The week before the end of the school holidays and it was time for the attack to commence. A Lego spaceship was poised over Lego town, lasers set to kill. The suburban metropolis I’d taken all holiday to create was about to meet its annual apocalypse. Dad called it to action; “tidy up your bricks, now!”
At the start of the summer break each year I’d plan my town. Sadly, I actually drew up blueprints of the road layout, considered the geographical position of essential services such as the train and fire station and strategically designed its infrastructure; no slapdash, nothing left to chance. It was Sim City before Sim City. It was in fact, also Minecraft, Roblox and at times like this, Grand Theft Auto.
To say I loved Lego was an understatement; it’s was beyond a toy, it was the outlet for creative juices to flow, it was a magical realm where I could play out all my imaginings, it was, in short, whatever I wanted it to be.
My Dad saved up for a holiday in Denmark because of this obsession; no Legoland in Windsor back then. He drove to Brighton to stop my pleas to visit the Lego Show, and spent a small fortune so that I may have two humongous boxes of bricks, a train, and much more. But it seemed I wasn’t alone, it took him some convincing when I became the Dad that he should surrender the boxes so his grandkids (and I) could play with them.
His argument, it was something they could play with when they came to visit flawed upon arriving; he sat up for what must have been weeks, constructing the train, the garage et-all, so, he claimed, it was ready for when they came; he wasn’t fooling anyone.
Seems those inventive bricks are adored by all who connect them, Top Gear presenter James May made an actual house with them, Bugatti recently made a real working car too, and I’m glad my children now love them, building on the collection I passed down. If they ask me to help I’m down on the carpet before you can say Ole Kirk Christiansen du er en gud.
What astounds me as a grownup is their business acumen. Their ideas hidden from competition with military precision, their marketing second-to-none, and in all my years of buying Lego models never once, ever, has the product been faulty or missing a single tiny piece. Lego is flawless.
But if I thought I was an obsessive, I hadn’t seen anything until I visited the Steam Museum’s Lego show a few years back. There were “adults” there who paled my interest in Lego by comparison. They built a wide variety of awesome models, some pitched their own compatible ingenious inventions, or sold collections the like you’ve never seen.
But the outing was a double-whammy, for you get to explore the brilliant interactive museum of the GWR; where curators worked the factories, only too pleased to elucidate their fascinating memories. In fact, I think my son, six at the time, enjoyed the museum more than the Lego, least if not, just as much.
This is Swindon at its absolute pinnacle, for kids from ages 1 to 101.
Make no mistake this experience wasn’t cheap but if you have even so less as a passing interest in Lego, it’s worth every penny. It’s coming back; the 2018 Great Western Brick Show at Steam is on October 6th and 7th, 10am-5pm. You know everything there will be awesome, and if you’ll ever help Emmet find the piece of resistance, it’s there.