It’s fair to say that we have a lot of Lego in our house. Some of the Lego actually belonged to Mud as a boy but over the last 6 years or so, several boxes of mixed bricks and roof tiles have been added to Muds’ boyhood stash, as well as Pick a Brick orders of windows, wheels and flat plates and we now have three plastic storage boxes filled with the stuff. In addition, Middle Mudlets’ room has a large unit and a long shelf dedicated to the display of the specific sets that she has collected over the years from the various themes, not to mention the veritable army of special mini-figures collected from the ‘Blind Bag’ sets.
The Lego bug hasn’t passed Little Mudlet by either, although her room is awash with ‘girl’ Lego, otherwise known as Lego Friends. She does have one or two of the traditional ‘Boy’ sets but on the whole, prettily coloured shops, houses and even a pleasure cruiser adorn her work tops and shelves.
Over the years, Mud and I have heard many people complain about the cost of Lego sets, claiming that they are very expensive and not worth the money. We don’t agree …. obviously, judging by the amount of Lego liberally dotted around the girls bedroom floors most days. For us Lego is one of the constants of our girls play times and it is rare that a day goes by that either one or both of them hasn’t got their Lego out, whether this be the box of mixed bricks for free build or one or more of their sets and so in terms of play value, every penny (or pound) spent on a Lego brick has been more than recouped. Lego is one of those toys we would recommend to anyone, unreservedly, although I would add that sometimes the branded sets (Batman, Harry Potter etc) aren’t as good a value as the everyday themed sets (City, Chima, Atlantis etc).
The real beauty of Lego is that you are never too old to play with it and it would seem that once hooked, the urge to build something never really leaves you ….even if you are 40+ years old and have passed your childhood Lego onto your children. Such is the case with Mud.
“It can’t be that difficult to build a modular house,” he muttered, after spending an hour or so with the Mudlets, looking at on-line reviews of the current modular buildings on the Lego site. Middle Mudlet was desperate to own one and she didn’t much care which one, although the Grand Emporium and Parisian Restaurant were her particular favourites.
“We have loads of bricks,” he continued.
So it was that we found ourselves carting all the Lego boxes downstairs a couple of weekends ago and Mud began the construction of his own Modular Building. As we seem to have more yellow bricks than any other colour (a hangover from Muds space and city sets from years ago, I believe) this was the colour he decided to use. At first glance it looked like we had enough bricks to build a sky scraper of a building but this is the thing with Lego buildings: if you use the bricks which are two dots wide, then the space inside your construction very soon becomes cramped and not very useable. No, to build a useable building the narrower one dot wide bricks have to be used which creates more ‘living’ space but this then severely hampered Muds plans, in terms of the number of floors he would be able to build.
“I can’t believe that this is all the bricks we have,” he grumbled a few hours later when the first floor of his rather impressive house and garden had been finished and most of the available single width, yellow bricks had been used. Suggestions that there may be models previously made by the Mudlets, he could rob bricks from, were met with frosty glares, as the girls made it abundantly clear that this was not an option.
I have to say that the house, or rather what there was of it, was looking pretty good and Mud had included an integral garage with units and tool storage. The front garden of the house had a flower garden on one side and a vegetable patch on the other, in which were growing some pretty impressive looking carrots and leeks. A small patio area was at the back of the house, complete with a fountain and flowering climbing plants were creeping up the front and back walls of the house. In the style of the Lego Modular buildings, a path had been created from the flat tiles we found in the boxes and this ran the whole length of the front of the house and a coloured tile path led to the doorway.
But Mud wasn’t happy!
Although we had enough flat tiles to cover the whole of the ‘footpath’ area, these were all different colours and the resulting patchwork effect was more childrens’ cartoon than suburbia. Also, he now had none of the flat tiles left with which to cap the top of the ground floor wall which meant that were he to actually able to build the next floor, then it wouldn’t be as easy to remove during play, as the raised dots of the wall top would connect with the dimples of the floor of the next section. To be truly modular, each floor needed to be able to sit snugly on top of one another, or to be easily detached for independent play as necessary.
Muds eye for detail just couldn’t cope with the unrealistic path and so he decided to put together a ‘Pick a Brick’ order for a load more flat tiles in the colours he needed: dark grey, medium grey, black. He also chucked in a few others for good measure: red, white and pink (for Little Mudlet). Very soon an order had been placed and all he could do was wait. In the meantime, the house was allowed to be played with but the Mudlets were tasked with the job of ensuring it remained intact, ready for when the flat tiles arrived.
Yesterday a parcel arrived and to Muds’ delight, it was the flat tiles.
“Doesn’t look like all the tiles are there,” he said, peering into the packaging, “Looks to be some missing.”
But despite his misgivings, he had the girls bring the house back down so that he could start removing the multi-coloured tiles and replace them with his dark grey path. In the meant time I set to and started to count the different tiles, separating them by size and colour. I soon realised that Mud had been correct and an entire colour of the 2×2 flat tiles was missing ……. the very colour Mud was wanting to use for the pavement.
“I don’t believe it!” was Muds’ response, as disappointment set in. I reflected at this point that sometimes he really does look like a boy at Christmas who has discovered his dad forgot to get the batteries he needed for his new toys!
Thankfully a quick call to a ‘Lego Expert’ (yes they really do call them that) at Lego, resolved the situation – well, in so much as the missing tiles are now on their way but it will be 7-10 working days before they arrive! Thankfully Mud had also ordered some longer dark grey tiles and he has used these to create his path in the interim. Kerb stones and drain grates have been added and the Mudlets have ’tiled’ the lounge, balcony and garage floors as well. Over all the finished effect is fantastic but what to do about building the other floors is still an issue and I await with interest the battle that may yet ensue between a petulant Mud wanting the bricks for his house and the ‘we-are-our-fathers-daughters’ stubborness of the girls.
Either way I can say with hand on heart and with sincerity, that at 40 years of play and counting, Lego is very much value for money in Mudville.