This week’s builder is a hot mess from Ankara Turkey whose clean builds and steady leadership has helped define the burgeoning LEGO fan scene in his venerable country. Cagri Yuz isn’t content being married to one theme, preferring to jump around from trains to sci-fi to micro builds of Turkey’s many world heritage sites. I caught up with Cagri at the Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia. We talked about the timeless mystery of baby shampoo, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk vs George Washington and muscat grapes. We also talked about LEGO.
CY: I was suffering from a builder’s block and I did the only logical thing I could do. I came up with a surreal creation which nobody could object. People ask puzzled questions about the nature of this MOC and they’re all worried that they have failed to understand the logic behind it. It’s funny to watch how insecure the humankind is when we face a slightly confusing problem. It was just a pile of bricks really, nothing else. Joking aside, it’s not an entirely meaningless creation. I wanted to point out the hatred against women among men and hence the title “Misogyny”. I may have done this somewhat brutally but it is what it is. I had a similar creation titled Reconstruction and I may build more in the future, why not? But don’t ask the secret behind Reconstruction, there isn’t any. I simply enjoyed the colors, simplicity and arrangement of parts.
CY: I didn’t really know there was an upcoming TMNT theme. Ever since I saw the claws in 6866 Wolverine’s Chopper Showdown, I wanted to build myself a Shredder figure. Then came the rest of the characters. I’m quite happy how they turned out in the end. I especially like my April O’neil figure. She was my first crush as a kid and apparently I’m still sort of attached to her, even in the form of a plastic toy. I think this last one sounded a little bit weird? Anyways, I’m not particularly interested in the new TMNT line. 2012 series is quite different than the 1987 one which I’m familiar with. I didn’t enjoy the overall design of models and characters. That’s not a bad thing though, I get to keep my brick-money for other themes.
KG: That isn’t weird at all, I had a similar thing for Princess Ariel from Thundarr. You know, “Ariel, Ookla, Ride!” and whatnot. Moving on.
KG: Like many in our hobby, you suffer from a rare syndrome that causes you to consume LEGO in large quantities. Talk about this problem, and do you have any other issues with the brick you’d like to come clean about?
CY: Hello, my name is Cagri and I’m a LEGO addict. I was first introduced to this menace by my parents when I was a kid and I can’t quit. It has taken all my mind and all my money. Every single coin I can spare in my piggy bank goes to this plastic addiction. I have an unstoppable impulse to build every single thing I see in the world. I loose touch with reality once I start observing things in the streets so that I can build them later on. It’s hazardous for me wander around on my own. I have been subject to many traffic accidents trying to catch a glimpse of things around me. I need continuous assistance to survive in everyday life. I admit, my LEGO problem is injurious… But seriously, LEGO gives us the power to create anything. Everyone wants to shape the world as they wish, that’s just not practical. With LEGO parts, we can actually make our dreams come true without too much hassle. I love to hold that power in my hands. I may be unable to change things in real life but once my shift is over and I go home, I can do whatever I like all night long. I keep building until I get sore eyes. I am the master of darkness!
CY: Back in the days, I had my own web site where I published my LEGO creations among other things. At one point, Turkish LEGO fans were reaching me through emails and voila, I had an audience. I started up a blog and posted recent LEGO related news and interesting stuff for a couple of years. I think it was an important step because my web site was the only Turkish source about LEGO and it attracted many people to the AFOL world. After a while, I wanted things to be more interactive with the audience and I installed a discussion forum into my web site. I mixed up some potions, cursed some voodoo dolls, magic happened and I founded Turkish LEGO Users Group in 2007. Currently we have around 75 regularly participating members and I think there are over 150 adult fans in the country who doesn’t have much online presence. We will reach most of them eventually.
KG: When did you find other LEGO builders online, who were the first builders you looked at, and what sites did you visit?
CY: Up until 2001, I was unaware that there were LEGO communities around the world. Actually I thought I was one of the very few adults in the whole universe who kept “playing” after their childhood years. I was pretty certain that I had the largest LEGO collection in Turkey, possibly in Europe as well. I felt very special, extremely special. I was wrong of course, extremely wrong. There were local clubs all around the planet, online exchange of information was mindblowing, AFOLs had massive collections and I wasn’t even an adult, I was simply 16 in 2001! Obviously, I was a very confused teenager. But I came over that very quickly. LUGNET was the first step for my enlightenment and I had a major breakthough when I discovered Bricklink. Spare parts were pouring into my collection. I started building my own creations. I was breathless. It was an amazing experience to come out of my shell.
