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CULT STATUS

Extending your childhood - one brick at a time

Lego bricks, quite literally, have been building blocks of my dreams

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Lego sets not only are a joy to build but also challenge my imagination, ingenuity and artistry. The sets I cherish most are (anti-clockwise from left) The Assemby Square, the Millenium Falcon and the Volkswagen T1 Camper Van.

ANYONE who knows me well enough knows that I love Lego. Like Ed Sheeran, adulthood has not only not stopped me from building these sets, I feel it has bestowed on me the licence - and the purchasing power - to assemble grander and grander ones.

I'm not talking about the sets your eight-year-old is building; oh no, these are collections worthy of the imagination and dexterity of us fully overgrown children.

I'm talking about Lego's Creator Expert range. For those aged 16+. Sets which comprise pieces that number in the thousands, take up many glorious man-hours to assemble, and are worthy of display in the most prominent places in your home (well, sometimes).

These are the construction dreams given free rein in The Lego Movie (2014): buildings modelled on some of the world's most praiseworthy structures; vehicles based on iconic or luxury forms of transport; and objects fashioned after the most geek-worthy fantasies.

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Which brings me to English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. When asked on The Graham Norton Show what he splurged on when he received his first big pay cheque, Mr Sheeran said that instead of buying a car or house like most other celebrities, he bought Lego Creator Expert sets. Because he had dreamt of owning them as a child. "I once went on a date, brought a Lego set with me and, while we were chatting, I made the set and then left," he added.

A man after my own heart. At home, my family knows that these sets are strictly off-limits to them. They know better than to touch them or, God forbid, attempt to build them.

These sets have attained cult status with me because they achieve what few products do: they transport me back into my childhood, but a childhood of much greater sophistication and creativity than I ever knew; they challenge my imagination, ingenuity and artistry so completely and yet so thoroughly in a way that engenders no distress but only great joy; and they are a form of escapism that one could argue begets productivity and industry and hence, little guilt.

For the more mercenary among you, let me just say that rare and discontinued Lego sets appreciate greatly in value over time, and so are a worthwhile investment. Here's a guide to some of the sets the uninitiated could start out with:

  • The Volkswagen T1 Camper Van (US$119.99) will appeal to the nostalgia buffs. Made up of 1,334 pieces, this is an impressive replica of the classic Volkswagen Camper Van from 1962. It has authentic plaid-print curtains, a rear door that opens to reveal a detailed engine, and an interior with a rear bench seat that transforms into a bed.
  • The Star Wars sets, which, technically, are not part of the Creator Expert range and are the only sets of the ones featured here that have an age limit (ahem), but who cares? They are too good to leave out.
    • i) The Millenium Falcon (The Force Awakens version, US$149.99), with 1,329 pieces, which boasts an interior with a more detailed hyperdrive than the earlier version, and a holochess board; and
    • ii) The AT-AT Walker (The Force Awakens version with 1,376 pieces retails at US$149.99, while the price of the retired original with 1,137 pieces will depend on which stockist you locate it at). It comes with a motor that allows it to lumber along as it does in the movie.
  • The Modular Buildings collection, fashioned after buildings typically seen in historic towns, but in a uniquely Lego fashion; these should not to be confused with the Lego Architecture range that seeks to mimic real-life structures as closely as possible. I especially like the Parisian Restaurant (US$159.99), with 2,469 pieces, and the Assembly Square (US$279.99), which has a whopping 4,002 pieces.

The Modular Buildings come with a stunning amount of detail, both inside and out, and the child within you will thrill at imagining what each room, each floor, and each building would be like to live in. As the series name suggests, the creations are modular, so they all fit together. You can buy the entire range to build a whole street or town of such establishments - and film your own Lego movie.

Lego Creator Expert and Star Wars sets - in particular the hard-to-find ones - can be purchased from Lego's online store (shop.lego.com), where you can also buy replacement parts; retired sets can be found on Amazon.com or eBay.com.


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