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Making a LEGO gift for friends & family

by admin on January 25, 2012

in Community Articles

(Written by Sarah)

One thing that I’ve had some fun with lately is making little LEGO gift vignettes and giving them as gifts to my non-LEGO friends. Since I base the vignette off each person, they really connect with it and see LEGO in a whole new light.  It’s really been a source of joy and I wanted to share with others the process I go through to make a LEGO gift.

This vignette was a gift for a co-worker when she retired. She loved theater, mountain-climbing and her dog. So I combined all three into a little scene; a play about a woman who goes mountain-climbing with her faithful dog.

LEGO GIFT – STEP 1: RECIPIENT’S INTEREST

The first thing to do is to consider the person you are giving this LEGO gift to. What do they like to do? Do they have any hobbies, or is there something really unique about them? The trick here is that whatever you choose has to be LEGO-compatible. For example, one person I know loves yoga, but I couldn’t figure out how to display that with LEGO, so I had to choose something else.

This vignette was for one of my supervisors as a holiday gift. While she has other hobbies, her main focus is her kids and husband. So I built this scene of the family building a snowman.

LEGO GIFT – STEP 2: PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The central focus of the LEGO gift is the minifigure. You want to pick parts that represent the person so that they will connect with it and say, “Hey!  That’s me!” To do this, I suggest getting a photo of the person (or people if it will include others). This can be challenging, depending upon how well you know the person.

David Pickett made this LEGO gift for his dad: "Relaxing in the Big Chair"

Even if you can’t get a photo, think about their main physical features and simplify.  What is their basic hair color? Do they have any distinct facial features such as a beard or glasses? Your choices for women will be much more limited in terms of faces, but you’ll have a few more options in hair.

The torso and legs will be dependent upon what theme you chose for the LEGO vignette. You want to make it appropriate to the scene, even if it’s not something you normally see the person wear. For instance, one of my recipients goes bike-riding often.  I’ve never seen her do this, but wouldn’t imagine she’d wear a suit to do it, so I chose a body that wore a jogging-suit.

This vignette was for another one of my supervisors. She loves biking, so I created this little bridge over a stream as a peaceful setting for a bike-ride.

LEGO GIFT – STEP 3: BUILD THE SCENE

Choose an appropriately sized plate. You want it just large enough to fit the scene, but still be a small piece that can be displayed anywhere. I typically don’t do anything larger than 6 x 10 studs, though I did a 6 x 12 for one since it worked the best.

Then you build whatever it is you’ve decided to build. As with the basic principles of building a LEGO vignette, it should not be a complete build. Usually, you don’t do more than one or two walls, if you even need walls. The scene should be suggestive of reality, but not show the whole thing. For one LEGO gift I made, the setting was inside a pastry-shop. I built a counter with pastries and a single wall behind it so the minifigure stood between the counter and the wall.

This vignette was a holiday gift for one of my supervisors. She loves to bake and at one point was thinking of becoming a pastry-chef. In the case below are cupcakes while on top are cookies and a pie. The colorful wall was just for fun.

LEGO GIFT – STEP 4: WRAPPING IT UP

I highly suggest putting these gifts in a gift-bag. Putting them in a box allows the possibility of it being turned upside down and around, which may knock your vignette apart. People are usually more careful with a gift-bag. 

Pick one that is just a little larger than the LEGO gift so it holds it securely. Put the vignette in the middle of a sheet of tissue-paper and fold up the sides. Then gently put it in the bag with the tufts of tissue paper sticking up. I typically caution my recipients that the gift is fragile and to remove it gently. With these steps, nothing has ever fallen apart.

Nathan made this LEGO gift for his wife. There are three parts to this vignette: I LOVE YOU. (Check out the other two sections in his photo gallery by clicking on the picture.)

MAKING A LEGO GIFT – CONCLUSION

The only other challenge you’ll face when making a LEGO gift is having pieces on hand.  Every single time I’ve made a LEGO gift, I’ve had to buy the minifigures. Thankfully, I’ve been able to use complete minifigures for several gifts, but for a few, I had to change the face and hair. It’s up to you how you buy your minifigures, whether you buy all the pieces separately or just get complete minifigures. Mostly it will depend on your recipient. You may get lucky and there’s the perfect minifigure already made that represents them.

What do you think, dear readers?  Will you start making LEGO gift vignettes? Have you already done this? Please post your comments below. I’d like to know whether this has worked well for others as well. 🙂

And if you are interested in other LEGO gift ideas check here:

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

VIE January 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM

what a great idea!! I did doll house mini for years this is great . Who would not like one of these/
Very Nice indeed

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Sarah January 27, 2012 at 12:33 PM

Thanks Vie. Glad you like the idea. And the mini doll house sounds very cute!

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Quad January 26, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Recently my little sister made me a pencil holder for my desk, It really complements it well.

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admin January 26, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Quad, you are a lucky big brother! 😉

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Sarah January 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM

That’s an awesome gift. Last year, my husband Will made a small blue box that hinges on top. He wrote out the letter S in blue 1X1 round plates on the lid.

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Hayato January 31, 2012 at 9:47 PM

These are great! I just wonder though how much they would cost. Lego figs are not cheap. Where do you get them? Are they from your own stash? Don’t you mind giving them away?

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Sarah January 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM

When I can, I use figs from my own collection, but all of the figs for the above projects I had to buy them on Bricklink. I try to go for cheaper figs, looking mainly at the body and face. I have a lot of extra hairs so if I can find the right body and face, I don’t worry about the hair. I also look around at alternate figs if the one that is perfect is too expensive. Basically, I try not to spend more than $3 on a fig, but then my budget is typically about $15 for a vignette so I can afford $3 for a fig, especially when I try to build the main parts of the vignette from my collection of bricks.

As for giving them away, no it doesn’t bother me. I tend to collect figures just on habit, mostly for possible MOCs I may build in the future. These gift vignettes are a lot of fun and everyone I have given one to has loved it so it’s always been worth giving it away.

I hope you give it a try sometime. If you do, please let me know how it goes.

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nace10 June 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Nice post!!!

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Sarah June 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Thanks!

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