Lego Days

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Once upon a time there was a child’s game encouraging wild imaginative innovation and creativity and it was a good game and its name was Lego.

There were three main sorts of building brick: a Daddy-sized 6 block; a Mummy-sized 4 block and a Baby-sized 2 block. Then a long block and a very long block and a single tiny block and a baseboard block.

The blocks were red or white. The baseboards were battleship grey.

If you accidentally tipped over the container, you could sweep it all back up together in seconds. No such thing as searching for a missing bit or finding an unidentifiable transparent plastic purpose-specific gizmo, fit only for a Borrower.

There was a pleasing aesthetic homogeneity to the Old Lego container.

We built castles and animals and people and furniture from these simple interlocking blocks. I don’t think we were ever defeated in any attempt to create anything: that was the magic of Old Lego.

Roll forward half a century, and now of course there are Lego emporia selling ready made model-making kit castles and battleships and houses all with bitty bits essential to completion of Model A but lacking any use whatsoever for Models B to Z.

I resent the bitty bits, but I admit I’m a bit of an obsessive-compulsive “keeping games together in the box” sort of person. It was bad enough when my lot were little, but it seems a whole load worse now.

What I regret most though is the marketing and serving up of the complete pre-imagined and pre-designed product to the consumer. You can’t even buy a simple box of bricks today. It seems Lego has no function other than as a model-making kit manufacturer, which seems a bit odd for a product that is designed for putting together and pulling apart over and over. So do kids build the fire truck, disassemble then rebuild ad infinitum?

I suspect not. The product is built, admired, left and noone dare take it apart lest the bitty bits disappear under the sofa.

Worse, the possibility of dismantling and reusing the pieces to create something seriously original may not even occur to a child.

Maybe I’m being unduly pessimistic. But seeing the creative potential of a genuinely extraordinary product hidden under a mass of designer-led marketing is sad. I’ve no doubt Lego would argue the contrary. I’d be delighted to hear any tales of a child opening a police speedboat pack and using the pieces to construct something entirely different.

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2 responses to Lego Days

  1. albertine

    I agree with you absolutely – so many things for children (in that dreaded phrase ‘these days’) seem to structure and straitjacket their explorations of the world. Such a pity!
    I love your opening sentences – using the child’s voice like that has great charm. I also hear echoes of the opening sequence from ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ – no higher praise exists.

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