Well-known throughout the world, Lego has always captivated many, with sets catering to the youngest children with simple and easy-to-understand and enjoy, to grand cityscape play sets that can take more space than your average room to display.
The latter has captivated adult collectors in the nation, with many not only collecting official sets but also creating their custom MoC or My Own Creation builds.
One small group that has been heavily involved in both Lego collection and creation in the Belait district is I LUG BN KB group.
With a vast collection comprising both official town sets that form a serene village to more outlandish Star Wars and other builds, I LUG BN KB has it all.
Speaking to a group member, Zuliskandar bin Suhaimi, he recalled how he started the hobby with miniature model towns.
“As I liked miniature town models, I wanted to start building my own (miniature model towns), but when I looked at the price, I was shocked to learn how expensive it is. Coupled with no easy access to model town specialty shop, I started buying Lego as an alternative.
I remember buying my first Lego set back in 1991.”
As a fun hobby for many, Zuliskandar noted that it is also accessible to all ages and can come in different forms as some might favour smaller and more easily built sets, to more elaborate ones with moving parts such as electric train sets and more.
As for Zuliskandar himself, he prides himself in creating a miniature set that is as close to real life as possible, down to the smallest detail that the Lego bricks can replicate.
“For me, what’s important (in creating Lego town and city displays) is that it will look as if the displays can exist as real buildings in real life.”
With the burning passion of collecting, building, and displaying of Lego, I asked Zuliskandar what are some of the challenges he faced in pursuing his hobby. He said one of them is the lack of space.
“One (of the challenges of collecting Lego) is having no space at home to put them in,” adding that he had to be selective and pick only the models that he is particularly fond of and take a small footprint to display prominently, while the rest are kept inside their boxes.
In spite of this, he is still able to make full use of his vast array of Lego buildings, vehicles, and figures in his collection to set up Lego miniature town diorama in various exhibitions and events to help draw in crowds of both young and old to appreciate Lego as well as the craft that goes into building them.
While the COVID-19 pandemic in the past few years resulted in less exhibits, Zuliskandar noted that it has not heavily impacted his hobby of collecting and building Lego.
“I think one of the challenges is finding the time and place for our members to meet up as many of us can be busy with our day to day life and work. Regardless, we still share the same love and passion for Lego and that in itself is something that keeps us together.”
Despite having a large array of Lego sets that Zuliskandar has combined into an impressive miniature Lego town, he admits that his works and collections are ever changing as he continues to change the miniature buildings, figures, and vehicles around.
“Around 75 per cent of the (Lego) sets that you see here are MoC. This is because if we rely too heavily on official design, we might get lured into a certain style of building and arrangement which can become monotonous.”
As such, many of the self-made Lego buildings and creations are made to reflect what the current display needs and he continues to tweak the colours of the bricks used in the buildings, vehicles, and more as well as create structures that seem out of place but do exist in real life.
One such buildings that inspired him to build a Lego version was the Painted Ladies – a set of colourful houses that can be spotted in San Francisco. He said, “It’s hard to believe that buildings like this (the colourful beach houses) exist, but they do. And I want to showcase this in Lego form for the miniature town that we have built.”
Having amassed several official but mostly MoC building sets; Zuliskandar continues to set his sights on the future to further expand his miniature town to a city. “If possible, one day I want to make a city in the future.”
I also ask Zuliskandar on his thoughts on the Lego community in the nation, he noted that while there is a large number of collectors, there are only a few exhibiting and showcasing Lego to be appreciated as well as to inspire.
“I think there is a few misguided collectors out there just collecting with the hope of making a profit. At the end of the day, collecting Lego is a hobby that should be enjoyed by all regardless of age. Taking these Lego sets, breaking the seal (of the Lego box), building them and appreciating the end result is one way that it can be enjoyed.”