Today LEGO celebrates its 85th anniversary, more than eight decades and business is better than ever, but it’s not just kids stuff.
If you are like me there is a good chance you played with LEGO as a kid. I loved those plastic bricks, but eventually, it came time for me to put my toys away. Fast forward a few years and I came across the LEGO DC Super Heroes set Arkham Asylum Breakout. My nostalgia, recently ticked by the new LEGO Movie thought “what’s the harm?”. Now, three years later I am all in again, only this time I can buy my own LEGO sets.
I’m not alone either, these plastic bricks have been around for almost 60 years but recently they have been seeing a resurgence of enthusiasm from children and nostalgic adults alike. It’s everywhere; you can find LEGO TV shows, movies, games, robots, and of course sets of this sophisticated interlocking brick system. Don’t let those age suggestions on the boxes fool you though I’ll give you five excellent reasons why you should pick up a box.
You’ll Be More Organized
The first thing LEGO teaches you is the value of being organized. It is not until you are faced with 2000 bricks in different shades of grey that you can really appreciate having a plan. Sure LEGO does some of the heavy lifting by sorting your build into numbered bags but even so, there are dozens of different pieces in each bag and it is easy to get lost in the mess.
You could go and throw them all into a pile and start building but you’ll find that causes some frustrations. It is sort of like playing three dimensional Where’s Waldo, some parts are easier to pick out but others will drive you insane (Unless you have an eagle-eyed sister at the ready).
Learning to group your parts, I’d point out that the instructions actually suggest this up front, but being a stubborn human it is really a lesson that is most effectively learned through experience. This organization is even more useful when it comes to the spare parts and extra bricks you collect over time. Finding a system is valuable, whether that is by colour, size, class or any system that makes sense to your brain.
Watching The Something Take Form is Incredibly Satisfying
When you open up your bags of LEGO bricks and pour them out onto your tabletop it is hard to see how this pile of bricks will make for anything that resembles what is on the box. Often times even as I am building, watching the components take form, it seems a bit of a stretch that these little plastic bricks will make a convincing jet or bank.
Then there comes a moment when it goes from an irregular lump of bricks to something you recognize. The pieces come together; the more you place the more it makes sense and after a while you see your brick puzzle take form. It is unbelievably satisfying going from a pile of loose bricks to something recognizable like a Porche. You did that, you built this awesome thing up from nothing.
Learn to See things Differently
Of course, there are instructions and if you follow them you will make some really cool things, but the really great thing about LEGO is not following the instructions is equally rewarding. The more you build the more you learn about the pieces and how even the most boring piece has served a variety of functions.
Take the detail in the Creator Brick Bank, using the zip line piece as an architectural detail on its rooftop. Or the Ninjago City Block which reimagines crowbars and wheel axels into its architecture, among other unconventional applications of bricks. Using bricks in new ways and in new contexts is what helps give sets like these the incredible detail.
You can see this even in the naming of LEGO bricks. Many bricks deemed “roof tiles” are now used in all aspect of construction from textured environments to creating smoother lines on structures.
Once you see how dynamic a piece can be you begin to experiment with your self. How can you make the most of each little part, if you are missing parts you learn how to make substitutions, learn how to augment your builds or build something from the ground up with parts you never thought you’d use. You learn to see the potential in every little brick.
Flex Your Creative Muscles
LEGO encourages you to think outside the box and find new ways to use what you have. Even if you don’t count yourself among the master builders, LEGO encourages the imagination. What is your vision for your brick bank or your LEGO Iron Man base? Sometimes it is just enough to be proud of your creation, realize your vision and put it on display. Other times you want to get a little more creative, recreate your favourite scenes from a movie or make a little fun of them. There is really no wrong way to play or build for that matter.
Maybe, with a little inspiration, you can rework one of LEGO’s predefined sets to make it more your own. LEGO designers have created a lot of great sets over the years and building them is fun but following the instructions is far from mandatory. These sets can be anything you want them to be with a little creative thinking.
If you are really looking to get creative grab your self a pile of bricks and start putting them together. You can build whatever you can imagine from scratch but sometimes you will find you don’t have the bricks you need for what you had in mind. You may not have enough of one colour or you’re missing a wheel.
That is when the real fun begins; you begin to get creative with your parts. How can you rework what you have and what solutions can you come up with? What this really means though is you are forced to let go of your prior preconceptions on what constitutes a race car, or aeroplane or anything for that matter.
The last reason you should pick some bricks up is that ultimately, it is very relaxing. Some people like to read before bed; for me, nothing is more relaxing than building. Building with LEGO helps take your mind off the day; There is no stress, just the satisfying feeling of snapping pieces together and watching something you’ve made come together. It is almost therapeutic. You don’t have to think you just have to play.