Where’s that Lego ?

Mr. C came across an empty Lego box recently.  It was a small Lego kit that can be put together three ways using the same group of parts.  You can make three different Lego fire trucks with the kit; a ladder truck, an SUV, and a fire chief’s car.  ‘Let’s make the ladder truck, Dada!’ he said.   Problem was that the box was empty, though it did still contain the instruction manual.

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Where were the pieces to make that truck ?   They must have gotten mixed in with the great Lego horde. 20131216-095240.jpg

Ok, I thought, I like a challenge.  Maybe I can find the pieces in the Lego horde to make that Lego ladder truck using the instruction manual.  What I have learned about Legos recently is that they are not really the same as what I had when I was a kid, some 40 plus years ago.  Back then there were a limited variety of bricks.  Sure, you could make a house, and there were wheels so you could make a car, but there was not the infinite variety there is now where you can make a highly specialized vehicle with a moving ladder and a hose.   Now, there are so many different kits you can make any number of things.  There’s sets to make helicopters, police cars, excavators, any possible Star Wars vehicles, even a new series that seems to be targeted specifically at girls.  (As a former marketing person I wonder how those are selling.)

All of them look great, but if you loose any of those pieces, you no longer have a ladder fire truck, or whatever it is that your pile of parts is supposed to be.  You might have something that looks like a red pick up truck instead if you don’t have the tiny little ladder pieces,  or the rotating piece that the ladder connects to.   When we get Legos we try to get generic sets that can be put together any number of ways,  not the sets that have to be assembled in a certain way to make a specific item.  But that just covers what we buy, it doesn’t cover all the gifts that he gets.   He does really like getting those specialized sets,  so I’m not about to get crazy enough to tell people to not get those types of Lego sets.   But he is four and doesn’t yet come close to trying to keep track of any of the thousands of pieces of toys that are floating around the house.   When I vacuum and I hear the chunka chunka of something go up the vacuum tube, I wonder what it is.  Is it a Lego ?   Should I stop what I’m doing and check out the vacuum bag ?    I used to check a lot more than I do now.   After vacuuming up quite a few different tiny pieces, I am now somewhat familiar with the sounds that various things can make.  Legos seem to make a particular sound going up the vacuum.  It’s more of a clinka clink clinkety clink.  When I hear that sound, I sigh, sometimes I think I may swear, or come as close to swearing as I get,   stop the vacuum and retrieve the piece, because I know that one little piece can make an entire set useless without it.

I think he received this fire truck set as a Christmas gift last year.  The box was sitting at the bottom of his closet.  We had both forgotten that he had this set, and I wonder who was more excited about finding it since I do like to put them together myself.  Thankfully the instructions are still in the box, though I have also found out that Lego does post instructions online too.  There are just 68 pieces in the fire truck set, how long can it take to find all those pieces ?   I searched and searched for those pieces in the vast horde of other Lego parts.  The special little piece that rotates the ladder,  the triangular headlight pieces, the radiator grill, the pieces that make up the ladder, the clear pieces that make up the cab of the truck.

I found the most important pieces but had to use close matches for others.   About two hours later, it was done.

‘The back lights are supposed to be red, Dada, these are yellow!’

‘Ok, Ok,  but look, it’s done!

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About 30 minutes later, Mr. C had taken apart the truck, and all the pieces were back in the swirling horde of Legos.

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‘I learned two new words today from Dada, Mama!’

‘What are they ?’

‘Substitute and alternate!’

I think Ms. J might have thought the two words were something else.

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15 thoughts on “Where’s that Lego ?

  1. 3 in 1 Lego is a big winner in our house, but I feel your pain with the Lego horde. I spent 20 minutes yesterday looking for a 1×1 thin beige square. I ended up panning for it, which seemed to work fine.

    • Oh boy, that must have been frustrating! I’m sure that Lego has some kind of online ordering system where you can order that one specific part that you’re missing. I haven’t had to do something that extreme yet though.

    • I have to keep occupied on the snowy days here in New Hampshire, and a Lego project can take hours!

      I came across a large Lego how-to manual at the book store recently, I may have to add it to my ‘to be read’ pile!

  2. oh the frustration, and the thrills! my lego memories come back as I read Peter, especially the part about the vacuum cleaner … all those times I tipped out the fluff and dust to search through and retrieve those little Space Lego pieces or other precious bits … we still have all the Technical Lego from 1980’s here, but only one grandson and his Dad and Uncles and Grandfather use it now 🙂

      • My sister refuses to buy the pink and lilac sets for her daughter because she doesn’t see the point to them either. And she swears they bump the price up a little… My niece loves her Legos though and doesn’t care what color the box is. 🙂

  3. I think the problem might be that you vacuum too much! 🙂

    Our girls have a bunch of the “girl” legos. We got the basic building set which are normal legos but pink and purple and they are great. The lego friends legos or whatever the girly lego sets are called are well loved by the girls but I don’t’ like them as much. The people are much more like people and harder to stick onto things and they come with a million tiny loose pieces. Hairbrushes and bows. They must have 50 lego hairbrushes and bows. Stupid. But, the tiny silly pieces are slowly dissapearing and the good versatile building blocks are the ones that get the most use so I guess other than offending my sensibilities the “girly” legos turn out all right!

    • That’s it! I DO vacuum too much! You’re a genius!

      I see the toy boxes that boast how many pieces are inside and wonder how many are useful pieces and how many are not. Like the tiny Playmobil hats, gloves, tree branches, and about half of any Playmobil set.

  4. I love those creator sets, they’re brilliant! We have tons of Lego sets at our house, and we try to keep them in separate ziplock bags but sometimes the pieces get mixed up. I tell my kids that, unless it’s a very special shape, they have to find a substitute in the Lego bag, even if it’s not the right color. It was tough for them at the beginning but now, they don’t get upset anymore and figure out their substitutions. It’s a great learning experience!

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