Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Hitting The Bricks

I'll confess to the world right now that I'm a fan of the plastic, brightly-coloured, Danish bricks. Lego has always been a mainstay in my life, especially when I was a kid. My parents should have purchased stock rather than the number of sets that my brother and I obtained over the years. Whether it was town sets, space sets, castle sets, pirate sets, or whatever set we could get our hands on, my brother and I had the makings of a small country for our Lego people. However, being Canadian, the one type of set that I always wanted to see was a hockey set that was endorsed by the NHL. I watched a lot of hockey as a kid, and it was the one thing that separated me from Lego in my childhood.

In my search of the Information Superhighway, I have seen a ton of stadiums and arenas built out of Lego, but I have yet to find an excellent representation of a hockey arena. There have been some absolutely amazing creations - case in point is the Allianz Arena found in Legoland, California. This amazing creation required 1.3 million Lego bricks to build, and contains an astonishing 30,000 mini-figures. Check out the slideshow below of the whole Allianz Arena.

At night, the Lego stadium lights in three colours: red, white, and blue. The real stadium in Munich also does this. It is lit red when the FC M√ľnchen takes the field, blue when TSV 1860 FC takes the field, and white for all other occasions. In creating the LED setup for the Lego stadium, Lego developed a white, translucent brick so that the LED colours could be seen through the bricks.

This is a pretty incredible stadium for soccer, I must say. Honestly, it is the crown jewel of all stadiums and arenas that I've seen, and is certainly a remarkable achievement.

The next few soccer stadiums I've seen aren't as esthetically amazing, but certainly are well-worth a view. A stadium in Denmark was created out of the little bricks. It's extremely well-detailed, and has an extreme amount of realism built into it. There was a gigantic German stadium built, and it, too, is highly-detailed, right down to the scoreboard. Japan also had a stadium built for the Lego Cup, and it is quite impressive in its own right.

Now, this blog isn't becoming Toy Blog In Canada or Model Blog or Soccer Blog. I'm just blown away by these stadiums that were created out of Lego, and the extreme details that make them so incredible. That's what I want to see out of a Lego hockey arena - attention to detail.

Heck, there was even a scale model done of the Beijing Olympics recently. It included the Bird's Nest Stadium, the Water Cube that lit up, and the Athlete's Village. There was the ability to peer inside the Water Cube to see the mini-Michael Phelps shattering world records, as well as chance to see an equestrian event and go inside the stables.

But what of hockey, I ask? Why are there no phenomenally-detailed models of Madison Square Garden or the Great Western Forum or Joe Louis Arena? Maple Leaf Gardens or the Montreal Forum would be incredible to see as well!

Well, Lego and the NHL had an agreement of sorts, and they did produce some very rudimentary hockey sets, but these didn't produce the same eye-popping design that the above designs did. Nor did they do anything to promote NHL stars through the Lego sets. This was as close to acceptable that Lego got with their hockey sets, and the rest are quite disappointing.

However, Lego did create the Stanley Cup out of Lego for a sports equipment show that took place in Las Vegas in 2003. According to the Hockey Hall of Fame website, "[i]n 2003, toy manufacturer Lego created a replica Stanley Cup created out of 6,000 Lego blocks and displayed it at a sports equipment show in Las Vegas to promote the launch of their new NHL line of merchandise. There were only two such Lego Stanley Cups made, one for display, and one as a gift to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The cup on display, like the Stanley Cup collar years earlier, was stolen and a national search went out to hunt down the Lego Cup. An Arizona man saw an article on the missing cup in the paper, and alerted authorities that he had the cup and had bought it for fifty dollars U.S. while on business in Las Vegas. The Lego Stanley Cup was returned to the company, and the good samaritan was rewarded with Phoenix Coyotes tickets and products from Lego's NHL line of merchandise."

People have also sculpted hockey players out of Lego for corporate reasons. One such creation was on display in Hartford, and built to look like a member of the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack. Pretty cool design again, if you ask me.

However, there are very few NHL arenas that have been built. My scouring of the 'Net has produced a few results, though, so let's check these out.

Someone decided to recreate a smaller model of the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. This builder actually shows the progression of how the Scottrade Center came to be. Some decent shots here of the "building" of the arena, and it looks like a decent model of the real thing.

A builder named "Zonker" also came up with some hockey-related designs. He designed a diorama for his wife's team in the Northern California Women's Hockey League (NCWHL). An interesting design, but not quite an arena. However, Zonker came up with a great idea in designing the same zamboni that the San Jose Sharks used in the NHL in 1995. The result? This cool creation. Notice the shark fin? Great addition!

Lastly, I discovered that the Battle of Alberta doesn't just exist on the ice or in blog form. The Lego form doesn't take place in the Saddledome or Rexall Place, but the arena is still pretty cool. You can check out all the pictures here.

So that's a little more about me. I like Lego. But I really want to see an exquisite arena built. The hallowed halls of the Montreal Forum demand it! In all seriousness, though, that Allianz Arena is a work of art, and congratulations to everyone on their designs featured here!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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