If you needed reminding of just how awesome Lego can be, then the recently concluded Lego Dream & Build exhibition at 1 Utama shopping centre, Petaling Jaya, would have done the trick.
From familiar Malaysian landmarks and scenes from Star Wars to massive dioramas featuring Lego franchises like Friends, Castle and City, it was a spectacle of bricks and creativity that highlighted everything that is cool about Lego.
Almost all the models on display were “MOC” models – for My Own Creation, describing a Lego creation, diorama, or model that was created entirely from the builder’s mind, with no instructions.
A collaboration between Lego Malaysia, Toys ‘R’ Us, 1 Utama and several Lego fan clubs, the exhibit consisted of 240 MOC creations by approximately 100 builders; 80% of the creations were by members of LOM, which stands for LUG Of Malaysia (facebook.com/groups/legomalaysia).
“LUG stands for Lego User Group, which means we are recognised as an official community of Lego users,” said LOM president Ng Wen Yeh. “There are only three LUGs in Malaysia.”
According to him, the main attraction of the exhibition was the large Winter City display. “We have 60 buildings (in the Winter City), and we wanted to make it look Christmassy, but local at the same time. There is a TNB substation and a Petronas (in the display) as well!” he said.
There were also two Lego Castle displays, one focused on Lego Friends, one for Star Wars, and one with miscellaneous creations. Some of the exhibits were just stunning: one builder created an entire set of transformable Transformers figures, including characters like Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Starscream.
Other highlights included two large portraits by Legolads (facebook.com/Legolads) – one of Superman, the other of Princess Leia and R2-D2. Look closely at the latter, and you would see little Stormtrooper mini figures incorporated into the design as well.
According to Ng, every creator has their own way of designing their own MOC.
“For me, I usually take one to two weeks to come up with a design. I don’t use any drawings or software to do it – it’s all inside my head. But I only design when I have inspiration,” he said, adding that he started creating with Lego in 2003, and currently has about 1,000 sets of Lego to work with at home.
According to Dick Yoong, country manager for Lego Malaysia, the event was a platform for fans to showcase their creations in the hope that it would attract new fans, young and old.
The fact that Legoland is already in Malaysia had helped drive the awareness of Lego in Malaysia, as well as last year’s The Lego Movie. “The movie was the catalyst that helped propel Lego into a more mainstream audience. And it just happened that we decided to enter the Malaysian market at almost the same time, so the timing was great.”
However, Yoong added that although Malaysia is one of the biggest markets for Lego Star Wars products in the world, as a toy brand, it is still relatively new to many people.
“We’re a new player in the market, and we’re still playing catch-up with the big boys,” he said. “You’d be surprised, but there really isn’t that much awareness amongst Malaysians about Lego. It was not easily available in the past, because it was sold out of Europe and through a distributor model. In terms of stocks and regularity of the supply, there was a problem for fans. That also drove up prices, and put off a lot of people from starting in the first place.”
With the establishment of Lego Malaysia, however, Yoong hopes to make Lego more accessible to Malaysians. “We’re doing what we can to normalise the prices, and make them more affordable,” he said. “We’re also opening more specialty stores to try to reach out to as many people as possible. Currently, Lego fans in Malaysia are probably 60% adults and 40% children. We hope to be able to turn that around in the future.”