#32 – My LEGO Adventure Tales, by Chris Thomas, South Wales

LEGO has been a part of my life since I was a child in the 1970s, and I feel the brand has grown over the years with me. I had an abundance of LEGO kits, mainly LEGO system and Space. One thing I remember was that I used to build ‘playsets’ and ‘ships’ for my Star Wars figures as a kid. I had Star Wars toys, but I had this massive box of plastic bricks that I could literally build anything I wanted and created so much to entertain myself. 

Growing up with LEGO and Star Wars, you can imagine how blown away I was when LEGO had the franchise to produce sets. LEGO is a premium product, and I simply cannot, like millions of others, bring myself to buy third party stuff. But I find now that I work for a living and I can afford to buy bigger and better sets, so for me the dream, the childhood escape continues.

During lockdown in 2020, I started working from home, and the amount of money I noticed that I was saving by not spending it on fuel, I discovered the very slippery slope of buying the modular buildings and more expensive sets, and I love them!  The minifigs really make it for me too. I know there are thousands, but I have a small collection of the ones I really love, and treasure them more than some of the bigger sets I have.  The whole notion that anything is possible in the mind of a child still runs through my veins even though I’m in my late 40s, from the sane to the ridiculous, there are no limits. 

When I bought my first modular, the Bookstore, I just had this idea that I would get the mini figures to actually build the building. I’m always posting on social media, so what better thing to do than to document the construction of this new kit. Blending the characters from different genres was also a fascinating concept to me, because in this world of mine anything was possible. The notion of Darth Vader’s troopers building a building is nuts, but that’s how my mind works.  We know these characters from films, but to give those characters additional quirks, such as they are hooked on donuts, or have some sort of unhinged quality is comical to me.

Dear old Darth Vader kind of a helping to build the LEGO bookstore!

 Recently I had been re-watching the classic 1990s tv series Home Improvement, and simply love the show, and I’d seen on LEGO Ideas someone had created a small Tool Time set, and I used the concept, and designed my own version in Bricklink Studio, filled it with tools, and then spent a fortune building it for real. Then I spent a fortune buying random minifigure parts to try and fit together characters that matched those of the television show, and after so many variations I’d like to feel I did a reasonable job. 

My Home Improvement studio

I did a series of skits over the Christmas period which were studio based with the characters interacting with various guests, ranging from various Star Wars characters to Santa Claus, with all the ensuing catastrophes that happen due to the nature of Tim’s character. This lead to a Tim and Al special ‘acquiring’ the parts to build a LEGO Galaxy Commander ship, one of my childhood favourites (which I’d acquired on eBay for a great price) have them testing it out, and being picked up on the scanners of the Imperial Empire, with Vader insisting they track the ship. 

Also I did a ‘Tim and l’ build the LEGO Diner, and friends and family seem to really enjoy these nonsensical pieces of harmless fun. The whole idea that a character can be killed off and returns in a future skit, via some sort of magic, or invention by a character such as Dr Strange from the Marvel Universe, or Doc Brown from Back to the Future…..is crazy yet hilarious.

I also love LEGO Technic, and I plan to buy the new Lamborghini next. I loved the intricacy of the working parts, and the fact that I put the sets together. It’s a great way to learn mechanics and physics, and great for those with an interest in engineering. I have built many Technic sets, but don’t tend to do the step-by-step pictures of documenting the build, and just simply enjoy the build. It’s a different type of build compared to the comedy modular builds I do. Although that being said, I did have two LEGO Death Troopers, the larger format figures, and made out that they built the LEGO Technic Ducati motorbike, as it was perfectly scaled to them, but that was a one off.

2 LEGO Death troopers riding in a cool Ducati!

Will I grow up, I doubt it…..but whilst friends, family and the dozens of people that enjoy what I’ve done continue to love what I do, I’m happy to carry on! If you want to check my latest adventure you can check it out here!

Long live LEGO……these little plastic bricks have certainly, and continue to shape my life!

Chris Thomas, South Wales

#31 – Women’s Brick Initiative, by Megan and Alice, Seattle

WBI – ‘Clutch Holds More Than Bricks Together’

The LEGO fan community is diverse – or is it?  According to LEGO, only about 14% of all adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) are women.  If you go to a LEGO User Group (LUG) , odds are it’s mostly men.  If you go to a LEGO convention, you find that men outnumber women greatly.  To a woman new to the hobby, it can be intimidating walking into a convention or a LUG meeting on their own.

Skaerbaek Fan Weekend is an international AFOL networking event that takes place in a small town about an hour south of LEGO headquarters in Denmark.  It attracts AFOLs from all over the world.  At SFW in 2017, Alice Finch (of Hogwarts and Rivendell fame) and noted toy photographer Shelly Corbett met, and upon learning that they shared the view that there should be more women involved in the LEGO hobby, decided to do something about it.  As a result, the Women’s Brick Initiative (WBI) was born!

What’s notable about that fateful first meeting between Shelly and Alice is that they both live in the Seattle area, but needed to travel several thousand miles in order to meet.

Using the phrase “Clutch Holds More Than Bricks Together” as a motto, WBI has specialized in conducting workshops at several LEGO conventions worldwide, geared toward women and aimed toward teaching skills in all aspects of the LEGO hobby – photography, building, lighting, jewelry making, among others.  WBI has also hosted collaborative builds, such as the duck build shown at Bricks Cascade in 2020.

WBI at Bricks Cascade 2020

As the pandemic has shifted conventions online, WBI has continued their workshops and hosted collaborative builds virtually.  Notable among the builds has been the original WBI Quilt, that included contributions from over 35 women and allies from four continents. The WBI Quilt has proved so popular that several other LUGs have copied the idea and created their own. We’ve since had a Yule quilt that had over 40 contributors!

Our proud WBI quilt!

Now run by Alice Finch and director Megan Lum, WBI has continued to focus on bringing equity and diversity to the LEGO hobby.  In 2020, WBI started its groundbreaking intern program, made possible through a partnership with Smith College. WBI interns conducted research around gender and equality issues in the LEGO ecosystem.  Results of this research is posted on our website and shared during presentations at LEGO conventions.

WBI has been getting more visibility – Alice and Megan were interviewed in an episode of For The Love of Brick; WBI will be featured in an upcoming issue of Brick Journal (Alice is guest editing), and WBI has authored an Instagram guide of Inspiring Women Creators.  We’re also looking forward to the second year of the intern program and continuing our research.

WBI does have a significant online presence, you can find us on our website (www.womensbrickinitiative.com), Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@thewomensbrick). We also have an active Facebook group.

Check our recently released guide at Brick Inspired and if you’re interested, come join us!

Megan and Alice – Seattle

#30 – The story of our family’s LEGO House, by James, Lauren, Evelyn-Rae and Ozzy, Wales

Around June 2020,  with lockdown getting the better of us, me and my wife popped into Smyths Toy Store as we just found out we were expecting! 

