The Reality of LEGO®. Building the Apocalypse
LEGO® bricks, once primarily considered a toy for children, have spread in popularity to include many adults among their fan base. This trend has seen the formation of distinct sub-communities of adult fans of LEGO, or AFOLs, centered around different building themes. Many of these LEGO communities have at their base the premise of the MOC, which stands for “My Own Creation,” a term describing any object designed and built by fans, as opposed to official LEGO sets.
Self-directed LEGO play has always been an integral part of the appeal of LEGO bricks. However, over the years official LEGO sets and brick molds have become more elaborate; this (along with the advent of product licensing, such as Star Wars® sets) has meant that following the directions included in purchased sets has increasingly gained importance. At the same time, this has allowed for a wider range of personalized creations. A set of basic bricks can be opened and put together by the most inexperienced user, but many current sets include pieces whose function is not obvious to the novice, and often have technical aspects to their use which require an instruction manual or prior knowledge—for instance, increasingly sophisticated “studs not on top” (SNOT) techniques.
Regardless of whether the advent and spread of MOCs is a pushback against the idea of following the directions, or a natural outgrowth of increased possibilities inherent in the expanded selection of LEGO bricks and techniques, or some of both, it has become an
LEGO® and Philosophy: Constructing Reality Brick By Brick, First Edition. Edited by Roy T. Cook and Sondra Bacharach.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
important part of the experience of LEGO bricks. AFOLs have connected through online photo-sharing sites like Flickr, LEGO blogs like The Brothers Brick1 and From Bricks to Bothans,2 and LEGO User Groups (LUGs—building clubs which can be regionally based or online). Although some AFOLs primarily focus on official LEGO themes like Star Wars, or are content to follow online forums but do not design or build their own creations, many center on MOCs. These communities are varied. Some are broad, while some are more narrow, such as ones that exclusively deal with LEGO trains of a certain width, or castles, or “neo-classic space,” or post-apocalyptic scenarios. Usually being a member of one community does not preclude involvement in another—it is common to find fans of both space and castle, for instance—although there are occasionally schisms between, say, fans of 7-stud-wide trains versus 8-wide.