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5/11/11

Land of 1000 Blocks

With the recent news that a Legoland will be constructed in Kansas City's Crown Center, I've been stuck in a state of toy nostalgia, reminiscing on the countless hours of entertainment that Legos and Duplos (which, contrary to popular belief, are not a Lego competitor, but a Lego product line) provided me as a child.

Ava has just started playing with Duplos when we visit my parents house. Coincidentally, the big blue bucket of blocks that they have is the same one that I played with as a child. In fact, there are still faded remnants of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 'Pizza Time!' sticker that I had slapped onto the container. My parents may be mild hoarders of my old toys and kid stuff, but I am so thankful for it. The other day we brought up my 20+ year old Tonka truck that was still going strong. And sure enough, Ava grabbed it and started loading the bed of the truck with Duplo blocks.

As I watch my daughter explore the blocks now and learn how they fit together in infinite combinations, it takes me back to my thought process as a childhood Lego construction foreman. I always hated the 'kits' that gave you specific legos and instructions on what to build and how to do it. No way, I wasn't going to be held down like that. My ADD and rebellious nature wouldn't allow it. If I had the slightest knowledge of who Frank Lloyd Wright was as a child, I'm sure that's who I would have compared myself to.

Most kids built the standard collection of Lego creations: towers, castles,  houses, etc. Well, I wasn't most kids. In other words, I was a really weird kid and created a lot of strange stuff with Legos. So in keeping with the celebration of Legoland making it's way to KC, I thought I'd post a list of the top ten Lego creations I've ever made. Some succeeded, some failed, some left people scratching their heads thinking that I might have some sort of mild disorder. Either way, I had the time of my life. Without further ado, and in no particular order:



1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Weapons

This might not seem so out of the ordinary at first glance. But, I was so determined to have the entire set of TMNT weapons (sais, sword, bo staff, nunchucks) that I took a piece of chain from my dad's workshop and attempted to super-glue it to the nunchuck "handles" so they were authentic. Pretty sure once my dad walked in and saw that going down, the nunchucks got the kibosh.

2) Skates

Our Duplo set had a number of pieces with 4 wheels, intended for use as part of a train. Well I said "Screw a train" and instead wanted to Kristi Yamaguchi my way through the house on a set of Lego skates. Naturally, this ended horribly, and thanks to a mild entryway-induced head injury, Lego skates were retired from action after the first use.

3) Dad's Face

I don't remember exactly what this was for, probably Father's Day or my dad's  birthday. But I thought that constructing my dad's face out of Legos would be a brilliant gift idea that would leave my dad indebted to me for years to come. The result was a misshapen, primary-colored Rocky Dennis/Picasso-on-acid hybrid. You're welcome, dad!

4) Genitalia

Kids think private parts are funny. I thought Lego private parts were especially funny. I ain't sorry.

Amazing Lego art or Simple Plan album cover?


5) Grenade

Though the purpose behind these was nefarious (to harass my sisters), the thought process during creation was actually pretty creative and is a testament to the problem solving skills that Legos can develop. Basically, I wanted to develop some sort of Lego bomb that would shatter on impact when tossed in the vicinity of my sisters. It was a multi-stage process, as I learned that I had to loosely connect the blocks in order for it to work. I also eventually learned that I could enclose smaller Legos inside the grenade to create extra 'shrapnel'. Yeah, I was sick.

6) Wolverine claws

Really more like Lady Deathstrike claws (for those of you non-comic book nerds, this means 5 claws, on one each finger), but God knows I didn't want to be running around the house pretending to be Lady Deathstrike. Again, an example of the creative methods used with these blocks; the holes on the bottom of the Duplos were the perfect size to insert my fingers and create enough suction to stay on. These were great for harassing the dog when the dustbuster was out of commission!

7) The Totally Universal Remote

The raised bumps on the Duplo blocks were perfect remote control buttons. Connect a few of the large, flat blocks together and you have the largest universal remote known to man. I went so far as to draw a diagram of what each of the imaginary buttons controlled, which, if I remember right, had the ability to freeze things, mute people, and make a snack appear, among much more. I wonder if I can sue the makers of 'Click' for stealing my idea..

8) Fart Box

Yes, I made a box. For storing farts. Don't judge me.

9) Walker

My guess is that this was inspired by my strange fascination with my Grandma's walker as a child. The train pieces came into play here again, which resulted in a pimped-out 16-wheel walker. You know, I think when I'm 80 I'm going to recreate this one for actual use. And forget tacking tennis balls onto the bottom of it, I'll save those for chucking at the neighbors when I'm feeling extra senile. GET OFF MY LAWN!

10) ????

Okay, some of you might think this is a cop out. It's really not. I truly believe that my glory days of Lego building are not all behind me. With my daughter growing up and starting to cross the threshold into true Lego appreciation, I fully believe that I'll be diving right back into brainstorming sessions, figuring out a great new device to pester the dogs with pester my wife with fart into create.



I suppose some parents might look at this list and see it as a warning to monitor their child's Lego use. Well, if your kid is weird, then yeah, you might want to make sure he's not coasting through the house on Lego Skates while hoisting a pair of Lego boobs into the air. But if your child is fairly normal, then just look at this list as an overall representation of the creative possibilities that lie within a child's mind while playing with Legos.

So if you don't have any yet, get out there and buy your kid some Legos or Duplos. And if you do have a bucket of these miracle bricks, take some time to plop down on the ground and serve as your child's construction partner. Who knows, maybe your combined forces will create something that ends up belonging on this list.

And coincidentally, Eversave (see link below) has a deal today where you can get $25 worth of merchandise (including Legos) from Toyscamp.com for as cheap as $7 if you're a first time Eversave user. Go do it now!

http://www.eversave.com/online/toys-camp?sourceid=68117

4 comments:

Haha awesome man. My boy and I will for sure be making all of those things. That link with all the stuff made of legos is amazing. Freddy and Iron Man are my favorites.

Agreed, that Iron Man is awesome! I should have also put a link in for Nathan Sawaya, who created that yellow figure above. He's got some great Lego art:

http://abduzeedo.com/amazing-lego-art-nathan-sawaya

My daughter who is now 2½ has always loved building blocks, and though she hasn't tried Lego's proper yet, I'm sure she'll love those, too!

I've found that I can now build things with (what they call) the "tiny Legos" that are way more awesome than when I was a kid. No more ADD plus a little more patience, plus two kids to "amaze." They've blown my mind with some of the things they made as well. We usually have the most fun trying to build towers to the ceiling -- fun when it makes it, and even more when it doesn't.

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