LEGO Kids Fest: Whatever it is, they will come to build it
You can't take apart the LEGO sculptures at LEGO Kids Fest. I know, because I tried: Turns out the pieces are all glued together, presumably to protect them from assholes like me. Still, that's about the only thing you can't do at LEGO Kids Fest (held over the weekend at the Colorado Convention Center.) The rest is all interactive, and while that interaction is basically limited to putting stuff together with LEGO bricks -- "LEGO is always spelled with all caps, and never play with LEGOs; always play with LEGO bricks," the PR rep told me -- there are a lot of LEGO bricks to put together. Like, a shit-ton. More than I've ever seen in one place, anyway, and much more than enough to keep my nine-year-old LEGO-enthusiast son Avry entertained for a couple of hours.
I wasn't super into LEGO (bricks) when I was a kid -- it was never my thing to follow directions -- but Avry, who's more or less the opposite of me in every way, loves them. And I get that. For one thing, LEGO stuff today is way cooler than it was in my time, and the brand inspires a loyalty that few other toy companies can even dream of. The PR rep told me that a good chunk of the attendance at LEGO Kids Fest events, which tour around the country setting up shop in mid-size cities for a few days at a time (there are seven of them traveling the U.S. this year), comes from out of state, and that's not hard to believe. LEGO folks are die-hard, and the fandom lasts into adulthood -- and sometimes begins there. I'd say about a third of the people actively playing with LEGO (bricks) at this weekend's Fest were over thirty years old.
The PR rep started out by introducing us to Steve Gerling, a LEGO master builder, of which there are exactly nine in the world. Gerling's been doing this for about sixteen years; before that, he was a sculptor by trade. "LEGO wasn't even around when I was a kid," he explained. We chatted with him for a few minutes, and then we were free to wander the exhibition hall.