Kids, and kids at heart, are in for a treat this weekend as Tillicum Centre will be overrun with thousands of plastic bricks for Lego Mania, a two-day competition for young Lego builders to showcase their creations.
The mall is hosting the seventh annual Lego Mania challenge on Saturday and Sunday, where 100 contestants ages five to 14 will have their Lego masterpieces put on display and judged. The top creations win Lego prizes. The competition was started by Anna Haney of RioCan – the company that owns and manages Tillicum Centre – to encourage kids to get off their iPads and embrace more traditional toys.
“When my son was little, he really loved Lego, and I wanted to bring things back where it’s more hands-on and more creative,” she said. “It’s really fun to watch these kids come in with their masterpieces.”
Robin Sather, Canada’s only Lego Certified Professional, is returning for the contest, having appeared at every Lego Mania since its inception. Sather said many of the kids he’s met at competitions share his lifelong passion for the little plastic bricks.
“I was a Lego kid,” said Sather. “I never really grew up, I suppose.”
While Sather dreamed of working with Lego, he said “reality set in” and he became an IT professional. But his love for Lego never faded.
“I kind of got burnt out in the late ’90s and thought, life’s too short, I want to do something I really like – I want to chase down a Lego career,” he said. This is now year 12 that I’ve been doing this.”
In the past six years of Lego Mania, Sather said the competition has grown to take up about half of the mall concourse, drawing thousands of people to the mall over the two days.
Not to mention that he gets to see some pretty wild and inventive Lego designs.
“I run dozens and dozens of building contests, and every time, I’m amazed at the creativity,” he said. “Kids come up with new ways of using bricks and new ways of interpreting a theme. It’s just so much fun.”
This year’s theme is Life in the Sea, so Sather is expecting to see a wide variety of aquatic displays. He’s expected to be one of the judges at this year’s contest.
“We mostly look for building skill, creative use of Lego pieces and presentation,” he said of the judging process. “We want kids to, on their own, be able to create their entry.”
Additionally, Lego Mania will have Lego Trivia and displays from the Victoria Lego Users Group, featuring a Where’s Waldo-style scavenger hunt. Sather will also be working on a giant mosaic based on an art piece by silk painter Daniel Jean-Baptiste, with the help of anyone who wants to put some bricks in place.
Registration is closed but anyone is free to attend the competition Judging is set to take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 20.
For more information, visit tillicumkids.com. To see more of Sather’s work, visit brickville.ca.