(Written by Strider)
I am a TFOL (Teen-Fan-of-LEGO) and I go by the name Strider in this community. In my first article I addressed a common phenomena in a LEGO fan’s life called the Dark Ages (see: When the LEGO Dark Ages Creeps Up On You…), and today I thought I will tackle a broader subject; a summary of the different aspects of LEGO, and what LEGO can mean to different people. I hope to cover enough so that everyone will be able to relate somewhat to what I am talking about, and maybe even start a nice discussion. 🙂
Let’s begin by saying that almost all LEGO fans started at an early age (illustration above by Albert Llort). Although there are some LEGO fans who got introduced to the hobby as a teen or an adult, the norm is starting out with LEGO as a childhood toy. Then, as you continue playing and building, you will likely discover the more complex functionality of LEGO as an artistic, architectural, and advanced model-building medium. It is not necessary for you to become an expert on all aspects of LEGO, however stretching your LEGO building skills can enhance and enrich your life in more than one way; understanding mechanics, programming, concepts of architecture and design, problem solving, team-building (when you work on larger project with others), etc. – plus it is a great hobby that can last a life-time, and also become a bonding experience between generations (photo by sammie619).
Even as a childhood toy LEGO can be used in different ways. Some younger kids get their parents to build a set for them, then they play around with it until it eventually falls apart and gets re-built again. Other kids enjoy the building process as well, and will spend endless hours perfecting their models in quiet play. My own first LEGO set was a LEGO Racers car; built with stylish LEGO Technic pieces and one of those big wind-up motors. The front of the vehicle was designed to pop up when you let it zoom into a wall, so needless to say it wasn’t long before my race-car started to break down. I was too young to put it back together correctly, and while I did make a few things out of the pieces, most of them are now completely lost. My second set was the LEGO Star Wars Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter that I built myself and then made lots of other things with it. Some people don’t dive into building their own stuff right away, while others have been making their creations from the very first LEGO set. However at this point for most people LEGO isn’t an art quite yet…
As you get older – and depending on what your starting point is – LEGO can become more to you. You might start planning more ambitious projects, or begin experimenting with more advanced techniques. You will probably notice that you have a tendency to build things in a certain way, and a preference for specific LEGO themes. For me it varies. If I’m just free-building for fun I’ll make whatever pops into my mind at that time. But in general I gain the most enjoyment from making multiple level houses with spacious floor-plans and then designing all the interior furnishings. I like making castles too, and any medieval structures. No matter what aspect of LEGO you like, by the time you reach your teens, you’ve probably advanced enough to feel like LEGO is not just a toy, but a creative medium with pretty much unlimited options.
From here your LEGO building skills will grow and grow – provided you stick with it. LEGO is such a fun hobby, it shouldn’t be too hard to continue, but if you do get stuck or loose inspiration, you can read my previous article on overcoming your Dark Ages. Below I will just run through a few examples of how LEGO fans continue to build and enjoy the hobby.
➡ LEGO MICRO-BUILDING – Micro-building with LEGO basically means building models that are smaller than minifigure-scale. It’s a great way to work on details and designs without using up hundreds of pieces that you might not even have. I find it particularly fun to build little robots using interesting LEGO pieces, then building other things in their scale. Also, LEGO minifigure leg-assemblies with the top connector part turned all the way down make cute things me and my brothers used to call “Robies”. LEGO coin pieces look like little heads with a hat (Toppy Guys to be specific – I know, it’s crazy), and of course Head Adventures – it’s basically a normal head. It can be quite surprising how LEGO pieces in different scales can signify different things! Another great (and very useful) use of micro-building is to make a smaller model to serve as a blueprint for a large LEGO project. (Below is a LEGO micro fishing-village by True Dimensions)
➡ BUILDING USEFUL OBJECTS FROM LEGO – It can be fun to make useful things out of LEGO bricks; pencil-holders, picture-frames, storage-boxes, book-ends… the list is unlimited! The nice things is that you can customize them in any way you want. Also, you can use LEGO to fit with other toys and hobbies.
➡ BUILDING WITH LEGO TECHNIC – While in more recent times LEGO Technic system elements are being integrated more seamlessly into standard LEGO themes like LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Legends of Chima, the LEGO Technic line is still a whole separate and unique building-system in itself for creating advanced mechanical models and functional vehicles. LEGO describes Technic as “the perfect gift for advanced builders,” and many LEGO fans build exclusively with the LEGO Technic system.
