Builder Showcase - Eero Okkonen

Most of you should be familiar with Eero "Pate Keetongu" Okkonen. His MOCs have been gracing the pages of BrickNerd since we started over three years ago. His style is quirky, in both building and life, and he has a fun and optimistic outlook that I think you'll find endearing.

His MOCs cover a pretty broad spectrum, but it's his character builds that have always caught my attention. From the Hobbit to Discworld and from sexy ladies to steampunkery, his MOCs never fail to please. I'm happy to let you all get to know him a little better.

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get started in the hobby?

I'm a 21-old AFOL from eastern Finland. I just moved into Tampere which is the second biggest city in the country. I just began my studies on architecture in Technical University of Tampere (TUT). Creative work seem to be in my bones.

I write a LEGO building blog Cyclopic Bricks and take part in events held by our Finnish LUG Palikkatakomo Ry. I'm also our ambassador. But as an AFOL, I'm first and foremost a builder. Character builds are my speciality, but I also work with other themes and subjects like Bionicle, architecture, dioramas and purist minifigs.

What is your earliest LEGO memory?

I think I built with Duplo before moving into regular parts, but I don't have any particular memories about that. The first sets I remember were 6335 Indy Transport, released a year after I was born, 6474 4-Wheeled Front Shovel, which I got when my sister got a CD-player, and 6429 Blaze Responder my grandparents bought me. But I had some basic parts from my father's childhood collection, and my grandparent's cottage had my uncle's old bricks from early 90s.

What drives you to create?

I like to build. I don't have any deeper philosophies on this: I like to build things that are cool, things that would look good in my shelf. I get insprired a lot: Some of my subjects are more personal, like characters from Sir Terry Pratchett's books, but sometimes I choose things rather spontaneously: Those are cool shapes, how could I recreate them with bricks? I make lot of character builds, but I'm still quite a diverse builder. I'm usually a person that gets inspired easily, and LEGO is my foremost art form to express it. 

I do other types of art, too. I enjoy watercolors and general tinkering and have been working with ceramics and oil paint lately. I've also done some T-shirt prints with sieves. But regardless of art form I don't tend to take it too seriously. There's usually hints of humour in my works.  

Would you call yourself a purist (no cutting, painting, knockoff)?

Yep. That's what I am. I've used some custom cloth parts but not in years. I've cut pneumatic hose once but it counts as purist, too. I think part of the fun is to find working solutions with limited array of parts. Sometimes it's challenging, but it's also gratifying.

Do you have any favorite builder(s)?

Of course. But I definitely can't recall all of them right now. But I'll throw some names around, old and new. Djokson you already know and blog a lot, but his work generally makes me happy. IGU. and syoya. are cool Asian Bionicle builders that deserve attention. Not to mention my fellow countryman Markku "Legorides" Jääskeläinen who makes incredible models of real-life amusement rides, building and vehicles in interesting scale. I've never seen his work featured on any major sites, but there's loads of interesting stuff in his colourful website.

Do you ever look back on old MOCs and say "if I only…"

Yes. "If I only had more shelf space to display That properly." Except I say it in Finnish so it's more like jos mie vain. But no, mostly I don't grieve after old creations. I make them better. Sometimes it's little tweaks and sometimes I just remake the whole thing. Like my 2015 version of Ridcully and 2016 version of Ridcully. Or 2012/2013 version of Balin and 2015 version of Balin. 

Tell us about your building area.

I moved two weeks ago so my building area is brand new, at least. I live in shared flat and my room is around 11 square meters, which has just enough room to fit my parts (I left most of my MOCs at my parent's home which is only 420 kilometers away). In my old lodgings I had a full room for building, now I have to survive with less. But I have couple of tables and a chair and record players nearby so there's no problem. My parts collection is fully sorted, mostly in ziplock bags with some helping trays and drawers. 

Do you ever build digitally? If so with what?

No. I've tried LDD to find out I'm terribly bad with it. I like physical parts. I like to spin them in my hands.

Do you have a time of day when you build most productively?

No, I doubt it. I rarely come up with anything good early in the morning, but noon is as good as midnight, I reckon.


Do you listen to music while you build?

Always! I'm a music person, despite never learning to play anything. I'm also a record person and like to own my music physically if possible. Vinyl, CD and cass, though I prefer vinyl and don't own casette player at the moment. I just got my first own LP player two weeks ago; I like.

I mostly listen to "odd Finnish music" varying from Oompah to New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal via truck-country and progressive hardcore. Eläkeläiset, Aavikko, YUP, M.A.Numminen, Tekramütisch and Circle are some name drops mostly no one will recognize, even though most of them have played gigs around the world or at least Europe... But all of them are more or less marginal even in Finland. 

Internatinal bands I like include Black Sabbath, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Motörhead. I also listen to film music and occasinal jazz and blues. 

Do you keep all your MOCs? If so, do you display them?

No. But I keep most of them, at least from some time. I think my oldest MOC still built is dwarven steam tank from 2008 and for example Company of Thorin Oakenshield and all the Discworld characters are full and complete. But some creations get sacrified into parts more early. It depends on parts used, general succesfullness of a MOC in my eyes and amount of space available. But as I mentioned earlier, most of my builds are currently in my parents' house. I also have three creations displayed on Pii Poo's unofficial but excellent LEGO store. And I naturally diplay them at LUG events, too.

Do you have an all time favorite LEGO set?

Yes, I'd say 7036 Dwarves' Mine from 2007/2008. Well, dwarves, I like dwarves, if you haven't noticed. And it was affordable and fun to play with. Other favourites include 79003 Unexcepted Gathering, 7419 Dragon Fortress and 8755 Keetongu, which can be seen on my internet alias. Except for 79003 I love those mostly due to warm childhood memories. I'm not sure if they're actually that good.

There's of course those cool modulars and other big special sets, but they're expensive and I don't see point of displaying things that thousands of other people have in their homes. I make my own LEGO models. I don't buy much sets.

If you could pick a single creation of yours for permanent display somewhere notable, what and where would it be?

Hard one, verra hard. Got to think this one. Maybe New Century Corner. Somewhat because it's big and grand, but mostly because it's completely designed by me and not based on anything. Architecture also seems to be my future.

 Most of it (all the houses didn't fit to they are displayed elsewhere) is currently in my parents' living room, which is a good place for it to be. I'm also planning to extend it. I already have a one facade and one plith built.

Which of your MOCs would you say personifies you?

This one isn't easy neither. I don't take art very seriously. I've never been into "artistic shit" (except with music sometimes). But overall, these seems to be four main groups in my builds: Old bearded men, elegant women, nostalgic vintage things and bizzare creatures. They might present some parts of my personality and interests, but by no means all of it. I'm just me. And I think I'm the last person to comment on my personality. How could I know what kind of person I am? I've never ever met me!