When I was a kid, I liked to build model airplanes and other vehicles. I didn’t make lots and lots of them, but I do remember building an F-16 and some Navy warships from some Revell kits, popping the pieces out of the plastic connectors, painstakingly gluing them together, applying decals, and painting them1. As a kid, I also liked building with LEGOs, but we never had LEGO kits like today. It was always just blocks in a handful of different shapes that I’d snap together to make stuff out of my imagination.
When we had our own kids, we started with Duplos and then LEGOs and then LEGO kits, especially Star Wars LEGO kits. And watching my kids build their sets (and inevitably break them down to reuse the pieces in their own creations), I remembered how much fun I used to have with plastic model kits.
A little while ago, I started getting the hankering to do some model building, but I didn’t want to just take over my kids’ LEGO sets. That’s when I discovered LEGO sets aimed at adults. At first I thought it was too childish to “play” with LEGOs at my age, but I’ve since realized it isn’t. In fact, it’s the new model-kit building, but without the glue and paint, which I don’t miss at all frankly.
So for my birthday this year, I picked out the LEGO Creator Expert NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander kit for myself. I’d been eyeing it for a while, both for its complexity (over 1,000 pieces) and subject matter, because I love space stuff.
When I got it, I made it clear to the kids that this was my set to build, but that I would enjoy and welcome them to watch and talk with with me while I did it. At first, I had to gently remind them not to find the pieces for me or to give me instructions. After a while, we found a good compromise where they would sometimes point it out if I made a mistake or would sort the pile of pieces into types and sizes and colors.
It didn’t take me long at all to complete the build, just a couple of Sunday afternoons. The first Sunday, I worked for about an hour on the base and then on the second Sunday for a couple more hours. The first hour was while they were watching Star Wars in the other room, and the second they watched me finish everything.
I didn’t have any major problems. At one point I had to backtrack and disassemble a section I’d put together wrong. At another point, I popped a tiny piece of the model and it went flying and I had to get children with sharper eyes than mine to look on the floor for it. But overall, it was a fairly straightforward and easy build and it looks great sitting on the bookshelf in my office.
Now I’m hankering to do another.
And I like the way that LEGO Saturn V rocket looks.
- And that kind of model kit is still available for those who are interested. ↩