Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I was six and my biggest problem was what kind of dress to put on Barbie or whether or not I had enough Legos to build a fort. ~Unknown
It has been nearly a week since the Lego Kids Fest in Pittsburgh and it’s still being relived by Kyle, daily. Like many others, I purchased our tickets in advance online to ensure our coveted spot. Nicole was suppose to join us, but alas she couldn’t make it home for Lego Fest 2012, guess she’ll have to catch up next year. On a side note, there should be some sort of site for those who have extra tickets to give them away. Buying two adult tickets and one child and only using one adult and one child was a little costly. Not that I ever wanted reimbursement, I just didn’t want the money to go to waste. Anyway, Aunt Nikki participated through social means as much as possible. Used correctly, social media really does bring families together.
Originally, when I saw Lego Fest on Facebook, I was going to get our tickets and surprise Kyle, but I blew it. When we were talking about Kyle’s schedule and everything going on with hunting season, youth group and school, I accidentally let it slip. His eyes got really big and was in kind of shock. He started to say something, but then his brain caught up to my words and registered before saying, “Wait? What? Did you say we’re going to Lego Fest?” I could see my statement replaying in his brain, making sense of the words as if he was learning a foreign language. Now I couldn’t deny it, so I did what I usually do when I want to be coy. I flashed Kyle a huge ornery grin and shot him a wink. He instantly went running to my mom saying, “Gigi, Gigi did you hear? I’m going to Lego Fest!” That’s my Kyle! Always focused on the word Lego.
Everyone, who is even remotely familiar with our family and Kyle, knows Kyle’s LOVE of Legos. Maybe that’s a bit of an understatement, he has an infatuation for the multicolored plastic building blocks. One might say I added fuel to his already obsessive fire with the Lego Kids Fest event.
With the weeks leading up to Lego Fest, Kyle really impressed me. He was on his best, and I mean being the champion and poster child for a well behaved kid. Did I also mention he made a conscience effort to point out this behavior? To ensure it was not overlooked. He knew the stakes, and was not about to gamble with his victory ticket to attend an event solely revolved around Legos. To be honest, I was really excited to take him and let him experience the popularity of Legos with those of like minds. I knew this was a dream of his and if there was anyone who would appreciate Lego Fest, it was Kyle.
One day, hopefully before he outgrows Legos, I will take him to California or Florida to visit Legoland. He’s been asking for years to fly him to California to be surrounded by all things Lego. He really wants to go for his birthday, but that’s such an expensive birthday gift and I never just wanted to take Kyle, I would want my parents and my sister to also tag along to share in Kyle’s enthusiasm. Maybe that should be my next goal to work toward, making it happen.
By now, I thought Kyle would have outgrown Legos. After all he’s 11 years old. Nope, he loves them equally as much now, as he did when he first laid his pudgy little fingers on the Lego pieces. In fact, the bridge built between Kyle and Legos has strengthened with every building block put together over the years. I don’t remember who gave him his first Lego set, probably his Aunt Nikki, but it was all downhill from there.
He always loved to build, even as a tiny kid just able to walk. He started with his first Thomas the Tank Engine set, courtesy of Aunt Nikki. Now don’t get me wrong, he enjoyed playing with the train set, but he really liked to build the tracks, making each configuration more challenging and exciting than the last. His setup looked like a miniature roller coaster ride for trains.
Then, came the puzzles, first easy ones all the way into thousand plus piece sets. His building interest moved onto Legos and Bionicles. I will take credit for the love of Bionicles. Kyle won a bet with me and for his winnings he chose a Bionicle. At the time he was five years old and the box stated it was for eight or older, but I figured he could put it together, which he did with ease. Now, the Legos started off small and his collection has expanded to overtake several bedrooms at multiple houses. Kyle still likes the smaller Legos, but his newest obsession is putting together Legos with thousands of pieces. It’s almost a badge of honor he wears when tackling such challenges. He loves to brag about the number of pieces the Lego set has and his anticipated ETA for project completion. Too much! Once he has the Lego set built, he does play with them just like any other toy, but that’s secondary to the real pleasure of building. Remember Going Retro with Star Wars Legos?
Saturday morning Kyle and I were up bright and early to get ready for the 9:00 am session of Lego Kids Fest 2012. It was held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. As I expected, especially with a sold out event, there were lots of parents and loads of kids. I thought it was going to be a struggle getting in and walking around, but I was pleasantly surprised. The convention center moved everyone in with ease and once inside, all activity areas were spaced out pretty well and all booths were labeled adequately. When I bought the tickets, I anticipated Kyle being at the older end of the age spectrum, but he was not! There were kids of all ages, mostly his age and younger, but every age bracket was present. As we moseyed around I saw that look, the same one Kyle has shown be time and time again coming from other parents. Yes! The parents! Some where more obvious than others, but as the adults built alongside their kids, the look was definitely there. It was the Lego obsession that had remained dormant in the over sized kids and was now shining through their eyes into their creations. Some parents where so engrossed in building, they had no idea what was going on around them. Yep, that’s Kyle as an adult! I just saw the future, and it still involves Legos!
The minute we walked in and Kyle saw the Lego signs hanging from the ceiling, he was in complete awe! He couldn’t focus on which direction to go first and what he wanted to do. His brain was in overdrive! He really couldn’t contain himself, he wanted to do everything all at once, at that moment. Even though it was his day and his experience, I stepped in to guide him around the floor to take it all in first before participating in any one event.
