‘Playing’ with LEGO

Someone at Kendo looked at my Facebook last week, and casually mentioned that they liked my Batman cover photo and asked ‘do I like playing with LEGO?’ I got a little defensive. It’s not playing, I said, its an ongoing photography project.

Cue self-analysing over what it is that I do with LEGO. Because really, even if it is ‘playing,’ is there anything wrong with that? Answers on a postcard please.

I played with LEGO as a kid, sure. But as an adult, I didn’t really look at it with any interest for a long time. I had a box as a joke present from a friend one year whilst at uni but it didn’t really get played with. I took some quick snaps of my little brother’s Stormtroopers at Christmas in 2008 but that was it. I didn’t even steal these guys for a few more years!

Baby Stromtroopers 2

It took until 2012, when I purchased this nerdy figure for Pip’s stocking that it started.

Nerd Lego for pip!

By mid February, we were up to five figures.

Lego folk love a good conga (46:365)

and it just grew…

Lego conference {111:365}

and grew.

365 number 3 complete!

I probably have about 200 figures now, although I haven’t counted in a long while.

In the last 2 and a half years, minifigures have come on holiday with me (several times).


They’ve been to London:

LEGO Lizzi at Big Ben

To Berlin:

Stormy at the Brandenburg Gate

To Sweden:


They get around. And everywhere I go with them, I get those looks. You know the one. The one where people think you might be slightly crazy as you pose your figure and hope the wind doesn’t knock it over before you get your shot. The one where the police officer in front of Parliament checks what you are doing, where the restaurant patrons look at you funny when you make a Stormtrooper ride the Yo! Sushi conveyor belt…

I’m definitely a minifigure girl through and through. I’ve bought boxes of LEGO, but I have to admit to rarely playing with them. Sets are purchased (with some exceptions for awesomeness) on the basis of what accessories and stages my minifigures can get out of them. I love the modulars, both because they are fun to build and to set minifigures up in.

I look for things daily for my minifigures to do, especially this year as I am doing a LEGO 365 project. You can see all 209 (to date) photos in my Flickr set for the project. This has been pretty tough going, although some days are easier than others – especially when I can get outside to take the photos. I don’t have a decent lighting set up indoors, so I find indoor photos much harder. Something to work on when the days get shorter!

This has kind of gone off track a little. It was meant to be about ‘playing’ wasn’t it?

I Googled ‘Define playing.’ Google, being all-knowing, told me that playing is to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

So, Google thinks I’m playing with my LEGO. Maybe I am.

But I don’t think what I do is playing in the conventional sense. I don’t get my toys out and sit on the floor playing make believe with them (although I totally sit/lay/crouch on the floor to get some photo angles) but I do enjoy (most days) taking photos of LEGO.

And I guess that is the crux of the matter. It’s fun. It’s a hobby, and okay, it involves a child’s toy, but the more time I spend in the LEGO world, the more I realise how much of a creative outlet it is for so many people, young and old, across the world. The creativity that comes out of posing these little pieces of plastic is nuts, and there are so many great LEGO photographers out there that I couldn’t even begin to list them. Start by looking at Stuck in Plastic and you will soon realise the level of talent that surrounds ‘playing’ with these toys.

So next time I get asked if I like playing with LEGO, I need to come up with a better answer than ‘it’s not playing’. Because really, it’s me having fun and being creative, and if that isn’t ‘playing,’ then what is?


(Cross-posted to my regular blog, Many Steps Sideways.’ Sorry if you see it twice.)

14 thoughts on “‘Playing’ with LEGO

  1. Reblogged this on Not A Punk Rocker and commented:
    Some thoughts on “toys” and “playing” from a talented photographer/blogger/Lego enthusiast. This sums it up for me too πŸ™‚

  2. Ha – I played with Lego as a kid, played with Lego with my own kids, and now I play with Lego with my grandkids – and yes, I do get down on the floor and make-believe with them as necessary! Personally I think Lego is just a great outlet for creativity, whatever you choose to do with it and however old or young you are πŸ™‚

  3. I have a pottery garden gnome painted up as a Benedictine Nun who I take around to places and photograph. OK, she’s slightly bigger than your LEGO figures, but it’s the same idea. I think it is a form of play. But being grown ups, we call it a hobby, because that sounds more appropriate.

    And I came here on the say-so of Not a Punk Rocker.

  4. I love your Lego photos! I don’t see why playing with Legos and a camera should be viewed any differently than playing with a camera without Legos. It’s a very creative solution to find a focal point and they’re adorable!

  5. My partner and I are in our 30’s and re-discovered a love for Lego about two years ago. We now have an impressive collection which we have so much fun building! We don’t have kids, but we buy and make Lego because we enjoy it! I think it’s great, and I actually know quite a few people in my circle of friends who do the same πŸ™‚

  6. As a reviewer, I have to test the play features of each set. And sometimes, I admit, I test a little more than what’s necessary. Great post though, may your interest in LEGO never die πŸ™‚

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