Bits 'n' Pieces: Vancouver man proves Legos not just kid stuff

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

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A 52-year-old man who plays with Lego bricks? Sure. "I do it every day," said Bob Day.

Day's abiding passion is carrying on the model railroading traditions handed down by his grandfather. But he grew up without the home space for permanent, sprawling track layouts, so it wasn't until he came across Legos that he knew he'd found the way. Day's daughter, nieces and nephews always enjoyed playing with Legos, but Day was the one who got hooked.

"When I started building trains out of Legos, that's when it exploded into this huge thing for me," said Day, who works for UPS and lives in east Vancouver.

He's not alone. Day and other Lego-loving grownups are building up to BricksCascade, a convention, exhibition and social mixer. Lego, a Danish toy company whose name means "play well," started in the 1930s but zoomed to success with its signature interlocking plastic bricks in the late 1940s.

"They're not like some fad," Day said. The bricks you bought generations ago still lock with the bricks you buy today, he pointed out -- even the latest "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" tie-in kits.

Day's garage is stuffed with hundreds of pretzel tubes and rubber tubs that brim with approximately 1 million Lego bricks. That's where he built his greatest-ever Lego creation, he said: an 8-foot replica of London's iconic Tower Bridge.

"It's amazing what people can do with Legos," he said.

BricksCascade is set for June 2 and 3 at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland. Admission is $8. Children are welcome with accompanying adults. See ingenious Legos creations made by builders from around the world. You can buy official Lego products and hard-to-find pieces there too. Take a look at Portlug.org (that's the Portland Legos User Group, with approximately 80 local members) and at brickscascade.com to learn more.

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.