I don’t remember when my family first acquired our first Lego bricks. Like awakening from a fever dream, I regained consciousness in the past few years and realized we now have a whole room dedicated to Lego, with thousands of bricks organized by color in a chest-high shelving unit (and a big bin of mixed pieces on the floor).
Most enthusiasts can empathize and have a similar experience. None more so than Stacey Roy, the “brickfluencer” who won last year’s season of Lego Masters. The Fox show is a competition between diverse pairs of Lego enthusiasts as they compete against each other in a series of, frankly, insane themed building challenges. Last season, actor Chris Pratt guest-hosted a Jurassic Park–themed episode where the teams had to include fireworks and explosions in their dinosaur builds. Roy and her partner, Nick Della Mora, won in a finale that challenged them to incorporate their very first Lego set into their master build.
The competition removes one major constraint: Each team can pick whatever pieces they need and however many from the Brick Pit, an incredible wall with millions of bricks and specialty bricks for each challenge. If you’re just starting out, accumulating enough pieces to build anything can seem like the first step on a path to insolvency. Yes, sometimes you’re just broke. (I promised my husband the Colosseum for Christmas, FML.) But we all have to start somewhere. We asked Roy for her tips on how to get started building a Lego collection.
Start With a Theme
Most of us get into Lego the same way—we find a set we really want and go from there. “I felt the urge to get back into Lego a few years ago, in the most insane way possible,” Roy says. “I bought the Millennium Falcon ($850). It’s an amazing set and I highly recommend it.”
Lego started making licensing deals as far back as 1999, adding iconic properties like Star Wars and Marvel to its roster. If you’re into Star Wars, starting out by collecting each of those sets is probably the best way to build up a collection of specialty pieces to reuse. The most recognizably unique pieces are probably the minifigures, but with a little imagination, other pieces can be repurposed as well. Roy points out that the Lego pink frog on a bonsai tree looks exactly like a cherry blossom when you take a step back.
Once you’ve started with a theme, Roy recommends the modular building sets, which come with a large number of particularly useful building pieces. For example, the Boutique Hotel ($230) has Victorian-style wrought-iron railings that, when you look closer, are actually skeleton arms. “Lego is incredibly imaginative when it comes to reusing pieces,” Roy says. Pay attention to what you want to build, and you will learn which pieces and building styles you prefer.
Finding Specific Pieces
If there’s a specific piece you need to have to complete a build, Lego’s online Pick a Brick—where you can find pieces by keyword, piece number, color, and set—is the natural first place to start. But it’s not your only resource.
My family is subscribed to the Lego Insiders program, which, depending on how many Lego bricks you buy, is worth it. You get points for purchases and a heads-up on Lego sales. My 8-year-old also enjoys the Lego Life kids’ magazine. It’s important to note here that you don’t get points for purchases made outside of official Lego stores or Lego.com, which means that purchases made at Legoland and at Lego-certified or affiliated stores won’t count toward your totals.
Roy recommends visiting your local Lego store in person. “Because every Lego store is different and offers different things, I make it a priority to visit every store in person when I travel,” she says.