CY: When we found out about LEGO ambassadors, we didn’t have a clear understanding of the program. We didn’t have big ambitions or expectations but we did want to be a part of it. I think the best part of the program was to be acknowledged by the LEGO Group. We were just a bunch of simple people and a powerful global company was striving to get our opinion. That was extremely encouraging for us. I can’t say there was much room for “accomplishments” but we are among the most active ambasadors as far as I can observe. I don’t think I should tell more since I have signed a non-disclosure agreement. Sorry!
KG: You’re coming off your annual New Year’s contest. Talk about the tradition and what does the future hold for TurkLUG?
CY: As far as I can recall, we have been arranging this contest since 2008. When TurkLUG was a fresh community, I had to keep member attention high at all times. Otherwise people could get distracted and seek other interests. It started out as small contests and raffles. When we made sure that there was a steady flow of attention, I had to give our members something to pursue. They had to expect something bigger for the future. Then came the annual contest. Now our aim is to create high quality models which could compete with other LUGs and AFOLs. We have very recently finished a project on Roman Empire with the full participation of 20 members. We had a fairly large size diorama which we displayed in Istanbul. We are currently working on another project and I expect it to be much better than the previous one. Our biggest goal is to arrange a public event with the participation of large numbers of civilians. We will always keep pushing for better and bigger activities.
KG: Besides lowering the prices, which is a worldwide complaint, what can our evil corporate masters at LEGO do better to service the needs of the Turkish LEGO builder or TurkLUG?
CY: We are benefiting from all the global perks of participating in the Ambassador Program. Direct contact with The LEGO Group, LUGBulk, other material aids and whatnot. Even though there are some things that could be improved, I’m personally quite happy about the attention of TLG. But we have major problems with the local distributor Adore Oyuncak. Despite our constant efforts, we have failed to build a communication line with the distributor and we believe that TLG could interfere to make things more comfortable for us. From simple things such as obtaining catalogs to much harder things like participating in events, there is a big potential for cooperation. The pricing problem is also much more severe in Turkey. Sets are sometimes two times more expensive than Europe. Imagine the lower rate of income. It is very hard for us to recruit new members in these conditions.
CY: I can’t promise for the fabulous part but I’m currently working on several projects. I have already built a new BSG Raptor and I should post some pictures soon. I’m also halfway done with a 48×48 medieval village which seems alright to me. I have several train related creations on hold and a few small ideas are dusting around the house. I don’t have much spare time on hand so it sometimes takes months for me to complete a creation. And I really really want to build a few Technic models this year. I always end up recycling my Technic creations after I build a chassis. I never managed to dress up my models. I should invest in some panels.
5 Boilerplate Questions:
CY: I think I would like to store my “End of the Road” model for future reference, it has always been my most favorite creation. It has a relaxing, warm atmosphere which I like very much. It’s probably my most appreciated work as well. Other AFOLs seem to enjoy it as much as I do. It’s a shame that I had to part it out to build new models. I always have to break my creations since I have a very limited collection compared to other builders. I keep recycling the same parts and it may be observed in my photostream.
KG: If The LEGO Group invited you to design an official set, what would it be?
CY: Official sets are built with a much different mentality than AFOL creations. There is less space for personal expression. So if I was working for TLG, I’d be happier working in the space line since it promises much more freedom than other themes. I would love to build models on peaceful colonization of planets. I’m tired of the conflict themes where the good guys and bad guys keep struggling for domination. We need a different approach.
KG: Taking time, money and proximity out of the equation, name 2 builders that you’d like to collaborate with on a project?
CY: Tyler Clites (Legohaulic) is the first name that comes up in my mind and Nannan Zhang (NannanZ) of course. They are both unearthly. I wish my brains functioned the same way as theirs. I have so much respect for them. Probably more jealousy than respect. But it’s ok…
KG: Name a famous person living or dead who would have made great LEGO-nerd.
KG: Who controls the action?
CY: Wut!? I’ll answer that with a question, who let the dogs out?