Get, set, Lego!

John Seemon, an IT professional, always liked creating things from scratch. DIY — ‘Do It Yourself’ — as it is popularly known as these days, John was always a follower of it. As a kid, he loved building blocks and it was only a matter of time before the plastic construction toy brand, Lego, caught his fancy. During his many travels abroad, he started collecting sets of Lego much before the brand hit the Indian market. “I came across many interesting sets and worked with them to make complex structures,” he explains. “Those days, every time I went to the United States and Australia, I would make it a point to attend shows dedicated to Lego,” he adds.

Over the years, Lego has grown multi-fold in India. “Since the mid-2000s, we have seen an explosion of retail stores and malls. The footfalls are high in retail-centric spaces and more and more people are now asking for Lego,” he says.

But according to him, it’s mainly the kids who get excited at the mention of Lego here. “In other countries, there are various clubs dedicated to Lego but in India, there are very few adult fans of Lego. So even if one forms a group, the participants are few,” he notes.

Ask him if there is any difference between the sets available here and abroad and he answers, “The quality is the same but import duty and taxation are very high due to which the price is high in India. In the US, you can probably get many of the sets for one-fourth the cost.” 

Be it Taj Mahal or the amazing Tower Bridge, he has them all. “While the Tower Bridge takes around 15 to 30 hours to build, the Taj Mahal has 5,000 pieces. It has the largest number of pieces in a set to be officially produced by Lego,” he says.

John even built a Christmas tree in 2012 and 2013 for Orion Mall and Phoenix MarketCity respectively with over a lakh pieces. He also coached a team of kids last year from the NGO Shishu Mandir for the first Lego League Robotic Competition, held in Chennai. “We came second in the zonals and qualified for the nationals in Delhi,” he says proudly.

He owns over 300 sets, of which most are predefined. But he likes to create some on his own too. While many are displayed beautifully in the house, some are dismantled as it’s not easy to maintain the sets. “You have to take enormous amount of care. I can’t afford to display everything as we don’t live in a dust-free environment.  But I don’t mind building them again as it’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy the process,” he informs.

According to him, the best part about his hobby is that it’s self-contained. “One doesn’t need any additional tools. The kit has everything,” he notes.  

The amount of time he spends on his hobby varies. “Sometimes, I spend 10-12 hours a week where as at times, I go for weeks without touching them,” he notes. “But if I get any free time at hand, for instance, a long weekend, I’d rather be doing something constructive,” he says. “People must realise that Lego is more of a system than a toy. You build a structure, remove the blocks and rebuild it. It’s a really fascinating process,” he sums up.

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