When it comes to hobbies, I consider myself a kid who has yet to grow up. I am, however finding the older I get, the less interested I am in certain hobbies. As those interests wane, I vow to no longer spend my money on trivial things I used to buy.
If there is one hobby I don’t think I will lose an interest in, it’s LEGO building. I still remember the very first LEGO set I got when I was in first grade. It was set 420, a police car that had only 19 pieces and came out in 1973. Perhaps the reason I remember it so well is not because it was my first LEGO set from my parents, but because it was missing a part – a white “brick 1 x 2” piece. For those who take this building hobby seriously, they demand you call the bricks by their required names.
Despite my brief disappointment in missing that one piece, my brick building eventually grew as I received other LEGO sets over the years that included a fire house, a moon landing and a tow truck. Then the company, based in Billund, Denmark, came out with their space sets in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
My favorite set of that era is still the Galaxy Explorer (set 497), which I wish the company would re-release. Thanks in part to the original Star Wars trilogy back then, I was building my own renditions of Tie Fighters, Snowspeeders and Imperial Walkers out of LEGOs. I even competed in a LEGO contest one year, thinking I would win. Unfortunately, what I built with less than 2,000 pieces was no match for what someone did within six hours’ time, using 20,000 bricks to build a 747 and a merry-go-round. Yes, those expert builders, who were much older than I, won first, second and third place.
What I built then, kids are doing now as parents and fans of the original trilogy, and kids interested in the Clone Wars cartoon purchase Star Wars LEGO toys and build their own Millennium Falcon and X-Wing fighters.
I won’t deny the product has changed since I was a kid. Today, the LEGO brand gets most of its money out of movie franchises; hence the reason you see LEGO sets of Harry Potter, Batman, Indiana Jones and Spider-man. This year the company will produce Lord of the Rings and sets based on Marvel Comics characters. I will not be surprised if they land the Star Trek license when the second film comes out in 2013.
Thanks to the Internet, I can either download or purchase almost all the instructions for every LEGO set made since the company’s birth. I don’t need to spend $5,000 on a new unopened retired 2,882 piece of the Statue of Liberty set from amazon.com. I can download the instructions and build my own.
God knows I have enough parts; seven 30-gallon storage bins of LEGOs to be exact sitting in the corner of my room, one on top of the other. OK, six. One has instruction booklets for all the Star Wars/non Star Wars LEGO sets I’ve gotten since 1999.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, with the LEGO products, is the need for one’s imagination. I have plans to build something huge using all those plastic blocks one of these days. I am not telling what it is. You’ll have to wait until the year 2040 when I unveil my creation with pictures on www.brickshelf.com – if the LEGO-based Website is still around, that is.