➡ BUILDING LEGO MINILAND-SCALE MODELS – These are very large LEGO models, built for very unique brick-built LEGO figures, originally developed for LEGOLAND parks. While MINILAND still suggests something small, the figures, and everything built for them, are significantly larger than standard minifigure scale; buildings, cars, boats… everything… becomes at least five times bigger when you’re building for MINILAND people. It’s a fun challenge to build in this scale, but it also quickly exhausts your LEGO brick collection. On the upside, some LEGO minifigure accessories that when taken in perspective are way too huge for normal minifigs (like the paintbrush) fit better with MINILAND people. And MINILAND people are interesting builds in themselves; a LEGO cape can be used as a skirt and cheese-slopes as hair, for example. (Below is a LEGO MINILAND build – photo by stecki)
➡ LARGE LEGO DIORAMAS – Many LEGO fans build huge displays, depicting LEGO cities and scenes from various historic time-periods, as well as fantasy worlds. These LEGO creations are often the result of a group effort, where each member builds a smaller section of the diorama that they assemble for LEGO conventions and other events. And some LEGO fans have massive collections that they can use to build large dioramas themselves. But even if you don’t have thousands of LEGO bricks, it can be fun to design and build something like a LEGO city or village, and work on it bit by bit as your time and money allows. Oftentimes I’m just building a small thing for fun, which eventually becomes part of a 32×64 stud scene. (Photo by beckie)
➡ BUILDING LEGO SPACESHIPS – LEGO has a long history with space themes. In fact LEGO Space has been one of the longest standing LEGO line of products, even before the collaboration with the Star Wars franchise. Just working on and expanding the official LEGO Space or LEGO Star Wars sets is a fun hobby in itself, and of course designing and building your own space adventures from LEGO is also very rewarding. Some people even build incredibly large and detailed spaceships of their own design – the size of moving cities inside a sleek spaceship body. (LEGO spaceship by Disco86)
➡ BUILDING LEGO SHIPS – Boats, military ships, pirate ships, cruise-ships… there is such a great variety of both size and shape! LEGO also released many ships throughout the years that you can use as a starting point for your own ship-building. LEGO even made specialized boat-hull pieces that can work as a foundation for many different kinds of ships, but for very large ships you will also have to build the hull. Ship-building from LEGO is not easy due to all the curves and angles, but nevertheless there are many fantastic ones built by the LEGO fan community. If you want a good challenge, you might want to try LEGO ship building!
➡ BUILDING LEGO HOUSES – The heart of LEGO is the original brick, and bricks make houses. Be it a Victorian-era manor or a modern home, the neat thing about houses is that they are so customizable both on the outside and on the inside. You get plenty of chances for many fun builds; a ping-pong table in the den, a bunk-bed in a upper level, or a fully equipped kitchen. Perhaps one of the most fulfilling aspect of building LEGO houses is that you are designing the character, the life and the home of LEGO minifigures. (Below is a LEGO doll-house by Heather Braaten.)
➡ BUILDING LEGO MOSAICS – We have talked about LEGO mosaics many times here, but basically LEGO mosaics are two dimensional pictures taking advantage of LEGO’s pixel-like elements and many shades of color. For creating complex images some people use photo-editing software to make the pixels the correct size as a template for the LEGO mosaic. A neat technique is to place clear LEGO tiles or plates on top of the LEGO mosaic, smoothing out the overall appearance. You can read more at the LEGO Mosaics section. (Below is a LEGO mosaic by Janey Gunning.)
I know there are a areas of the LEGO hobby that I haven’t covered but what I wanted to achieve was to give a fairly comprehensive summary of all the different things people use LEGO for. Be it an intellectual experience, a fun way to relax, or a way to express yourself creatively, LEGO is one of the best and most popular building-toys.
