The other cool thing we did to close out the boys’ spring break was hit LEGO Kids Fest in Louisville.
Most all of us, if not everyone, has played with LEGOs at some point. If you haven’t seen them in a while, they’ve come a long way baby.
These interlocking construction blocks have always held magic.
I still recall coming home from seeing the first “Star Wars” movie as a kid, and heading straight to my LEGO collection to attempt building something resembling Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder.
That’s always been the beauty of LEGOs – it doesn’t matter if you have exactly the parts necessary, the ability is there to make something close enough.
LEGOs trigger the imagination.
These days less creativity is required, as LEGO designers have taken it upon themselves to fashion the necessary parts needed to build everything from “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Lord of the Rings.”
Maia deserves all the credit for scouting this event. I figured it would be cool, LEGO doesn’t do lame – but was concerned it would be overrun with screaming children. It really wasn’t bad.
It got us out of the house and was an opportunity to see this bastion of kiddom blown out to epic proportions. Plus, we went on Sunday, April 7, so this was the night after Louisville beat Wichita State in the Final Four to make the championship game.
That weekend had already been full of stressful basketball games. This was a great excuse check out something totally non-sports related and get our collective minds off the possibility of Louisville winning a championship that was still 35-hours away.
Kids Fest began Friday with one showing, there were two on Saturday, and we did the morning showing on Sunday, which began at 9:00 AM, but we didn’t get there until about 11:00. This gave us two and a half hours. They clear the whole place out after that.
With LEGOs there will be a mess. So they clean up and reset the workshops and building stations, then there was an afternoon viewing beginning at 3:00 PM.
The tone was set from the moment visitors enter the exhibit hall, as numerous famous movie characters from blockbuster films are constructed in full-size regale, which are beyond the scope of contemplation.
Batman immediately grabbed my attention, as he was perched menacingly atop the corner of a brick building, standing upon a LEGO gargoyle.
All the hobbits were present, along with Gandalf. In fact, there was an entire Bag End lair constructed to hobbit scale.
Harry Potter was well represented, and Captain Jack Sparrow. The shark from “Finding Nemo,” was there with mouth open so you could pose inside his jaws. King Tut’s sarcophagus was built upright, with a cutout where the face goes so people could be photographed.
Woody and Buzz were hanging around from “Toy Story,” the Lightning McQueen vehicle from “Cars” was built, and LEGO ninjas guarded the dining area.
Still it was “Star Wars” that made the biggest impression. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, a huge Chewbacca, Darth Maul, storm troopers – it was pretty bad ass.
After making it through this barrage of photo opportunities there were presentations going on all around, with LEGO reps on wireless microphones.
A friend had suggested we head immediately upon arrival to LEGO Legends of Chima, as this was very popular and lines could be long.
I guess there is a television series and video game on Chima, where different animal tribes exist, and they battle each other over a powerful natural resource called Chi.
Kids could practice before entering the arena of battle, then they chose their tribe and had a timed exercise in building speedorz to compete against other tribes.
The best part was each participant received a new Chima playset as they left the demonstration.
There were various stations throughout the concourse where kids and adults could duck inside and build away.
Hero Factory was seeking champions or villains; Monster Fighters needed creatures devised; Galaxy Squad was a festival of aliens; and a race track was open to test speed against whatever could be assembled on wheels.
A big attention getter was the LEGO Activity Area, where bridge pillars were already constructed, and kids worked together to build a stable span across the divide.
This also was a timed exercise, and once expired a LEGO rep would come out to publicly demonstrate the structural integrity of each bridge.
This was done by stacking 5 and 10-pound weights on the center of each bridge until they collapsed, making a rather loud crash each time, which echoed throughout the concourse.
The record was set Sunday at 135 pounds.
Another “can’t miss” was the ridiculous Big Brick Pile.
Imagine a dump truck full of LEGO blocks spilling its payload on the floor. That’s what this was – a sea of loose LEGOs.
Adults were making snow angels and children were being buried up to their necks. It was totally ridiculous. You’d need shovels to clean this disaster up, but it mattered not.
The part that ended up being the biggest fun for us was Creation Nation.
Here they segmented off a portion of the exhibit hall that represented the United States, and over the event’s three days, anyone could come by and construct a building, and staff would place it into whatever state the builder requested.
Slowly a nation was erected.
The four of us set about to make a skyscraper.
There were various building stations with buckets of LEGOs. We put some base plates together for the foundation, then brainstormed on a design that could hold a four-foot tower.
We spent an hour or more running around to different tables looking for random blocks, and took turns assembling pieces and adding stories.
The session ended as we put the roof on, complete with flags, and we dropped in two terrace-level lounge areas, where our imaginary tenants could relax.
It was a sweet edifice. We opted to place it in Iowa, which sort of blended with Chicago, so our addition went opposite the jet black Sears Tower.
That was a blast to do with the kids and Maia, and the baby pretty much slept through the whole thing.
I don’t think our session was as crowded as some. LEGO spokeswoman Ellen Puelo said the event drew more than 30,000 people, selling out Friday and Saturday.
Afterwards we drove into downtown so I could try and find a “Win It for Ware” t-shirt, but only XXL and XXXL were left. No worries, Maia found me a red one on Monday before the game.
Then we headed over to Germantown for lunch at Check’s.
All that marching around and building new LEGO worlds had given us quite the appetite.
Nothing like an oyster roll and double cheeseburger to tame a savage hunger.