If you build it brick by brick, will they come? If the bricks are Lego and the town is New York City, they will. Legomania of sorts has hit the town like a tiny brick—with a combination of stores, exhibits, a new movie, and a competition all featuring the classic toy and luring kids of all ages.
In one of the city’s tourist meccas—Times Square—visitors can check out the “Art of the Brick.” The exhibit at Discovery Times Square is a collection of art works made “exclusively from Lego bricks”, and feature figures by artist Nathan Sawaya. The works are described as one of the “biggest and most elaborate” displays of Lego art ever. If you’ve seen his collections prior, this new showcase advertises “brand-new, never-before-seen pieces,” by the artist.
Hit the Lego Store in New York City
If you’re already in the vicinity of Rockefeller Center, another popular destination is the Lego store. Located at 5th Avenue and 50th Street, when you first walk in you’ll discover it’s set up almost like a candy shop, with giant bins of the tiny pieces stretching from floor to ceiling. Specialized sets are built and on display, ranging from famous international landmarks (think the United Nations or the Eiffel Tower), to New York Street scenes, to Andy Warhol in Lego. Although it’s easy to spend a lot quickly, there are a few free or low cost options. On the first Tuesday of every month, the store hosts free “mini model making”—while supplies last. Open to kids between 6 and 14, they are free to build and take home. (Note: According to store personnel, children get there early to line up.) And in the 10-dollars or less range, you can “build a family” (well, a family of three). Mix and match parts allow you to make up any range of family members or friends, as well as two accessories for each. They’re small, but satisfying.
Lego Film Critic
While you’re at the store, there’s a good chance you’ll be hit by the marketing and tie-ins to the new (and first) full-length feature film, “The Lego Movie.” It’s plot line has a “common figurine” mistaken for the “MasterBuilder”. He has to team up with other Lego figures (past and present) to stop evil ruler Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) from super-gluing their world together. There are plenty of gags for parents and kids and call backs to Lego sets of yesteryear. The film’s been so successful that they’re in production for a sequel in 2017.
The FIRST Lego Competition
In April, it’s the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) “Mega-Celebration”—bringing three robotics competitions together to the Jacob Javits Convention Center at 655 West 34th St. Free of charge and open to the public, more than 200 robotics teams compete in this three-day regional competition, taking place April 4-6, in hopes of advancing to the global competition.
Students team up to get their robots moving through obstacle courses and completing tasks under time restrictions as judges look for, among other things, their ability to successfully complete these tasks while still working together as a team.
Full disclosure: as a proud parent, I’ll be at this competition, cheering on our local P.S. 261 team as they work to advance!