Fantastic Plastic

On Christmas Day, any parent of small children will stifle a yawn, having built bicycles, dollhouses, and train sets the night before. After all, Santa doesn’t deliver unassembled toys. But hang in there a few years, Mom & Dad, because the building shifts from the giver to the receiver. Older kids want to create. In my generation it was Hot Wheels, Erector Sets, and Lincoln Logs. And one other toy surpassed all others for its ease of use and versatility. Lego.

This piano even plays!

My Christmas gift from my wife this year was a grand piano. Can you top that? Okay, so it wasn’t the kind worth five figures or special movers to get it across the threshold.  My piano measures a mere 12″ x 14″ and comes from the Lego “Ideas” collection.  When it’s finished it will have been built from 3,662 individual pieces.  I can’t wait to get started.

A grand piano made of Legos means the simple interlocking blocks I had as a kid have come a long, long way.  Lego Ideas sets are “products inspired by and voted for by Lego fans”.  The collection includes a typewriter, a ship in a bottle, the house from the Home Alone movies, and the apartment from the Seinfeld sitcom.  Every Ideas product involves thousands of Lego pieces to assemble.  Every Ideas product was also completely sold out for Christmas on the Lego website.

Fifty years ago, Lego was blessedly innocent.  All you had were small bricks in primary colors and if you were lucky, a paper set of instructions to create a simple house or a vehicle.  Otherwise, you just built whatever your imagination could come up with.  When my own kids were kids, Lego moved to product-specific sets like a T. Rex from Jurassic World or an X-wing Starfighter from Star Wars.  Sure, they looked cool when they were built, but I was always skeptical because the sets removed creativity from the experience.  You’d just follow the step-by-steps in the little booklet and voila – a T. Rex.  But call me a hypocrite because this sixty-year-old can’t wait to build his step-by-thousand-steps Lego Grand Piano.

Lego has an interesting history – too many chapters to cover here.  The numbers tell the story in a nutshell.  The Denmark-based company is considered the largest toy company in the world.  Their bricks have inspired movies, video games, building competitions, and eight amusement parks.  Their factories have been churning out little plastic pieces for almost 75 years.  And at last count, that pile of pieces surpassed 600 billion (or 75 Legos for every man, woman, and child on earth).

I didn’t expect to be a Lego fan as an adult but then came the Architecture series in 2008, cool buildings like the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, and Empire State Building.  I just had to have one, so last Christmas my wife gifted me the 1,032-piece United States Capitol Building.  I didn’t clock how long it took to complete but I must’ve looked awfully confident in the assembly because now I’m staring down the more daunting Grand Piano.  Maybe my wife wants me locked down in my home office for the next several months?

To underscore the popularity of Lego these days, the Architecture series alone includes 50 buildings and cityscapes, with more coming out each year (the Taj Mahal was released just last summer).  These sets run anywhere from $50 to $250, with the discontinued ones setting you back three times as much.  Sure, I’d love a Lego version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” house, but I’m not going to pay $800 to a collector just to have one.

Lego “Church of Christ”

No discussion of Lego would be complete without a nod to custom creations.  Our local Scheels department store has a larger-than-life Denver Broncos football player made of Legos, posing front and center in the toy department.  The Church of Christ creation in the photo here didn’t forget seating for an 80-member choir (below the big yellow crosses).  And the biggest custom creation of them all?  A full-scale Lego replica of the previously-mentioned X-wing Starfighter, first displayed outdoors in New York’s Times Square.  Try to picture 5.3 million Lego pieces and 23 tons of “toy” in the shape of a fighter jet.  Or just check out the photos here.

Now that I’m done writing it’s time to break open the first bag of pieces to begin my Lego Grand Piano (and time for you to watch the ingenious stop-motion video below).  I’ll use the stopwatch on my iPhone to capture the hours I consume to complete it.  Er, days? Weeks?  I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Neither is a grand piano.  You might want to check in with me next summer to make sure I haven’t gone bats.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia” and the Lego.com website.

18 thoughts on “Fantastic Plastic

  1. You lucky guy! A grand piano! I’m officially jealous, but I did get a cool Lego train for Christmas, so I’ve got my own toy to build. I love their architecture kits and have one of Big Ben. And the next time my wife isn’t watching my Amazon cart, there might be one showing up on the door step.

    Enjoy building and we want pictures of the final product.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow – I love legos too. A GRAND PiANO, this is exciting! Great to time it, let’s see how long it takes you. I had been looking at some of them a while ago. I was in one of their stores. They have some really nice Paris scenes for adults to make. Buildings, as if you are walking down the street. Fun video.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Always nice to find another adult who is still a LEGO fan! I’ve recently finished the Harry Potter Train. I have a few of the Harry Potter Castle sets to work on in the New Year. All three of my grown daughters are avid LEGO people. Two of them have taken a LEGO Serious Play course so that they can facilitate team building workshops.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very cool video of the chocolate fountain Dave – thanks for sharing it. Wow, that took a lot of creativity to get that done. I hope your video will look as unique as this one. 🙂 I never had Legos or did anything with them, but that kit sounds fun. We have a Legoland and they were advertising visiting the store to sit in the Lego sleigh and have your photo taken in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No matter how you feel about Lego, it’s an impressive business story. They’ve adapted with the times, and I’m sure more of their sales come from movies, amusement parks, and video games than the building blocks themselves.

    Like

  6. How fun! Enjoy building your piano. (Do you have a real one? Is this because you play?) I loved the video and will send the link to my son, who asked me, in his mid thirties, to box up his legos and send them out to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The video was the inspiration for the blog post, Ruth. I loved this little entertainment as well, and am fascinated by the skills of these programming “artists”. The topic of piano expands a bit in this week’s post, answering the questions you ask in your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I played with Legos as a kid, and always thought imagination was the point. But apparently not, now. They seem to have become gigantic model kits you assemble once and then display. But attempt realism while sticking to a block format. I doubt anyone ever assembles one, says “that’s nice”, then knocks it down and dumps the pieces into a big box of loose Legos. But I hope to hear how you do with it.

    Liked by 1 person

Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.