Lego: In Berlin and at Home (feat. Lego Juniors)

Thomas loves Lego. This is definitely to his Lego-mad father’s delight, and he is already envisaging taking over half the house with epic lands of make believe as Thomas gets older. I am practicing by wearing footwear in the house at all times!

In all seriousness though, Thomas has the bug. His vast collection of Duplo is up there as his most played with toy alongside the wooden train set. In fact, he often uses the two together, constructing Duplo tunnels and engine sheds to accessorise his track layouts. He also requests often to be allowed to “go and be careful with Daddy’s Lego” referring to the collection of Star Wars Lego Ian keeps on our top floor, including his prized Death Star (which was his thirtieth birthday present from me). From a young age he has been instructed to “be careful” when looking at it, and he clearly has the message!

Given his Lego love, the Lego Discovery Centre was high up on our list of things to do whilst in Berlin last month. In theory, Thomas is below the target age which begins at 4. However, since Ian (and myself, if I’m honest) also like Lego so much, and Thomas got free admission, it still seemed more than worth doing. And it was.

The Discovery Centre is a little bit like a very, very miniature, indoor Legoland. It included areas to build, and then race model vehicles, Places to build Duplo towers and then test their earthquake resistance. Multiple themed areas with soft play features as well as building stations and large scale lego models to examine, and even a very miniature Miniland.

Thomas got stuck straight in, starting with an examination of the large Lego giraffe which marks the entrance to the Discovery Centre inside the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. It is made from a combination of Duplo and regular Lego.

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As soon as we were inside he was drawn straight in to building, both by himself and with a little help from Daddy. He gets the tendency to stick his tongue out when he is concentrating from me! It’s something I still do now (which is why it is handy that I wear a mask at work!)

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We then spent a lot of time racing various vehicles down the ramps, and I was enormously proud of my little man waiting for his turn amongst mostly much bigger children, without any tears or tantrums at all!

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We also had a good look at many of the life size models dotted around the place.

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I found myself a new squeeze!

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These monkeys were hanging out near to the toilets. We didn’t ask Thomas to pose for this picture (as if he’d have done that if we wanted him too!) This was a completely spontaneous “monkey” moment!

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This was another moment of monkeying! I’m pretty sure that Thomas wasn’t supposed to be doing this, but obviously I had to get a picture before I removed him! (Ssssh!)

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One of the things about Lego which does irritate me is some of their more recent branding specifically “for girls”. They have an entire “Lego Friends” range complete with pink and purple packaging, pink and purple bricks and a predominantly female cast of mini figures. it’s not that I have a problem with this per se, but I don’t get why the pink bricks are solely for girls, and the implication that the vast array of other Lego themes are somehow only “for boys”. It’s gender stereotyping for one of the world’s historically most gender neutral toys. I was very heartened therefore to see that the “Lego Friends” area (a miniature house, complete with a Lego cupcake building station and Lego oven) was at one point occupied entirely by boys (including Thomas). And the other areas of the Discovery Centre were occupied equally by both genders. To kids, at least, building is building and fun is fun. Lego take note!!

We finished our visit in the Miniland area which included some fantastic Star Wars models, as well as a mini version of Berlin, complete with the wall coming down at the Bradenburg Gate, and a miniature Reichstag.IMG_4133

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Thomas was most taken with the giant minifigures… I think these photos are ones to be kept to show any future girlfriends the moment of his first snog!

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I understand that there is now a Discovery Centre in Manchester, and based on our Berlin visit I’d highly recommend it if you are close enough. It is particularly good for younger children like Thomas, who enjoy Lego but are a bit small for full Legoland. Thomas would currently be too small for many of the rides at Legoland, and it’s hard for me to justify the high admission costs just for him to get absorbed in Miniland for a couple of hours. The Discovery Centre helps bridge the gap.

There are a couple of little rides at the Berlin Centre, and we did take Thomas on one which was an awesome ride in a dragon shaped car. Sadly Thomas was not impressed by the Lego dragon and the “ride photo” taken as it appears shows Thomas frantivally clutching in to me. We did have a few days of “Don’t like the dragon” after that, so perhpas we should have heeded the Age 3+ guideline on that one!

Of course, no visit to a Lego attraction is complete without a visit to the shop. Whilst there we discovered for the first time “Lego Juniors”. This appears to be the new replacement for the previous range “Young Builders”. It is supposed to be easier to build with fewer pieces that regular Lego sets, but using the same bricks and fully compatible with all other Lego sets. The age guide is 4-7/8, which Thomas, at two and three-quarters, falls short of. However, he’s well past the stage of putting small objects in to his mouth (or ears, nose etc) and has already demonstrated his skill with regular Lego bricks on Ian’s sets. A quick check of prices online revealed one set to be a good deal, so we bought Thomas a Digger.

I was impressed with the set, which isn’t overly simple. I was concerned it may be full of large custom pieces with few “real” bricks – but this isn’t the case. Thomas definitely can’t follow the instructions on his own, and needed help to be told which piece to put where (which is where the age guide comes in) but he was more than capable of the actual assembly with this assistance. And he seemed to love the fact that we were actually following directions with a specific goal at the end. Our Duplo building adventures tend to be very free form, so Thomas enjoyed relating what was in his hands to the pictures in the instructions, and was happy to wait for the finished vehicle to emerge.

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We’ve since acquired a further “Lego Juniors Construction” set (courtesy of grandparents) which has been met with the same enthusiasm. If you’ve got a child who is in to building then I can wholeheartedly recommend these sets as a great introduction to the world of Lego sets and also great value for money. I’ve absolutely no doubt that he’ll still be playing with these in many years from now.

I’m excited to see where Thomas’s creativity and a Lego collection take him in the years to come.

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2 Replies to “Lego: In Berlin and at Home (feat. Lego Juniors)”

  1. Well first of all Thomas’ concentrating face is just the cutest thing ever!! And also I think our husbands might get on rather well – H’s birthday present this year from the girls and me was the Ewok Village, carefully constructed on a large kitchen tray, and stored out of the reach of tiny girls during the day. I do keep having the characters do silly things for Instagram photos so I’m probably more of a mischief than the girls – I still need to pinch Han Solo to imprison him in playdoh carbonite too!

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