BrickUniverse paves the way for building fun

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Calling all KFOLs—and TFOLs, AFOLs, AHOLs, ALEs and ALHs: BrickUniverse is coming to Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29! For the uninitiated, BrickUniverse is a massive LEGO fan convention that travels the country bringing exhibits, model displays, professional Lego artists, special guests, and, of course, numerous build opportunities to every corner of fandom. We talked to founder and organizer Greyson Beights—a teenage phenom who’s already got a college degree and a popular Lego history book under his belt—to learn about this year’s can’t-miss attractions, for kids and adults alike.

Mr. Tiger by Jonathan Lopes

First off, renowned professional LEGO artist Jonathan Lopes will be coming from San Diego to present his gallery of more than 40 pieces, including a 14-foot model of New York’s Manhattan Bridge and an 8-foot-tall model of New York’s Woolworth Building. Attendees will have the chance to visit with the artist. In addition to the Lopes gallery, Chicago-based artist Rocco Buttliere will be bringing his collection of more than 40 huge LEGO models of famous landmarks from across the globe, including the world’s tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the full Westminster Palace in London. These award-winning models are all built to exacting 1:650 scale and have been shown all over the world.

After taking in the spectacular models, young fans may find themselves with itchy fingers. Those so inspired should head to a Building Zone filled with thousands upon thousands of bricks from which to create their own masterpieces and display them for other attendees to enjoy.

16112660_1235753963140913_6072434924965639634_oIf all this sounds like so much child’s play, parents (and curious kids at heart) should keep an open mind. “After seeing the exhibits at the show, parents will really have a newfound appreciation for LEGO,” says Beights, “not just as a means for creativity, but as a true art medium as well. Jonathan Lopes and Rocco Buttliere are real artists in every sense of the word.” Beyond that, LEGO building can be a bridge between play and future vocation. “You wouldn’t believe how many engineers and architects tell us that building with LEGO as a kid is the very reason why they went into their fields,” says Beights. By combining art and engineering, LEGO play is an ideal STEAM activity.

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In addition to galleries from Lopes and Buttliere, attendees will find many more model galleries, games, book signings, robotics, trains and more. Passes to the convention are $15 and can be purchased via brickuniverse.com/littlerock. Please note that passes are good only for the day and time slot for which they are purchased. For more information, including tons of photos of coming attractions, please visit the BrickUniverse website.