We were drawn to the Lego Friends Central Perk set and decided to justify the purchase as a coffee table centre-piece. 

We built it as soon as we got home, and it brought back so many childhood memories that I couldn’t resist browsing on eBay and the LEGO store! 

A week later I had spend quite a bit of money and knew I wanted to set up a city in my bare attic. After building a few sets I really wanted to do a MOC (My Own Creation) – so I decided to build our own home. This was my first experience of Bricklink and free building.

Our house
My first MOC

It turned out pretty good I think….to finish it off I noticed that the mini figures in the airport set fitted with our family so I used those. 2 weeks ago we gave birth to our beautiful daughter and I really wanted to do a comparison photo outside our real house. 

Our Lego house now sits proudly in our city in the residential area at the end of the street as a focal point!

James, Lauren, Evelyn-Rae and Ozzy, Wales

#29 – The Lego Story of Lil’ Bricks! (aka myself), by Melissa Rekve, Vancouver

In 2016 I found a minifig head while I was gardening. I washed it off and kept it on my shelf. Why? I have no idea.  I was not into Lego at all at the time, and I did not have Lego when I was a kid. Little did I know, a year later I would be introduced to the incredible world of LEGO.

Why am I the luckiest girl in the world? In 2017, I met Paul Hetherington and a few months later we began dating. He’s an incredibly talented artist who uses Lego as his medium.

Me and Paul

When we met, I knew Paul was well immersed in the LEGO world, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I was naive to the idea that the LEGO world was this huge culture of AFOLS, conventions, Lego clubs, Lego Artists, and much more. I have never encountered a company so down to earth and eager to listen to what their fans/consumers want as The LEGO Group is. LEGO is a lifestyle, I quickly learned.

Fast forward to today. In the just three years, I have been to 21 LEGO conventions and 4 virtual ones; LEGOLAND in Billund, Denmark; LEGO House during the Masterpiece Gallery setup day (because Paul was invited to display a model in there) and AFOL Day.

Our visit to the LEGO House in Billund

I’ve stayed at the Knight’s Castle LEGOLAND Hotel in Billund, Denmark; I’ve added many stamps to my Lego Passport from all over, and I have made some amazing memories with some incredible people. Being a big kid at heart, I am having the time of my life. Thank you, Paul!

The Lego Conventions I’ve attended in person include Brick Con, Seattle; Brick Can, Vancouver; Bricks Cascade, Portland; Brickworld Chicago; Brick Nation (display at Emerald City Comic Con), Seattle; Skaerbæk Fan Weekend, Denmark; and many Brick Universe shows throughout America… I have been to all of these conventions more than once, with the exception of Skaerbæk. In the past year, I have also experienced 4 Virtual LEGO Conventions:BrickCan Virtual, BrickCon Virtual, BricksLA Virtual, and Brickvention Australia. 

Each convention is jam-packed with games, mocs, friends, sightseeing, and great new memories. It’s always a rush to do everything and see everyone, even when the Con happens at home. That’s part of the fun.

In 2019, I became a member of the VLC, the Vancouver LEGO Club. I love to follow directions, so building sets is what I am most comfortable with. This year, I finally got up the nerve to attempt my first moc  (my-own-creation). Creating a moc for the first time a daunting process, but it’s even more daunting when I’m dating an artist of Paul’s caliber. With lots of advice from friends and Paul to help answer questions during the process, I did it! It sure felt good when my moc was completed, the 6 months it took me to build it felt like a lifetime. I chose to create a mosaic instead of a 3D moc because I thought it would be easier. Silly me! The biggest lesson learned was that mosaics are NOT easy. For my first moc, I chose something that is a big part of my life, Garbage Pail Kids.

I have been a GPK collector since the 80’s. I decided to do a mosaic of the classic Original Series 1 card, 8a – Adam Bomb. I put my own spin on it, and added my favorite color, Pink, into the background. It is now on display in our house.

My first MOC

 Now that I have my first moc under my belt, I am ready to do it again, this time with more understanding of the process. This time I will create a portrait of my favorite singer, from my all-time favorite band. I won’t give it away just yet, but let’s just say I’ll need a little Patience for this one.

Each Convention is unique. From the AFOLS who attend, to the location, to the talks, to the games, to the swag, to the vendors, and to the mocs. At Brick Universe I volunteer as part of the team, my biggest job there in the past has been dismantling the LEGO when the kids are done playing with it in the Build Zones, but I do many other things as well. I may or may not have the nickname Godzilla when I am dismantling brick. Haha! 

Volunteering for Brick Universe has been the experience of a lifetime. The Brick Universe team is (like) a big family, and it is geared towards families to attend instead of classic Conventions which are geared toward AFOLS. Brick Universe also has LEGO Clubs and AFOL’s display models, and a lot of AFOLS and couples attend the show as well. There is something for everyone. I highly recommend it. 

One of the unique (and amusing) things about dating an Artist who uses LEGO as his medium, is the look on people’s face when they ask you what my spouse does for work. Or what I do for fun. People have openly gasped, laughed, and become super awkward once I answered. I secretly enjoy these responses, because people have no idea what they are missing on. It’s fun to keep some mystery to the AFOL world and LEGO lifestyle. It’s like a not-so-secret club of super fun and talented people who can make little plastic bricks look cool. I love it!

They say Nothing Lasts forever, but I hope this lasts a lifetime. My motto has always been, Never Grow Up, and I think I have achieved that. 

The excitement is building! Time to go do just that.

Melissa Rekve (Aka Lil’ Bricks!), North Vancouver – Canada

#28 – From my first Lego Technic videos to my Brick Experiment YouTube channel, by anonymous, Finland

When I was young, I often tried to create a LEGO hoist. I’d attach a Lego motor to an axle and wind a string with it, trying to lift a heavy load. I was especially interested in the Lego brick structure supporting the hoist.

I knew there was a right and wrong way, based on basic physics, to build the structure. I could find the best solution by thinking about it, or by testing different variations. Often I used both ways, a combination of intelligence and hard work. In hindsight, the creations were not spectacular, but I remember once being able to lift a 5 kg dumbbell in the air, powered by a single Lego motor (the old square Lego motor from the 90s, part id 5114-1).

Twenty years later, as an adult, I decided to try that once again. I had just bought a new camera and there was a lot to learn with the camera features, lighting and editing. I’d better start shooting with something simple, like Lego.

Lego is great for a beginner video creator because it doesn’t move, as humans and pets do. You can take your time and try out different shooting angles and lighting compositions. As a studio, you need just a small table and a little space around it for your camera, lights and a microphone. I found a perfect place for that in my clothes/storage room. It’s quiet and the clothes dampen reverberations so that a microphone catches all the important Lego building noises. Also, I learned that you can buy LEGO parts individually from a website called bricklink.com. Great, I can choose exactly what parts to buy and in what colors.

