Ryan “the Brickman” McNaught reckons he’s got “the least boring job in the world”. That’s because as one of just 13 LEGO-certified professionals on the planet, the Melbourne man is responsible for creating gravity-defying structures that push the boundaries of the humble, plastic brick.
From life-size saltwater crocs and Harley Davidsons to Doctor Who’s Tardis and a replica model of the MCG, Ryan’s output has been extensive and diverse. Here, in no particular order, he selects his all-time favourites.
“We’ve built a couple of life-sized cars – a Toyota Corolla and a Honda Civic. When you’re doing something that big, you’re pushing the physical limitations of what LEGO is capable of. You’re talking about 300,000 LEGO bricks and a thousand hours to put it together working as a seven-strong team.”
“Probably my favourite from a technical perspective was 10 years ago when I built the Colosseum in Rome. To build an oval out of square bricks is really quite difficult – it becomes very mathematical. I used to have a full head of hair before I started that and I’m half-bald now!”
The 10-metre Christmas Trees
“About five years ago we made a giant Christmas tree that was in Pitt Street Mall in Sydney and Fed Square in Melbourne. It was nearly 10 metres high which was crazy – you’re talking about five tons worth of Lego, a couple of semi trailers and cranes… Building something on those lines is always pretty bananas.”
“We’ve done lots of characters over the years – like Darth Vader and R2-D2. But I did Cinderella with this big ballgown and when you make life-sized humans it’s very difficult to get their anatomy and face shape just right. It also shows that LEGO is non-gender specific – it’s equally as cool for girls as it is for boys. Hopefully when little girls saw that Cinderella, they’d be just as inspired as when little boys see a dump truck or whatever.”
“We did a giant NASA rocket ship that is going to take man to Mars. It’s 7.5m high and has an LED light show and sound effects built into it. That was really challenging.”
“But when things are tricky like that it also really shows the power of LEGO bricks. One minute a two-by-four LEGO brick can be part of a car, the next it could be a spaceship, then it could be a Cinderella or could be a castle. LEGO can be anything. As a child, taste changes, but Lego bricks can evolve with them.”
“For May 4 this year, Jens Frederiksen the guy behind LEGO Star Wars came over from Denmark. We did this public event with a giant LEGO set that was like 16 times bigger than normal! We jumped in this massive box with members of the public and a giant instruction booklet. Then we built this really big X-Wing.”
“It’s always awesome to do a public event because our builds sometimes take thousands of hours, so we’re in our workshop slaving away, cracking on with things, building, building, building, have no interaction with anyone and then finally we get to show them off. So getting to do a public build and having that chance to interact with people was really special.”