It seems that everywhere I turn there’s a new convention to be had. Virtual Reality, Video Games, Linux, Anime, Comic Books, Comic Books, Comic Books. Last weekend I test drove a LEGO® Fan Convention, Bricks LA. But first a little about me.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a fan of many things, but LEGO® ranks high on my list. I could go on about the creative and technical possibilities of the LEGO® brick. About the huge benefits of the Technics, Power Functions, Mindstorms and EV3 platforms as transitional tools from play to technology play to technology learning for youth (and adults). Some of you will understand.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a student (and collector) of the brick. I study how to use them, observe what others do. I often teach with them. Occasionally I build. Sometimes I finish a build. I am an adult and a fan of the LEGO® brick. There’s a term for it, AFOL.
“Good grief”, you might say. ”Good grief, enough already!”. ”I’m tired of stepping on those things.” ”I can’t wait until my child is old enough to give that clutter away.” When you’re ready, let me know, because I’ll come running to pick them up. I’ll rub my hands in glee at the thought of sifting through a box of unsorted LEGO® bricks.
At LEGOLAND, I head straight to the Clubhouse at the top of the hill. That’s where you can buy bricks in bulk. Bins of parts are arranged in one part of the store, sorted by part type and color. I waft briefly over the sorted parts, but inevitably head for the bins of mixed bricks. I drop down on the floor and start picking through the bricks. I like to look for tiny parts. 1×1 and 1×2 slopes, tiles and plates will make it into my bag. Axles, bushings, pins, all make it into my bag. I’ll look for translucents, for sure. Interesting colors will make it into the bag. If you asked me why I’m collecting all of these parts, I might answer. “Um… because they’re interesting to me?” Why are they interesting to me? Deep down inside, I can pull the answer out of myself. It’s not just collecting for collecting’s sake, even though it may look like that much of the time.
You can do a lot with small parts. You can build micro builds. Small scenes that can be quite detailed with those tiny 1×1 parts. You can use them on larger builds, to add texture, dimension, depth. You can put them into a box of small parts for kids to play with on a special Microbuild day.
I collect the technics parts as replacements for the parts the kids in my classes lose. I’ve worked on little Great Ball Contraption modules. One day I will finish a circuit. A little one.
I think many of you have seen the scene in The LEGO® Movie? The adult who didn’t want his son to touch his city of LEGO® bricks… I’ll tell you a secret. They exist. Builders who spend much time, money, space and effort on projects that are very personal to them. You might know one. Someone with a project set up on a table or in a room entirely dedicated to LEGO® bricks.
What other toy can engender such passion? Is it just a toy? Not to the AFOLs. It’s a creative medium. Certainly a medium for creating art, a forgiving one. That forgiving property of every LEGO® brick makes it a medium for enhancing creativity. Trial and trial again are possible, until the right solution is found.
More about Bricks LA another day.
Trish Tsoi-A-Sue is a creative facilitator in the Long Beach area. Certified in LEGO® Serious Play, she is the President of ETES Inc, and creator of Makersville, a community of makers. Trish is the Ambassador for the Long Beach LEGO® User Group, a group of AFOLs and Teen Fans of LEGO® (TFOLs). Join our facebook group!