So the video objective was to lift the heaviest possible weight. I was going to use only Lego parts and one Lego Medium motor. I figured out all the parts I’m going to need and ordered them from bricklink. As the main color I chose red, since it represents enthusiasm and because red bricks are easily available. I also bought a weight scale to measure my progress.

Shooting the video was straightforward with building and testing, continuously improving the machine and getting bigger and bigger numbers to the scale display. I was surprised to see how well those little Lego gears withstand high torque. The bottleneck was mostly the Lego axles that deformed under string pressure. In the last test the generated force momentarily exceed 55 kg, which was the max limit for the scale. The scale printed “E” on the scale display for a second, and then the test bench exploded. A metal part had bent and disconnected the string from the scale. That was a great end to the series.

Here is the finished material, split into two videos. First video for testing pulleys and the second for gear reduction.

Video 1 – Testing LEGO pulley systems
Video 2 – Testing Lego gear systems for hoisting

The original plan was to do a third video that combines the two engineering methods, but I got tired, so I just uploaded the videos to YouTube and forgot about it. They had served their purpose in teaching me about video creation.

About 6 months later the second video started to get a lot of views and positive comments. It got 20 thousand views in three weeks. That was interesting. I was surprised to see such a demand for this type of material. Was it because I concentrated on building and testing instead of the end result? Or the lack of background music that many other Lego YouTubers use? Whatever the reason was, I decided to make a run with it. I took down the videos and created a new YouTube channel called Brick Experiment Channel, re-uploaded the videos there and started making similar videos.

That was three years ago. I’ve been creating LEGO videos since and now I have 1.4M subscribers – I’m glad so many people appreciate my videos.

Anonymous, Finland

#27 – The magnetic power of M-Tron, by Paul Hetherington, Vancouver

The magnetic power of M-Tron!

When I was 21 and in my dark ages, the Eaton’s department store in downtown Vancouver had a deluxe LEGO display with custom shelves and a huge selection of sets. I was instantly drawn to the space sets, and spent several visits to the store trying to decide whether to buy one or not. I had so many fun memories of building with LEGO from my childhood but I was hesitant to buy one.  In 1991 I thought I must be the only adult contemplating buying a LEGO toy.  Regardless I eventually convinced myself it was OK and purchased set number 6877, the M-Tron Vector Detector space set.

This first purchase soon led to many more, and it wasn’t long before I owned the entire M-Tron line. Then I soon added many other sets from the Town, Space, Pirates and Castle themes. This initial purchase has led to a lifetime of LEGO collecting and creating. 

Image by author

This first purchase soon led to many more, and it wasn’t long before I owned the entire M-Tron line. Then I soon added many other sets from the Town, Space, Pirates and Castle themes. This initial purchase has led to a lifetime of LEGO collecting and creating. 

The best part about buying that first set is that it opened me up to a world wide community of LEGO enthusiasts that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  It has been a pleasure to see the community develop and evolve over the past 30 years. I have met many lifelong friends at my local LUG and at LEGO Conventions.

In addition, I have also developed my artistic abilities and have been fortunate to have my LEGO models shown around the world. This includes touring around the United States with Brick Universe, a LEGO Fan Convention. In 2019 I had one of my designs, Imagine It, Build It, chosen to be a BrickLink AFOL Designer Set; and I was also invited by LEGO to display my model, We Built This City, in the LEGO House Masterpiece Gallery. I recently launched a website, www.paulhetheringtonartist.com, showcasing all of my creations and adventures.

Image by author

All these amazing friendships and experiences were attracted to me because of that first magnetic M-Tron space set purchase.  As you must have guessed the M in M-Tron stands for magnets!

Paul Hetherington, Vancouver – Canada

#26 – Why I created ‘For the Love of Brick’ podcast, by Greg McDonald, Australia

In this audio story, Greg McDonald – the creator of the LEGO podcast ‘For the Love of Brick’ – shares how he rediscovered LEGO again after his Dark Ages.

Greg talks about why he plays with a “children’s toy” and explains why he wanted to start a LEGO podcast. Last but not least, he talks about the generosity of the AFOL community.

You can follow Greg’s podcast episodes here and a MOC of his studio below!

Greg McDonald, Australia

#25 – My son and I creating LEGO Minifigure adventures, by Benjamin Rummens, Belgium

My name is Benjamin Rummens and this is my LEGO story. 

As a child, I played hours and hours with the lovely bricks alongside my brothers. I stopped playing as an adult ,  but when I bought the Queen Ann’s Revenge LEGO set for the 5th birthday of my son Noah… it all came back. 

I have always been busy artistically –  as an artist first (I studied plastic Arts) and most recently as a street and circus performer.  Two years ago I got the idea to make my vacation pictures a bit more creative – and in every picture you could see a dad with his two sons. 

During the last few months, due to COVID,  all my shows have been cancelled – so we got back to the idea. What about taking creative pictures of LEGO minifugures in real-world situations?

All photos by author

So my youngest son Janosh and I started the project again, just with much more details and with many more minifigures than before. Because we have a big collection of them the possibilities are endless!

Sometimes people on the street find me and my son quite strange,  when they see us laying there belly flat on the ground with a Minifigure. But we don’t really care, it is our moment – and we are making other people laugh. 

So everyday we try to take a new picture, and it is very interesting because we really start to look differently to our environment and notice. It is like a never ending quest, and we didn’t even start to use the figures of Lord of the Rings. 

We will keep adding more and more minifigure adventures in our page and I hope they inspire people to be creative. Even with the constraints of a pandemic, creativity will always win!

Benjamin Rummens, Belgium

#24 – Generación LEGO Pandemial, by Isabel Salazar – Madrid

Tengo que confesar que nunca había jugado (o montado) un Lego en mi vida hasta este año. Tuvo que llegar una pandemia para forzarme a mí misma a enfrentarme a cientos de mini piezas con optimismo. Siempre me pareció un juego para “freaks”, por favor no enfadarse con una servidora, desconocía totalmente este mundo.

Hace más de un año, los amigos del colegio de toda la vida me regalaron por mi cumpleaños la caja de Lego de la cafetería de la archi-famosa serie Friends, mi serie preferida de todos los tiempos. He de decir que miré la caja y pensé inmediatamente que quedaría muy bien en mi trastero, donde la encontraría dentro de 20 años cubierta de polvo. Y eso sucedió, estuvo olvidada encima de un armario durante meses.

Mientras tanto, pasaron las Navidades, y a mi hija de dos años los Reyes Magos le trajeron un palacio de hielo de Frozen de Duplo. Y ahí empezó a despertar mi interés, me dije: “vaya, puedo montar un edificio bastante mono de 5 piezas”. De ahí pasé a un trenecito para niños de más de 3, y poco más.

