Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns

May 25, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-


Interview with two brothers who have hundreds of LEGO sets at home. They've fought over all kinds of stuff their entire lives, but LEGO always seemed to bring them together. In their LEGO town, minifigures have their own names and backstories. One of their rules is that no two minifigures can be exactly alike. They treat their town like Tokyo where space is just too valuable to waste and always push to maximise every square inch of it.
Cityville and Lakeview are two existing districts of their LEGO town that have evolved over time to have their own identities and culture. Let's explore this amazing LEGO town together in our interview and find out more about two brothers who created it all !

How old are you and where are you from ?
Nick: 42
Chris: 38
We are from just outside Columbus, Ohio.

What are you doing for living ?
Nick: I'm the vice president of a small wholesale distribution company.
Chris: Sales Representative for a large paint and coatings company. 

How did you get into LEGO ?
Nick: We are 2nd and 3rd of 5 children and we grew up around LEGO. After decades away, we got back into LEGO on Christmas, 2014. I had just bought our childhood home from our parents, who were downsizing. Chris has just moved back home from Colorado and our younger brother, Timmy, had kids of his own just getting to LEGO age. One day we pulled out our old LEGO box, dumped it out on a blanket, and started sorting through them. Within a couple of weeks, we were fully engrossed. These were the minifigs we had after we sorted our childhood LEGO bin.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
When did you start building LEGO ?
Nick: I guess I was 4 or 5 years old. Chris would have started as soon as our mother allowed him to. He was probably a toddler.

Tell me about your beautiful LEGO town. Do you remember what was the first build or minifigure in your town ?
Chris: There are two main towns / tables: Cityville and Lakeview. They have evolved over time to have their own identities and culture. Cityville is the main town, with the biggest buildings, and Lakeview is more residential and recreational.
Nick: I don't remember the first minifigure in town. We had several dozen after going through our old LEGO box. The first thing we bought after getting back into LEGO were Series 13 CMF's, though, so the Hot Dog Guy and Unicorn Girl were some of the first new minifigures that made it into town. Below are very early versions of Cityville.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Cityville (foreground) and Lakeview (background). This is an older photo, as the Disney Castle is not there yet.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Here is the panoramic photo of Cityville and Lakeview with Communications Tower and Disney Castle in place.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
I guess that you've seen The LEGO Movie. Are you more like a President Business who doesn't want to play in the town and prefers to keep everything as it is ... or are you more like his son ?
Nick: Certainly don't think I'm like President Business. Our niece and nephew love to come over and play with our LEGOs. They're getting better about it, but they're still very young, so they can be quite destructive. We do keep the nicest sets (the Modulars) in the interior of the table, where they're safe from young hands. That's the great thing about LEGO, though: it's difficult to break the individual pieces. Rebuilding sets is part of the fun (in moderation).
Chris: They learned very quickly that if they come over and just start destroying things, then that's the end of them playing for the day. If they are playing and something gets knocked over, that's not a big deal. We also change sets often. As soon as one is built (even including big modulars), we will tweak it to our liking. In other words, it doesn't have to be 'perfect'.
Below is a concert on our separate mini table.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Chris: Concert after my niece placed dozens of minifigures at the concert, facing outward, because, "now they're part of the band". :-)
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Do you draw plans what to add or how to widen your towns ? Or is it more natural process without planning anything ? You just add what you like without much thinking about it ?
Nick: We try to drastically change our town once or twice a year, just to keep things fresh and interesting (and to keep us busy). Personally, I need to draw up plans before we make major changes. LEGO is perfect for detail planning. LEGO will either fit or it won't. You'd better know whether something will fit before you start moving everything. I use graph paper and Excel spreadsheets to sketch plans for Cityville / Lakeview renovations. 
Chris: Nick is much more detailed when it comes to preplanning. I like to work with actual sets and layouts when trying to plan, but Nick's planning and detail is always helpful when making changes. 
Nick: More than anything, we need more space. No matter how we configure our current 2 tables, we're completely out of space.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
So you're planning to add 3rd table ? What would you like to build on it ? Continuation of Cityville and Lakeview or something completely different ?
Chris: Yes, the 3rd table will also be lower, which will allow our niece and nephew to better access the playability of what's on there. I see that table as having space for the trains, airport, racetrack, etc. But in the end, it's all fluid so anything may happen.

