A new type of block party

By Robby Tucker rtucker@prairiepress.net
Posted 2/6/23

With Christmas and Thanksgiving in the rear-view, many have accepted the post-New Year lull in holiday cheer. However, Saturday, Jan. 28, marked a celebration building enthusiasts should  not …

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A new type of block party


With Christmas and Thanksgiving in the rear-view, many have accepted the post-New Year lull in holiday cheer. However, Saturday, Jan. 28, marked a celebration building enthusiasts should  not ignore.

International LEGO Day celebrates the anniversary of the LEGO building system. First invented by his father, Ole Kirk Christiansen, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen filed a patent for the iconic building blocks in 1958.

Now, LEGO is a juggernaut of the toy industry, with a fan base that is as devoted as it is massive. LEGO partners with the biggest names in entertainment to establish an impressive catalog of products.

Perhaps more impressive than the pre-packaged sets released by LEGO are the near-infinite possibilities for unique designs. Regardless of building style, LEGO has become a household name around the world, and Edgar County boasts a few builders of its own.

Scott Blair, 47, has been a lifelong resident of Paris. As with many LEGO fans, Blair’s fascination with plastic bricks and studs began in his childhood.

At age 10, Blair received his first set courtesy of his parents. Blair was instantly hooked and grew quite fond of LEGO’s original Space theme.

Blair later graduated from Rose-Hulman and currently works at Feutz Contractors: the family construction business. While his childhood hobby could have affected his career, Blair primarily credits his dad.

“Maybe seeing my dad doing his work and looking at plans inspired me,” Blair pondered, saying, “LEGO maybe guided me toward that as well, but it is a family business.”

Still, Blair’s experience with the beloved building bricks complemented his career.

While Blair enjoyed the satisfaction of assembling piles of loose plastic into rockets and spaceships, his passion for building faded as he grew older.

“After age 10 I didn’t do much until I had my son,” said Blair.

Gareth, age 12, began assembling DUPLO sets, LEGO products targeted at younger children, at age three. Gareth’s proficiency with the world-famous building blocks advanced quickly.

“When he was five or six, he was putting together sets that were seven and up, even nine and up,” Scott noted.

Currently, Minecraft, Star Wars, and superhero-themed sets pique Gareth’s interest. Now, Scott has returned to his beloved childhood pastime, thanks to his son.

While Scott prefers LEGO’s more adult, sophisticated Architecture line of sets, there is always room for two on any given Blair family building project regardless of theme.

“We get a lot of Star Wars. I try to collect Architecture. I’ll get sets for me and he wants to join in,” said Blair.

Recently, a new builder has joined Blair’s engineering corps: Emric, age four. Emric, Blair’s grandson, seems to be predisposed to destroy rather than build.

Fortunately, Scott and Gareth have embraced Emric’s freeform approach to block play.

“Sometimes we tear (sets) down, then put them together again,” said Scott. “That can be really fun.”

While prices for sets have risen in recent years, the financial cost does not seem to bother Blair, who has cherished rekindling and sharing his creative pastime with his family.

“You can find deals and buy sets. It’s good to sit down with them (kids) and build. It’s a good bonding experience,” Blair explained.

Not only has Blair benefitted from the experience of building with his kin, but Gareth and Emric seem to be benefitting in other ways as well.

“It’s good for kids to help with learning,” stated Blair. “It’s not just a TV distraction.”

Blair’s hypothesis seems to be supported by research. Amy Shelton is the director of research at John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. Studies from as early as 2016 indicate that the spatial awareness that is honed during a building session translates well to future endeavors.

“Something as simple as making sure kids have exposure to block play would set them up for a future where they can build the right kinds of skills for whatever field they want to go into, and they won’t be restricted because of their lack of early experience,” said Shelton.

Brick by brick, four generations of Blairs have built a family hobby that connects patience and creativity with laughter and fun. Whether you build by the book or forge your own creations, LEGO affords families an opportunity to craft their own unique adventures.