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[REVIEW] ‘A LEGO Brickumentary’: All About The Fans

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A LEGO Brickumentary

“This story is about a simple toy that became, well, more than a toy. And how its unique properties ushered in a new era of creativity – not just for kids, but for a whole generation.”

A LEGO Brickumentary is a comprehensive ‘brickumentary’ that explores the seemingly infinite possibilities of LEGO, from the company itself to the fans of every age to uses outside of play. This documentary, interposed with charming minifigure moments with the narrator, bounces from topic to topic without ever seeming jumpy or abrupt.

Narrated by a LEGO minifigure voiced by Jason Bateman, and after a short introduction to the modern view of the LEGO company, the ‘brickumentary’ explains the modest beginnings of what would become a “monster brand of the toy business” (Jim Silver, Time to Play Magazine). Danish toymaker Ole Kirk Christiansen had the oddest combination of rotten luck and amazing luck – his factories consistently burned down, but his perseverance paved the way for the household fame of LEGO bricks.

LEGO headquarters is still in Denmark, where LEGO designers work and play to create new sets for the millions of LEGO fans around the world. Marcos Bessa, a LEGO designer, says, “It’s like being a child for the rest of my life.”

Much of the ‘brickumentary’ follows the paths of multiple people involved with LEGO, either by employment or fandom. Star LEGO designer, Jamie Berard, has created a new set of a Parisian café, while master builders in Enfield, Connecticut, have created the LEGO movie set to be shipped to LA and set up on a sound stage. In Kradno, in the Czech Republic, master builders are constantly creating new models and sculptures for LEGO parks and markets. One of the main storylines begins here, with the creation of a super-secret set – the biggest LEGO model ever built.

“We’re secretly building and designing an X-Wing fighter – life-size,” explains Dave Chasse, project manager. When the model is finally complete, it stands 11 feet tall and took 17,000 hours to build.

As the X-Wing fighter makes its way across the Atlantic, the ‘brickumentary’ takes a look at famous LEGO fans. Ed Sheeran, who infamously had a music video created in brickfilm format, is a huge fan of LEGOs. “The first thing I bought was a Death Star,” Ed Sheeran admits about what he did after his album went gold. He adds, “It’s good not to take life too seriously.”

Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, and NBA player Dwight Howard were also LEGO fans, and remain so to this day.

It may seem unusual that so many adults, famous or not, could be so invested in what appears to be a children’s toy. This seemingly unusual fact is common knowledge at conventions like BrickCon Seattle, where the ‘brickumentary’ introduces several important acronyms from the LEGO fandom.

  • AFOL – Adult Fan Of LEGO
  • KFOL – Kid Fan Of LEGO
  • TFOL – Teen Fan Of LEGO
  • NLSO – Non-LEGO Significant Other
  • MOC – My Own Creation
  • LUG – LEGO Users Group
  • LTC – LEGO Train Club
  • GBC – Great Ball Contraption
  • SNOT – Studs Not On Top
  • POOP – Parts Out of Other Parts
  • CRAPP – Crummy Ramp And Pit Plate
  • BURP – Big Ugly Rock Piece
  • LURP – Little Ugly Rock Piece

As far as the LEGO company’s involvement in these fan conventions, Tormod Akildsen, senior director for LEGO Community Engagement and Events, admits, “We were all kind of shocked. This is all based on things they want to do, things they want to make, events they want to organize … It’s out of our control.”

One of the most important AFOLs the ‘brickumentary’ focuses on is Alice Finch, a two-time winner of the People’s Choice Award for her giant LEGO creations and whose son, Thorin, describes AFOLs as “tall kids.” For Alice, who rediscovered LEGOs as her sons discovered them growing up, she has become not only an artist but a role model for the many girls who have been slighted by LEGO until more recently. With the supposedly infinite amount of opportunities within LEGO, Alice believes the company has an opportunity to work with the “other half of the population.”

Despite the economic trouble LEGO encountered in the early 2000s, when the company attempted to create more custom pieces and fewer customizable sets, LEGO has maintained its prestigious position in numerous fields of industry. In Askildsen’s opinion, “It’s a language more global than English.”

With this global language in full swing at conventions and international LUGs, LEGO decided to open up its creative gates to the public with the CUUSOO idea platform. LEGO fans can share their set designs and designs that earned more than 10,000 votes will go up for review to become actual LEGO sets to be found in stores. Any type of design can be put forward – the first idea to reach 10,000 was a set for LEGO Minecraft, which reached its goal in less than 48 hours and nearly crashed LEGO’s servers.

Outside of play for the sake of play, the ‘brickumentary’ also explores the possibility of LEGO getting serious. In Boise, Idaho, for instance, Jonathan Vaughan and Matt Cohen are creating a LEGO feature film; however, unlike The LEGO Movie, which was created with computer graphics, Vaughan and Cohen are creating their film, Melting Point, strictly with stop-motion. Both creators were inspired by LEGO stop-motion web videos and other LEGO animators, like David Pagano, a brickfilm maker in New York who is well known for his complex characters.

“On my better days, I consider myself a LEGO Animation Historian, if such a job exists,” says Pagano. “I don’t think it does, but I’ll pretend to myself until someone tells me to stop.”

LEGO stop-motion videos are everywhere, and there’s no shortage in a simple search on YouTube, but it all started with a little film called Magic Portal. As the first fan-made brickfilm, different from the videos created as part of LEGO’s commercial, Magic Portal began the craze, which was quickly followed by shot-by-shot remakes of famous film scenes or well-known news items, like Olympic events.

The ‘brickumentary’ makes a point of showcasing as many fan projects as possible – video, sculpture, set designs, giant set creations, and LEGO bricks used in interesting or unique fields.

After analyzing the various uses and benefits of the amazing LEGO bricks, the ‘brickumentary’ closes the various plotlines it began when it started its story of LEGO, and some fascinating little surprises as well. For hardcore LEGO fans, this ‘brickumentary’ touches on almost every facet of the world’s most creative toy company and, for the less avid fans, there is entertainment abound with interesting trivia and amazing creations featured from talented AFOLs and KFOLs alike. Be sure to stay tuned for an entertaining credits sequence that echoes the humor of The LEGO Movie.

If you ever wondered how this innovative Danish company became a household name or how its inspired fans inspired a critically-acclaimed film, A LEGO Brickumentary is the ‘brickumentary’ for you.

What do you think? Are you a LEGO fan, or a AFOL? Are you going to see A LEGO Brickumentary?

Edited by: Morgan Stradling

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About Kajsa Rain Forden

Kajsa is a writer from foggy San Francisco, living in sunny LA. She spends most of her time writing, binge-watching animated movies, and working in web design. With a soft spot for stop-motion, her favorite films are Coraline, Castle In The Sky, and The Thief and the Cobbler (Recobbled). You can find her on Twitter, or Pinterest, and most other social media @TheKajsaRain, or at Disneyland.