Build­ing a love of LEGO

LEGO fans of all ages are set to con­verge at Stack Dubai

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - chris.fraser@7days.ae

B y day, Philippe Ger­ard is di­rec­tor of oper­a­tions at Jet Avi­a­tion, a pri­vate jet com­pany in Dubai. At night, the French­man prefers to spend his time in con­struc­tion.

Aged 55, Philippe is one of a large num­ber of AFOLs (adult fans of LEGO), and he’ll be ap­pear­ing with some of his more elab­o­rate builds at Stack, a new event ded­i­cated to LEGO at Skydive Dubai this week­end. Philippe, who has lived in Dubai for 10 years, ex­plains how he first picked up the bug for brick­work.

“I have al­ways col­lected toys from around 30 years ago, it was a big hobby,” he said.

“It was not so easy back then ei­ther, as the world was very dif­fer­ent [pre in­ter­net and mo­bile]. I used to col­lect the of­fi­cial Star Wars fig­ures but once LEGO got that li­cence, I swapped all the orig­i­nal Star Wars stuff to fo­cus on build­ing the LEGO ver­sions.”

Philippe’s prized pos­ses­sions are the 5,600- piece Mil­len­nium Fal­con (Han Solo’s ship in the Star Wars se­ries), which he built from scratch, and the 5,900-piece LEGO ver­sion of the his­toric In­dian build­ing the Taj Ma­hal.

LEGO may seem like child’s play, but Philippe calls the process “ther­a­peu­tic”, and it seems to be a hit with both builder and his wife, Vir­gie.

“It is so nice and re­lax­ing to build,” he added.

“It is a com­pletely ther­a­peu­tic ex­er­cise, I think if it keeps me happy, it also keeps Vir­gie happy too!”

Lit­tle won­der it is ther­a­peu­tic. It took three months to put to­gether the iconic Mil­len­nium Fal­con alone. Philippe laughs: “It took that long be­cause I was sourc­ing the parts from ev­ery­where – I didn’t buy the kit. With the Taj Ma­hal, I bought the kit. To dis­man­tle and re­build it took a week of evenings.”

Philippe likens the process to a three- di­men­sional jig­saw. Or­gan­i­sa­tion is key.

“You have to sort your parts by size and colour and be ex­tremely or­gan­ised. If not, you might spend 95 per cent of your time look­ing for a part and five per cent just build­ing!

“You have to make sure you have ev­ery­thing be­fore you start be­cause if not, you will start a pro­ject and it is all over the ta­ble and if you are miss­ing a small part, it could take two to three weeks with ev­ery­thing sit­ting there be­fore you source the right part.”

Philippe has trav­elled far and wide, from the UK to Sin­ga­pore, with his hobby. He ad­mits many like-minded peo­ple show their true colours at the events.

“It is a good place to find con­tacts. Some adults don’t want to say they col­lect LEGO, they might feel silly say­ing they col­lect toys aged 55,” he says with a smile. “Some col­lec­tors are very quiet but they will come out at the show, be­cause we are in the same busi­ness.”

YOUNG AT HEART: French­man Philippe Ger­ard, 55, is a LEGO fa­natic

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