LEGO & Me: Of Bittersweet Memories, Untold Stories & Bootleg Alternatives
My recent memory of LEGO mini figures, were blind-packs of Series 11, which I found at the 7-11 store where my late-Dad was hospitalized in Singapore General Hospital, circa September 2013.
In an attempt to relive my own anguish and sadness of my dad's condition, I sorted out a unknown measure of relief with multiple purchases of the blind packs, I suppose - conveniently disregarding my financial lack, knowing things would turn out tough, if ever my dad had passed ...
And in some ways, it worked. For my "Mind", instead of my "Wallet", of course ... I found myself engrossed and happy with my new purchases, and even attempted online trading with folks (something I have not done in a decade). My mental stress was distracted whenever I played with my LEGOs, and I will always be grateful for the reprieve it provided then.
(Left: For Trade / Right: Result of a successful toy trade with Chip @thecparks)
From the Yeti House-husband, to the Emo Warrior of The Galaxy, or even the Sideburned Hitman with a penchant for burning his targets, to the adventures of the Space Yeti (not related) and even the Robot Granny would have her day in the sun, someday … kitbashing / mashing LEGO-parts even inspired me to start writing fiction! and I even published one too … but alas, all plans and words came to a standstill, when dad's condition got worse…
(Character stories waiting to be told, and one day they will be …)
Dad was sent to a hospice to live out his remaining days, where he breathed his last, and left our world, near end of October. I have not visited the 7-11 at the hospital since we left, and neither could I find them at other branches I visited.
The notion of LEGO mini figures holds both a bittersweet memory now; both of my newly-found toy-joy, and of the heartache intertwined with my dad's death. And I have since decided not to continue buying that series.
Also my financial situation was in a state of "disarray", and frankly, LEGOs are not cheap in the first instance, at the very least not within my personal ability.
And while this might have been my most recent past memory of, truth is, not less than 2 years ago, I had quite frequent experiences with LEGO, with building buses and sports cars, as part of my rehabilitation for Stroke, where it encouraged my dexterity (Stroke left my right hand immobile for some time) and recognitional abilities, post-Stroke. Like i said; "bittersweet".
(Found at least 3 different brands bootlegging Star Wars!)
Having seen bootleg LEGOs for some time now, I recently picked up a few, out of curiosity, and admittedly in an attempt to somewhat grasp unto the toy-joy I felt not too long ago, as well bolstered by the LEGO-builds I have been posting about on my no-longer-restricted-to-art-toys-only-blog, no doubt with the excitement for the upcoming LEGO movie too!
The joy I had found and felt, was something I had missed for years! Reminding me of the childhood days when I spent endless hours building pirate space ships and cartoon-styled vehicles (think "Wacky Races" x "M.A.S.K.)! This was in the late 80s / early 90s, where LEGO mini figures had not existed, and where building blocks reigned supreme, with unbridled imaginations running wild hahaha
(Having fun with bootleg Clonestroopers)
I remembered - in my adult days - of finding out the LEGOs I had then, were actually "Taiwan parallel imports" instead. Dad could not afford to purchase the legit brand, then, perhaps. I never "blamed" my dad for that, and have always veered towards the focus on the child's / players' experience with their toy(s), versus the corporation which manufacturers them for profit, not that I condone or endorse "buying bootlegs", of course!
(BFFs Thor and Hulk taking #toyselfies)
The amount of direct LEGO bootleggery these days, seems confined to Character Mini Figures - seen most times coming along with a LEGO build set - now individually boxed, non-blind pull, and you can easily choose what/who you prefer to own and collect. And while the price is not too far from a legitimate and licensed blind-pack, it is still cheaper than getting a whole LEGO set to get the figures.
The quality of the bootlegs are also a mixed bag, from surprisingly good printing, and swappable with legit LEGOs, to some dodgy coloring. For purposes of this blog, I will be doing more features and highlights on the bootlegs, in time to come :)
(One brand's Batman comes with a Batarang, while
the other comes with a pistol and rifle instead!)
Purchasing bootleg LEGOs have also afforded me an interested development of dialog and feedback from folks too! From fellow collectors of bootlegs discussing the virtues and lack of the bootlegs, to folks deriding me for buying and "supporting" bootlegs, in the first place. I acknowledge the same could have happened if I purchased licensed LEGOs too, but I currently could not afford to do as such, so the point is lost to me, sorry :p
In this short span of time, I had experienced a "more" active community participation, compared to the years I had been blogging about "art toys" before! This is indeed a refreshing happenstance for me, and I truly appreciate this :)
I might blog in a vacuum (even if I want to or not), but I do not believe in collecting toys as such. It's sharing the joy that enriches the experience, no?
Nevertheless, I do not need to justify my purchases, as I have my own intentions to achieve and experience for selfishly myself. What I can only hope for, are folks - regardless of age and pay-scale - are able to experience the joy of toys and of "play", with a keen assessment of one's own financial ability.
…but if the Masters of the Universe or even Super7 LEGOs were ever to be released? Then I'll be in SERIOUS spending-trouble! LOL
(WolverHulk versus BlackBelt Yeti with a "ice paddle punisher",
that's how I like to play with my LEGOs - Kitbashing LEGOs! LOL)