Recently Ivan Angeli (Angeli ¥), from Belgrade’s LUG Beokocka, Serbia, posted a large fantasy layout loosely based on Sword Coast from Baldur’s Gate. The layout is highly detailed and uses an unusual combination of colors and juxtaposition of elements. We got together with Ivan to talk about his unique creation and the adventure he had in the making of it. Join us for another journey inside the mind of a builder!
TBB: This is quite a large, detailed MOC (My Own Creation). How long have you been working on it?
Angeli: The MOC was built during four months of intense building. The good thing is that building is a lot of fun for me, also one of the rare things that make me completely calm and serene; so I was not finding time for mocing, I was finding time for everything else. But every moment of those four months were pure fun, except when I needed 20 minutes of disassembling so I had enough room to open the window!
TBB: You mention that Baldur’s Gate is an inspiration for this. Explain to our readers how that influenced you and inspired this build.
Angeli: All of my builds are inspired by that game. It is still my favorite, and every year I play one of the parts, or Icewind Dale, that was made with same mold; Atmosphere, monsters, dungeons, dragons, love, fight, loot, everything an adventurer could ask, including company of good party members. Personal favorites? Minsc and his hamster Boo, and a dark elf (Drow) named Viconia. And if you look really hard, you can find cleric Viconia in every moc, making some dark plans, or just relaxing in a local tavern! The first big MOC that I’ve made was named “Ust Natha”, and that is a Drow city from the game. Interestingly, “Ust Natha”, on dark elfish means “the first one”. In the game, events are happening all around an area called “Sword coast”, and that is what gave me idea for this MOC.
TBB: How much is based on reference material and how much of the build is your own interpretation of Sword Coast?
Angeli: Although I’ve played the game many times and know it by heart, nothing in the MOC refers to images or descriptions from the game; I just imagined how could on part of the Sword Coast look, and built it. There are three main sections: Islands, populated with celestials, Swamp, filled with all type of crawling creatures, and City, packing with monsters. Except for the name, monsters, atmosphere and water, there is nothing similar with the Sword Coast from the game. Although, as this is huge area, who knows what would wait for us just around the corner, if game had another expansion?
TBB: The left side of the build uses a lot of red, which is an unusual color for builders to use for buildings. It gives it a very unique look and feel. What lead you to decide to use so much red?
Angeli: I had a chance to acquire a large amount of basic 1×2 bricks. Colors that were available were also basic: blue, red, yellow, black and white. But I had money for only one color, and I researched…arches, slopes and other bricks were cheapest in red color. So I bought all 15,000 of them! And I must say, they go so quickly, when building. In any case, red looks nice when combined with dark red, trans red and trans dark blue, and it looks quite scary and imposing in person; But also it looks really great in real life, especially on daylight. Over time I acquired more black, and recently, white. I usually use all the bricks I have, when building, and the only parts that are left are tires and duplo arches. That is why I have to decide before – red are walls of the bad guys, white for the good, and black for the stones. Next time, castle might be black, with red stones and white water!
TBB: What was the hardest part to build?
Angeli: The hardest part to build was the round white tower, as its roof is not supported from inside and it is made out of trans clear slopes and bricks; but the part that gave me most problems was the bridge. The bridge is 2 meters long, and it does not contain any technic parts. It rests on only four studs, and it is made completely from 1×2 bricks and 1×4 and 1×6 arches. Everything else on it is built up. As it is so long, it always required two persons to move it. Sometimes the other person didn’t have enough patience to go slowly enough, or was to scared of breaking it that it went too slowly; in either case, the bridge would collapse in the middle, and I had to rebuild it again!
TBB: Which section or area are you most proud of?
Angeli: The Flower: it’s constructed from classic Lego bricks, Galidor, Clickits, Technic and Bionicle parts!
Also the Bridge and, lastly, the Minifigs! Minifigs are always the special part of any MOC and I enjoy trying to combine a helmet and armor that are from different themes, or just invent new type of monster. I love it when the figures in the story have a lot of character. I must admit that I enjoy making minifigs as much as making the MOC. Maybe even a little more!
TBB: You mentioned on Flickr that you built this during three breakups. Was building this therapy for the breakups or were the breakups caused by this build?
Angeli: Well, during all those years of building I’ve learned how to justify to new girls a house full of Lego bricks and why I have large castles covering all the tables. They seem to like creativity and the innocence of playing. At the beginning, that is. But when you are always late because you had idea for the new castle roof, or you cancel Saturday night clubbing because you’ve spent all your money two days before on Lego, or, the worst, when you cancel meeting altogether because you would rather stay home and build – new girlfriends don’t look kindly on sharing attention! It is a vicious circle: you break up because you build too much, then you start building more as a therapy for break up, then you meet a new girl, and she breaks up because you build too much… and round it goes! It’s a Circle of life! On the bright side, I have a new girlfriend, and she really likes the stonework of the new MOC. We shell see how long this is going to hold her attention!
TBB: You also mentioned damage caused during the building. Damage to a large build can be quite dramatic. You mentioned angry girlfriends, drunk friends and chair problems. Can you give us more details? The stories sound wild!
Angeli: As it happens, the tall round tower with pointy tower was the first construction made. One night I had to pick up a girlfriend from a bus stop, few minutes from the apartment, and as I was in a lively discussion over the phone regarding the next Lego exhibition, I missed her message telling me she had arrived. She was so angry, she threw her bag, which rolled and hit the lamp. The lamp hit the fan and fan kicked the tower from the table. It broke on half, and it was a nightmare to put back together, which I put off for three months. Finally I did it, and a week later, the same girl knocked the tower down again! But this time she was very sorry, and she never came near to the Lego part of the room anymore.
Regarding friends, yes, I have a unhappy trifecta: teammates from my sport (Underwater Hockey), long swords on walls and tables full of Lego buildings. After training, my teammates sometimes like to come by for a beer and they LOVE to take a sword from a wall and pretend they are Conan or some unnamed hero defending the kingdom. A drunk guy with a sword and a tall Lego tower should not be in the same room together. Believe me, they should not! One of the three is bound to find itself on the floor and it is rarely the guy!
And for the chair, when I build a lot of bricks are in bags a few meters from the desk, on an armchair, and the best way to get it is in a chair with wheels! I smashed into table a couple of dozen of times, and every time something crashed. Yet it is still fun and I am still doing it!
TBB: I hear that this was on display. What kind of reactions did you get? Did any comments stand out in your mind?
Angeli: Yes, it was exhibited at the Brickenburg LUG exhibit. It took me six hours to pack everything into two large cars, without breaking anything. But the road was bumpy and full of turns and holes. My driver was gentle but I could see guys from the other car, making hive fives whenever a tower collapsed after hitting a bump. Later when I confronted them, they said that for hours whole city was holding up and from time to time you could hear one loose brick falling and bouncing. Then at one point a really big section collapsed…from that point on, everything was down hill – the smallest bump would crush a whole bridge. I guess it was funny, and later they helped me rebuild, so no harm done! But just imagine, your lovely MOC, collapsing, while you are watching and you can’t do anything, and two happy guys are giving each other high fives every time this happens!
Just look at it, all leveled down, and in bags! some parts were reduced down to the basic bricks, especially more fragile ones, like white round towers and stairs.
TBB: How did you fix everything?
Angeli: Having a MOC that required four months to build in such state was a problem I could not fix alone. Guys and girls from our two lugs helped rebuild. I gave them free reign: use your logic and creativity when rebuilding! Those are some experienced builders and they each gave their own seal to the construction…I had a lot of fun, at the end, examining my own creation, as so much of it was new, and in a lot of places it was better!
But there was still a huge swamp left and only one day to fix it. Finally, I climbed on a chair and loudly announced that I needed help from the visitors! We spread the contents of the swamp from the bags on the table, and asked people to rebuild it as they saw fit. And I must say, at moments it was so crowded I couldn’t approach the table! At the end, the result were astonishing! Such imagination and creativity from kids from just few years to kids in their forties was something that blew me from my feet! Then I got an idea. I got few more tables and put all the remaining Lego parts on it, and made an open build exhibit – children were building new MOCs for Sword Coast until the end of the exhibit, finding suitable spots inside the diorama and leaving for others to see. It was really a joint effort of us, LUG guests, organizations and visitors. A true spirit of Lego – creativity and fun, for all! On a side note, few hundred people were involved in this, adults and children, often unsupervised, and not a single minifig, not a single part was missing. Just overwhelming!
Also, as the tables weren’t perfectly leveled, the bridge was always in danger of collapsing. So, when we erected it, nobody dared to touch it. And a new exhibition meme was born: “Touch the bridge!”
“What are you doing?” “I’m touching the bridge”
“Have you planed anything for tonight?” “I’m going to touch the bridge”
And, on all other tables there was a note reading “Please do not touch”. On mine, there was a note with text: “Touch the bridge. I dare you”. Nobody dared, even us.
TBB: I thought it was very cool that you called on the public to help rebuild at the exhibition. Not many builders would turn their beloved MOC, that they had spent months building, into a public building event. Describe for us how you view the things you build. Are they art? Are they just toys? Self-expression? Many builders would freak out at the thought of other people rebuilding one of their MOCs. Why are you fine with it?
Angeli: First, I had no choice, if I wanted to exhibit. My MOCs were so completely broken that I had no chance to patch them up it in time alone. I must admit, I was a little wary about so many strangers coming in contact with my bricks. Also, it was my work of art, and if other people do something, I would have to share credit and also it will not be what I’ve planed and designed. But, as it turns out, people were just lovely. They made my ideas better with their own creativity and we had SO much fun that I decided this will be part of every future exhibition for me. I will always leave one part of the castle unfinished or with pre-made modules that visitors can rearrange. Also I’ve noticed that people are much more involved and happy when being part of the building process, not just spectators.
So, out of necessity came something lovely and more pleasurable than I could ever imagine. And all of my fears (about my bricks and my ideas) were swept away by the creativity and ingenuity of total strangers that had only one thing common with me: love for Lego!
Why do I build? If we put the relaxing factor aside: I love to play with it! Even today, and I am 35 years old, I love to line up my soldiers and defend walls from pesky Drow invaders! I do not see it as art, or expression, or my impact on the world…I mostly see it as pure fun and a ton of lovely playtime. I dream about an exhibition where somebody else will bring his/hers own castle with an army, and we could play, attack each other, and at the end unite and invade pirates or city related tables!
We will probably leave Star Wars table for last, they usually have a Death Star to defend them. Swords and horses rarely beat a Death Star, right? Although, we do have wizards and magic…