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Lendy Tayag’s dream came true in a big way.

The Malaysia-based software engineer’s 5-in-1 buildable Voltron set won last year’s LEGO Ideas. This means his toy design will be produced and sold in LEGO-certified stores. (Ang lodi, bes!) We sat down with Mr. Tayag during the recent two-day Abrickadabra LEGO Fan Festival at Century City Mall.

Have you always been into toys?

Yes. Always. Ever since I was young. I love ’70s and ’80s anime like Voltes V, Super Robots, Transformers, Power Rangers, Macross, and even Transformers na hanggang ngayon, gusto pa rin ng mga kabataan. Shows like M.A.S.K., He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Voltron: Defender of the Universe, that was my childhood.

You are the first Filipino fan designer whose toy design was LEGO-approved. For those who are not familiar, what is LEGO Ideas?

It’s a platform where anyone can submit their projects and ideas. Kunwari meron kang robot, or kotse built from bricks—or really anything out of the blue—pwede mo i-submit sa LEGO. You’ll need to gather support on their website. In this case, kailangan mo ng 10,000 supporters and meron siyang milestones. May 30 days ka to get 100 na support. If you get it, ie-extend nila for one year. Within that year, kailangan mong makakuha ng at least 1,000 supporters para ma-extend pa ng another six months. After that, you need to reach 5,000 supporters, then you get another six months. Once mag-reach ka ng 10,000, proceed na sa review period. Titingnan ng LEGO ’yung marketability niya, ’yung design, and all those things. If everything is okay, ia-approve nila for production and for sale.

What pushed you to build this?

Nag-start ito around the time na nakita kong may lalabas na Ultimate Voltron Ex na 16 inches tall back in 2015. Gusto ko kasing magkaroon ng ganung laruan. Kaya lang sabi ko, “Why not build my own?” Doon nagsimulayun. Sinimulan ko siya and then pinost ko sa Internet tapos magandayung naging response. So kinumpleto ko siya. Tapos after a while, may mga nag-suggest na ipasa ko sa LEGO Ideas so ginawa ko naman.

How did you build your Voltron Set?

Sinimulan ko itong i-design nung 2015. Taposdi ko makuhayung tamang design so I set it aside muna. Tapos 2016, bigla ko na lang nakuha kung paano siya gagawin. Dahil mahalyung mga bricks, sinimulan ko muna sa software na LEGO Designer. Para akong nag-build ng LEGO sa computer. Nung ready na siya, saka ako humanap ng parts para buoinyung piece.

What happened after you submitted your design?

Nakakuha siya ng ilang votes nung umpisa. Normal response. Pinost ko din sa mga forums. Naalala ko, kausap koyung brother ko and sabi ko sana makaabot tayo ng 1,000 para ma-extend ng six months at para din magkaroon ako ng time na i-improve siya. Little did we know, nag-trend siya sa Facebook shortly after tapos na-pick up siya around the globe. Biglang umabot sa 5,000 ’yung support tapos in a week’s time, nag-10,000 siya.

What were your expectations when LEGO started reviewing your design?

Nakakatuwayung phase nayun pero we were not really expecting much. Andami ngang nagsasabi na most likely it won’t happen kasi nga very unusual na mag-approve. Pero siyempre, at the back of my head, pinapangarap ko na. Na-approve naman siya last year around August 2017 for production. So now, once in a while magkakaroon kami ng meeting with LEGO and then ipapakita na nila yung updates. Nakita ko nayung final look niya. I can’t really talk much about it pero I like it. Hopefully, magustuhan ng tao.

Why use LEGO?

When I was younger, I’m into building or creating airplanes and trucks. Gugupit ako sa paper card and then paint the details. ‘Yung part na ‘yun was really awesome kaya lang, after that ‘yung cleaning up the mess was difficult. Because of that, I shifted to LEGO and I noticed na, roughly, I can do what I want. This time, wala na ’yung cleaning up the floor. It’s less messy. You don’t really have to clean up afterward.

LEGO is all about building something from scratch. For you, what would it take to turn ideas into reality?

I think it is persistence. Just keep at it. Most of the time naman, you’ll have lots of support, especially from family. Yes, there will be detractors. Gaya sa akin, ang daming nagsasabi na I won’t win. Pero even if it doesn’t happen, as long as you like what you do, just continue.

What would be your advice to creatives or people who wants to work from the ground up?

Just keep doing what you’re doing. Ang importante naman ay gusto mo ang ginagawa mo at passionate ka about it. You’ll notice na ang daming builders dito, ang gaganda ng gawa niladi ba? I can see different themes, pero lahat may kanya-kanyang specialty. ’Yung ginagawa ng iba, hindi ko maisip na magagawa ko so may kanya-kanya talaga tayong expertise. Everbody’s unique. Embrace it.

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