We first got to know each other when my brother was obsessed by your Space-themed sets in the ‘80s (we still have his astronauts to this day). Back then your pieces were pretty basic, varying in colour and size, but little else – yet they still held our attention for hours. Whilst my brother’s Lego creations were largely out of bounds, I remember him helping me make an approximation of a dog to cheer me up after I broke my collar bone.
Many years later, my sons are also obsessed by you. Like classic addicts, it doesn’t matter how much our guys have, it’s never enough. In an attempt to keep you in check, we keep your instruction books so they can rebuild models after re-appropriating them for their own creations. Sounds good in theory, but not so fun now that all your models have specialist pieces – some customised further with stickers. I suspect that these days it’s unnecessary to put up with ‘approximations’ of dogs, when there’s probably specific breeds for sale. Sure, there’s some dinosaur claws which resemble the detail on Jestro’s Lair, but generally, once a model has been dismantled, finding a piece again is harder than finding a needle in a haystack.
I end up assuming the role of a quasi-quality-controller, devising ways to efficiently sift and scrutinise the pieces whilst wondering if all this search-and-find has any benefit beyond model-making (brain-training for ‘spot the difference’ perhaps??). Back in the real-world, it’s only a matter of seconds after a piece is found (miraculous in itself), that I’m tasked with finding an even more obscure one. “I need a black two-er” is music to my ears when I’ve been searching in vain for a piece that I don’t even understand from the picture.
Seems my kids unwittingly buy-into your motto (‘only the best is the best’) – by insisting that only the correct piece will do. Sometimes they humour me by heeding my suggestions to improvise where possible, but often even I can see that can’t be done (the black middle-bit from flying Jay comes to mind…).
Apparently, there are now well over 600 billion Lego pieces – most of which seem to be on our floor. I hear you’ve even designed an X-Wing Fighter requiring 5 million bricks – a masterpiece perhaps, but not for the poor buggers trying to find the right bits…
Whilst I don’t want to cramp your style (your models are works of art), please spare a thought for us parents – attempting to find pieces on the one hand, whilst trying to avoid hoovering them on the other. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’ve got faith in you – after all, you’re the world’s most powerful brand and have been voted toy of the century twice – not bad for an 83-year-old who started life making wooden toys.
Perhaps you could start by sticking a couple of spares in your Lego sets, so we can be freed from the ‘finding’ to do what you’ve always intended: ‘play well’.