Easy LEGO coffee table play idea

Two ideas inspired me recently.

First, I saw The Lego Movie. The movie makes a strong case about how to play with Legos. There are those that build the sets as intended and never alter them, and there are those who make up their own creations. As a kid I was of the first philosophy, but I always wanted to be of the latter.

Second, I read Brick by Brick, an excellent account of Lego’s financial struggles during the mid-2000s, and how the company turned itself around. The author mentioned how Lego’s headquarters features plastic fishbowls full of Legos on every conference room table.

And inspiration came together. Why don’t I have Legos laying around my apartment to motivate me creatively? And why don’t I be the kind of person who makes whatever he wants with Legos?

A simple solution presented itself: buy Legos, put them in jars, and put them on my coffee table.

Starting sets

That night I went to Walmart to scope out my first Lego purchase in a long time. I found this yellow bucket of basic Lego pieces, and this stormtrooper set.

Lego bucket and stormtroopers

The bucket had all sorts of unique Lego pieces, very few standard bricks. This would open up all sorts of fun possi-build-ities!

I got the stormtrooper set mostly because I wanted some minifigs, and four stroomtroopers, plus an abundance of special gray and black pieces, would add to my piece variety.

The stormtrooper transport wasn’t that interesting of a set to begin with. Is this supposed to be a spaceship? Was this even in the movies?

Lego stormtrooper transport

Lego stormtrooper transport

Honestly, as far as Star Wars sets go, and Lego in general, this set just didn’t do it for me. So I felt no shame in building it once, then promptly demolishing it. Not a big leap of faith, to be sure, but that’s something I never would’ve done as a kid!

Glass jars

I then went to Hobby Lobby and bought three glass jars with lids, jars big enough that I could fit my adult hand in. I got some 1/2″ sticker letters and wrote a phrase on each: “IF YOU BUILD IT…”, “PLAY WELL” (the Dutch translation of “Lego”), and “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!” from the Lego Movie.

I roughly sorted the pieces into the jars: flat plates in one, basic bricks in the second, and small, unique, moveable, and minifig pieces in the third.

Legos in jars on a coffee table

And that’s it! An easy project, to be sure, but one that promises a lot fun. The jars sit on my coffee table. Now when people visit, they have something easily accessible to play with. If Legos sit in the closet, they take effort to bring out and build. But if they are sitting in common areas, they invite building.

My first creations

Every few days, I’ll take 10 to 20 minutes out of my time to dump out the Legos and build something small. It’s been a lot of fun so far! Here are some of my first creations. I have very few duplicate pieces in those jars, and so many different colors, that it’s proven a lot harder than I thought to make compelling mini models.

Lego stormtrooper with ice cream

Seen here is the Imperial Ice Cream Cart, along with the Dairy Trooper, who protects the sweet treats with his bubblegum gun.

Lego airplane with stormtrooper

A tiny bi-wing, piloted by a stormtrooper.

Lego airplane from the back

Another view of the bi-wing. The stormtrooper didn’t have proper controls, so he didn’t get very far!

Stormtrooper looking in house

Hey, how did you get in that tiny house?

Stormtrooper eating carrot

Sorry, can’t hear you. Eating a carrot right now.

Lego stormtroopers with carrots

Right Stormtrooper: I just love munching on carrots!
Left Stormtrooper: My carrot’s green and rotten — somebody’s about to get hurt!!

Lego Imperial Flower Car

After his last outburst, it was decided that Left Stormtrooper needs to calm down. He was assigned to the Imperial Flower Cart, and outfitted with the tulip gun. He even turned his helmet into a flower pot: he’s doing the best that he can!

Lego stormtrooper in hot tub

Left Stormtrooper: And why is there a carrot in my gun?!
Right Stormtrooper: Dude, chill. The water’s nice.
(Note the rubber ducky in Right Stormtrooper’s hand)

Lego stormtrooper jetski

The stormtrooper takes a spin on his battle jet ski.

Lego stormtrooper mecha

This unfortunate stormtrooper had his cappa detated. The Pretty Princess Mecha is a temporary solution.

Lego stormtroopers

Mad Cow fools around with his new battle flyer.

Lego Mad Cow

Look at all those weapons Mad Cow has!

Lego stormtrooper ice cream shop

The Imperial Ice Cream Shop is open for business!

Lego battle pig

Imperial Battle Swine, reporting for duty!

Happy building!
~Dennis

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