Excel Centre London December 11-13th , 2015
by Haresh Patel
Bricks. Lots of bricks. A brick load of bricks.
The vast Excel Centre played host to this year’s Brick festival / expo of all things Lego. A primary-coloured set of playpens for children and children at heart (or Adult Fans Of Lego, as I was told) were set up for all to indulge their megalomaniac madcap building fantasies.
Much like a megalithic Lego construction, the brand’s dominant empire started from small beginnings. Carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen’s workshop in the 30’s (its name is derived from Danish for “play well”) began with small wooden toys, and developed the interlocking bricks in the late 1940’s out of plastic. It took a few years but once established in the toy landscape, it became a firm fixture in the childhood of generations of children. Many of those children grew up to be architects, engineers, scientists, mechanics and so on, citing Lego amongst other things as key influences in their creative growth.
Things are different now, the landscape of childhood is dominated by brands, advertising and the devastating impact of ‘full spectrum marketing’. And Lego has not let itself remain rooted to its past. You can now get Lego lunchboxes, key rings, jewellery, even a full movie (it’s brilliant). Lego has also taken great steps to induct itself into the brands of others – Batman, Star Wars, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Frozen… its as much a two way street on the road of business to the Land of Pop Culture Mountains.
Brick’s expo covers the current joy of electric (robotics-based Lego, LED light-uppy, and spinny stuff is everywhere) as well as the primary things. Dealers have stalls selling classic kits to hovering collectors. As with anything pop culture / nerdy, mint condition classic kits have an incredible mark-up value for those aficionados with the money. Screens showing movie clips (including a fun Star Wars: The Force Awakens tie-in) and a bank of PS4’s with a Lego Marvel Universe game running for kids and adults, fan-made tables of home made creations, weekend length builds and professional exhibits made a marvelous, clickety-clackety day out.
Now if there was some way to automatically pick up all those errant pieces from the floor so you don’t stab your feet in the middle of the night, I’d be a god…