Q&A

Ryan McNaught, Lego mas­ter, 44

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - FRONT - By Cathy Os­mond Pho­tog­ra­phy Josh Roben­stone

You work with Lego for a liv­ing. What would your younger self have thought of that? To a child there is no such thing as boundaries. So, as­tro­naut, pro­fes­sional Lego builder… it was my dream but there was no job like that in those days, un­less you wanted to move to Den­mark. Re­al­ity kicked in and I ended up go­ing into the IT field. I also wanted to open the bat­ting for Aus­tralia, but that was never go­ing to hap­pen… How did you go from hav­ing a “real job” to be­com­ing one of only 14 Lego Cer­ti­fied Builders in the world? I was a CIO of a me­dia com­pany when our twin boys were born in 2008. My mum gave me back my Lego and I started putting my old train set and rac­ing car back to­gether. I dis­cov­ered a ro­bot­ics pack­age and used my IT skills to make it more use­able for kids. Some guys from Lego saw it on­line and we got talk­ing; even­tu­ally I was work­ing on Lego projects for hours at night. It be­came an easy de­ci­sion to say, “I’m quit­ting my day job to go and play with Lego”. In 2009, I got the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Your boys are now aged nine. Is it a case of “kids, keep your mitts off my Lego”? This is go­ing to sound re­ally lame, but work is work and home is home. I don’t bring work home with me, though the kids of­ten come to the work­shop. What is a typ­i­cal day at the Brick­man work­shop in Mel­bourne? I have six staff: Lego builders, en­gi­neers, struc­tural peo­ple. There’s man­age­ment work to do but about half the day I might be “on the bricks”, de­sign­ing or build­ing. Who are you build­ing for? About 25 per cent is for the Lego com­pany – we do all the store dis­plays in de­part­ment stores and toy shops. Then there’s our ex­hi­bi­tions, which tour the world, and we also do spe­cial in­stal­la­tions – for in­stance, a cou­ple of years ago we did a big Christ­mas tree in Pitt St Mall. What’s the most chal­leng­ing thing you’ve ever built? The Colos­seum we made for the Univer­sity of Syd­ney a few years ago. It took a cou­ple of hun­dred thou­sand bricks and about six weeks to build. Mak­ing some­thing oval-shaped out of rec­tan­gu­lar bricks is very dif­fi­cult to do. The tech­nique I had to in­vent to do that was re­ally quite com­plex. Since then I’ve used the same tech­nique to build an MCG, among other things. What’s that be­hind you? The world’s largest Lego flower, a be­go­nia. It’s 2.5m in di­am­e­ter and it’s one of my favourites. Is there a limit with Lego? What can’t you do? We haven’t found a limit yet. We’re work­ing on Aus­tralia’s tallest Lego model in our work­shop – it’s a 7.5m project that will be un­veiled in Syd­ney on Box­ing Day. When it’s 750 bricks high you need a cherry picker and cranes to put it to­gether. Is “glue” a dirty word in Lego land? No – in some in­stances we have to do it for safety rea­sons. If that 7.5m model, which weighs the same as the av­er­age fam­ily car, fell on top of some­one, we’d be talk­ing about se­ri­ous in­jury or death. What’s your favourite Lego piece? The 2x4 brick. We use hundreds of thou­sands of them; they’re re­ally ver­sa­tile. The one that hurts the most to step on? The 1x1. They’re a night­mare. I have very well de­vel­oped cal­louses on the soles of my feet.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.