Entonces llegó Semana Santa, la más triste de mi vida hasta el momento, confinados totalmente, solamente se permitían las actividades esenciales, y encima llovía. Con una niña pequeña en casa, no había manualidades suficientes en YouTube como para pasar el rato, y además no se podían hacer pasteles porque ¡no había levadura en ninguna tienda! Y fue entonces cuando me acordé de la caja: “¿y si nos enfrentamos a esto?”, le dije a mi marido, “estás loca”, me respondió él. Pero logré convencerle y aunque nos costó ordenar las piezas y encontrar un mecanismo de trabajo, finalmente dimos con la clave. Separar bien las bolsas, no permitir que se mezclen, ordenar por color y tamaño, y utilizar a nuestra hija como asistente para que nos fuese pasando las “fichitas”. Dos tardes de 4 horas cada una, bastante entretenidas, en las que el tiempo pasó volando, un resultado final muy satisfactorio, y por supuesto, la foto final de Instagram molona.

Photo by author

Después de esta experiencia, no paro de buscar nuevos retos Lego, por si las moscas. Compré una caja gigante tipo “ladrillito rosa de Lego” y ahí guardamos todas las fichas Duplo. Y a decir verdad, ahora casi todas las tardes juego un ratito con mi hija a construir carreteras, palacios o lo que se tercie.

Dicen que la generación “pandemial”, a la que pertenecerán mis dos hijas, crecerá acostumbrada al distanciamiento social. Espero que no sea así, pero en cualquier caso, siempre les quedarán los recuerdos de jugar a montar construcciones Lego en las tardes más duras de la pandemia

Isabel Salazar – Madrid

#23 – My LEGO Winter Village – Christmas 2020, by Jason Pettyjohn – British Columbia, Canada

I have been passionate about LEGO since the first set I received as a child about 40 years ago. My childhood was dominated by the building toy, it’s all I wanted for Christmas and birthdays.

My passion for building with LEGO continued on as a young adult. I had my first child at 21, and I used this as an excuse to buy more LEGO for my daughter to play with. Back then it just wasn’t as socially acceptable for adults to play with the building bricks, so this worked well for me! In 2009 I started to get more serious about the hobby when my second child was on the way. This was also around the time when LEGO started releasing more complex and adult oriented sets with the Creator expert line, and the first Winter Village set, the Toy Shop.

I was very excited that LEGO decided to start this theme. As a child I always marveled at my grandmother’s ceramic winter village display she would put out each year on their fireplace mantel. The thought of recreating this in LEGO was quite exciting and a tradition I wanted to carry on in the family in a new form.

The first rendition of my Winter Village was displayed in 2010 once the second set was released from LEGO, and I had a modest setup with some customizations. This of course continued to grow each year as new sets were released and I acquired more pieces via buying on Bricklink and harvesting extra inventory from my own Bricklink store.

Photos by author

Around Christmas 2019 I realized I had to rethink my display with the limited space I had and the ever increasing number of sets and parts I had at my disposal. I knew I had to build up. The living room credenza was the only space I had and it measures 63″ x 16″ deep. Work began on planning the structure and ordering parts.

Due to Covid, I had more time and budget on my hand as we were at home a lot and were not travelling much. So In the summer of 2020 I finalized my design on paper and ordered the final parts I would need to build my vision. I sorted and organized everything and started the build, from scratch, in October. I spent about a month getting everything just right and to the point you see it here in my video.

My future plans include lighting and to add some movement with power functions, as there is lot’s of space under the elevated section in the back.\

I have received so much positive feedback for my creation, and hopefully this inspires others to keep building!

Jason Pettyjohn – British Columbia, Canada

#22 – My friend Ted – the son of a LEGO inventor, by Greg Griffin – US

One of my friends I’ve known for 6 years, Ted Wahler Jr, checked in on me yesterday to make sure I wasn’t too stressed at work. I mentioned how I’ve been building LEGO here to help reduce stress. I’ve been collecting and building LEGO for just over a year, and I haven’t really spoken about it to other people until recently when I really started getting into the groups, forums, and conventions to meet other LEGO enthusiasts. 

Ted had no idea that I was into LEGO and he asked me if I knew his connection to LEGO, which I didn’t, so I asked him about it. It turns out, his dad ran the Samsonite Toy division in the 1960s when LEGO came to America. Wait, what?!

This is what Ted shared with me:

“As you know, LEGO originated in Denmark, a gentleman named Christiansen licensed the rights to Samsonite for manufacture and sales in the US.  Samsonite hired my Father, also named Ted Wahler,  to run that division. He ran the LEGO division until Samsonite gave it up in the early seventies. I was the first model in the first set brochure, I think in 1963. My brother, Eric Wahler, was the second. My father took it from the 2 brick, 4, 6, and 8 block. He invented baseplates, longer blocks, the motor and gears, the roof blocks, windows, and some that I am not thinking about right now. We were the guinea pigs. We always had prototype toys costing thousands of dollars each but never the regular toys the other kids had. I built a model Monticello for a school project once from hand made pieces that were being invented as I built. They were then approved and went into production.”

I looked up some of the 1960s brochures and we found the ones with him and his brother. This is my friend Ted in the picture:

Source: Brickfetish.com

Ted also told me that he felt that his father never seemed to have received the accolades he deserved for all of the innovations he brought to LEGO. It was easy for him to see his dad’s contributions because he “sat at the kitchen table with him as my dad welded with acetone, glued with epoxy, and cut and pasted bits and pieces together. Then he tested it on us – his kids. Some of those eventually made it to production.” His dad was “dedicated to learning pathways, personal creativity, and using play to build critical thinking skills”.

“Frankly, my poor Father would hate all of the single purpose kits that seem to be the core of the product line now.  We had a one foot by six foot box of “floor sweepings”, which were the blocks that fell on the factory floor, that us brothers would sit around and build stuff from. That was his vision. Not a lot of kids had a Dad with a clipboard watching them play I’m guessing.”

I explained to Ted how kids these days usually take the sets apart after they build them to build their own creations, so that’s something that Ted’s dad would have been happy about. I shared with him how the world of MOCs (my own creations/custom builds) is huge, and shared some MOC LEGO groups with him. 

About my story with LEGO: I met Ted at a Float Conference 6 years ago. We both run massage therapy/float therapy centers, which are great for helping people reduce stress, among other great benefits such as helping with anxiety, pain, and other mental health disorders. But running a float center can be very stressful. 

I bought a few of the UCS Star Wars LEGO sets during a trip to the Mall of America about 6 years ago. I had no intention of buying LEGO during that trip to Minneapolis, but I stopped by the Mall of America because I wanted to see the large sculptures that I had seen in pictures. I’ve always been a huge Star Wars fan and after seeing some of the UCS sets they had at the store I thought to myself, “wow, LEGO has come a long way since I was a kid. These would look amazing on display at home”.