Thank you for reading, and remember your thoughts here are always appreciated, so feel free to share in the comment section below. What is your favorite aspect of the LEGO hobby? Do you think LEGO is going to be a lifetime passion for you? What are your goals with LEGO? What projects do you have planned for the future? Let’s discuss! 🙂
And you may also like to check out the following related posts:
Indeed I have to agree with you in that we all started out as young children playing with Lego. My theory is that you ether love them or not. If you are in your 40’s like myself you did grow up with Lego, Playmobile, Fisher Price and the Original Erector Set as the main staple for children’s toys. You passed that love down to your children as such. Today with the electronics age their really isn’t a go to toy for children to truly love because they would have many different choices in their playroom. For a Parent today the choice is indeed tough, but to be able to spend quality time with your children building/playing together that is a priceless memory for all. Merry Christmas
Thanks. Speaking of playmobile, I will say that I had that for years before I went on to lego when I was seven. And it is really true that you love it or you don’t.
I’m no fan of Play Mobile….
Well neither am I now…:p.
“Some people even build incredibly large and detailed spaceships of their won design” Maybe OWN design 😉 I love the spaceship! I have found that I have been in semi-dark ages. Lego has become more of a collection that is never played with, just posed and left to collect dust. I still love them and get sets, but don’t build much.
Eh… stupid spell-checked. Thanks for catching that! Just fixed it. 😉
Thanks for pointing that out. Admin edited it though so I’m not sure whose fault that is… I don’t quite remember the sentence. That spaceship is really cool, but Admin put all the pictures in so thank her :). As for the dark ages well, you may come out of it or not. Lego isn’t everything after all, and everybody enjoys different things and little hobbies. While on the subject, I know someone who has a gicantic tub of Legos and while me and some others were going through it he said, “I like Legos and all but after you build them and take them apart what are you supposed to DO with them?”
“Um…you sort of just build your own things…yeah…”
Sorry Admin I replied before you’re comment was there.
No need to be sorry. I just wanted to make sure I take care of that right away. 😉
That last question there would make a great post. I know for a fact that your friend is not the only person who has no idea what to do with LEGO once the sets are built and taken apart. I highly recommend someone like that checking out flickr’s LEGO galleries, MOCpages, or even the Brothers Brick as they highlight some of the best LEGO creations.
this is a great post! I think I just might start a MOC today! right now I have one MOC, not that impressive. 🙁 but its a start! I liked that spaceship! so rad! its awesome(er) than awesome sauce!? 😕
Think of it this way, everytime you build you get better. Even if yor MOC isn’t impressive at least you did it and improved a bit ;).
MOC’s truly are awesome. I suggest experimenting with a variety of different builds to find the one your best at. I think mine is micro building and robots. 😀
does anyone know when the Ninjago season premier is?
I don’t, but a google search might do it.
I just got my third Technic set yesterday! It is #42004. Really awesome set. Hoping to get the Garmatron this week.
Cool, I’ve thought about getting Technic before but I’ve never made the jump…I’m a big MOC’er and I don’t want to spend money on something I won’t use to it’s full extent. How do you like it?
I had a long and oddly placed dark ages, from age 3-12. When I faded from my Duplo age, about 4, I completely forgot LEGO and moved to other toys, namely Playmobil. Then LEGO ebbed and flowed throughout my life. First, when I was 6, I was traveling with my parents in a small village in Greece, and someone gave me a 1980’s Duplo Toolo fire truck set. The two firemen I named George and Steve, and they shared many adventures with me, a lot of them took place on a rusty (though still used) playground on the outskirts of the village. When we returned to the US, the box containing George and Steve, along with a lot of other toys, became lost in the shuffle. They remain somewhere in Vitina, Greece to this day. Second, when I was 9, my mother was the sous chef at a bakery in town, one of her tasks was a LEGO cake. The woman ordering the cake gave my mother a Ziploc bag of 2×4 bricks for use as examples. My mother gave the bricks to me. At the time, I thought they were some sort of “mini-lego”, since I had only seen Duplo. I had a lot of fun, I built incredibly-microscale buildings resembling hospitals. These bricks also disappeared. Only when I was 10, I received the LEGO Architecture Empire State Building, followed by the Guggenheim. A year past with the models on my desk. Until I was 12, when I stumbled upon LEGO.com. My LEGO hobby began in earnest, and my collection grew rapidly. In March 2012, I had a small collection of 120 pcs. which I kept in a plastic bag. In January 2013, I had 6000+ pieces, 10+ LEGO sets, and 52 Minifigures. Since then, my collection and obsession with LEGO has grown at a very steady rate.
