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The Cult of Lego

cult-lego

If there is any toy that is synonymous with building, it’s Lego. Almost every child, boy or girl, at one point built, created and explored a LEGO playset. From what we hear it’s also one of the first toys that parents will step on and learn how to stifle obscenities.

A couple months ago a book was released that celebrates the builders and makers who have elevated LEGO to legendary status. Once they reach high school many LEGO fans put their bricks in the attic. But for countless more, LEGO bricks are a key part of their adult professional and social lives. Known affectionately as Adult Fans of LEGO, or AFOLs, these builders love those colorful plastic bricks so much that their devotion borders on cultish adulation.

Tens of thousands of AFOLs attend conventions to meet with like-minded builders, and they spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars creating scale replicas of Yankee Stadium and World War II battleships, robotic chess sets, and life-sized dinosaurs. Builders post their creations online to be shared with fans of all ages around the world. Their innovations—and the proud builders themselves—are featured in The Cult of LEGO.

Whether readers are eight-year-olds just beginning to explore ways to build outside the LEGO box or longtime fans with years of experience, this full-color coffee table book offers a fascinating, inside look at the large and diverse community of serious LEGO builders. Written and compiled by GeekDad blogger John Baichtal and BrickJournal Editor Joe Meno, The Cult of LEGO is a kind of passport into the LEGO community. “I wanted to show to the public the many things the LEGO fan community has done,” said Meno. “Seeing the awesome work of my fellow builders inspires me to push my abilities with my own LEGO creations.”

The timelessness and near-limitless potential of what a builder can create with LEGO bricks have played a critical role in the toy’s continued success and the LEGO Group’s billions of dollars in sales. “With LEGO, an adult can prototype an invention or create a museum-worthy work of art,” said Baichtal. “Even so, those bricks never lost any of their whimsy, and children and adults simply love playing with them.”

Some examples in the book include:

  • A life-sized Stegosaurus and an 80,000-brick T. Rex skeleton
  • Detailed microscale versions of landmarks like the Acropolis and Yankee Stadium
  • A 22-foot long, 350-pound re-creation of the World War II battleship Yamato
  • A robotic, giant chess set that can replay historical matches or take on an opponent
  • A three-level, remote-controlled Jawa Sandcrawler, complete with moving conveyor belt

In the end, most adults use LEGO bricks for the same reason kids do: to have fun. “We’re all members of the Cult of LEGO—the only membership requirement is clicking two pieces of plastic together and wanting to click more,” said GeekDad blogger and AFOL Jim Kelly. “Now we have a book that justifies our obsession.”

The Cult of Lego is available from O’Reilly as a hardcover or Ebook.

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