Unrealities

Building a community brick by brick

There is no greater joy than that of feeling oneself a creator. The triumph of life is expressed by creation.  -Henri Bergson

To create is more than human, it is universal. It can be argued that creation is the foundational purpose of all life. For you to grow, you must first create. When you see a young child, your mind races with everything that is possible for them. They could create an inspiring novel, a mouthwatering dish, or a new method for healing the sick. These creations do not happen as rapidly as we might like, we have to allow for and encourage the practice. One can not be expected to create if all they are not training their creative muscles.

One of the most popular ways currently to allow children to express their creativity is through mass-produced items, first introduced in 1949.

The Power of Bricks

Lego allows for creation at a basic level. You are not restricted to anything besides the building blocks that you are given. No, you aren’t playing with individual particles as a true god, but you are able to let your mind free. You start by building a house, but then you start seeing all the amazing sets that Lego has designed for you. Lego empowers you to actually build the Millenium Falcon.

Lego allows you to be transported to another world and since you are the one creating, you feel a special bond to this newly created world. You are not playing with a toy, you are given powers to create whatever you can dream of.

The Downside of Lego

If your passion is to build the latest set that Lego has to offer there is a high price that has to be paid. A rule of thumb most collectors use is 10 cents per piece. If you can get a 1000 piece set for $100, then you have made a wise investment. That’s still expensive as hell. You could have instead bought two new video games or seen two movies for a family of four.

Now that you’ve built your lovely new set, you need to find somewhere to store it. You also need to find somewhere to keep the box and instructions in case you actually ever wanted to rebuild or resell it. You need to build bookshelves or carve out storage rooms just to house your creations. Your passion has turned into a chore.

Netflix for Legos

Maybe you’re ready to take the next step. You’ve realized that the true purpose of Lego is to create and not to hoard. You loved building Voltron and playing with it, but now that it just sits on your shelf you are looking for your next fix.

Guess what, you’re in luck, there’s a company that offers a build-as-you-go service.

NetBricks

  • Offers multiple plans from $24 to $59 a month
  • Can rent a single set for 60 days or pay a monthly fee to keep sets as long as you want.

There was another company offering a similar service called Pley. They originally only did Legos, but they’ve moved to the box subscription model and are now probably out of business.

Legos as an Investment

2016 may have been the peak of Lego. People were no longer seeing Legos as just a way to create new worlds, but as a way to make money. You could see 12% year-over-year returns on your Legos if you held on to them. The masses began understanding that Lego will frequently retire sets, creating scarcity dynamics. You were saving up to buy the Scooby-Doo Mystery Mansion only to find out that it’s no longer sold.

People are now rewarded for hoarding their unopened Legos and reselling them to desperate fanatics that want to be taken away to their favorite fictional fantasy lands.

I admit that I have fallen into this trap. In February 2014, I found the Lego Delorean on sale at Amazon for $28. I decided I would buy two, I would build one myself and sell the other. I ended up not opening either box and saw as the set was retired the price jump up. I bought the set six years ago and it is now worth over $180, a 500% gain.

Not all sets do this well of course, but sets are routinely retired and if you want Lego Monsters, you’re going to pay a steep price.

Brick and Mortar Bricks

Lego is doing its best to capitalize on its brand. They have around 90 stores in the United States, some states have none and many others with only one or two. These stores are generally fairly small and placed in malls similar to an Apple store. They’re meant to get your attention and allow you to graze and buy a gift, but there’s not much space to actually engage with the bricks themselves. There’s usually an area where you can build your own race car or Minifigure, but people aren’t planting themselves there.

Lego also has amusement parks with coasters and areas for kids to be fully immersed in Lego. These are obviously geared towards children but skew towards pre-teens. Some of these parks do have an Imagination Center where kids are free to design and build. Lego has also started creating “Discovery Centers.” There are seven of these in the United States. They are labeled as indoor amusement parks with admission at the door. They also host birthday parties and special events.

Combining It All

One of my fondest memories as a child was riding my bike to various baseball card stores in my area and looking at rookie cards. My Dad told me the horror story of him gluing his Mickey Mantle rookie card to a poster for a school project. I was determined to not make this same mistake. It was so exciting to see all the cards behind the glass cases staring back at me.

Why doesn’t this exist for Legos?

Imagine a place where the community of brick builders, dreamers, and creators can engage and grow.

The Pitch

Imagine a business designed around buying, selling, and using Legos. The business itself would keep an inventory of new and used Legos. These Legos can be bought, sold, and rented. It’s Gamestop, but for Legos. No, not Gamestop, never Gamestop, it’s the Secret Stash but for Legos.

The business is more than this though. It has space dedicated to allowing customers to play Minecraft or Lego Worlds. Or to rent a set and build it at the store. You can schedule a birthday party or group event where everyone gets to help build the Sydney Opera or the Death Star. There are adults-only nights where people can BYOB and trade their minifigs.

A strong focus will also be placed on education. LEGO has an entire line dedicated to encouraging STEM.

This is not just a store that buys and sells legos, this is a hub for creators. Classes scheduled for students to grow at multiple levels. Learn how to build and code and use their imaginations. Sponsor teams in the area to compete in various competitions like First LEGO League and Snapology.

The goal would be to encourage a community of creators. A community that encourages each other and building the best future possible.

People Will Come

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