Singapore

For some, Lego is not just a hobby

From shophouses in Chinatown to office towers in the Central Business District and retro dragon playgrounds in Toa Payoh, Mr Jeffrey Kong has built them all - normally one brick at a time, out of Lego.

While many think of Lego as just toys for children, the little plastic bricks have become serious business for a small group of people in Singapore.

Companies are increasingly commissioning Lego sculptures or looking to create custom Lego playsets.

Some are also trying to get Singaporean designs to become part of the Danish's toymaker's line-up.

The Lego community here was recently thrust into the spotlight after Mr Kong noted in a Facebook post similarities between a Land Transport Authority (LTA) MRT Lego set and one designed by him.

He had applied for the LTA tender to produce the Lego set but was not chosen. Mr Kong said he is putting the episode behind him.

"This kind of thing happens. It has happened to me before, and it will happen again," he said.

Mr Kong said that his brick business started out as a hobby.

"I started getting into Lego five years ago when my father was really sick," the 38-year-old told The Straits Times.

Mr Kong said he began working on sculptures commercially when more and more people asked him about his projects and commissioned pieces.

The pieces can range from large-scale display pieces for corporations and government bodies to personalised mementoes for private clients - Mr Kong even designs and packages building sets for companies and organisations.

He has a sculpture - the Botanic Gardens bandstand - on tour with the Piece of Peace World Heritage Exhibit.

Another Lego enthusiast, Mr Davide Sacramati, 32, a children's football coach who has lived in Singapore for three years, saidhe is trying to get Lego to put out a building set of a local icon - the riverboat.

He said Lego launches only four or five sets a year, and he has never seen a Singaporean one.

Mr Sacramati said: "It would be so nice for Singapore to have a set that is so iconic to us."

He submitted his riverboat design to Lego's Ideas project, where submissions with 10,000 votes can be produced as official Lego sets to be sold. - CHEOW SUE-ANN

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

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