Adults can have fun with the little bricks too

It’s a classic toy. And it’s not just for kids.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s Lego!

Many adults, like members of the Southern Alberta Lego Users Group, love to build with Lego just as much as kids do.
Photo courtesy of: Albert Dethmers
Developed in 1932 by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego was named the “Toy of the Century” in 2000 by both Fortune Magazine and the British Association of Toy Retailers.

“It’s one of those things that’s ageless,” said David Finch, assistant professor of marketing at the at Mount Royal University.

“There are very few brands and products that [have] that consistent of a market.”

Lego has grown so much, it is now the third largest toy manufacturer in terms of sales and is sold in 130 countries, according to the brand’s website.

Having played with Lego in the late ’60s, Albert Dethmers got reacquainted with it about 10 years ago when he joined the Southern Alberta Lego Users Group, also known as SALUG.

“It’s a very unique medium because in most people’s minds it’s a kid’s toy,” said Dethmers. He said he enjoys building trains and town scenes out of Lego.

With SALUG, Dethmers said its members are trying to be an inspiration to those young and old to continue with their building and have fun with it at the same time.

Dave Ware, another member of SALUG, creates mosaics out of Lego bricks. He has created around 25 designs, with a normal piece taking him between 30-40 hours to complete.

“I think there are lots of people who like Lego,” he said. “Obviously most kids do, and I think most adults do too. They just don’t really have the time to build or the patience.

“It’s a pretty universal toy.”

According to Finch, it’s so universal, he considers it a “tool for imagination.”

“It is, in essence, a blank piece of paper. When you’ve got a box of Lego, you can do anything you want with it,” he added.

“And that’s what makes it wonderful; the creative and imaginative nature of the toy is what’s so powerful.”

Lego opened its first Canadian Lego Store in Calgary back in July, 2010 at Chinook Centre.Instead of following directions from the box, Albert Dethmers designed his own train made of Lego.
Photo courtesy of: Albert Dethmers

Dethmers said he has noticed an increase in the popularity of Lego in the last 10 years.

“It used to be you could go to a garage sale and get a bucket of Lego for $5 or $10 bucks,” he said. “And now if you do see Lego at a garage sale, that same pail, people are wanting $20 or $30 simply because they realize the value of it.”

Yet, as Finch noted, the value of Lego isn’t just monetary — it’s the experience.

“When it comes to building community, every parent can have that conversation [because] every parent has stepped on the Lego of their kids and cursed them at 2 o’ clock in the morning.”

llushington@cjournal.ca