The Building Blocks of My Early Imaginings...

# "I wanna move you, I wanna move you around..." # - Anya Marina

When I was about 7 years old, I remember being given a peculiarly-small Christmas present to open.  I probably left it to last to unwrap because of its size amongst the plastic toy soldiers and Action Force figures (as well as the Star Wars vehicles) that sat alongside them under our Christmas tree.  But it turned out that the old adage of big surprises coming in small packages was right, because that particular present ended up being my favourite that Yuletide (and for pretty much the whole of the year after).  AND... it was this tiny bundle of mini-figures that introduced me to the wide world of "Lego"...

Lego is one of the toys that I credit with opening my imagination up to endless worlds of play and make-believe, worlds that I try to tap into now as an adult scribbler.  As I grew towards my teenage years I would visit the locally famous "Third Floor" of our town's big department store Fenwicks where each summer there'd be Lego-building competitions and what seemed like tables and tables, AND tables filled with the magical coloured bricks.  (I still remember the spaceships I made that sat proudly on the toy floor shelves with my name and age scribbled alongside.)

I was around 12 or 13 when on another Christmas, I was given a Lego Castle (a whole fortress!) which sadly I don't seem to have a single brick left of, despite searching through old play cupboards at my parents' house (although some of the min-figs that came with it I do have!) This was a set that I demolished and rebuilt on a regular basis and taught me the pure joy of creation and the addiction of the instruction booklets that you always get with the larger Lego sets.
It was around this same time, as I entered my teenage years, that I became interested in "Lego Technic" and I entered a spot-the-difference competition in our local weekend newspaper. Waiting six weeks or so for a reply, I then found out that I'd won a runner-up prize of a Lego Technic skier set.  This was, as the name suggests, a technically more difficult set to build and had a larger mini-figure with jointed arms and legs - the whole set was more reminiscent of an older toy I had when I was a kid called Meccano which taught you early notions of structural engineering(!)

Over the years as I've grown into adulthood, my fondness of Lego and it's value in tapping into my imagination and storytelling sensibilities hasn't really wained.  I remember with my younger brother going through a phase of buying as many small sets of the Lego construction workers so we could set up games of building sites on our house stairs.  And back in 2008, I posted about a trip to Legoland Windsor that I made with my wife.  And of course in my most recent years I got *slightly* addicted to collecting the full sets of the Indiana Jones Lego which came out but with grown-up collections comes grown-up concerns which you'd never have even considered as a child - like how do you keep dust from gathering on sets that aren't played with and are more ornaments to enjoy looking at(!)

I doubt my love affair with these magical coloured blocks will ever really end - as long as they continue making them, I'll keep on drooling over mega sets like the Ghostbusters HQ and opening up my imagination with the narrative possibilities of the wonderful world of Lego - definitely one of my childhood pastimes that keeps on inspiring my scribbles to this day...


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