Could anyone have predicted that a box of simple, interlocking, colored bricks unearthed in their grandmother’s closet 40 or 50 years ago would one day rule the global toy market?
Over the past 20 years, Lego – the plastic construction toys first manufactured in 1949 – has become one of the biggest, most recognizable brands in the world with theme parks, video games, TV shows, books, clothing and an Oscar-winning movie brandishing the blocky bits and the Lego name.
A touring Lego festival seemed like the next step.
“Lego kind of recognized that they were sitting in their building making toys and realized we really need to reach the people that are using our products. We can take an interactive show on the road and see what people like,” says Tracey Weiss, who handles public relations for Lego KidsFest. “There’s a lot of brick shows out there, and this is the only one sanctioned by Lego.”
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The traveling festival, which stops in seven states this year, is a hit. The shows have been hugely successful, with tickets to Charlotte’s five sessions selling out weeks ahead of this weekend’s event. But what exactly is it?
The interactive show is more than 3 acres of Lego.
“The model museum is the first thing you see, and it’s unbelievable,” says Weiss. “There are dozens of activities on the show floor and area after area where you do something different.”
Kids can build Lego cars and race them, create a Ninjago figure and join the battle, and add their own structure to a 40-by-60-foot map of the United States.
“By Sunday it’s full,” adds Weiss.
There are also life-size models and superheroes to pose with, a 16-foot-high giant storybook and timed-build races for the whole family. For younger children there are Lego Duplo activities and mountains of bricks to jump in. There are also new product previews, including the premier of new “Star Wars” sets and Lego stationery, and a pop-up store.
For the serious builder, two Lego master model builders – there are only seven in the U.S. – will be on hand to do workshops, as well.
“When you see the models on the floor, for instance, Buzz Lightyear and Woody from ‘Toy Story,’ one of the guys we work with created that on the CAD program and built it brick by brick,” she says.
“I always tell people if there’s one thing you’re going to do is charge your phone or camera,” adds Weiss. “It’s the ultimate scrapbooking adventure.”