Growing up there were things I could be certain of. I would fall out of a tree at least once every few months, I would forget an apple in the bottom of my school bag once a year or so, I would eat so many bunny licks my tongue would go red (or green) – and I would get Lego for Christmas. It was a highlight of both my brother and my childhoods. In fact, at 31 he STILL finds Lego in his Christmas stocking each year. Our parents are pretty damn awesome.
My mom made us this fantastic drawstring Lego bag that opens out into a huge circle, and on wintry days we’d spread it out, dismantle our creations from the last build and dream up new and exciting things. I suspect most parents assume, as they hop around cursing after having stood on another stray brick at 2am, that sooner or later their kid will grow out of it. That they’ll start collecting something else, something a little less brutal on their delicate city feet.
Yeah. Not all of us do. Granted, I don’t leave my Lego lying around on the floor anymore – but I’m still just as fanatical about it as when I was eight. Only now it’s taken a different form. Every few months Lego releases a new series of MiniFigures. Sometimes themed (Simpsons and Disney) and sometimes a mixed bunch of fun characters. Usually I’ll get my first few MiniFigs of a series from a normal toy shop. I’ll stand there for ages squishing the blind bags, trying to work out if that’s a sombrero, or a breastplate tucked away behind the legs. And then I’ll take myself off to a shop that does the squishing for you and labels them. Many collectors order a complete set from the get go – but I still like the excitement of getting one or two at a time (also – sadly, things like food and bus fare must take precedence over Lego). I love each new MiniFig fiercely, and they are my Most Favourite One Ever, until I go and buy another…
When my MiniFig family was still small it fitted perfectly on my printer’s tray. But now, a few years later, it’s started to get out of hand. It became clear that I needed to find a new storage/display system. So, I spent a while browsing other people’s solutions online and started to come up with a plan that would work for me (and my budget). Making a few measurements and whipping up a couple of sketches, I took myself off to Timber City. Best part of that little excursion? Being helped by a sales assistant who was also a woman. There were no condescending smiles, or scoffs at my plans, or knowing grins at co-workers. She got me what I needed and I went on my way. She also gave me some advice on primer – but, pssssht, who needs primer, am I right?
Boot full of thin planks and hardboard cut to size, spray paint, adhesive and screws, I headed home to create my masterpiece. I’d be lying if I said Husband Person wasn’t a touch doubtful. But he sat back and left me to it – saying that we’d build it properly when it fell apart. Even more motivation to ensure it didn’t.
I glued my shelves to the back board, weighted them down with books and hoped for the best. Next up came the painting – and Valuable Lesson Number One followed closely by Valuable Lesson Number Two. You have never bought “enough” spray paint, always grab an extra two cans. And, more infuriatingly, while the first can of paint you bought from the hardware store sticks perfectly, the second, inferior can from the grocery store, will dry and wipe right off – unless you use primer.
So, two cans of paint wasted, and an accusing black outline on the grass, I whipped out the can of primer we had in the garage already (I KNOW, okay) and proceeded to fumigate myself in my work room. Primer is pretty potent stuff, guys. It took days of quarantine in the garage for my shelves to stop leaving anyone who walked within five metres of them high as a kite.
Primer dried, I dragged it out to the grass again and gave it another couple of coats of spray paint. Which then proceeded to crinkle up where the old leftover paint lurked beneath the primer. I was horrified. But there was no way I was sanding it all down, or worse still, starting from scratch. Once it’d dried, crinkles and all, I grabbed my gold craft paint and a dry brush and gave it a little texture. Problem (kind of) solved.
On to the final step – fix it to the wall. First obstacle… we’d lent our drill to a friend ages ago… and life got in the way of me getting it back for a couple more weeks. When the time finally came for me to get up on a chair with a spirit level, the shelves were well and truly dry and stuck, and I was ready. The first three holes went easily – the fourth (of course it was a top hole) didn’t. I used all the different drill bits I could, but the drill wasn’t budging half as far as it needed to. No problem, I cut the raw plug down to size, used a shorter screw, and hoped for the best.
Then I arranged all my MiniFigs and spent the better part of the next three hours just sitting on the couch staring at my handiwork with a goofy smile, getting up every now and again to swap some of them around.
There is space for quite a few more, if they all get cosy. And when I finally do run out of space I’ll either make another shelf, or come up with a new plan. But next time I’m definitely using primer the first time around.
PS. It’s been a couple of months now, and it still hasn’t fallen apart – so there!