Very interesting story! Thanks for sharing! 😉
You got 6000 pieces in one year? I’m either impressed with our budget or your parents :D.
Now you basically know my whole LEGO History.
As for your dark ages…”We cannot change the past but we can affect the future.”
WOW the city got to me impressing
I think this is a great article! I also think Admin should make a schedule page so you can see what is coming up next!
He-he… sometimes I don’t know the schedule either. Only my minifig advisors know. 🙄
What are their names? 😉
I have well over 500 minifigs. I actually don’t know the names of all of them. Maybe I should ask… but they are the boss. I also have Maxx right here on my desk. He is the one who usually tells me what was the concessus between all of them. 😉
You should get 3 new figs and name them Ole, Godtfred, and Kjeld!
I am a KFOL , and my specialty is finding weird looking pieces and making them cool structures!
LOL! Good idea!
wow 500minifigs i have 81 😀
I actually have more, the 500 is just my armies. Others are in various MOCs all over my room. One day they will take over my house! 81 is a really good number! That is a respectable population for any MOC! 😛
yeah i really like to make mocs 😎 when i get a set i keep it together for 2 or 3 days then i take it apart and build with the pieces 😀
Thanks Lego ff :).
I was afraid Miniland wouldn’t be here. But i’m very gkad it is. If you didn’t know, i’m currently really really hooked to miniland scale. I’m currently mastering how to make hair for those female minilanders 🙂
That’s very impressive! Building MINILAND figures is not easy; they require serious skills!
I found out about Miniland through a book called The Un-Official Lego Builders Guide. Basic at parts but it was really well done. I like making Miniland people too. For curls I use the one by one stud piece with the loop attachment. Studs of the same color could be placed on either side of the loop for more thickness.
Funny thing is I was just reading through that book this past weekend! 😀
Neat :). I liked the part about giant sized bricks.
Great article, but you forgot my favorite part of Lego,
I love being able to make my own movies and stories in a super easy and fun way.
Andrew, that’s a good point; brickfilming is a very popular hobby and it does require both serious building skills as well as filming and editing skills.
I could have included it but what I was trying to get in here were the different building types not everything they used Lego for. But I like brickfilming a lot too and I may do a post on it someday.
That would be fun. There are so many aspects of the LEGO hobby to cover. You did a great job covering all the main ones, and there is always more to write about later. 🙂
I have 2 brickfilms in the making, the working title of the first one is called In defense of Food: It centers around Linda, a local business owner and target of the National Food Defense and Outbreak Control Center; a paramilitary health department that aggressively shuts down unsanitary operations. Through many adventures, Linda meets Bridget, an outcast Friend, and many more intersting and complex characters. I am 90% finished with the script. I still need voices, though. Already, it has a lot of explosive action, including an exploding helicopter.
Also, the second film is a sequel, working title World War Linda.
That sounds really good :D. I really like Brickfilms with a lot of emphasis and action on things that aren’t super serious. How long will they be do you think? Also what software do you use if you don’t mind me asking.
Thank you for asking!
I don’t know exactly how long they will be, but I predict they will be in the 20 minutes to an hour range.
For software, I am using one for each part of the filmmaking process. Here is a concise list of all the software I am using:
Windows Movie Maker
Adobe Premiere Elements
Editing and Postproduction:
Adobe Premiere Elements
Magix Movie Maker
CGI and Special Effects:
Hitfilm 2 Pro Ultimate
Lego Digital Designer
NextGen POV-Ray Editor
Cool! Thanks for replying :). What you’re doing seems really advanced :D.
“In fact LEGO Space has been one of the longest standing LEGO line of products, even before the collaboration with the Star Wars franchise.”
Dang, that sentence makes me feel very old…
Yeah, but being older just means having more LEGO! So in terms of LEGO the older the better! 🙄
Heheh…I guess I can stop worrying about so much of my life being over already at thirteen…also if Doctor Who fans are interested here is a smily face for the eleventh doctor <?:¬)8…complete with fez and bowtie. I know it looks kind of like some abbreviation of a bad word though.
Hey! Where are the robots!?
Whoops. Sorry, like I said before I wasn’t trying to fit it all in but I should have included those.