After we walk down the long hallway back to the cafeteria for Skyline High School’s Brick Bash, ten-year-old Little Brother stops dead in his tracks when he sees the twelve-foot-tall skyscraper, all clear glass and blue angles, standing majestically at the entrance to the room. “Whoa,” my son asks. “Is that all made of Legos?”
Inside, there are so many people, so many primary colors, and so many right angles that we are soon in 3-D sensory overload. There’s a Lego zoo with dolphins, apes, and polar bears–and the Detroit Zoo water tower. I point out this local tidbit to Little Brother, who shows me the magical triple-decker bus driving around the zoo, and Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
Next, we visit Jurassic Park, complete with tram and escaping dinosaurs; Middle Earth, with Gandalf shouting “You shall not pass” and Barad-dur, the towering Fortress of Sauron; a city overtaken by Transformers; even the Legend of Zelda. The only “world” that is not absolutely mobbed the entire time is the pink and purple world, with sweet little houses, bright green apple trees, innocent domestic scenes, and cute pets. (Message to Lego: Girls want more than pink and cute.)
There are models of trains, of course. And many different types of dragons. We see famous paintings rendered in Legos–Starry Night, Don Quixote, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. We sightsee at perfect to-scale models of skyscrapers from around the world, from the World Trade Center to the Burj Khalifa to Taipei 101. We peek into the stop-motion film festival. We spin the tiny black U-M cube.
The Lego robotics folks are here too, teaching kids how to build their own Lego robots and compete in a sumo ring. A crowd gathers as these miniature robot gladiators try to push each other out of the circular arena.
The best part, however, is the play area, with several child-size tables covered with hundreds of thousands of Lego pieces. Wonderful, colorful, plentiful Lego pieces. Duplos for the little ones. At home, there are never enough pieces to build what you want. And parents are always threatening to throw them away after stepping on them in the middle of the night. No limits here.
As we leave, I turn to take one last look at the beautiful skyscraper holding court over the event and suddenly realize that it is One Detroit Center, somehow even as beautiful when constructed of little plastic Lego pieces as it is in granite and glass.
This year’s Brick Bash is on Saturday, April 18.