Brick by brick, nearly everything in the real world can be recreated with LEGO. These people can come from all woks of life, and it doesn’t matter how young or old they are to start building. “People have varying interests,” said Joseph Williams, spokesperson for the Victoria LEGO Users Group (also known as VicLUG) “I can say I like the Wild West and I want to make it in LEGO.”
Williams often hosts workshops for this club, known as VicLUG. They were formed in the late ’90s because the members—most of which are in their twenties and thirties—had a passion for building with LEGO. Most them have, pardoning the pun, built up a huge libary of spare parts through the many years of constructing and deconstructing themed kits. As they’re torn down, they can be used for new ideas.
“We have people who are architects and engineers,” noted Williams. “That’s primarily the LEGO fan community.”
The toy was invented by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, and it is still manufactured in Denmark. Production began in the 40s and nothing has changed since. The concept of interlocking building blocks achieved huge success because of its simplicity—the endless possibilities of what can be made.
“It’s timeless,” said Aaron Dayman, an active member. “Every day, we can find that LEGO’s products are still a top seller.”
Although the club’s membership is small, the group is very active. For example, VicLUG gets the opportunity to construct large-scale displays for special events such as the biannual Ultimate Toy Fair, or displays at The Sidney Museum.
And the Internet has been good to this group too—the are active in social media, which has been important for the club’s growth.
“It not only helps members find new pieces and plan events, but it also helps people reconnect,” said Williams.
Even though the Internet helped the club grow, membership also increased through word of mouth. Williams and fellow club member Steve Barker were friends for many years before discovering their common interest in Lego.
The camaraderie that comes with this common bond is one of the club’s strengths.
“We feed off each other’s energy; everybody is giving ideas to everybody else,” said Barker. And in a town the size of Victoria, compared to a bigger city like Vancouver, it’s easy to feed off that energy.
“Here, we’re five or 10 minutes apart from each other, so it’s easy to coordinate meetings,” revealed Williams.
And meetings lead to events out in the public, where the club gets to show that LEGO is a toy that not everyone left behind in their youth.
“The public events are a really good way for people to see firsthand that Lego is not just for kids,” says Dayman. “Everyone is having a whole lot of fun with it.”
The LEGO industry changed in 2004 after fans suggested the company create interactive toys with buttons and movable parts.
But that’s not enough for some fans who actually make their own customized Lego characters. LEGO builders can communicate with the company and post pictures of their creations online.
“Just about anybody who’s anybody will post on Flickr, a photo-sharing website, and you have the option to comment on it,” said Williams.
“They can point out the little details that are missing in the LEGO construction,” noted Barker.
With an extensive subculture of LEGO movies, games, competitions, and Lego-themed amusement parks, this simple toy from long ago should be around for many more years to come.
November 18, 2009, Nexus Newspaper
This author also made a documentary about the history of LEGO featuring VicLUG: