Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Life Lessons from LEGO

While visiting Target the other day, I always make an effort to swing by the Lego isle. I took a look at the newest Star Wars stuff, because Star Wars Lego sets were my favorite when I was growing up. This time I noticed the price tag on some of these things. The small sets start at twenty dollars, while the bigger stuff can get as high as seventy to one hundred U.S. dollars. I was floored.

Begone, vile temptress!

When I was a bright-eyed preteen, the sets seemed cheaper. The price of oil (and thus plastic) has gone up, so lets blame it on that. Anyway, I thought to myself, "I owned virtually every Star Wars set that Lego produced from '99 to '01 (minus the Slave 1 and Millenium Falcon, sigh). I could probably dig up the bricks and instructions and build this crap without spending a dime!"
And now it costs $3,100 on Amazon.

The reason I was working so hard to rationalize this to myself just then was because I was very tempted to pick up another X-Wing. They look REALLY good, and Lego has only gotten better at presenting the product on the box. If I were eleven, my wallet wouldn't've stood a chance. Thankfully I've gotten older and more stingy with my money. Just a little.

So I went home. Four days later, I took the plunge and dug out my stuff. Funny enough, my experience building this one little model gave me oodles of life lessons, morals and sage advice to hand out in the form of this blog. Heyo!

I have a lot of Legos. When we changed houses in 2001, most of my stuff was broken down and chucked into random boxes, bits flying at random. I seem to recall piecing everything back together, but it was never the same at this house. I pulled together everything I could from three different drawers in my closet and I still didn't have everything I needed. However, I DID find a thin stack of assembly instructions for some of my favorite models, including the Rock Raiders stuff that I adored. I found the A-Wing guide, but I didn't see more than five red bricks in the drawers, so that was out. I have no idea where my Y-Wing stuff went, so that's out. No X-Wing, no TIE, so it had to be the Snow Speeder.

Life lesson: The things you adore when you're eleven are not the same things you adore in your twenties. Lets see how I feel about video games when I'm forty.

There weren't only Legos on the drawers; there were some old Star Wars action figures, loads of rock-hard modeling clay, a shattered egg shell (my brother or someone owned an old Ostrich egg that didn't survive), and other bits and bobs that make their way into drawers. Before long I pulled out a trash can and threw away things as I went. Hmm.

Life lesson: I'm much more tidy than I was. I can't stand to see such gross disorganization in what's supposed to be a functional drawer. What's worse is some of the stuff is my brother's, which means it can't be thrown away easily (or can it?).

Construction began.

I didn't have all of the parts. I had enough to start a base, but it wasn't close to enough. Before long, I was pulling apart the part of the TIE that had survived and cannibalizing it for parts. Eleven-year-old William would NEVER do such a thing. Before long I had to pull a thirty-gallon tub of bricks from my little brothers' room to get enough. Sorting through that crap took forever. So I dumped it on the floor.

It hurts the knees after a time.

...And there was quite a mess. I was able to pick through the pile like a junkyard hobo, but it was slow going. Before long I realized I didn't have the patience to get the exact color of part, so I started going for Shape Only (and even that was pretty loosely followed). Thanks to both my experience with Legos and my inner crotchety old man, I don't tend to care when pieces don't match the instructions as long as everything fits together.

Life lesson: I'm not as particular as I used to be. I guess that not giving a crap about finicky little things comes with age.

The ship came together in about two hours. It's probably the longest assembly I've ever had in my life, simply because each part was a new journey to the junk heap. I almost gave up a few times but the end result was worth it; a slightly hodge-podge Snow Speeder with asymmetrical colored parts. In fact, I kind of prefer it this way. I've done enough creative writing to quickly justify the color scheme with a story about two Rebel fighters going down behind enemy lines and having to repair their ship with random scrap. I'd read that graphic novel.

Life lesson: The pursuit of perfection is fine when you have the time and inclination. Sometimes doing a lesser job is acceptable if you're happy with it. I'm not worried about other people's opinions of this one Lego thing. It's not a big thing in my life and it pleases me.