When I was growing up I had (I think) the same assortment of toys as everyone else. Some were cherished possessions, loved so intensely that they eventually fell apart. Some were gifts which, while gratefully received, were not really ‘my thing’ so they gathered dust for a while before being passed on to someone else.
A very select few survived both the passage of time and the whims of their owner – I don’t like that anymore throw it away, no wait! I’ll keep it a little longer.
One of those toys that I loved enough to play with, keep in good condition, and save for my own children, was Lego.
Oh boy, how exciting it was to have enough money to go buy myself some new Lego! I loved those little boxed sets that came with a mini-figure, because when I had finished building the house/car/post office/what-ever-it-was I could take my new little person to meet my other little people.
The new mini-figure would arrive and be introduced to the residents of my little Lego town.
They all had back stories. Some were related to each other. The nice lady mayor was married to the policeman. Some had been excommunicated after doing mean things, like telling lies or stealing cars, and then allowed to rejoin the group after heroically saving little Lucy who was almost killed in a dreadful accident.
They all had their names on their backs. Not written with pen, that might rub off. Engraved with a pin. (Ouch!)
My younger self would have been upset to call a tiny plastic friend by the wrong name.
When I outgrew my Lego sets they were packed into a box and stored safely in my parents loft where they remained while I graduated college, got married and traveled across the Atlantic to a new life.
Then I had kids. And then my parents came to visit, bringing with them some of my childhood treasure including my Lego!
The little people with their names etched on their backs were divided equally among their new owners, and those new owners were thrilled.
I now have three little Lego addicts in my house. Even my oldest, who is now a very mature preteen, loves to set up her Lego house and be neighbors with her siblings and their mini-figure people.
My kids can spend hours playing with their Legos. They follow the instructions and build houses and cars, spaceships and helicopters and they also raid their stash of ‘extra’ bricks and create things from their own imaginations, like three story motorbikes and tree restaurants.
I loved Lego. My kids love Lego. Generations before us loved Lego, and the generations still to come will love Lego.
Why does it endure? Because it is simply brilliant.
You can build, literally, anything that you want to build… and then what you do with that item is entirely up to you. You can demolish your creations, but they are not broken.
I just wish the really cool giant sets didn’t cost so many dollars.
And I also wish that it didn’t hurt so much to step barefoot on a forgotten brick.