Photo by author

So I bought 6 sets that day, had fun building them, and had them on display for years. When LEGO released the newer UCS Millennium I bought it, and shortly after that I REALLY got back into LEGO building and collecting. 

And I am probably never going to stop. And although my friend’s dad, Ted Wahler Sr., might have not received the accolades he deserved when he was alive, it seems that he played a major role in bringing Old Kirk Christensen’s vision to America to help shape how we all know and play with LEGO today, and I’ll never forget that. 

Greg Griffin – US

#21 – 我的複古樂高小鎮 (my vintage LEGO town), by Jerry Hung – Hong Kong

All photos by author

Chinese version:

經過多個月既努力,儲左幾十年既舊SET終於都可以以城市形態再一次重現眼前。😭😭😭 數數手指對上一次砌個lego town出黎已經係26年前中學時代了。砌呢個城最大嘅挑戰係點樣利用有限嘅空間而有效地display到最多嘅set出嚟,而出到嚟又唔會有迫夾嘅感覺。雖然實際動工砌前已經用digital方法 plan 咗layout但係砌到出嚟睇又係另一回事,所以其實layout更動都改咗三次。而且display出嚟更加要顧及觀賞/影相角度要有層次感盡量要收埋建築物嘅背面同唔好重疊建築物。🏠🏘⛰(避免前高樓遮住後矮樓)基於土地問題關係我經過嚴選後已經放棄左好多set show唔到出黎只能display到1/3既vintage set左右,所以重複的建築物如消防局Lego總出過四間咁只能活一間了!有部分車仔我想放但係唔夠路面😢。希望不久既將來可以再砌大D令到個城更加豐富啦。🥰 其實我作為一個玩lego數十載嘅fans可以喺香港呢個彈丸之地砌到呢個能夠媲美外國規模嘅城市,真的滿足了!謝謝觀賞🙏🏻尺寸:366cm X 228cm 32×32底板數: 15×8塊盒裝使用數量:150盒以上最舊既set: 376 House with Garden (1978)最新既set: 10219 Maersk train(2011)最細既set: 6606 Road Repair Set (1983)最大既set: 6399-Airport Shuttle (1990)

English version:

After a few months of hard work, I finally finished building a Lego town with some of my lovely vintage sets that I have collected in the past 40 years. The previous time I built a Lego town was 26 years ago, when I was in high school.

A few more details about my LEGO vintage town:

Size: 366cm X 228cm. 32×32 base plate number: 15×8 Number of box-sets used: above 150! Oldest set used: 376 House with Garden (1978). Newest set used: 10219 Maersk train (2011). Smallest set used: 6606 Road Repair Set (1983).The largest set used : 6399 Airport Shuttle (1990)

I tried to make it look like the old school LEGO catalogs. Most sets in this town (there are 150 of them) were produced between the 80s – 90s. I wanted to build a LEGO town that only had vintage sets, no modern city or modular buildings at all. Due to limited space, I only can display about 1/3 of my vintage sets collection. I hope i can expand my town in the near future. Thanks for reading!

Jerry Hung – Hong Kong

#20 – How I built my LEGO wall, by Laurence Woolford – UK

Lego has always been a part of my life. As young as 3 years old I was playing with it. My father traveled a lot when I was young and, back in those days, the only toy available at airports was Lego. I used to wait for him to come home, not just to see him, but to see what Lego he had found.

As I grew older, I moved through the various genres of the brick, from town and space through the electronic train and into Technic. I have always been an early riser and my mother said she always knew when I was awake because she could hear the Lego being rummaged through.

I was never someone that played with Lego, I was always purely a builder. Nothing was ever finished so there was no time to swoop the spaceship through the air, I could always see how it could be improved or that it needed a landing pad or support truck.

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By the time I was 13 and moving into being a teenager I had amassed quite a collection and had a permanent Lego layout in my room. My move to boarding school started my path into adulthood and I put my Lego into several large storage boxes and hid them in my parents’ loft. It was not until years later with the birth of my 3 children that my Lego was recovered, and I started an entirely new relationship with my lost youth.

I delighted in teaching them how to build but would find myself staying up late into the night building. Buying Lego for them and spending time building reconnected me with lots of happy memories and feelings from my youth which helped me through 2 nasty divorces. I can remember at the end of my first marriage building a huge Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 that was minifigure scale and over a meter long.

As my children grew away from Lego, LEGO became more and more a part of my life. I used building as time to think and reflect. I was never happier than building, listening to an audio book and letting my mind wonder over all the problems of my life.My Lego was listed in my second divorce and I nearly lost my 1st Edition Millennium Falcon! Fortunately, I have managed to hold onto it although it was destroyed and had to be rebuilt from scratch!

Now a bachelor, and still a big kid, I have embraced my Lego heritage. It is a huge part of my life. I have a “mini figure me” the travels all over the world with me and has been to some amazing places from Maputo to Burma. It always gets a huge smile when I set him up to take a picture.

During the recent renovation of my home I was determined to make Lego a permanent part of the building, making a corner of a garden wall a feature to look like the entire wall was Lego. It is this that has inspired me to build a Lego house into the corner wall of the kitchen. The house is about to have all the windows changed so my Lego room is packed up but I do have some of my favourite pieces on display in the downstairs toilet!

Laurence Woolford – United Kingdom.

#19 – Building Blocks of Life, by Zain Masri – United Arab Emirates

I am passionate about the intersection of Technology, Marketing, and Culture. I was particularly drawn to LEGO from a Marketing perspective as

I admired how LEGO was able to build a legacy as one of the most beloved brands in the world, in fact, LEGO Group is worth $7.57 billion, making it the world’s most valuable toy brand, according to consultancy Brand Finance. This was largely driven by their Marketing team, which also looks after the entire product portfolio, product experience, communication, content, and social channels. 

I always found creating things with my own hands therapeutic, there’s something about building from the ground up that is so fulfilling. I particularly enjoy the peace of mind it grants me, when working on a LEGO set, my mind is so preoccupied by this one task, that I drown out the world around me, it’s a much needed reset and respite from drowning in endless notifications and bottomless social media feeds. 

After building hundreds of LEGO sets and exploring the makeup of the brand academically as part of school projects, I finally managed to get up close and personal with LEGO’s best and brightest at the LEGO Headquarters in Denmark in 2016. To say I was like a kid in a candy store would be putting it lightly, I was mesmerized. 

My day started with a 3 hour trip from Copenhagen to the small quiet town Billund, the location of the LEGO Headquarters. I joined a tour of the LEGO premises where I learned that the name Lego comes from “Leg godt,” a Danish phrase meaning “play well.” Ole Kirk Kristiansen, founder of LEGO, started making wooden toys in his workshop in Billund, Denmark in 1932 and started selling them as toys in 1934. The Kristiansen family still owns the majority of the business via a holding company named Kirkbi.

