There is a reason we all love Lego.
I am not, nor ever was, particularly naturally suited to building things out of Lego. My hang up has always been translating the vision in my head to the connection of bricks in my hands. My brother on the other hand, never followed the instructions that I recall, but always somehow ended up with fantastical, expertly designed sets of intricate detail. He usually put me to work searching for the pieces he needed to complete these masterpieces. This was no small task! We had a massive box, hundreds of thousands of small Lego bricks and pieces, which we would dump out on a huge bed sheet to facilitate easy clean-up (nobody wants to experience the unique and exquisite pain of stepping on a Lego brick!). Aside from sorting through all of them looking for blue bricks, or white plates, wheel parts, or whatever obscure piece I was assigned, I could usually manage to put together a house, square with 2×4 bricks comprising the walls, maybe a door and window and a flat roof if I made it that far. So creative.
My husband, similar to my brother, grew up inventing creative new designs from a massive container of all the Lego sets gifted at Christmas and birthdays. (It is an ongoing debate which of our families of origin own more Lego.) The perfect toy for a kid engineer. Who am I kidding, he literally ordered a whole bunch of Lego on eBay when he got his first real engineer job. You don’t grow out of this, guys. Those who design, build, create because it’s just in there somewhere, part of their DNA, they’re going to keep building. Be it Lego, or aluminium, or steel and rebar, or CAD models on a computer screen.
Our kids are still a little young for Lego. Shucks, we still have to think about it from a choking hazard perspective. But, trust me, they will be Lego fans. We already have quite the collection of Duplo, the larger version of Lego designed for kids ages 2-5. Jonathan has geeked out about Eddie’s progression of Duplo play: how it began with 1 dimensional towers, then developed as he learned how to stagger them and build in 2 dimensions, until now when his crazy creations are in full 3-D glory.
When we went to Denmark, we debated literally up till the end about fitting in a trip to Legoland, not because we doubt our love of Lego, but because there is a Legoland down the road here in SoCal. Yes, Billund has the original Legoland, but still, it is just an amusement park. And in the cold, rainy weather, it was hard to justify something we weren’t 100% excited about. As we discussed it, we landed on the fact we really wanted to see a Lego museum, the history of Lego, or a Lego factory or design lab. In looking for something along those lines we discovered The Lego House. It had only opened the doors to the uniquely designed building (another selling factor, it was designed by world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels to look like 21 giant Lego bricks stacked one on top of the other) the previous month, so it was still brand new. Actually owned by Lego, the “Home of the Brick”, as it’s called, hosts the story of Lego, fantastic Lego creations designed by fans all around the world, and “experience zones” where you get to have fun and do your own building.
Dream. Come. True.
Lego’s history is pretty incredible. Several toy factory fires set back the family-owned business early on, but they always rebuilt and kept to their high standards of quality and fun. The basement of the Lego house tells the story and displays hundreds of classic sets through the years.
From there, we visited an entire floor dedicated to the amazing creations of Lego fans around the world.
It was pretty amazing. But as Eddie peered over the balcony to the floor below us, he shrieked in delighted, irrepressible amazement! “LOOK! We HAVE to go down there!!”
While a life-size dinosaur is pretty cool, what captures kids about Lego is the ability to tell a story, ignite the imagination. Below, we were awed by huge Lego “worlds”, everything you can imagine was part of the creation: a freight train running through mountain tunnels, an erupting volcano, a waterfall cascading downward carrying an out-of-control raft, an entire ski resort, a farm complete with fields of grain and a combine harvester, towering skyscrapers, a stadium mid-soccer game, a parade on the city streets, a busy harbor where a container ship was being unloaded, a train station teeming with passengers, construction sites, a building on fire with a company of firefighters hard at work, an island paradise, and so much more. The closer you looked the more there was to see, details that told a thousand stories!
From there we were thrust into the “experience zones”: building our own mini figures with literally every kind of accessory available; creating a Lego fish which was then digitized and swam into a giant aquarium screen;
adding to an field of Lego flowers; building a creepy-crawly creature and seeing it come to life;
an interactive city you could add to by building on Lego plates of different colors representing residential, industrial, commercial, and green spaces;
a stop motion film studio, and so much more!
Can you see why we easily spent double the time here than we anticipated? I wasn’t at all surprised we stayed all day!
We even got to “build” our lunch: ordering at the restaurant included finding the bricks corresponding to your menu choices to send your creation in as your order!
I think my takeaway was learning the why behind my love for Lego, as un-spatially-creative and un-design-oriented as I am. The beauty of Lego is:
- It’s a system. It’s endless possibilities and wherever your imagination takes you. And,
- It tells a story. It calls you to create, not just for something to look at and admire. There is abundant opportunity to interact with your creation, which is what keeps us all coming back.
As we left, we scanned our bracelets one last time, just as we had for all the fun activities and creations we built along the way. This time the computer screen brought up a configuration of 6 red 2×4 Lego bricks. The fact is, those 6, same-color bricks can connect in 915,103,765 unique combinations. We each received a printed card with our own Lego configuration and the freshest bricks you can find: injection molded and packaged before our very eyes.
Safe to say the love of Lego has now been unmistakably passed on to our rocket babies. Ever since our trip, having had his eyes opened to the world of Lego, Eddie has been more interested in building than ever before. And once again, I find myself relegated to finding the pieces he needs for his next creation. Can’t say I mind.