A Lego Brickumentary

Jason Bateman gets the mini fig treatment, and as the documentary’s narrator, he helps us discover aspects of the Lego culture we’ve perhaps not before considered.

I mean, someone has. Definitely not me. But someone. I grew up in a house of women; we were four sisters, close enough in age to swap clothes, braid each other’s hair, and influence each other’s tastes in movies and music and books. Eventually we got it into our pony-tailed heads to put Legos on our Christmas lists, not much caring who received the list as our entire basement was a communal playroom. But instead we got more Barbies. We had, literally, hundreds of Barbies. We had so many Barbies that we’d often get repeats of the same ones – we’d call them “the twins” or “the triplets” and carry on as usual. We loved Barbies. But we never got any Legos.

I didn’t really discover Legos until my oldest nephew was old enough to play with them. And by old enough, I mean old enough to last about four seconds before wandering away, leaving his dad to complete the project, who was the one who really wanted them in the first place. Sean would linger for an hour in the Lego aisle, sizing up each kit, weighing the options. I remembered Legos as a massive pile of plastic bricks to dump over your living room floor, from which to build the blueprints in your mind. But the Lego aisle of the past decade tells a different story: boxes with exactly the parts necessary to build the project illustrated on the cover, many of them heavily licensed to appeal to children. And many of them not. Lego has discovered a second crucial customer base: adults! My nephew’s dad, and Sean – they’re not outliers. Adults make up such a large portion of Lego’s customers they even have their own acronym: AFOL, adult fan of Lego. These are the people splashing out serious cash: $350 for 3898 pieces of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium; $400 for an authentic replica on a 1:8 scale of a Bugatti Chiron; $900 for a massive 7541 piece Millennium Falcon. People love the zen aspect of following precise instructions, but lots of AFOLs are building outside the box too, exhibiting their impressive creations at Lego conventions or submitting them to Lego to win the chance to see their design reproduced and sold in stores.

Whether you played with them as a kid or as an adult, or merely browsed them endlessly as an aunt who cares, Lego has maintained their hold as a top toy for decades. But they’ve transcended toy stores, they’ve been used in art and architecture, we’ve seen them in movies and museums. And now we can celebrate them in this Amazon Prime documentary too.

Tell us about your own Lego projects: do you like Technic, Creator sets, or licensed stuff? Have you built the Death Star, the Taj Mahal, the Simpsons living room?

16 thoughts on “A Lego Brickumentary

  1. Brian Lageose

    I haven’t messed with them in years, but I have a huge stash of Legos somewhere in this house. The “sandbox” kind, where you do whatever you want. Nothing against, the “replica” sets, which I contemplate snatching up, from time to time. I just can’t justify the cost. (If I would just skip a few happy hours here and there, I could easily nab one of the sets, but hey, priorities.)

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  2. macalder02

    Really for me, in particular, the layman did not attract as much attention, but I have three boys who at the time got a fever for playing with the laymen because of it. It was a stage, so I temporarystill have a slight memory.
    Very interesting your story … I enjoyed reading it.
    Manuel

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  3. EclecticMusicLover

    I loved Legos when I was a kid and early teen. I would build lots of things, but my favorite were houses and downtown skylines (I eventually became a city planner). I used to covet a four-foot tall Empire State Building made of Legos in the window of my favorite toy store back then.

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  4. Robyn

    We had the briefest window with Legos with the kids, well, with Bobby. The last one I remember him putting together was the Jabba the Hutt palace. At the time, as much as Bobby liked to build, Declan liked to break down and it only lasted a couple of days in one piece. Now all the different lego sets are in one bin that no one plays with. That was the sad end as Bob and I were so excited to see Legos again as we both enjoyed them as kids.

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  5. Liz A.

    I had the big bricks as a kid. By the time I could build anything more complex than a stack, I was doing other things. Building complex structures looks like lots of fun.

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  6. hethrgood

    I was a tomboy and had loads of them as a kid. My son was pretty heavy into Legos as a preteen (he’s 26 now) and he had tons of sets that he’d get put together in record time. I don’t think he has any of them anymore though.

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