Are you fighting with each other about what to add and what to not add to your town ?
Nick: Not really. We have similar preferences when it comes to LEGO. Occasionally, we'll disagree on where a particular building should go, but we tend to agree on those kinds of issues. We have clashed on character's story lines from time to time, though. LEGO doesn't mean nearly as much to me, though, without my brothers. We've fought over all kinds of stuff our entire lives, but LEGO always seemed to bring us together. I would't have rediscovered my love of LEGO without my brothers and I certainly wouldn't spend as much time and money on it if they weren't a part of it.
Chris: There have been very few times we disagreed about what to build or how a storyline should progress. Most of the time, when one of us makes a joke that gets the other to laugh, then it goes in.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Tell me about the stories you create about your town and its inhabitants
Nick: Well, certainly not every single minifigure in town has a name or backstory, but a lot of them do. One of our rules is that no two minifigures can be exactly alike. Even if it's just a different head or a different color pants, they all must be different. Most of our storylines, back stories, etc. are improvised and spontaneous. One of us will blurt out an idea or a joke. Occasionally, it'll fall flat and we'll forget about it, but usually it just takes on a life of itself. Our mother likes to say that we're writing satirical fiction and our medium is LEGO. I think that there's some truth to that.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Are you also a part of your LEGO town in form of minifigure ?
Nick: No, neither of us have our own minifigure in town. Friends and family will say something like,"I want to be a character in town ..." and we always warn against that. We encourage people to create an original character for town if they want. They can come up with whatever's storyline going forward. Things just happen in Cityville. Even we don't have control over it.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Do you have any long-term vision of how would you like to make your city look like in a few years ?
Nick: Since I don't know what sets will be coming out, my long term vision consists of adding more detail: landscaping, signage, interior decorations - the little features that make a LEGO city even more realistic and lifelike. I'm always pushing to maximise every square inch (stud), too. To treat our city like Tokyo: space is just too valuable to waste.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
What was the most difficult build to position in your LEGO town so far ?
Nick: Assembly Square, with its extra half plate width, presented the biggest problem for our town. We just couldn't seem to fit it in with the rest of the modulars in a way that looked right. 
Chris: I agree. Assembly Square just didn't fit correctly when we tried to squeeze it in, which is one reason we knew we needed the extra table. In addition, I would say that trains are also hard to fit in. LEGO trains are one of the coolest things we have, but the track set up takes away a ton of usable space, especially on the turns. 
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
How much time do you spend with LEGO ? Do you play every day ?
Nick: It's certainly not daily. It depends on the time of year, weather, etc. Sometimes we might not go down to the LEGO room for weeks.
Chris: Winter in Ohio can be cold, dark, and grey. That's the perfect time of year to be in the basement building and playing. Also, there is a lot of time spent sorting and organising the extra parts. We have an inventory of parts to use, and it is pretty well organised. Nick certainly takes the lead on that. After just a few sets, and a few trips to the PAB wall, there could be hours worth of sorting and organising. It is always getting streamlined and more detailed in how we store and access the parts we need for freestyle builds.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
How many sets do you approximately have ?
Nick: Who knows ? Hundreds, for sure, but probably not a thousand. 
Chris: Depends on what is considered a set. Including polybags, I'd guess we are over a thousand. 
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
What are the themes you like the most ?
Nick: City and Creator are two most obvious. As I said, we recently got the Temple of Airjitzu, and with the LEGO Ninjago Movie coming out, we expect to get a few of those sets as well. 

If you were a LEGO designer for one day, what kind of build would you create ?
Nick: My brother Timmy and I want to create a high-rise apartment building, where each floor is a separate apartment. You could add more floors as you complete them.
Chris: I would just want Friends sets with standard minifigures. I'm not a fan of the dolls, and we always seem to be short on female minifigures.

As a big fan of LEGO City, what are you missing in your LEGO town and would appreciate if LEGO decided to release ?
Chris: One obvious one is a medical center. We have one, but it is a retrofitted Avengers Tower (76038).
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Do you also collect LEGO as an investment ? Meaning you buy it but do not plan to open and build it but rather sell it in a few years later. If so, what kind of sets / minifigures ?
Nick: I've always insisted that I'll never sell my LEGOs. We both have bunch of unopened sets - mostly polybags, seasonal sets, and CMFs - but we also have a handful of bigger sets. I could see us opening them at some point or giving them away as gifts, but you never know. I feel like we're so late to the game, though, in terms of investing.
Chris: It's nice to know that we could sell everything if we had to. But I hope we never do. We do collect sets that we don't open, but not sure how those will play a part. I could see us giving older sets to our niece and nephew, or possibly selling them down the road to finance newer sets. I have sets big and small stored unopened. The biggest consideration is price. We like to find the biggest percentage off retail. 

What was the set that you've enjoyed the most to build recently ?
Nick: We recently got the Temple of Airjitzu. It was a very fun set to build. We also just built the Star Wars AT-ST Walker (75153). We don't get a whole lot of Star Wars sets, but that one is really cool.
Chris: I was also very impressed with The Joker's Lowrider car. It may not fit in town very well, but the way the car is built is incredible. Plus, it looks cool. 

What is the set that you don't own but would love to ?
Nick: One of the retired modulars, for sure. I like them all, but the corner buildings seem especially useful, so probably the Grand Emporium.

Are you active on social networks related to LEGO ? Do you personally know many AFOLs ?
Nick: I probably check a dozen or so LEGO blogs pretty regularly and occasionally if it's something I care about, I'll post a comment. I know of a couple of friends who are also AFOLs, but not too many. I'm fairly discrete about my LEGO hobby, though.

What does your family and friends think of your LEGO hobby ? Do they share passion for LEGO with you ?
Nick: We've always been a LEGO family. Both of our brothers are into LEGO as well and even our little sister has started buying some smaller sets recently. I know some of my friends have questioned the level of intensity, but once they see our city in person, they seem to really enjoy it. 
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
Have you ever thought about displaying your town on some kind of brick event ? 
Nick: I haven't. I think that both of us realise, as proud as we are of our collection, it's measly compared to the ones that get displayed at events. Also, that seems like a lot of work. 
Chris: While I think that our display is very impressive, it pales in comparison to others easily searched on the internet. 
Below is Station St. Cityville, note the old Medical Center.
Cityville and Lakeview: Interview with two brothers who created two amazing LEGO towns
What does LEGO means for you in one word ?
Nick: play
Chris: family

What are your other hobbies besides LEGO ?
Nick: I golf in the summer and bowl in the winter. I don't know if I'd consider yardwork a hobby, but it takes up a decent amount of my time and I do enjoy it. 
Chris: I lived in Colorado for ten years, so I am a big skier. I also enjoy going to concerts. I spend most of my vacation time each year doing that, and visiting friends across the country.

Thanks a lot to Nick and Chris for their time and effort they put into this interview !

Please do not hesitate to ask any questions. I am sure that Nick and Chris will be more than happy to answer them.