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