Dear Lego…

Dear LEGO.

It’s been a while since we last corresponded.

Since then, we’ve got closer, I think.

These days, Flea is a huge LEGO fan. We’ve got boxes full of LEGO Chima sets, and over Christmas we built an amazing LEGO winter village together. And pleasingly, Flea is getting confident enough to build her own LEGO creations – small houses, unfeasibly large sofas, towers, monsters… lots and lots of monsters.

lego

So it was hardly surprising when we were first in line to see the LEGO movie at a preview screening. Flea ADORED the whole thing and even the grown-ups attending enjoyed it. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the LEGO Movie yet, you absolutely must, by the way. It’s fantastic.

I was surprised that the last 15 minutes or so of the movie really made me quite emotional. I won’t post spoilers but it’s all about how LEGO is really for kids, teaching them to use their imaginations, that you’ll never really succeed if you just follow the instructions. The movie’s  message is that play is all about kids making new things (that might not make sense to adults) and inventing their own stories.

It was properly lovely. Sniff.

So this weekend, when Flea was given some money to spend on toys, she was in no doubt what she wanted to buy – a big box of LEGO bricks.

She received a box of bricks for Christmas but she doesn’t have enough blocks to build houses and apartments, and apparently not enough floors. So we headed off to our local Toys R Us to stock up. This is a big to store – there is an entire aisle the width of the whole store devoted to LEGO. Not just that, there is a LEGO movie display and a LEGO Star Wars display, elsewhere in the store, and of course a lot of LEGO Friends sets in the “girls’ aisle” *narrows eyes*.

Anyway, hundreds of metres of shelving, stacked floor to ceiling with LEGO. We would be spoiled for choice, surely?

Except here’s what we found:

Sorry the sound is terrible. But what you can’t hear is Flea saying how odd it is that there are hundreds of boxes of LEGO to buy, but there’s not a single LEGO set that isn’t themed.

Not a single, solitary one.

If you want LEGO City, Star Wars, Friends, Movie, Chima, Ninjago, Duplo, Castle, Lord of the Rings, Lone Ranger, Ninja Mutant Turtles or even LEGO storage bricks then great! But if you want some LEGO bricks to make your own stuff – well, you’re out of luck. We went home disappointed – with a box of Playmobil (and a One Direction action figure, but that’s a story for another day).

So here’s what I wondered – are we the only people who want to be able to buy regular LEGO?

Plenty of my friends said they love the themed sets – Suzanne’s kids like the challenge of putting them together, and Denise particularly loves the 3 in 1 sets. We really enjoy those sets too, and as I have mentioned, LEGO Chima is one of Flea’s favourite toys at the moment.

But almost all of my friends said their kids mostly, or sometimes loved to play with regular, un-themed LEGO bricks.

Lindy from Squidgyboo says her 8 year old daughter mostly loves to ‘free style’ LEGO – using bricks inherited from her Dad. Merry and Pippa both said that if they buy themed sets, they are usually broken up fairly quickly and used as regular bricks.

So why is it so very hard to find regular LEGO bricks – ESPECIALLY given that the notion of free imaginative play, without rules and instructions, is such a central theme of the LEGO movie?

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

33 Comments

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:08 am

      We love the regular sets – Flea got almost exactly that box for Christmas, she just wanted to boost her collection and it seems odd to me (ESPECIALLY given the theme of the film) that the largest toy store in our area doesn’t stock a single box.

