I recently received a most unexpected gift, an extravagant thank-you gesture from newlyweds for being part of their marriage (as driver and other small supporting roles). Somehow, they found something that would appeal to me on many levels, something I would never consider for myself: a LEGO set! And not just any LEGO set, a large and elaborate architectural depiction of an A-frame cabin, with thousands of parts.
It had been inspired by a LEGO enthusiast from Italy, who enjoyed creating Lego models of houses in his spare time. Evidently, there is a large community of LEGO fans, large enough that there is a program for them to submit ideas and models for the pleasure and approval of other fans. Those with the highest votes are selected to become an actual LEGO product. How brilliant! Let fans come up with cool ideas, and then manufacture the most popular, knowing that it has already passed the “will they like it?” test! The A-Frame Cabin was the most recent of such crowd-sourced concepts, released just days earlier.
My step-son and his new wife did not know of my past LEGO history. They did not know that I had been a member of the LEGO Builder’s Club with my son in the 1990s. Or that his LEGO model of the Eiffel Tower had been featured in their newsletter. They did not know that I had authored a software program, LegoShop, to create models on a computer screen in a time before computer graphics, video games and virtual reality had been fully invented. They were unaware of how much time I had spent with a micrometer, reverse-engineering the basic LEGO brick and many other parts to make my virtual models. They did not know, using that program, I had created a Christmas card featuring a LEGO ice castle with Santa and a reindeer. They did not know that I had insisted on visiting LEGO Land during a visit to Malasia. They knew none of this personal LEGO history.
Yet they somehow knew that I would fully appreciate this gift. I’m impressed.
I have been a dormant LEGO builder for many years and have not kept up with the latest sets and themes. But the skills to assemble LEGOs don’t go away, and even if they did, the remarkable instructions provided with the kits can be followed in any language, even by builders who, like some of my grandchildren, cannot yet read (but you DO need to know your numbers).
In the case of an enormous set like this one, the instructions run to 333 steps, requiring two books to contain all of the illustrations. The thousands of parts are partitioned into 16 bags, opened one at a time while following the next series of steps to assemble them. The process is much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, finding the next target pieces, and mating them in correct position with the previous ones. Eventually, the parts that tumble out of the bag are all in place, and I can take a moment to appreciate the growing model.
What a pleasure to receive a gift like this. Something created by a LEGO fan and endorsed by a global LEGO community of enthusiasts! I am savoring the construction steps as I go through them, but have recruited the assistance of other LEGO experts. I plan to post photos of the completed project!