Playing with Lego has never really been a cherished pastime for me. It’s much more than that. Aside from cycling around the neighbourhood wearing super cool stack-hats, Super Mario 3 marathons on the Nintendo and that awkward phase when jigsaw puzzles became cool again, my childhood was largely defined by Lego.
Countless hours were spent digging through buckets of tiny plastic bricks — searching for that necessary piece you, for some reason, only had one of in a collection of literally thousands of other bits. Perhaps its siblings were lost in one of the many Lego fights between my older brothers, or maybe it was ignoring mum’s seemingly empty threats: “If you don’t clean this mess up right now, it’s going in the bin.”
There were always those irritating pieces that got in the way too. They weren’t part of your Lego collection yet had somehow ended up in the same box. They were merely impostors, striving to be something they couldn’t — mainly because they didn’t attach properly to the other bricks – so remained unused in sea of multicoloured acrylonitrile butadiene styrene unacceptance. The worst kind of unacceptance.
And there were those other times when you thought you’d found it, only to turn it around and realise it was cracked or, in my case, embedded with your older brother’s teeth marks because separating the bricks in the last deconstruction process was too difficult for a kid with a nail-biting habit. But as a nine year-old there was no sweeter feeling than striking plastic-gold. When you finally came across that longed for brick or wheel or little yellow man with both arms still intact, it was rapture.
The beauty of Lego was in its simplicity. So much joy was brought from just being able to construct something — a car or plane or castle. If you were anything like Crikey deputy editor Jason Whittaker you’d spend days creating cities that stretched across your house. If he worked super hard he even had time to build himself some friends. Lego wasn’t just a ‘game’ — you weren’t just building ‘toys’.
You were creating dreams and aspirations for the lives of hundreds of deformed, yellow-headed men who wouldn’t normally be able to complete the jobs you gave them on the grounds that they didn’t have fingers or opposable thumbs. You were giving them a second chance at life and that’s why they were always smiling. Well, at least mine were. Mum stopped buying Lego before they started releasing them with other facial expressions.
So here’s my proposition: head to any good toy outlet, or even a bad one if you live somewhere dodgy, and pick yourself up some Lego. Or better still, delve into the back of your cupboard and get the original stuff out — chances are your mum’s threats were empty after all. Log off Facebook, yell at any kids who ask if they can play too and spend the night reliving your childhood. Build yourself a kingdom.