  1. 21st February 2014 / 2:30 pm

    We used to play with a box of Lego which had been my dad’s when he was young. That was all bricks, some windows and roof tiles etc, and tyres, rods etc so that you could make some vehicles. Brilliant, imaginative stuff.
    Both of my sisters (me not so much, I preferred Sylvanians) were really into Lego and would get loads of the theme sets. The initial building of them was quite fun, but once they were built, there wasn’t a lot left to do with them, if you didn’t want to deconstruct them and build them differently, so they’d just sit on the dining room table for the duration of the school holidays and sometimes you’d maybe go and play with them by moving some minifigs around (or my dad would smash a wall of it up and put a stuffed gorilla or a dinosaur toy in there or something, overnight). Much less fun than coming up with your own, I guess.
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    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:09 am

      I was one of four kids growing up, so I’m guessing my eldest brother probably nabbed all the LEGO…

  2. Daydreamer_mum
    21st February 2014 / 2:36 pm

    I love this question…. My daughter and I have the same one! She wants to build a castle for Harry from 1D to live in with his cat! You cant get a kit for that kind of crazy!! We just want bricks (we don’t need pink ones)

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:09 am

      Exactly! I just found some in Argos, so am off to do a LEGO run today 🙂

  3. Snaffleamummy
    21st February 2014 / 2:41 pm

    I agree. Just plain bricks are impossible to find and expensive. We ended up with some pre owned bricks from eBay. Bought by weight and we just sterilised them with Milton tablets when they arrived (it’s the OCD again).
    It worked out a much better way if getting a large assortment of bricks

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:09 am

      I never thought of looking on eBay – what a fab idea!

  4. 21st February 2014 / 3:05 pm

    Big boxes of LEGO for building random stuff shouldn’t be bought, they should be handed down in the family like an heirloom 😉

    Our big box (it fills one “cube” on an IKEA Expedit bookcase) originally came from my cousins (in their late 40’s now) to me and now on to the kids.

    Joking aside though, LEGO isn’t really LEGO at times now is it? There are so many “custom” bricks that you can’t make stuff from your random pile of bricks that you see in a book or on the telly any more because half the bricks are peculiar to one line/set.
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    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:10 am

      Our nearest LEGO store is an hour’s drive away, sadly.

  5. 21st February 2014 / 4:00 pm

    Oh my days! I haven´t played with lego in years! I used to play with all the time with my brother. Love it! Love from Spain http://www.theblondeb.com/

  6. Sam
    21st February 2014 / 4:21 pm

    Try supermarkets for the plain bricks – large Tesco or Asda usually sell a big box of them for less than £10. The film made me very emotional too. I’m a little bit like Mr Business (shock horror!) & from a very young age I’d build up a set of houses or a street scene and they would stay like that for YEARS with me creating worlds using the figures.
    Thankfully I’ve managed to NOT pass this characteristic onto my 6 year old and he used some saved up money to buy a film themed set yesterday, it was built last night and this morning he’s already transformed it into something more fabulous!
    So Lego storage – how do you store yours…….

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:10 am

      I’ve found some in Argos – our local Tesco had none, and we don’t have an Asda, I don’t think. The film almost made my cry, I’m such a wuss.

  7. Carrie
    21st February 2014 / 4:37 pm

    I feel the same way. We have bought extra bricks in bulk on eBay in the past, but now that my kids have SO many sets over the years, they all go into a huge bin (two bins now as the first recently overflowed) and they can just dig in and have a variety of blocks at their disposal. This was quite difficult for my oldest son; he likes to follow the directions and keep his intricate theme creations hidden away in his room. But his smaller siblings are less about instructions and more about imaginative play so he has slowly come around to their thinking. (His baby sister helped him along by “accidentally” destroying his Ninjago world and he was forced to put the broken down pieces in the bin!) There’s nothing I love more than seeing a wing of Hogwarts attached to a Ninjago pagoda-style roof with an Empire State building tower and Chima-esque monster on top of it all. 🙂

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:11 am

      Yes, my issue though is that often the pieces in themed sets are SO specific it’s hard to build regular things out of them. Maybe that’s a good imagination test, though?

  8. 21st February 2014 / 6:51 pm

    There are definitely not enough mixed boxes of Lego available. My 6 year old daughter is just transitioning from Duplo to Lego, and we unfortunately do not have old family boxes of mixed bricks to pass to her. Many of the themed sets are too complex and fiddly for her, so we really do just want loads of bricks for her to get creative with. At Christmas we settled for buying her one of the “3 in 1” sets, which she got on well with, but after completing the first model she didn’t want to break it down to make the others! I’d live to see more mixed bricks and bases available to buy.

