Ode to a 4×2 brick I found under my bookcase one midwinter's evening


OK, so this isn’t an ode. I’ve never written an ode, probably can’t write an ode, and even if I could it would probably be right up there with Vogon poetry, so it’s probably better all around if I didn’t even try. Instead, let me list for you some of my prouder moments, right up until I went away to college:

  • A bridge that spanned 6 feet of table with no support in the middle (we’ll call the brass wire I needed to keep the center from collapsing a “teachable moment”)
  • More towers than I can remember, including one that stood nearly 6 feet tall and had no central column for support (a la the Eiffel Tower)
  • A multi-generational starship with little robots and cars like from the movie Silent Running.
  • A Voltron-esque robot that broke up into multiple smaller robots.
  • An operational, motor-driven minifig-scale elevator that went up and down 3 feet.
  • A Klingon bird-of-prey, complete with moving wings, exit ramp out of the nose, and place for the whales, to minifig scale.

Yes, I was a Lego geek in high school. And today is the 50th Anniversary of the often-imitated but never exceeded LEGO brick.

According to the official LEGO timeline, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen renamed his wooden products business “LEGO” in 1934. In 1949, the first precursor to the LEGO brick we know and love was produced by plastic injection molding, the process that’s still used today. And in 1958, the studded brick that we’re still using today was patented.

As a child and teen, I played with LEGO for literally thousands of hours. Now that I’m an adult with kids of my own, they play with DUPLO and, once my youngest is old enough that he won’t choke on the small parts anymore, they’ll both start getting LEGO of their own. And as a father who still loves his LEGO (and decided to start small on his LEGO scale modeling hobby with an 18-inch long/1 stud=1m model of the USS Defiant instead of a 7x4x5 foot scale model of the Hoover Dam), I’m really looking forward to it.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of LEGO projects (from others, alas) you might appreciate. I certainly do. And by all means, click on the images to see more and larger versions.

Super Star Destroyer
Super Star Destroyer

Death Star II
Death Star II

Invisible Hand
Invisible Hand


6 replies »

  1. Brian, whatever happened to the old saw “When I became a man, I put away the things of a child”?

    Kidding. My wife brings coloring books to the nursing home. I find myself strangely drawn to coloring.

    While Lego is much more challenging, they both serve to de-compress from our adult lives.

    On a related note, I just started reading a new book called “The Art of Learning” by childhood chess whiz Josh Waitzkin (subject of the movie “Looking for Bobby Fisher”). He picked up the things of a man while a child.

    I recommend this book. It’s all about achieving transcendence in one realm and then transferring it to another. After his chess career, he became a martial arts champion.

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