LEGO bricks may seem like a fairly simple concept, but the magic lies in the builder’s imagination. Our tour guide explained that six simple bricks can be combined in over 900 million ways, so, if you give children (or adults which make up ~20% of LEGO builders) six bricks, the only limit to what they can create is their imagination. 

I spent time with the LEGO brand builders who explained how their brand values of Imagination, Creativity, Fun, Learning, Caring, Quality play a large role in their day-to-day mission to “Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”. Beyond learning about the brand’s history, we dove deeper into understanding their manufacturing process, their massive and influential fanbase and their distribution channels. 

While learning about their logistically complex manufacturing process, which is akin to an orchestra, what struck me the most was how a company with such expansive size and legacy is still constantly innovating at a global scale. LEGO’s motto is “Only the best is good enough” and I got a strong sense of that throughout my visit. 

When it comes to Technology, LEGO navigated the shift to digital very well as they evolved from a toy brand to an entertainment powerhouse, with everything from movies, to series, to online experiences which seamlessly transported their product to the virtual andpop cultural realms. 

In 1988, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the grandson of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen, dreamt that “LEGO [will] become something universal. A concept which can be defined by the words: Idea, exuberance and values.” I think that LEGO far exceeded Kjeld’s wildest dreams.

Not only is LEGO a household name, it helped millions, including myself, realize that one of the biggest lies we’re told is that some us are creative, while others are not, that you’re either born creative or you’re creatively challenged forevermore. This lie exists to help certain groups profiteer as creativity becomes commoditized. Creativity is a muscle that you can build, creativity exists in a myriad of ways, for example, problem-solving, communication, spatial awareness, experimentation, perseverance are all forms of creativity, all of which have been democratized by LEGO.

Zain Masri – United Arab Emirates

Timelapse of the WALL•E LEGO set build (676 pieces)Timelapse of The Big Bang Theory set build (484 pieces)

#18 – How even NFL players turn to LEGO – the story of Rodrigo Blankenship, by Philipp B. Wilson – Indianapolis

It’s Friday night and you are waiting for the outcome of NFL’s roster cut. So what do you do?

Well, you turn to LEGO… and a chat with your girlfriend. That is exactly what Rodrigo Blankenship did to take his mind off his fate in roster cuts.

Rodrigo ended up building not one, but actually 2 LEGO sets – a ‘Ferrari and a small Star Wars one’. Which he said was ‘nothing crazy’.

And finally the good news came the day after – read the whole original story and video here.

Philipp B. Wilson – Indianapolis, US. Original story published with author’s authorization.

#16 – How I became an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL), by Petter L – Norway

I spent my childhood as many other kids –  building with Lego a lot. I think it was my favorite toy.

Since I had a few health problems early on, I was not that active as other kids at my age. So my favourite past-time was Lego.

I got older and maybe in my father’s eyes I should have had other interests beside Lego. So my dad told me to pack it away – and the plan became to give it away to the child hospital ward where I had been a few times. After this happened, I felt for a long time that my dad didn’t want me to play with LEGO.

You may think that my LEGO Dark Ages came – the time where I had to quit playing with Lego and find other interests. But no, my Lego building passion went into Technic sets. It was more a young adult type of Lego. I only bought large sets that I liked and built – and then would hide them away in the basement.

Around 2012, I found myself at a LEGO crossroads. Should I keep building the new Technic sets or quit building LEGO altogether? I think the one thing preventing me from quitting were the Modular House sets. I bought the Pet store and I was hooked. Oh how I missed that little brick – my love for LEGO was back. 

And the LEGO that was supposed to be given away, was still in my basement.

So in late 2012, I found my way to the local Lego User Group (LUG). They had an event coming up soon in Trondheim, a city in another part of my country. Having never been to any Lego events, I decided to attend. I didn’t have the courage to tell my father I was going to a Lego event. I had a feeling that it would not end well, so I just told him ‘I’m going to Trondheim’. But when I posted the LEGO event on Facebook, my dad saw it – and the cat was out of the bag. But, to my surprise, he took it well and told me that I was more than old enough to decide my own hobbies. E even offered to give me a lift to LEGO events!

And then I took an extra step. Some colleagues at work knew about my LEGO hobby.

One day in 2014, I got an idea to turn some of my work into a LEGO model. I was servicing the rent bike racks. So, I made a model based on that in Lego –  a rack, and the two service cars.

Photo by author

I later showed a picture of this to my manager – a few moments later it was posted to everyone in the company. I was not that happy about that but OK – at least I could finally tell everyone about my hobby.

This is my trip from packing my LEGO away in a basement… to becoming a proud Adult Fan of Lego. Today I have fun with Lego, building my own creations and collecting sets. I no longer have worries about my father. My mother loved LEGO from the start and my father learned to accept it.

LEGO helped me in so many ways. And that’s why, still today, it is my favorite toy in the whole wide world.

Petter L, Norway

#15 – My favorite LEGO MOC, by Guy Gabizon – Israel

For those of you that don’t know what is a LEGO MOC, it stands for My Own Creation.

Normally you can buy LEGO sets in a box with instructions. A MOC is something that a fan like  me designs and then publishes the instructions for other LEGO Fans to build, on sites like Rebrickable

I love designing and sharing MOC’s with the world. I design them because I can really use my creativity and build something out of my own imagination. And I have built already more than 500 of them!

My favorite one is the Dessert Village one. I built it from 12 different MOC’s, with 3957 pieces. It took me more than one month to build but at the end I was really happy with it. 

If you want to see more of my creations, you can check my website – https://htbi-moc.com/. I love to see when a fellow fan builds one of my MOC’s – and I am looking forward to myself building creations from others!

Guy Gabizon, Israel

#14 – My quest to find IT, by Alex Fernandes, Caldas da Rainha

When I was 10 years old, I remember playing with my few LEGO sets until exhaustion.  Every Christmas, I eagerly waited for the catalogues from the big retail stores, showcasing all the toys you can imagine. My favorite toys were always RC cars and of course… LEGO!

One day, I went with my mom to her manager’s house and… I saw IT! An enormous lego Technic set, that I only had seen in the Christmas catalogues booklets… and that I thought I would never see in real life.  ‘IT’ was the 8865 Test Car, laying around… Half on the floor… Half on the box… left abandoned, and worse… I wasn’t authorized to play with IT! 

That day, I secretly promised myself – ‘One Day I will have IT! Meanwhile (unfortunately…) I grew up, and went into my LEGO dark ages, years went by and LEGO became just a fading memory. just a memory and fade!

Years later, when I was already an adult,  my inner geek started to come out again when I started watching The Big Bang Theory. When my girlfriend gave The Big Bang Theory LEGO ideas set, I rediscovered the world of LEGO again!

This year I turned 40. And one night, after putting my 2-year old daughter to sleep, I went on Ebay to look for my next LEGO set. And I stumbled upon it… a second-hand 8865 Test car! With so many memories coming back to me I decided – I have to have IT! 

