6 March 2024

More kids are completing complex Lego sets than ever before. What's going on?

| James Coleman
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Ali Guy, seven years old, built the Lego Titanic over four weeks. Photo: Natasha Guy.

About a month after a nine-year-old Canberran became what’s believed to be the youngest person in the world to complete one of Lego’s largest sets, a seven-year-old has completed the same feat in about four weeks of burning the candle at both ends.

The 1:200-scale model of the Titanic, part of the brand’s ‘Icons’ series, consists of 9090 pieces and measures 135 cm long and 44 cm high (including the two masts). It’s rated for 18 years and is number three on the list of Lego’s biggest sets (behind the World Map, 11,695 pieces, and the Eiffel Tower, 10,307 pieces).

None of this stopped Robert (last name omitted by request), who built it over 12 months.

“The only help I had was my nan, who would sort the pieces for me, and then I’d put it all together myself … It feels very cool that I’ve been able to achieve such a thing,” he told Region in December last year.

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In response to the story, Natasha Guy contacted us about her son, aged seven, who managed to complete the same set over the recent school holidays.

“Ali put in a solid effort, just continually building it and going for it, and he was doing really well,” Natasha says.

“If he needed any help, he misplaced a piece here or there, but otherwise, he did it all himself, which we thought was really quite impressive.”

On 20 October, his parents gave him the formidable set as a birthday present, but he procrastinated for a few weeks while he completed his other smaller gifts. He’s done sections of Lego’s Hogwarts Castle on his own before, but the Titanic is a different beast.

His mum describes him as “Lego-obsessed” and a keen watcher of Brick Builder on YouTube.

“Since we introduced him to his first set as a toddler, that’s all he’s ever wanted for his birthdays.”

So once he did start, there was no stopping him.

“He was a little bit overwhelmed with it at first, but once he started and moved away into a separate room away from his two younger siblings and where he could concentrate, he started building steam.”

After four weeks of school holidays and into the mornings and afternoons of the first term, it was done.

“His friends at school hadn’t really believed him until they saw photos of it,” Natasha says.

“They’re now quite impressed.”

The Lego Eiffel Tower is next on Ali’s list, and beyond that, “he definitely wants to be an engineer”.

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The Canberra Lego User Group (CLUG) is seeing more and more kids like Ali, and Robert before him, take up these giant sets.

President Jake Radloff says not only are parents keen for their kids to enjoy time away from screens playing hands-on with a toy they – and their grandparents – also enjoyed, but there have also been changes to the sets themselves.

“Looking back 10 years ago, the larger, more expert sets around were of things not really interesting for younger kids, but now with the iconic buildings and ships like the Titanic, it’s starting to hit a chord with them,” he says.

“The other thing is that the instructions have come a long way. Many of them are available in digital format, so you can zoom in around the subassemblies, which makes it easier to see where the bits go.”

There are 82 junior members of the Canberra LEGO User Group (CLUG). Photo: CLUG.

CLUG noticed a strong pick-up in members after COVID-19 when Canberra’s families emerged from lockdown with a new ‘inside’ hobby. Membership now includes 185 adults and 82 juniors between the ages of three and 17.

All are invited to take part in the ‘Canberra Brick Show’ at Thoroughbred Park in October and Bricks at the Woden School in late May.

The latter raises funds for special-needs kids, so Jake says it’s “perfectly fine” for “a three-year-old to put 12 bits on a base plate with the name on it” for display.

“We’re encouraging parents now to get their kids to find a couple of smaller sets and combine them into a bit of a diorama for display.”

The club also holds monthly meetings on the first Sunday of every month at the Hellenic Club in Woden, where kids are encouraged to bring their creations and tell the group about them.

“There’s one young boy, in particular, who has difficulty speaking, so his parents write out a little script for him on a piece of paper – like a palm card sort of thing – and he stands up and reads it out. Everybody gives him a big clap at the end,” Jake says.

“It’s a very inclusive sort of thing … and it’s an area we’re looking to explore in the future.”

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