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LEGO, Not Just for Kids

For many, when they think of LEGO they think of a children’s toy, which it is.  But it is certainly not just a children’s toy.  LEGO has a long history.  LEGO as we know it began in 1932, when the shop of Ole Kirk Christiansen began making wooden toys.  In 1934, Christiansen held a contest among his workers to choose a name for the company.  The winning name was a contraction of the Danish phrase leg godt meaning “play well,” which is where the name LEGO was born.  However, the real start of today’s iconic, colorful, interlocking bricks happened in 1947, shortly after WWII, when plastics became readily available in Denmark.  That same year, Christiansen purchased a plastic injection molding machine.  One of the first toys he produced was a plastic truck that could be taken apart and reassembled.  In 1949, LEGO began making its first building bricks. In 1953, they were officially given the name of LEGO bricks.

LEGO has come a long way since then but the original idea behind the company, the idea to play well, is still at its heart.  Adults, just like children, can certainly play well.  There are so many LEGO sets geared toward adults that there is something for everyone to enjoy.  The LEGO Architecture line recreates the most iconic buildings in the world.  LEGO Creator brings things like the Colosseum to life.  Plus, there are the LEGO Art collections; LEGO Technic, which makes advanced mechanical models; the LEGO Ideas collection, where you can build a full-scale type-writer; and the LEGO Ultimate Collector Series.  For me, the holy grail of the adult LEGO sets has to be what I think is one of the most iconic: The Ultimate Collector Series Star Wars Millennium Falcon.  This set alone has 7,500 hundred pieces!

There is science behind the benefit of building LEGO.  According to Wikipedia, “In positive psychology a flow state is defined as the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.  In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time” (Flow (psychology) 2021).  It’s a physiological change that makes us feel happier, more productive, and creative.  Author Kendra Cherry tells us that “to achieve a flow state, you must be fully immersed in a task that provides immediate feedback, where you know exactly what to do from one moment to the next” (Cherry, K 2021).  Building a LEGO set is an excellent way to get into the flow.  Being in a positive flow state has many beneficial effects.  As stated by Jeanne Nakamura and Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, it promotes intense and focused concentration on the present moment, allows you to merge action and awareness, causes a loss of reflective self-consciousness, and promotes a sense of personal control or agency over a situation or activity (Flow (psychology) 2021).  In other words, it can make you feel pretty good. 

For adults who are stressed over work or just life in general, LEGO can be used to disconnect from all of that.  Those who are looking for a relaxing, calming, and mindful experience that has instructions to take the guesswork and any additional stress out of the end result will find that LEGO fits the bill to a tee.

I can say from personal experience that LEGO for some is a way of life.  Some of us even have custom minifigs that we’ve made to look like us.  That’s me with the coffee cup and book in the flowers!  AFOLs, or adult fans of LEGO, have spawned dozens of Facebook groups, Reddit groups, the LEGO Brickumentary (which was fantastically narrated by Jason Bateman), dozens of books, and the TV competition series LEGO Masters, which has just come back for its second season.  I watched the first, loved every second of it, and was absolutely floored by the amazing creativity and skill of the builders on the show.  If you’re an AFOL, or just think you might like to learn a little bit more about LEGO as an adult, the library has a great selection of materials to get you started on your brick-tastic journey.  And remember, play well!

To learn more about LEGO for adults, try some of these:

Beautiful LEGO by Mike Doyle

A compendium of LEGO artwork that showcases an array of pieces ranging from lifelike replicas of everyday objects and famous monuments to imaginative renderings of spaceships, mansions, and mythical creatures.

The LEGO Architect by Tom Alphin

Uses LEGO models to explore Neoclassical, Art Deco, Brutalist, Modernist, and other architectural styles. Each chapter includes a discussion of the architectural movement, photographs of famous real-life buildings, and a gallery of LEGO models, with step-by-step building instructions.

The Cult of LEGO by John Baichtal

The LEGO brick may be the most popular toy in the world, but it's much more than just a toy. In The Cult of LEGO, John Baichtal of MAKE Magazine and Wired's GeekDad blog and Joe Meno of BrickJournal take readers on a story-packed adventure through the history of LEGO, from its humble beginnings in a small Danish village to its ascent to the summit of the toy world. Along the way, readers are immersed in the fascinating world of LEGO and its fans. They learn hundreds of obscure LEGO facts as they're surrounded by countless fantastically complex and challenging models built by some of the most famous adult LEGO builders. Both deep and wide-ranging, The Cult of LEGO is sincere, admiring, and encyclopedic in its coverage, surveying everything from gigantic models to robots to genuine works of art. Exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated in full color, The Cult of LEGO is destined to be the definitive guide to LEGO fan culture.

Lego: ALove Story by Jonathan Bender

Celebrates the phenomenon of adult fans of LEGO products, elevating the toy into a pop-culture icon, art medium, and key factor in robotics technology, as the author copes with becoming a master model builder and a father.

A LEGO Brickumentary

Since the birth of their trademark toy in 1958, The LEGO Group has produced over 400 billion bricks. But more and more, LEGO bricks aren't just for kids, and some take them very seriously. Adult fans of LEGO around the globe are unashamedly declaring their love of the brick; brick artists are creating stunning and surprising creations; and LEGO master builders are building human scale and larger structures. This documentary playfully delves into the extraordinary impact of the LEGO brick.

LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide by Philip Wilkinson

Iconic buildings reimagined in LEGO bricks. Stunning images and in-depth exploration of the real buildings like the Guggenheim or the Empire State Building, on which the LEGO Architecture series is based, provide you with a comprehensive look at the creation of these intricate sets. Learn why the LEGO team chose certain pieces and what particular challenges they faced. Read about the inspiration behind the creative processes and what designing and building techniques were used on various sets. Featuring profiles of the LEGO artists and builders who created the series.

Build Yourself Happy: The Joyof LEGO Play by Abbie Headon

Are you failing to find inner peace on a yoga mat? Does it feel like all work and no play? Having fun and getting creative can boost your mood and your well-being. So, if you're looking for ways to unwind and make time for yourself, let this book guide you on a LEGO brick road to happiness. With more than 50 mindful LEGO-building activities, connect with friends and family, relax, and improve your sleep habits.

Flow (psychology) 2021

Lego 2021

The Beginning of the LEGO Group

Cherry, K. (2021, April 9) The Psychology of Flow

- Megan S., Twin Rivers Branch

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