Around the world, hardcore Lego fans have used the plastic bricks for larger-than-life sculptures and empowering monuments. Now, a Lego enthusiast is recreating iconic scenes from everyday life in Vietnam with the help of the beloved toy.
Hoang Dang is a Hanoi-based industrial designer who has been collecting Legos since 2010. He told VICE that for the first two years, his collection consisted of sets that he had wanted when he was a kid. Then, in 2012, he started creating his own designs. Recently, the 31-year-old has been gravitating towards Vietnamese icons and street scenes, in search of a “unique angle to explore.”
According to Hoang, the diversity of the global Lego community sees members “[bringing] something [from] their background and experience to the table.”
Hoang’s creations are very intricate. In a miniature set showcasing a house in the 1990s during the Tết holiday (Spring Festival), eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot pieces that are characteristic of that era, such as a red Soviet-made television set and several Soviet-era toys. The miniature living room also contains traditional Tết items like a tea set and a kumquat tree.
He pays a lot of attention to details, like those in this dilapidated storefront complete with items for sale.
His favorite creation? A Vietnamese fishing boat that he built in 2019.
“It took me almost a year to complete,” he said, adding that most of that time was spent finding the “right pieces.”
According to him, the fishing boat highlights “a side of Vietnam that [is] not as well-known but just as significant.”
“With a long coastal line from north to south, Vietnam has a rich fishing culture,” he said. “To me, there is something poetic about riding waves in the open ocean.” And as somebody who was born and raised in the city, Hoang said that this lifestyle is something that he “[craves] from time to time.”
For him Lego-building is an artistic pursuit. “I love Lego as a medium to express my creativity,” said Hoang, who likens his Lego pieces to “oil paints on an artist’s palette.”
But this doesn’t mean that every Lego-building session has to be an aesthetic endeavor. Sometimes it’s “simply a toy,” he said. “I simply enjoy it as an escape when I need to recharge my energy.”
Besides nostalgic Vietnamese street scenes, Hoang’s other works are equally mesmerizing. His Lego model of a bonsai was a runner-up in the original design category for Brickset’s 2021 Build a Bonsai competition.
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