ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴠɪᴇᴡ: Matteo Mobili’s Movie-inspired LEGO Skylines

It only takes a few minutes to realize that Matteo loves a wide range of Movies & TV Shows. Let’s delve into the mind of this talented creator to learn about the creative process behind these amazing designs.

This interview is an extension of a previous article where we highlighted some of Matteo’s Movie-inspired LEGO Skylines.

If you have browsed the LEGO MOC (My Own Creation) spaces on Reddit, Flickr, Instagram or Rebrickable then MOMAtteo will not be a name that is foreign to you. He’s been building LEGO models since 2016, and has designed a variety of awe-inspiring models from movies and TV shows that adorn modern pop culture.

You can stay up to date with all of his cool designs by following him on either Rebrickable or Instagram, or just keep your eyes peeled on the LEGO subreddit. Instructions for many of these models are available for purchase at Rebrickable.

Matteo has been kind enough to answer some questions about his models and his love of all things LEGO. Let’s get started!

Returning to LEGO as an adult

Brick Architect: Lets start off by talking about architecture. What inspired you to start making LEGO architecture models? When did you start building and what have you learnt about building and designing these sets?

Simpsons Skyline.

Simpsons Skyline.

A couple of months later I tried again with the Simpsons Skyline as the license was not active anymore. Unfortunately, when the Simpsons Brickheadz came out reactivating the license my submission got removed. In the meantime, I made a skyIine for my hometown which can be seen on top of my Flickr page. I continued experimenting with each creation trying new techniques that I had seen online or came up with. I just don’t want to stack regular plates and bricks every time, so I also try new pieces that LEGO releases to be as creative as possible.

Brick Architect: As an adult fan of LEGO what inspired you to return or continue building models? Do you prefer designing models using software or building them with real pieces?

Matteo Mobili: Almost at the end of last year, I posted the Breaking Bad van on Reddit and a lot of people were interested in having a digital file. When Stud.io received an update to create instructions in a relatively easy way things changed. After the experience with LEGO ideas ended, I continued creating fictional skylines that a lot of people have liked. I even made instructions for the cars and the skylines I had built which are available on Rebrickable. I saw that people liked them indeed, and I started creating other skylines based on movies that I loved.

Breaking Bad Van

Breaking Bad Van

One of the reasons I started building in microscale was the lack of space to show my MOCs. No space also means no loose bricks, I almost have only the ones from when I was a kid. The only way left to design models is on the computer. I want to be as sure as possible that I’m designing something that stays up and is firmly connected. I don’t like building creations that are wonderful to look at but will fall apart right after you take a photo.

Brick Architect: Of all of your LEGO architecture models you have created, which is your favorite one and why?

Matteo Mobili: I think the one I like the most is Star Wars. It’s my favorite movie saga, but I love it mostly because it’s really packed with lots of stuff in such a little space. The source material is endless and almost perfect to render in this form, so I could come up with many nifty solutions. I will also build the Harry Potter one in real life as soon as possible, that skyline was the most popular one, so I’m really proud of that too.

Star Wars Skyline.

Star Wars Skyline.

Brick Architect: What are some cool projects you are working on now or wish to build in the future? How do you come up with the ideas to make them?

Matteo Mobili: I’m always searching new ideas, but each time is harder to find something cool to work on and that other people might also like. If you have some ideas, [your readers] are very welcome to propose them. (Brick Architect edit: Post your ideas in the comments and you may see them become skylines!)

Disney Castle

Disney Castle

I also try to explore the original LEGO architecture style and have created Disney Cinderella Castle and Winterfell from Game of Thrones. Each time I release a new one the reception is like a lottery; I really don’t know how it will perform. The Marvel one didn’t do that well, for example, even though I thought it was a good idea. Maybe the set it’s simply not that good; a lot of people criticized the use of a specialized piece for Asgard while other told me they loved that choice. It was one of the cases in which the piece led to the final design. I’m currently working on a Disney Classics inspired Skyline and I already have the folder for others on my computer with just some ideas or sketches.

From start to finish, the build process

Brick Architect: What software do you use to design your models? What is the process from start to finish from idea to a final model?

Movie Architecture Instructions

Movie Architecture Instructions

When I finish the model, I try to see if I can optimize part usage and switch strange pieces to lower the cost. Finally, I start from scratch in a new file building layer by layer, when possible, to create the steps for the final model’s instructions. In this phase I can double check if all connections are possible and if I can use fewer pieces using a bigger plate or brick that covers the same area. Instructions must also be checked page-by-page to be sure that, for every part, it is clear where to use it or it’s better rotating the model around or dividing pieces in more steps or creating sub-assemblies. When the PDF is ready, I just try to share the new creation as much as possible after publishing on Rebrickable and finally… finger crossed.

Brick Architect: You promote your models on flickr, Rebrickable and reddit to name a few sources. Do you intend to turn these into LEGO IDEAS models so they could one day become LEGO sets?

Why movies and television

Brick Architect: Most if not all of your models you have designed are either from movies or tv shows. What is your favorite movie or tv show and why? Do you plan to make models for this if you have not already?

Matteo Mobili: One of the sets that brought me out of the Dark Age was the Back to the Future DeLorean and a LEGO X-Wing, something that I always wanted. One of the first sets I bought funded by the instructions was the UCS Red Five. I won it used in an auction at a really good price. I started making MOCs of iconic cars because it united three of my passions: LEGO, Cars and movie and television. That is why my creations are always based on this kind of content. They have released as a gift their very first fictional skyline though with Diagon Alley and I don’t know if I have to be flattered or worried.

