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Wonders, Brick by Lego Brick

From the Taj Mahal to the London Bridge, John Seemon has made them all.

Published: 06th September 2014 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2014 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

Taj-Mahal

If you thought toys are only for children, you haven’t met IT-professional and Lego builder-collector John Seemon, 40. With over three lakh pieces and counting, he has close to 250 Lego sets ranging from 10 to 5,000 pieces. The first time he saw a Lego set was at a cousin’s house when Seemon was ten. “The assortment of pieces caught my attention,” he says. “The concept of a ‘system’ play was too complex for me as a kid, but I loved the idea of using pieces to build various models, and the fact that the elements don’t wear out over time.”

Since Seemon was interested in mechanics, electronics and architecture, Lego bricks became an excellent way to express his creativity. Throughout his formative years, he tried modeling them while researching about the art online. He was re-introduced to Lego profoundly during his travels abroad. “I met several AFOL’s (Adult Fans Of Lego) while in Boston. One of them was building a working model of a carousel using Lego for an exhibition and the mixture of pieces was astonishing,” he says. Soon after he researched about Lego in great detail and realised that blocks were not the end of it. It had a range of parts which included gears, motors, sensors, a computer programmable module and pneumatic parts.

To make things even more interesting, Lego introduced a robotics kit (the Lego Robotics Invention System, or Lego RIS 2.0), which Seemon discovered in 2001. It allowed users to connect an array of sensors which had functions such as start or stop motors with a push of a button, turn on lights and so one.

“For a person with an IT background, this system checked all the boxes for a hobby because I could model just about anything I desired and did not require additional tools and skills,” he says.

Since then Seemon has constructed noteworthy structures such as the Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, the LOTR Tower of Orthanc, Technic 4x4 Crawler Exclusive Edition, Mercedes Benz Unimog U400, and a Lego space shuttle. He built a Fire Engine at the Phoenix MarketCity Mall, Mumbai, (2013) using two lakh Lego bricks.

“It was a public event and we invited kids to participate. I created templates and gave them samples of small sections kids could build using 50 to 200 bricks,” says Seemon. It took him three days to build it. The Fire Engine secured a spot in the Limca Book of Records for the largest Lego structure in India.

His creations may be majestic to look at but Seemon does face occupational hazards as well. “Building to scale has been the most difficult thing for me,” he shares. “Putting a lot of mechanism is easy if the scale is not a concern. But, if you are trying to mimic a real-life model and matching the scale, sometimes it becomes complex and challenging to put a lot of functions in a limited space.”

Though Lego is popular in India, it is an expensive hobby to pursue. “Since I have a day job, buying larger sets in quantities I collect can be difficult and so I need to really limit my purchases to the ones I can afford,” he says.  He sets aside one lakh rupees a year just for his purchases. Currently he is building large Star Wars sets called the Lego R2D2 and Lego Super Star Destroyer.

Seemon also works with NGOs in Bangalore and shares his Lego skills (while building towers or bridges) with kids. “It is amazing how children use these elements to create complex models and almost always, I learn something new from such events,” says Seemon.



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