Image by author

And as I write this story, I am bringing its yellow aged bricks back to vibrant colors – and I can’t wait to build IT… Finally.

Alexandre Fernandes, Caldas da Rainha – Portugal.

#13 – A carta que recebi da LEGO, by Fabrice Carvalho – Lisbon

Em 2017, para os meus 40 anos, a minha esposa quis oferecer-me algo épico. E algo épico para mim, só podia ser LEGO.

E em 2017 era um ano importante – os meus 40 anos de idade e os 40 anos do começo da saga do Star Wars! Entao, nada melhor do que comemorar as duas datas com o melhor presente de sempre – a LEGO UCS Millenium Falcon.

No entanto, o set estava esgotado e não chegaria a tempo do meu aniversário. Quando a minha mulher escreveu à LEGO a pedir se eles poderiam entregar a tempo, em resposta recebi esta carta.

Até hoje, dos melhores serviço ao cliente que conheço.
E a  LEGO Millenium Falcon foi o meu melhor presente de sempre!

Fabrice Carvalho, Lisbon – Portugal.

#12 – Os Legos que eu montava com o meu pai, by CMateus – Lisbon

Eu e o meu pai sempre fomos os melhores amigos e os melhores companheiros de brincadeiras.

Das memórias mais felizes que tenho foi num Natal em que os meus pais fizeram um esforço enorme para me dar uma coleção de Lego que eu adorava – uma casa de família repleta de flores. Ainda hoje recordo com carinho a paciência que o meu pai tinha para me ajudar a montar as flores, naquela estrutura verde tão pequenina que as minhas mãos pequenas e desengonçadas não conseguiam segurar.

Tenho os meus Legos guardados para que um dia possa ajudar uma criança minha a montar cada um deles de novo.

CMateus, Lisbon – Portugal

#9 – My fondest LEGO memory, by Blaine K – Florida

When I was 10, my dad went on a business trip to Las Vegas. 

Before he left his hotel for his return flight, he decided to play blackjack with $50 and got very lucky. When he returned home, he brought us to Walmart and told us we could pick out whatever we wanted! 

I went to the Lego aisle and got the #6520 – Mobile Outpost and #6579 – Ice Surfer. THE ICE SURFER – the coolest set!

As a 10 year old, it was the greatest night of my life. My family was very frugal, and they never spoiled us kids, so it’s the only time something like that ever happened. Receiving a Lego set outside of a birthday or Christmas was unheard of. Which made that night all the more special. 

It is by far my fondest memory. I still have those two sets in pieces and I am now trying to put them back together.

Blaine K, Florida – USA

#6 – ‘What do you mean – LEGO Instructions?’, by Ana Beirão – Lisbon

When I was a child, I would borrow all my Legos from my cousins.

They were given to me in big shopping bags filled with bricks, or half-built with one or two parts to be rebuilt. I loved building and played with these bricks all the time building houses for my dolls or just doing official repairs for my cousins!

When I saw LEGO ads on TV, I wondered the amount of imagination it took to build such boats and buildings – and I tried my best to replicate them with my bricks. 

The years went by, and as an adult was time to do the same that my cousins did for me – spark imagination and creativity. So when my son turned 5, I bought him a Lego box and I was completely gobsmacked that there were instructions. I had no idea! 

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I shared my amazement with a friend. 

Did you know that nowadays they put instructions inside Lego boxes?

– What do you mean? There were always instructions to build Legos inside the boxes…

Never in my dreams could I have imagined that as a child.

Ana Beirão, Lisbon — Portugal

#4 – A sense of calm and focus, by James Myers – London

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Lego.

 It was the only gift iI wanted for birthdays, for Christmas – for any celebratory occasion really.

What i really loved was the precision, attention to detail and the reward of completing the build. This brought out creative and problem solving qualities which I now value deeply. 

A couple of years ago, I was going through a really tough time professionally and I found myself drawn back to Lego. You can probably tell from the picture below.

It helped give me an alternative outlet from the stress and intensity of work, a sense of calm and focus. Which I now turn to whenever I feel anxious. And I have no doubt others like me do too.

James Myers, London — UK

#3- LEGO, o meu brinquedo precioso, by Teresa Raupp – São Paulo

Quando eu era criança, acho que todo o mundo tinha problemas financeiros e era comum as crianças herdarem dos irmãos mais velhos, brinquedos inteiros ou não, para enfim, chegar nossa hora de soltarmos nossa imaginação e brincar como se fossem brinquedos novos.

Na verdade, esses brinquedos para mim eram até mais preciosos, porque vinham com uma regra mandatória da minha irmã mais velha:

“Cuida bem desse brinquedo, foi precioso para mim!”.

Assim foi o Lego.

Ganhei uma quantidade incompleta de peças de Lego e com ela, fiz enormes e incríveis castelos, bonecos, mesas, bancos e até cavalos em cujos dorsos de pelos macios e crinas longas ajudavam as princesas fugirem dos seus vilões. Foram tardes e mais tardes no meu mundo encantado, com algumas peças também perdidas por aí, algumas resgatadas anos depois.

Eu sempre fui uma criança solitária que morava num mundo encantado, mágico, colorido, cheio de histórias incríveis, personagens marcantes. Esse mundo era construído com Legos, bonecas, cachorros de verdade, caixas de papelão, além de grama, terra e pedrinhas que serviam de banquetes para reis e princesas.

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Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

No entanto, o meu Lego, assim como poucos e raros brinquedos, guardei comigo. Não tive coragem de me desfazer. Ano após ano, conserva a mesma perfeição no encaixe, mas arestas.

Conheci no meio da minha trajetória, uma médica pediatra que observava suas crianças entretidas sempre com os mesmos brinquedos. Ela concluiu graciosamente que os brinquedos têm anjos e aqueles brinquedos preferidos por todas as crianças, certamente eram conduzidos por anjos melhores, mais pacientes com as crianças.

Pois meu Lego deve ter um desses anjos, pois quando meu filho tinha seis anos, presenteei com meu bom e velho Lego, não perdendo a oportunidade de pedir:

“Cuida bem desse brinquedo, foi precioso para mim!”.

Meu filho brincou muito com essas mesmas peças, mas transformando-os em terríveis dinossauros, árvores colossais, robôs do bem e do mal travando batalhas entre si, canhões de guerra, naves espaciais.

O Lego o levou a outro mundo, o mundo curioso dos meninos, mas igualmente poderoso e colossal.

Felizmente o Lego resistiu às décadas e ele ganhou mais caixas de peças, novas, diferentes, fantásticas.

Passaram-se os anos e o Lego voltou à caixa.

Eu esperava guardar para alguma criança adorável que lhe desse devido valor. Incrivelmente, fui mãe de novo depois de treze anos e minha filha herdou o brinquedo do irmão com a devida recomendação: “cuida bem desse brinquedo, foi precioso para mim!””.

