Thursday , February 22 2024

LEGO – From the Simple Brick to the Glorious Splendors of a Galaxy Far, Far Away!

LEGO – From the Simple Brick to the Glorious Splendors of a Galaxy Far, Far Away: the amazing little plastic bricks with connecting studs on top are building blocks with enormous power that craft buildings, vehicles, towers, world famous landmarks, and iconic places and vehicles from TV and film. As every journey begins with one step, every LEGO set begins with one brick. With dedication and great imagination, that little plastic wonder can lead to the house next door or outer space adventures.

What is LEGO?

So, for those of you without kids or who have been living at a remote Antarctic research station, LEGO bricks are interlocking plastic pieces that can be used to create everything from family houses to skyscrapers, little boats to battleships, and toy sets from a variety of imagined TV and movie worlds like Star Wars, Harry Potter, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse. and so much more. It is the versatility of that little brick that makes all of this possible.

LEGO comes from the abbreviation of two Danish words “leg godt” and means “play well.” On their website we are told: “It is our name, and it is our ideal.” I have to admire that sort of commitment to children to create a quality product with which they can play well. Founded in Denmark in 1932 by visionary Ole Kirk Kristiansen, Lego A/S remains a privately held company that is run by his grandson today. This family is responsible for creating one of the most beloved toys of all time.

Why Does LEGO Matter?

Over the years my son and I have built so many sets – big and small – and these have been times that afford an ability to bond with one another meaningfully. We are not just building a toy that he is going to play with – we are spending quality time together. As he grew older our conversations have changed from talking about the toys we were actually building to things that are important in his life like school, current events, and our family history. These are treasured moments that do end with a finished product but also bring us closer together.

Before we got our first LEGO sets, we played with little kid toys. We certainly had fun, and I will never forget how many times we played Blues Clues – I still have the handy, dandy notebook by the way. These were important moments too, and I can still hear my son’s baby laughter as he located one of the clues. We went from Sesame Street to Blue to Barney to Diego/Dora to SpongeBob, and then it became superhero time with Superman, Batman, and Spider Man. We had all those toys and had a lot of fun with them, but then he got his first LEGO sets, and nothing ever was the same.

Why is LEGO a Big Deal?

As mentioned earlier, every LEGO set starts with one brick and then can become something amazing. Over the years we have built so many sets, but the key thing is the sheer simplicity of the building process. Sets are labeled for age levels, so as long as parents stick to the right LEGO sets for their children’s age group, LEGOs are super user friendly.

The sets come with a direction book that uses images and no words. Especially when children are younger and unable to read, this is a genius method of having them follow the images and put together the bricks. When my son made a mistake, I would wait and see if he could figure it out himself. Nine times out of ten he would realize when subsequent images didn’t look right, and he would go back and correct the step. This a great way for kids to experience hands-on problem solving.

Is LEGO Good for Kids?

Building LEGO sets is extremely good and healthy for kids of all ages – it is even good you and me! Some of the benefits include hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and creative thinking. Building these toys get kids thinking way out of the box. And, as they get older, it increases their attention span and helps them focus on something other than a video screen.

My son and I did not only build LEGO sets from the directions. We also created our own sets. He can now build fortresses, castles, tanks, and spaceships of his own. We have so many bricks and pieces that come with the sets, and when he tires of a few sets he will break them down and make something else. As a young teen, his creative thinking has expanded exponentially thanks to the worlds that LEGO has inspired him to create.

Come On, Isn’t LEGO Just for Kids?

When I have confided in adult friends that I love building LEGO sets with my son, I don’t get many positive reactions. One person even asked, “Isn’t that a waste of time. A lot of time?” He revealed that his own son could be in the basement for hours at a time building LEGO sets. He would even tell his son to take a break and do something else. This was a man who didn’t get what LEGO is all about. LEGO is about concentration, time, and perseverance. It actually relaxes me to build the sets, but it also keeps me focused and thinking.

You don’t think LEGO building is for adults? There is a TV show called LEGO Masters on Fox, and it is all about adults building LEGO sets. It is sort of a Survivor for the toy world, pitting ten teams of two people against each other. One team gets eliminated each week until a showdown between two remaining teams for the championship. All of the sets are created by the contestants with no set of instructions involved – it’s creativity on overload. My son and I aspire to appear on this show someday.

Our Favorite Sets

Some of our favorite sets have been the most difficult builds, but that makes them all the more rewarding. The Star Wars Death Star was a troublesome build. The hardest part was the super laser planet destroyer. It kept me up at night thinking about how it kept falling apart. This was a few years ago, and my son was getting upset that it would never be finished. One day we had spent hours building other parts of the set, and that night I lay in bed and couldn’t sleep. When I fell asleep, I had a dream about how to hold the thing together. I got up at five the next morning and put the laser together successfully. My son was so happy when he woke up and saw that the build was complete.

Besides the Death Star, Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, Star Wars Cloud City, the SpongeBob SquarePants set featuring the Krusty Krab, and Mickey’s Steamboat Willie are probably our favorite sets. Once they were built and displayed in my son’s playroom in the attic, he can immerse himself in any one of these worlds. He can flip Krabby patties with SpongeBob under the sea, or he can head to London and shop for school supplies with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. When he feels like leaving this galaxy for one far, far away, he can join Darth Vader and Luke in Cloud City for the iconic “I am your father” scene. He can also head over to the Death Star and help Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie get out of the trash compactor.

The LEGO Experience

LEGO is not just about the toys – it’s about an experience. LEGO includes games, movies, and related products like cups and key chains. Going to a LEGO store is like a pilgrimage, and it is really an experience itself. When we were in London for vacation a few years ago, the rest of the family wanted to see plays, sights, and visit museums. All my son wanted to do was visit the LEGO Store. Imagine his excitement when he encountered this multilevel marvel in Leicester Square devoted to all things LEGO. There are also Legoland amusement parks around the world where kids and their lucky parents can immerse themselves in this amazing fantasy world.

But the most important part of the LEGO experience comes down to parent and child sitting down to be creative. It is time spent together building not just toys but lasting memories. Many years from now my son plans to give his kids these sets, and when he builds with them I know he will remember building with me. It’s a bond we share that will be forevermore.

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His new novel, 'Unicorn: A Love Story,' is available as an e-book and in print.

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