Children and adults alike snapped together Lego pieces to create their own masterpieces during Sunday's Lego Mania event sponsored by the Greencastle Parks and Recreation Department.
Participants received some expert advice, and saw some intricate and innovative ways to build with the plastic building blocks as members of the Indy Lego User Group, or IndyLUG, shared their creative passion.
"I spend so much on Legos I can't afford a camera to take pictures of my designs," said club treasurer Nathan Theising, 28, an Indianapolis CAD designer as he showed off a recently released Star Wars figure.
Theising said he has a second bedroom in his home just for Legos, and a big Medieval layout takes up a lot of the floor.
Many of the IndyLUG members are just as dedicated to their hobby.
"I buy sets for the pieces now," club advocate Jeramy Spurgeon explained to the 50-plus youth and adults ready to build. Specialty pieces can take Lego creations to another level, giving the ability to light up, move, or build sideways.
"Don't think of that piece always as something that Lego meant it to be," Spurgeon said. "That's how you make creative pieces."
SNOT building, or "studs not on top," uses special pieces that allow pieces to be connected upside down and sideways.
Lego user groups exist nationwide. They got their big boom with the Internet, when adults who had felt alone in their love of Legos realized they had a new way to connect with others to form the user groups. They can sell, trade and buy pieces, as well as host and travel to Lego shows. Sharing designs is also popular.
The three most-popular categories for Lego shows are towns, space and castles.
John Kyle brought along a huge courthouse that he has build in segments to be easily disassembled and reassembled for display purposes. He also builds vignettes, or scenes that are a moment captured in time or like a 3D picture.
The name 'Lego' is an abbreviation of the two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". The Lego Group was founded in 1932 and is a family-owned company headquartered in Billund, Denmark, with products now sold in more than 130 countries.
Lego has 5,000 piece molds, including motors and robotic kits.
The courthouse built by Kyle contained more than 5,000 pieces itself and included a statue on the lawn, picnickers, workers on the roof, a fountain and skylights.
As members of the Lego club answered questions from children and adults, Spurgeon compared the hobby to what other model makes do.
"This is no different than what model railroaders do, but they paint them and can't take them apart. We can reuse ours for new designs," he said. He also answered a parent safety concern about lead contamination in imported toys. "There's no lead in Legos."
Sunday's building event was intended to inspire children and adults to enter the Lego Display Contest in March.
Entries must be dropped off at city hall by 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 5. The four divisions are:
* Kits by children, adults, family or organization.
* Children's younger than 18 original creation.
* Adults age 18 and older original creation.
* Family and organization original creation.
Complete details of the contest are available at City Hall.
Anyone wanting more information about Lego user groups can go to www.indylug.com, or check out the Lego User Group website at www.lugnet. com, or the company's official website at www.lego.com, or a Star Wars site at www.fbtb.net.