We had a blast! I must admit, I was so impressed with the event and how it was handled. But what really struck my fancy was the Lego artwork. Amazing! Really! As we approached the Batman sitting on the edge of a building scene, I couldn’t help put touch the structure, even though there was clearly a sign instructing all visitors not to. Upon closer inspection, I realized the pedestal in which he was residing was made out of Legos! Unbelievable! Even the huge Lighting McQueen! Those displays were by far my favorite part of Lego Fest! I wanted to keep walking through the Lego sculptures, however I was told differently by a somewhat patient young man. Kyle was kind enough to entertain my picture taking nature and after we got a few snapshots, Kyle was ready to move on. They were truly pieces of art and I appreciated the effort and talent behind each display.
On the far side of the event, there was a huge section to build pieces of the United States. Actually, everything about Lego Fest was huge, so let’s get that straight, huge was the new norm. Anyway there was this roped off section which, was an outline of the United States with white Legos. On the other side, they had tables set up with an unlimited supply of Legos building blocks. Every color, every shape, every size known to man in large bins ready to be put together. All the children and adults alike, were encouraged to build their own creations to complete a map sculpture of the United States and certain landmarks, or whatever was dreamt up by the creator. Everyone had the opportunity to build as high or as wide or as fancy or as conservative as desired. There was no end to the supply of Legos and no time constraints. It was seriously so cool! Even I helped Kyle, getting a bit of Lego fever myself. When the artwork was completed, we were instructed to give it to a Lego representative to place it wherever we wanted it to go. Then brilliantly promoted, we could take a picture of our Lego creation and post it to the Lego Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, which I did as instructed by Kyle. He was excited to have everyone connected to Lego see his building. We built a modified version of the Twin Towers. I’m not sure why that was chosen, but it was Kyle’s vision and who am I to stifle creativity.
There was another section where they just had Lego’s dumped in the middle of this large area. Children where crawling all over the small pieces and building and having a blast! It looked like too much fun, I wanted to join in. Kyle wasn’t that enthused with sitting on Lego’s with the smaller kids, so I was happy when he allowed me to get a picture. As I was doing so, a Lego worker showed up at my side and offered to get both of us in the picture. I was so excited to sit in the pile of Legos! It was at that time, that I seriously started to catch the Lego bug. It’s addictive.
While walking around and participating in the raffle and other displays, we managed to run into friends of ours at the ramp races. Out of all those thousands of people we literally bump into people we knew, the Tobins. It was great seeing them! I looked around for my cousin Denise too, but I’ll be darned if I saw her and the family among the sea of people and kids.
Naturally, we hit up the Lego store area. It was an insane confined space with of out of control parents and their kids. Being a claustrophobic person, I had a hard time standing in the roped off area with Kyle while he made his decision on his next project. Again, to give Lego another shout out, they had it every organized and the flow of buyers moved along pretty quickly and with ease. It helped that the Lego workers stood out in their matching shirts and there seemed to be swarms of them. With much deliberation, Kyle finally made up his mind with the Lego Lord of the Rings. Good choice buddy!
As we neared the end of our Lego experience, Kyle spotted one of the Lego Master Builders walking around and talking with parents. Kyle had this star stuck look in his eyes, like he was about to meet a famous person. The Lego Master Builder had his own type of uniform top with his name on it, which Kyle noticed. My little man just stood their patiently waiting for the Lego Master and some parents to complete their conversation, as to not be rude and interrupt. He so desperately wanted to meet this Lego celebrity and get his picture with him. Dan, as I later found out was the Master Builder’s name, was great with Kyle and took the time to pose for a picture. Boy did that just top off Kyle’s day! As we exited stage right, I walked alongside one little boy who was beaming from ear to ear. On a side note, he instantly pulled out his free Lego given because he was a Lego Club Member. He started to contemplate when he was going to put it together. The decisions of a young mind!
On our ride home the conversation was naturally all things Lego. That was a really neat event! Kyle decided he wanted to build his very own life size Lego man. Actually, I thought that would be the coolest thing for his bedroom! Even I considered having one made for my house! After all, even though they are toys, I do consider them pieces of art, fun art! I told Kyle he should go into business building those Lego sculptures and rent or sell them for kids birthday parties, something to match the birthday theme. He loved the idea! We might start looking into this for him.
The day after we ran into other friends of ours who attended the Sunday session. They were equally as impressed! Marty told me that he was talking to someone about the United States section. He gave me some fun facts, which I did not know. He said, they actually had to tear down the United States section on Friday night because it was completely full. He also said they take the built pieces to sick or handicap children and have them disassemble the structures, then ship the building blocks to be sanitized before returning them to be built into something from another child’s or adult’s imagination. Lego pays these children for this job. That’s awesome! I love hearing stories like these. Great job Lego!
I’m surprised Kyle didn’t know that fun fact. After all, while we were driving down to Lego Fest, Kyle began to shoot statistics at me that he read from his monthly Lego magazine. Example, he began to tell me how much it costs to make one mold for a brick and he even knew how many bricks can be made in a day. I which I could recall the numbers, but unfortunately I didn’t commit that to memory.
Well Lego, great job! You certainly have a serious fan who will probably be so his entire life.