    We went to see the LEGO movie this afternoon, and both kids loved it. My poor three year old was completely distraught when it finished and sobbed most of the way home!
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    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:12 am

      I know there are boxes like the ones I have in mind – we found one at our local garden centre at Christmas, randomly, but they’re too hard to find!

  9. Nikki
    21st February 2014 / 10:15 pm

    Loved the Lego film – can’t stop singing that flaming song though!! Everything is AWESOME, but only if they make it reasonably priced and available!

    We are lucky enough to live near legoland who sell the plain bricks and boards on mass. But it almost seems more expensive than the sets! Crazy.

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:12 am

      It is quite expensive isn’t it? I think eBay might be the way to go.

  10. 21st February 2014 / 10:31 pm

    Completely agree. I know actual Lego stores let you buy unthemed, standard Lego but all shops should sell tubs of generic Lego. Multicoloured bricks in a plastic tub – Not a lot to ask really!
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    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:12 am

      For a huge ToysRUs and Tesco to not have a single box of regular LEGO seems sad to me, definitely.

  11. Kath
    22nd February 2014 / 5:18 pm

    Completely agree. My daughter likes creating her own stuff with Lego. You can get boxes/tubs of basic bricks and other bits to be creative with on the Lego website – there is a ‘bricks and more’ section alongside all the themed stuff!

    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:13 am

      Cool, I’ll take a look this weekend, thanks Kath.

  12. 22nd February 2014 / 10:33 pm

    I am so with you on this. I have sort of lost the Lego love of late. I too miss bricks. I remember as a child I used to have a box of bricks which I used to make all kinds of things with. Schools, cinemas, houses, restaurants you name it. I know my daughter would like this too but all they do these days is the sets which to be honest when you’ve made them you are kind done with the building. Trouble is it’s impossible to actually store what you’ve built without it breaking. I think Lego is trying to be Playmobil but I think Playmobil does it way better. I would welcome a campaign to bring back the bricks!
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    • 23rd February 2014 / 11:13 am

      I used to build houses, ALL the time. And what prompted our latest excursion was Flea wanting to build houses – but the themed sets she’s broken down don’t have the right tiles to make floors, roofs and windows. Such a simple thing you would think it would be easier to find!

  13. 23rd February 2014 / 11:31 am

    Was going to say Argos, but see you’ve already found it. I did cry at the film.

    What I love to do, when I have a spare hour or so, is to sort it all out – colours, types of bricks, special bits… I would totally have those rows and rows of boxes with bricks in them if I could. Thankfully, no-one else in the family agrees with me. 🙂

  14. 23rd February 2014 / 11:51 am

    You’re not. We too need more floors but have been unable to find them.
    I am that parent. I have even considered the use of superglue, but deep down I know my kids need to create. Maybe LEGO think the new google create feature is enough and that kids don’t need real bricks now?
    Thanks for having a word. In the meantime, I have an abundance of roof tiles I can share, but nothing to put them on!
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  15. 23rd February 2014 / 2:56 pm

    The Lego shop at Legoland is pretty good for sets of just mixed bricks. Last time we went there I let the kids choose something each and that’s what they went for rather than the themed ones. It is disappointing if such a large store does not include any in their selection though
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  16. 23rd February 2014 / 11:59 pm

    And so it begins.
    That sadly it’s easier to take your child shopping ‘online’.
    I tried to take our child shopping.
    Admittedly she doesn’t like it.
    It would be nicer if her shopping wasn’t segregated by gender (Hamley’s).
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  17. 24th February 2014 / 9:47 am

    We love Lego a lot and you can regularly catch the hubby and little Z both sitting building stuff. Then they squabble because “‘my want that piece” etc. I think we have a semi non themed box but its geared for toddlers. You’re right about it being themed to the gills. There should be one massive box with just a million pieces in it. It would be a massive hit if they realised it.

    So which One Direction fugue did you treat yourself to? ;p
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