I was observing the kids playing with their Lego collection recently, and noticed that, while Erin 11 has begun to extend her imagination by engaging in connected free builds– creating large scale structures by consistently adding to each one each time she sits down to build– 8 year old Connor contents himself with rummaging around in the minifig box and playing story telling games with the figs.
Nothing wrong with that– after all, Lego is a toy, not a psychological determinator, and there’s really no wrong way to play with it other than the “Let’s see how many pieces we can shove up the dog’s nose” game– but I asked him why he doesn’t play with the bricks, and he replied that there’s too much Lego and he didn’t know where to start. The kids have approximately 10 000 bricks, and I didn’t realise until he told me that the sheer bulk was just too much for the little guy. He’d never had a chance to learn small scale building techniques before being overwhelmed by the giant pile in front of him, and had no idea where to begin building a base, or frame, or even how to start experimenting with creating shapes. He took one look at that great big mountain of plastic and retreated to a scale he could deal with: little people, and telling himself stories.
Coincidentally, while searching about for a way to activate the RockLUG Lego group (a Facebook group for people who’d like to see a Lego User Group started South of the Swan River: feel free to join!), I came across the concept of remixing: taking a single Lego set and re-imagining it in as many ways as possible. Now, when I was a kid we weren’t particularly flash, so taking a single Lego set and re-imagining it in as many was as possible was called “playing with Lego”, but somewhere along the line of my own mad dash towards a monster Lego collection I’d forgotten the concept. It seemed like a great challenge to throw to the group, and a great way to get Master 8 learning some building concepts at a scale he could handle easily.
The set I chose was one he’d had a ball building from the instructions, a small mecha called Kai’s Fire Robot: