Ginnie Graham: Revamped Legos still offer unplugged fun
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 4:51 AM
If you haven't bought Legos in the past decade, get ready for sticker shock.
But it's also amazing what children as young as 5 can make out of a bunch of random plastic blocks.
Film director George Lucas became Ã1/4bergenius when he moved his beloved "Star Wars" characters into this building-block world in the late 1990s.
There are Lego versions of the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon and the Emperor's Shuttle, which range from $80 to $400.
That success has led to other trendy lines such as Harry Potter, NinjaGo and Monster Fighter.
My son can rattle off the names of the most-wanted, limited-edition sets, with names like "Destiny's Bounty," "Epic Dragon Battle" and "Samurai Mech."
At a minimum, I'll be set back $50. I dread thinking beyond that.
Upping the cool factor: Although Legos have always been around, the acquisition of licensed characters has put them back on the "cool" list.
The resurgence of these blocks, created in 1947, has spawned a legion of budding architects.
Youth librarian Mike Weibel at Tulsa's Zarrow Regional Library started the Lego League, an informal club for 5- to 12-year-olds who meet for an hour once a month.
He noticed the popularity of Legos with the growth of the library's annual unique-design building contest, which brought together about 75 youths last July to battle for supreme Lego bragging rights.
At Zarrow, about 30 youngsters signed up to compete for champion of the branch.
Another library had a successful Lego club a few years ago during the school year, so Weibel started searching for grants and donations to buy an assortment.
Weibel has an encouraging way about him, prompting kids to share parts and start games. He is also surprised at what some can build in a short time period.
"This has come a long way since I was a kid," he said.
Dedicated aficionados: The league's two meetings this year have attracted about 12 kids each time, mostly boys.
"It seems the nonsummer months have a small but dedicated group of kids," Weibel said. "We never have less than 10 kids."
As the hour went by at the first gathering, kids swapped designs, explained their concepts and engaged with each other in imaginary play.
They produced a house, a horse-drawn carriage, an Eiffel Tower, trucks and many different versions of spacecraft.
Autumn Triplett, 11, is a self-professed tomboy who created three spaceships fitting together into one unit.
"It's about the outcome of it and how you can take a big pile of stuff and turn it into something like this," she said.
As she took a final look at her creation, she spoke to the room: "I need a coffee mug. The captain needs coffee."
The boys scrambled into their Lego-filled cups. About 30 seconds later, she was handed the perfect miniature cup.
Autumn has no Legos at home, and the ones at school don't have the instructions that come with the kits.
"I had no idea there were directions," she said. "But this is an easy way to bring out your imagination. After this, I'm going to ask my mom for lots of Legos."
In an era filled with video games, DVRs and iEverything, seeing Legomania is a treat.
I'll take anything that prompts kids to willingly unplug from electronics to build something with just their hands and ideas.
Library Lego League
When: 2-3 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 8.
Where: Zarrow Regional Library, 2224 W. 51st St.
For more: 918-549-7683 or tulsaworld.com/library
Original Print Headline: Legos still spark kids' creativity
Autumn Triplett, 11, builds a spaceship at the monthly meeting of the Zarrow Library's Lego League. GINNIE GRAHAM/ Tulsa World