LEGOs Gone Wild!

As LEGO fans around the world blow out the candles on LEGO brick’s 50th anniversary cake, our very own Hawaii LEGO club, LEAHI (LEGO Enthusiasts Association of Hawaii) celebrated with the construction of its own LEGO cake and a super-sized honorary brick.

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - July 09, 2008
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Nelson Yrizarry says happy birthday, LEGO
Nelson Yrizarry says happy birthday, LEGO

To celebrate LEGO’s 50th birthday, Hawaii devotees stage an exhibition of their remarkably realistic works at Pearlridge.

As LEGO fans around the world blow out the candles on LEGO brick’s 50th anniversary cake, our very own Hawaii LEGO club, LEAHI (LEGO Enthusiasts Association of Hawaii) celebrated with the construction of its own LEGO cake and a super-sized honorary brick.

A household name, LEGO dates back to 1932, when the company LEGO Group was founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen, a master carpenter and joiner in Billund, Denmark. The name LEGO is an abbreviation of two Danish words leg godt, which means “play well.” Built on that ideal, LEGO Group released its first LEGO brick in 1958. That LEGO brick has remained the company’s most important product and throughout the years has remained interchangeable.


“The design of the brick hasn’t changed, which is probably one of the reasons for their success and longevity,” says LEAHI co-founder and member Nelson Yrizarry. “Over time you see the introductions of mini fig (characters), but the brick has remained the same.”

Roy Gal makes like Godzilla, towering over the Hawaii Theatre
Roy Gal makes like Godzilla, towering over the Hawaii Theatre

What was intended as a children’s toy has since evolved into an all-age phenomenon that the AFOL (Adult Fan Of LEGO) members of LEAHI work to promote. LEAHI is an official LUG (LEGO User Group), and is the first and only one in Hawaii. And the LEGO acronyms don’t end there. The LEGO acronym ADFL stands for Adult Fan of LEGO. The acronym NLSO stands for Non-LEGO Significant Other (spouse or partner who’s not into LEGO). And SNOT stands for Studs Not On Top (a building technique where bricks/parts are used in nonstandard orientations).

The LEGO-loving group of adults meets periodically to show their MOC (My Own Creation) and to discuss the many happenings within the LEGO world, including sales, new sets coming out and ideas. The meetings are usually held in conjunction with displays and events the club participates in, such as its “Fifty Years of LEGO: Historical Celebration” exhibit showing at Pearlridge Center Saturday, July 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Their creations will add a local touch to the Brick Art exhibit built by internationally recognized LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya that’s currently on display

LEAHI’s exhibit will have five display tables including a table with LEGO City sets, boxes and catalogs from the past 50 years, a table with a large LEGO Castle diorama including sets from 1978-2000, a table with a LEGO Star Wars and Space display and a Hawaii-themed table with a diorama including the Hawaii Theatre.

Patrick Yrizarry with out-of-this-world LEGO figures he's created
Patrick Yrizarry with out-of-this-world LEGO figures he’s created

“We do the shows for the kids, and that really is what it’s all about. Not everyone can go to LEGOLAND,” says Yrizarry, who started LEAHI five years ago with his brother Patrick and some friends.

The club has become more active in the last couple of years and hopes to generate more interest in what membes agree is the “perfect toy.”

“I think you can build pretty much anything that you see and anything that you can imagine with LEGO,” adds Roy Gal, a LEAHI member who by night is an astronomer. “As they advertise, the possibilities are endless. It’s not like a video game where you get to the final level and you’re done. And they last forever - they are basically indestructible, unless they, like, melt in a fire. I have some LEGO that’s 50 years old. It’s infinitely reusable and timeless.”

Yrizarry adds, “It also teaches the principles of construction, art, mathematics, engineering, robotics, and most importantly, it allows creative expression. The only thing that limits it is your own imagination.”

Matt Murota goes <I>Star W<</I>” ><table width=
Matt Murota goes Star W<

Yrizarry’s LEGO involvement also includes his two-year term (2006-2008) as LEGO Ambassador, a program developed by LEGO in 2005. It’s made up of adult LEGO hobbyists who share their product and building expertise with the worldwide LEGO community. A LEGO ambassador’s mission is to help provide inspiration for LEGO builders of all ages and from all parts of the world, and also to exemplify the program fundamentals of building proficiency and professionalism.

During Yrizarry’s term, he was one of 28 ambassadors worldwide. The number continues to grow, and for this year’s term there are about 40 ambassadors chosen.

“I applied for and became a LEGO ambassador,” said Yrizarry, an IT manager. “It shows that LEGO values the adult input because the ambassador’s role is to represent your community and fans.”


The volunteer position also requires engaging in fan-to-fan support in online forums, actively participating with local LEGO clubs, or forming LEGO clubs if none exist locally, presenting LEGO building subject matter at events and conferences, as well as local user group meetings.

Interested LEGO hobbyists age 13 or older who would like to join LEAHI can visit www.leahi.org. All members younger than 18 require on-site adult supervision at all LEAHI meetings and events. Annual membership is $10 for individuals and $20 for families.

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