a great location to have a relaxed drink before heading up to the restaurant on the next floor. However, don’t mistake this for a waiting room as this bar has a great two sided wrap around balcony allowing you to watch the world go by in Legoville! Lastly for those caught short the all important gabinetto (toilet).
- Second floor opens up to a big Italian restaurant and where Alex really starts to have some fun. Scene is set with the big Don sitting down to a family meal while he is flanked by his Mafia heavies. Meanwhile over in the corner two Mafia gunmen from a rival family are quietly plotting an attack. For other restaurant goers it’s pizza and gelato all round. Behind the secret hideout painting and wall is a fully operational kitchen ensuring no one goes hungry!
- Roof Terrace contains a cottage garden/green house helping to keep the kitchen down below up and running, the owner’s bedroom/flat and a playful homage to Lady and the Tramp sharing a bowl of pasta.
The above is just a small snapshot of what has been created. Alex has crammed in so much detail that no one image does it justice. Its well worth taking the time to look at the gallery below.
Well that’s enough of me waffling on now it’s time to hear from Alex himself as he shares some insights and his passion for LEGO.
1) What age was you when you discovered or rediscovered LEGO?
I remember playing with LEGO when I was 3. My uncle had the LEGO set #360 “Gravel Works” from 1974 and he kind of “gave” it to me. I still have almost all parts from that set. My mum realised how much I enjoyed playing with it, so she started buying me more sets when it was possible.
I had a dark age from 1996 to 2004, until I had a knee surgery. While I was recovering, I went through the old chest that I had with my bricks, and started to research for LEGO on the internet. It was a small step before I started buying old LEGO sets that I had missed when I was a kid, and until I met other adult fans of LEGO as I was.
2) What was your favourite LEGO theme and why?
City, and everything related to that (trains, divers, arctic, etc). I always wanted to build a huge city, with lots of details and life.
Before I was collecting sets and displaying them along with road plates, but after a while I also started building my own creations, giving my city a distinctive touch. Although a lot of people ask me if I wanted to be and architecture, my answer is just “no, I just love building things” with LEGO 🙂
3) What would you love LEGO to do moving forward?
If you asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have said so many things. But in the last years LEGO has been releasing so many good sets, that the difficult part is having enough money to get all those things. I think they are also doing a fantastic job with the new elements, especially the new animals that appear in the collectible minifigures. I would love if they brought back some features that the old 12v train system had, and use it on the new trains (remote control needles, lights, sounds, etc).
4) Where did you get your inspiration to create your Modular Italian Restaurant MOC?
From real buildings and places, I guess. The ground floor was inspired in a local pizzeria that exists where I live, and I had the idea for the first floor while I was waiting for a table in a fancy restaurant in Lisbon. The rest comes from other places that I have been, seen or even feedback that I get from friends or other LEGO fans.
5) Did you use any software such as LDD to assist?
No, nothing at all. It is all up in my head, all the drawings, sketches, ideas…they are all there. Sometimes things look good on LDD, but when you build them they don’t look that good….so I prefer to use physical elements. Also, I am lucky enough to have a lot of spare LEGO parts, which allows me to try several solutions.
6) Any tips would you offer for budding LEGO MOC creators.
Try and never give up. Sometimes it can be frustrating when you are stuck on something and everything you try simply does not look good to you. So just explore, search for inspiration and ideas on real objects and buildings and try something new.
I also have another “trick”, to prevent me from getting tired or frustrated when building something. I usually work on two different models at the same time. So, if I get stuck in a model, I stop building it for a while and I will work on the other one. That is also good if you have some idea that won’t work in a building but could work in a different one. Also, don’t be afraid or shy to ask for tips or help to other LEGO fans.
7) Any other MOCs in the pipeline?
Yes, several. I think I have 10 or more ideas for modulars that I would like to do. I just need time (and LEGO elements) for that 🙂 I am also working on a long time LEGO project the famous Square (Praça Rodrigues Lobo) from Leiria, the place where I live, and all the buildings in it. I have already built two, but I’m still missing 11.
8) What brick can’t you do without and why?
Tough question… I would say all the small plates, tiles and bricks. The smaller they are, the bigger the details you can create. But there is one element that I have been using a lot in my last models: the modified Brick 1 x 1 with Stud on 1 Side (part 87087). It’s great for SNOT, which allows me to add lots of details in the buildings facades and interiors.
9) What selfie LEGO picture best captures you.
Well, I would say the one that I took during the first time that I was in the LEGO vault, in Billund. I was holding the first LEGO set that my mom gave me, Fabuland Sandy Seagull’s Aeroplane, from 1985. My eyes were glowing!! It was a wonderful experience.
Well that’s a wrap I would like to extend a massive thank you to Alex for spending the time to answer my questions and sharing his amazing Italian Restaurant MOC with us all.
If you use Flickr remember to follow Alex (Flickr – olimpio.albano), I certainly will!