Squamish's Keith Reed, 34, builds worlds, one Lego brick at a time.
The local picked up his first Lego brick when he was about two-years-old and since then, his passion for the hobby has only increased in lock step with the complexity of his projects.
He is a member of the Vancouver Lego Club, an adult only group.
The Chief caught up with Reed on his lunch break from his truck-driving job to chat about his hobby. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Q: Tell me a bit about your Lego collection.
A: I have a whole room of my house dedicated to it. I do a lot of my own projects, but I also do projects for shows and events.
Q: When you started with Lego as a kid, they didn't have the kits did they?
A: They had the kits. I started collecting in 1986 and that is when they had partnerships with Shell gas stations, so you could go to the station and buy a set. That was my first one — a remote-controlled oil tanker from Lego.
They have streamlined their sets a lot more now so that the parts you are getting are for one specific thing.
Q: When you were a child, what did you like about building with Lego?
A: I have always been a creative person so being able to get a cool set that featured castles or pirates or space was fun.
And I could see a toy at the store that maybe I couldn't afford, but I could go and make it out of Lego. It was that versatile product that allowed me to have any toy I wanted because I could recreate it myself.
I could build up any scene I wanted and then play.
Q: It sounds like you made up stories out of it?
A: Yeah. That has morphed into what we do now with the club. We don't simply build one thing for the sake of it. If we build a big scene or something, there's always a story that goes along with it, either with the mini-figures that are displayed in it or by what is happening within the piece.
Q: How many pieces of Lego do you have, approximately?
A: If you are counting every single, little part, it would be in the millions.
Q: With four sons of my own, I know there is pressure when you get to the teen years to drop such activities as Lego, did you face that?
A: Yes, there is a saying within the adult Lego culture, "When did you experience your dark ages?" For most people, it is between 13 to mid-20s when a new set would either bring you in or you find a club. The club brought me back when I was about 26.
When I found the club I realized there is a whole world out there of adults like myself who build with Lego and build amazing, beautiful things. There are three adult Lego conventions each year.
It is this cycle of inspiration.
There's a convention coming up in Richmond on the May 4 long weekend called BrickCan (http://www.brickcan.com/).
Q: Is sealant put on some of the bigger pieces you do?
A: No. The only time you would ever see Lego glued is by the company itself when they do massive, massive promotional displays and the stuff at Legoland. We don't glue anything. We build it for a show, then it gets taken apart, sorted and turned into whatever the next new project is.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about a couple of your favourite projects?
A: One would be the wall from Game of Thrones that we built in 2016. That was five-feet long by six-feet high. It featured Castle Black on the one side and the invading armies of the North on the other side. That was a really fun one.
The other one I did was Radiator Springs from the movie Cars. I built that entire stretch of road. It ended up being about 12-feet long. I had that set up for a few years.
Creating Mag's 99 was fun, too. It is just a great colour.
Q: How much of your spare time does Lego building take up?
A: If we have these big projects on the go — like we do now — I try to average three to four hours of building a night, after work. Then on Saturday or Sunday, I will try to build five to six hours.
Q: You are married and have a son, what does he make of all this?
A: He is 14-months-old so he wanders into my Lego room and just stares, wide-eyed. He will walk up to some half-built stuff and touch it. He will take a few pieces and walk around. But He has a lot of Duplo blocks so every couple of days we will dump out a box of it in the living room and play with it.
He'll get there. He's on his way.
Q: Your Lego is so organized in bins and trays; do you recommend people sort everything out?
A: Up until the builder is in his or her teens or 20s and they can have a room and sort it, I would say leave it in the bin and let them dump it out. For me, combing through endless piles of my collection showed me what I had. It was this ongoing inventory being taken in my head. As you are combing through the piles you come across different pieces that you didn't think about so you put those aside for other things. You build a catalog of techniques and problem solve with different parts.
I never sorted until I met the Lego Club.
Q: You were born and raised in Squamish, which makes it even more interesting that you are so into this indoor-type hobby. There's such a natural and implied pressure to get out on a mountain bike or rock climb, isn't there?
A: Yeah, I get that all the time. Growing up here, my dad was a logger, my mom worked at home as a dog groomer.
If it were sunny, we would go outside after school. I mountain biked and did the Test of Metal, but there was no reason why you couldn't do everything a little bit. Lego was in the morning or before bed.