Back To The Future Skyline

Back To The Future Skyline.

Brick Architect: With many movies and shows having so many notable scenes, how did you decide which scenes to build?

Matteo Mobili: Due to the difficulty with scaling I sometimes have trouble when choosing which scenes to build. This is the reason why I still haven’t made some movies or sagas. In Indiana Jones for examples there are many cool scenes but it’s almost always involves Indy doing something and I didn’t want to create a mini vignette with 3 stacked studs representing him. For this reason, many iconic scenes are not in my creations, while other less famous are. Between the possible scenes or locations, I try to choose the ones that looks best in my opinion. I have many work in progress files with discarded ideas and some of them were even pretty much complete. Reasons for discarding include that they didn’t fit with other scenes, were less iconic or badly made and therefore got scrapped.

Details and scale are a welcome challenge

Brick Architect: Scale can be a challenge when creating LEGO architecture models, especially when it comes to skyline. How did you decide on the size and scale for your models?

Matteo Mobili: Scaling (or at least trying to maintain the appearance of scale) is always one of my biggest challenges. In some cases, I have to desist and just go off scale between the various segments of the skyline. It’s a compromise that I don’t like that much. Sometimes though is inevitable because there is no other way to go if you want to have a complete “skyline”. In other cases, like for the Star Wars one, I tried to stick to scale as much as possible using a scaling trick where I place bigger ships high above the ground so they look larger than the smaller ships.

Details and scale are a welcome challenge

Brick Architect: Lots of your models are packed to the brim with details. How do details in your sets make your models stand out?

Matteo Mobili: I think that the attention to details is what makes a creation stand out from others. Despite the scale, having small details or Easter Eggs are what makes you love your sets and makes the builds stand out. People loved the pink hoverboard in my Back to the Future skyline or the pizza in Walter White’s house in my Breaking Bad build.

Breaking Bad Skyline

Breaking Bad Skyline

Brick Architect: With many movies and shows having so many notable scenes, how did you decide which scenes to build?

Matteo Mobili: Due to the difficulty with scaling I sometimes have trouble when choosing which scenes to build. This is the reason why I still haven’t made some movies or sagas. In Indiana Jones for examples there are many cool scenes but it’s almost always involves Indy doing something and I didn’t want to create a mini vignette with 3 stacked studs representing him. For this reason, many iconic scenes are not in my creations, while other less famous are. Between the possible scenes or locations, I try to choose the ones that looks best in my opinion. I have many work in progress files with discarded ideas and some of them were even pretty much complete. Reasons for discarding include that they didn’t fit with other scenes, were less iconic or badly made and therefore got scrapped.

Brick Architect: Many of your models rely on very unique and creatively selected pieces? When building your models did the pieces guide your design or do you have designs in mind then find pieces to fit that design?

Classic Disney Princess Castle

Example of the varied color palette used in Matteo’s builds

This was a little bit against another rule I try to comply with: no strange or rare part/color combinations. One of the things that I do before releasing instructions is go back and forth between the software and BrickLink wanted lists to try to keep my creations below or around 10c per piece. Most of the time I even modify the design if a piece is too rare and I can’t change it with something else. I want the people that use my instructions to be able to build my models relatively easy without spending a fortune or having to place too many orders. Most of all, the construction should be fun.

Brick Architect: In your models you use a very varied color palette. When designing do you experiment with colors or do you know which fits best at the time of creation. How has the limited number of LEGO colors affected your building? Are there any colors that are missing that you wish you could have that would help make your models better?

Matteo Mobili: Parts and colors combinations aren’t always enough, and this is one of the reasons why I don’t rely on having loose pieces for physical builds. I always have to place Bricklink orders anyhow. One non-existent part in a specific color might force you to switch to another design or a complete different thing if you cannot use a similar color. In my creations I always try not to have the same main color repeated in more than two sections or it gets boring… tan would be everywhere. I also try to make the composition looks good and balanced while maintaining a logic in the sequence of locations. This might not be so evident in the final design when you look at it but it takes a lot of time too in the design process and, maybe in a subtle way, makes the MOC better in my opinion.

Avengers Skyline

Unique pieces are used to enhance the skylines

Brick Architect: What is your biggest challenge when designing these sets. Do you often make changes to initial designs until you get the perfect build?

Matteo Mobili: The biggest challenge is finding the good idea! Unfortunately you don’t know how good it is until you start showing it. If it were for my inner me, I would never publish my designs because I don’t think they are ever good enough. There’s always space for improvement, for an additional little detail, or for some greebling that will make it better. At one point I just say: “Ok, that’s it, stop modifying and prepare the instructions”.

Closing comments

Thanks Matteo for allowing us to cover his wonderful builds and get some insight into his creative mind through this interview. I am sure many of us will have learnt a lot and can start building skylines for ourselves. If you want to follow his wonderful creations follow him on Instagram or Flickr. If you wish to build any for yourself go check out his instructions at Rebrickable and support this great content creator! Have any thoughts or ideas for what you would like to see MOMMatteo build? If so, post a comment or let him know and maybe your ideas will become reality.

When it comes to skylines Matteo is at the forefront of creative builds. It is amazing to see what he has built so far, and we all look forward to see what is still being built! We at Brick Architect, and hopefully readers too, will be following his future builds closely.

Photos in this article by Matteo Mobili unless otherwise noted.

1 Response

  1. Matteo was a big inspiration to me to get out of my dark ages and building in the computer! I always enjoying seeing what he cooks up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please solve this math problem (to prove that you aren't a robot.) * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.