Yesterday, January 28th, marked the 50th anniversary of the greatest toy I ever owned, LEGO. Whilst rehearsing for a production of Hamlet I learned that LEGO is Danish for "play well." (Hamlet was Danish and therefore must have played with medieval versions of LEGO made out of wood, bone or old crusty cheese. :p )
I remember my first sets from the late 70's and the cool pouch my mother bought to keep them all together. It was a large circle of blue denim with a bright red drawstring. I thought I was pretty slick. The bricks were brightly colored and their resulting composition was limited only by my imagination. Cool and infinitely playable; it wasn't until 1980 that my love affair with LEGO truly began. That's when I received set 497 Galaxy Explorer from the newly created LEGOland space line. Oh the joy of LEGO's that included thrusters and laser canons was almost more than a preteen boy could handle. It had the complexity of an Estes model (without the contact high of model glue) coupled with the challenge of alteration and improvisation. When completed per the included plans, the Explorer ship had a compartment which housed a rover vehicle I found useful in exploring the surface of many uncharted planets (boo-ya)!!
Alas, like the energy and excitement of a first kiss, no subsequent set ever captivated me as much. And over the years my commitment to LEGOdom waned. My mother still has the denim sack and some of my original LEGO's have continue to delight my nieces and nephews. But now and then when I least expect it they magically appear in my life. At a friends playing LEGO Star Wars on the Wii; or more surprisingly resting atop our wedding cake in true old school fashion.
Maybe someday I will tackle the new 5,000 piece Millenium Falcon set that I've heard tell about on the internets. Wouldn't that be keen, Star Wars and LEGO's in one! The thought borders on ecstasy. Maybe I'd better wait...
Further Reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego
Image Source: http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/resources/2008/01/lego-brick4-timeline.jpg