Interview with Matt Nardella - LEGO Superfan

Introduce yourself a little to the wider LMB audience, what’s your name, where are you from, what was your first LEGO set?

My Name is Matt, I'm from Melbourne and my first LEGO set was the TMNT Lair Attack!

Hah! An awesome set, so were you a Ninja Turtles fan prior to getting into LEGO and that set caught your eye?

Yep! I've been a big Ninja Turtles fan since I was a kid, so once I discovered the LEGO sets I've been hooked ever since!

How did you come across it?

I actually stumbled across it by accident whilst looking for a present for my niece. Turned into a present for me! Haha.

Haha, I think we've all gifted ourselves a set at some point! When did you become familiar with the term AFOL?

I learned of the term AFOL about a year later after picking up that TMNT set, so around 2014 I reckon.

Ok, so the Aus Lego Collection started off with these great TMNT sets, when did Modular Buildings and a more organized LEGO City come into the picture? and then when did you discover lights? Which was the first set that you lit up?

It wasn't until around 2016. I was looking around online at what other LEGO sets and themes I could find, when I came across Modular Buildings. I was totally blown away at how awesome they looked and how an actual city could be created! I picked up four Modular Building sets there and then and the building hasn't stopped since, haha.

It was about 12 months later when I got the idea to light them all up, which is what led me to find Light My Bricks on eBay. I grabbed a kit for each of my Modulars, starting with the Brick Bank.

You’ve got a really good mix of different LEGO themes in your city. How do you decide how much of one theme to include over another to make sure it’s balanced?

When I was planning my city, I knew I wanted to have a good mix of different buildings and sets as well as a theme park. So I tried to pick at least one iconic build from some of my favorite themes and incorporate it into the city, as well as some of the iconic rides you would traditionally see in a theme park.

Ah, I remember when you added in the Fair Ground Haunted House! The perfect set for your theme park inspired city!

Scarily perfect! Haha

So with your multi-themed City, are you able to pick out a favorite LEGO theme?

This one is always a tough question to answer, but if I had to pick - my favourite theme in set collecting would be Star Wars as it has the biggest range.

Wow, that's a bit of a surprise considering how much time and effort you've put into your City, but from a collectors point of view we totally get it! The LEGO Star Wars universe never stops expanding!

That's it, for me it's all about the collection.

You’re well known for creating large-scale MOCs such as the underground TMNT lair and your enormous Batcave. What’s the process for designing and building a project of this scale? Do you plan it all out before the first brick is laid? Or do they evolve organically over time?

A little of both. The TMNT lair evolved as I laid the bricks down, the Batcave was roughly planned on paper - however as I started building, it evolved and changed which is the more common outcome when I build MOCs.

Okay, so it sounds like a pretty free-form or intuitive way to build and create. Build as you go! Where do lights play into this design process?

Yep, totally. I feel building as you go allows you to be more creative, you never know what ideas you might have along the way!

When I'm MOC building, I generally install the lights in tandem, bit by bit as I build. This way I find it easier because whilst I'm designing and laying down bricks, I am also free to be creative in where lights should go and what details I think should be lit up in the build.

You recently completely redesigned the entire layout of your LEGO City. What inspired you to undertake such a huge project and were there any surprises along the way?

I have always wanted to add a subway underground as that's generally what a major city has. After also seeing how some other fellow AFOLs have created subways, I really wanted to take the plunge and give it a go. So far, no surprises lucky for me - as I made sure everything was measured properly to accommodate for plates and height.

Well, diving in has paid off because the results are fantastic! There's definitely something about the split level display that gives a LEGO City that extra something!

It certainly has! Totally agree, I feel that having split levels allows you to see the buildings that can get lost being at the back when there is so much going on towards the front. Completely changes the viewing experience for the better.

Are there any other builders in the LEGO Community that you get inspired by?

There are some fantastic builders that inspired me to want to build my own city as well as MOCs. I believe all AFOLs inspire each other when building in some way

Some of my favorite LEGO City creators would have to be Downunder Bricks! His city was actually the first one I had ever seen and is why I started building a LEGO City in the first place. Also @digibrix, @bluesbrickcity and @mrookieboo are some other fantastic LEGO City creators.

What, if anything, do you think is missing from the LEGO lighting hobby? (or missing from the LEGO collecting hobby)

You know, being someone that has been using LEGO lighting for almost 5 years for various projects now, I really can't think of anything missing or that can't be made possible with DIY components!

Well, sounds like our work here is done, haha. Thankfully there's still plenty of sets for us to light up for someone who's not as experienced with our DIY range... like those TMNT sets for example!

Haha! Well credit where credit's due, you guys have done a great job covering a wide variety of sets and DIY options when it comes to lights.

It's true there will always be sets ready to be lit but I also do appreciate going the DIY route, as sometimes it is exciting and challenging for more experienced builders to get super creative and let your mind run wild.

On top of building and maintaining your impressive LEGO City, you also create a lot of content documenting it. Which platform do you enjoy creating content for the most?

Hmm, I do enjoy Instagram probably just a little more than YouTube as I have met many awesome AFOLs through Instagram. I've found it's much easier to connect with builders and form friendships through Instagram as opposed to YouTube which is a little more time-consuming in terms of actually creating the content! Both have their pros and cons I guess.

That's a very interesting insight. It does seem like both platforms have different kinds of communities that serve different types of creators. We've noticed that the AFOL community and specifically the LEGO City community is very active and supportive on Instagram, which is great to see

For sure!

Finally, we’ve all got our dream additions to the Modular Building series, what would you like to see LEGO release at some point?

I would like to see a Hospital Modular Building or even something like an Arcade or Bowling Alley set.

I think a LEGO Hospital is at the top of quite a few Modular fan's lists, but an Arcade Bowling Alley combo is right at the top of ours! We've seen some examples of fan sets online and we loved playing around with the arcade machine included in the recent release of LEGO Ninjago City Gardens! We'll take a whole set full of those thank you very much LEGO!

Haha, exactly - sign me up!

Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to walk us through your LEGO City and giving us a real insight into what's gone into it's design. It's for sure one of our favorites and we love keeping up with what additions are going in next. Before we let you go, can you give the LMB audience any hints as to what updates we might see in the future?

It just so happens I'm putting the finishing touches on an underground carpark for the city! Light My Bricks fans can expect to see certain characters from The Fast And The Furious pulling up in their rides!

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