Helena brinca até hoje com o Lego, feito miniatura de mim.

Assim, os ciclos se repetem e os resistentes brinquedos de Lego acompanham as gerações e as reminiscências em histórias maravilhosas e eternas.

Teresa Kimijima Raupp — São Paulo, Brasil

#2 – My Yellow Brick Tower, by Diogo Lobo – Lisbon

It all starts with a single brick.

At 8 I had a big box of LEGO bricks. I mean, a big, BIG box.

It was so big that I could easily fit inside the box.I had all kinds of pieces, bricks and LEGO stuff in there. I even had a smaller red box to sort Lego bricks, by color and by shape.

I think it was a box of some sort of appliance my parents bought. I used it to keep my Lego safe from the World (meaning, my dog and other kids).

The box where I kept my LEGO all these years

And it was always the same ritual: I would bend the box slightly so all the pieces could lie on the floor but so that ALL the pieces could be in sight. DO NOT lose any piece was the absolute mantra. Even if I didn’t need it for a build, I would never lose one single brick. Never.

Then, creativity took over and castles, cars, buildings and even ice creams would see the light of the day. In the end, I would put all the pieces back in the big box and close it with that childish feeling that my treasure was safe. Those were the days!!

Many amazing structures were built and destroyed minutes afterwards, but one always stuck with me. The Yellow Tower!

One day, I decided to build the biggest tower one could ever see, meaning a tower that could reach the ceiling of my room — aka the sky.

But not just any tower, it would be a single line with one brick on top of the other straight to the sky. Will it stand? Do I have enough pieces? How many days will I need?

Construction began just after school, making sure no one would enter my room. With the coast clear, the next task was critical: choose the brick. Don´t know why I had so many yellow pieces (maybe it’s one of the most common colors) but this was the one that I had most pieces of. So be it.

One Brick to Rule Them All

Effortlessly with the wind blowing in my hair and looking at my bedroom’s ceiling (AKA the sky), I started to put bricks one on top of the other.

First try: 30 seconds later it fell, didn’t even reach the height of my forehead.

Second try: looking good and steady until someone opened the door and I looked away slightly touching it. Nooooooooo….

Third try: My hands are shaking.

Maybe I need help.

– “Moooooom!”

– “Why don’t you do it in sections and then put them together?”

– “What are sections? “ — I was 8…

– “You do one part with 20 bricks and put it on the floor. Then do another one exactly the same, and another, and another. Once you have 6 or 7 sections, let me know and I´ll help you.”

And then again I went. Section by section I was learning that a journey is made of small steps. One after the other just like LEGO bricks, one after the other.

Once I had my sections ready to shine, we started to build it. And we only finished it when it touched the ceiling (almost). And there it was — a single line of yellow bricks from the ground to the ceiling, from down below to the clouds above.

I was 8…

I must have of photo of it somewhere. I still have the box. I still open it sometimes and remember that big tower.

It was tall. It was yellow. It was LEGO.

Diogo Lobo, Lisbon — Portugal

#1 – My LEGO Story, by Marco André – London

How rituals of connection are bridges to simpler times.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Through lockdown, friends told me the same story

‘I went back to painting. I started to garden again. I baked. I built a wooden deck. I wrote a poem. I knitted a sweater. ‘I returned to photography. I made a vase. I composed a song’. 

I. Created. This.

When I asked why, the answer was: ‘I was bored. And it gave me moments of peace’.


For me, I went back to building LEGO. It was like meeting an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. Every time we met, it went something like this:

I stare at the box for 2 minutes. I shake it. Definitely LEGO inside. Turn it around. I shake it again. Just in case.

I place it on the table. Slowly break the seals. Ah, the sound. Display bags, instructions, and stickers. Steal all the bowls in the flat while driving my partner mad. Sorry, sorting is everything.

Open first bag — bricks all over. Do NOT let any piece fall on the floor. DO NOT. Sort by color, then by shape. And so it starts:

Pick. Brick. Click. 

Have the first panic attack when one piece falls to the ground. I summon the whole household to find it. My fingers cramp. Back aches. Shoulder is dormant. Don’t recall any of these when I was a child. Damn. And, when it all comes together with that last brick, that feeling:

I. Built. This.


9 hours into building my Ghostbusters Firehouse

My LEGO story started way before lockdown. It began at age 3 when I received my first LEGO Duplo Farm. According to my parents, I called the pig ‘doggie’ and the chickens ‘pigeons’. In hindsight, starting to wear glasses only at age 14 wasn’t the right move.

At age 8, I received my fire station, with the coolest control tower. An all-terrain truck with extending ladder. Hoses and sirens. And walkie-talkies, wonderful devices with no access to email.

And at age 13, I graduated to Lego Technic, an intricate mix of beams and gear wheels. It became apparent that I wasn’t cut out for a career in mechanical engineering. The world is a safer place, believe me.

After that, LEGO disappeared from my life for 25 years. It was like a summer love — you remember how exhilarating it felt, but you can’t recall why it ended. I guess life happened.

And we would have parted ways forever if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with the LEGO Millenium Falcon. A story for another day.


So why did I go back to LEGO? Why did my friends get back to their own rituals?

What happens when we have ‘nothing better to do’? Boredom drives us to become children again. We are not concerned about looking good or standing out. Have you ever heard a child saying ‘my drawing isn’t good enough?’ 

It is simpler. We just want to create something of our own making.

I. Created. This

We forget how to be children. Life happens. And through these rituals and moments, we learn it again. 

Scarcity creates boredom. Boredom breeds creativity. Creativity drives connection. Connection creates peace.


Some say building LEGO is pointless. That you are following instructions, a recipe. That you build it to take it down. That it is not productive.

I respect their opinion, but I know what’s in it for me. When I build LEGO, outside expectations disappear. No one is watching. I can follow instructions or experiment. I can go fast or go slow. I can build it alone or with family. I can be nervous, happy, anxious, or tired. 

It doesn’t matter because suddenly, it’s only me. Connecting with myself. Everything else disappears. Even if only for a moment, I am at peace. During those moments, Everything is Awesome.

LEGO is my ritual of connection, a bridge to simpler times. A way to achieve peace. 


Some of us have now stopped doing those things. ‘Life is back to normal’ we say.

It is a Sunday morning, at 11.54 AM. I find myself in the queue for the LEGO store to open. I stand out: the only adult surrounded by 7 kids. And their parents — as excited as their kids are. I am not ashamed. Each of us is craving the same thing: enjoying our childhood. Or bringing it back.

I know that life happens. But weaving those moments of connection into our busy lives brings us peace. Maybe the last few months have shown us a new, better normal.

LEGO and I found each other again. And, even if life happens, we will never part ways.

Pick. Brick. Click.

Marco André – London, UK.