Brickworld at the Grand Wayne Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Tobi Rohoza, 5, with his dad Rafal Rohoza, both of Fort Wayne, watch intently as the carousel made of Legos spins Sunday as part of a display at Brickworld at the Grand Wayne Center.
Building a city of blocks

Video: Brickworld showcases Lego creativity, innovation

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Oliver Biehl, 18 months, plays with Lego cars Sunday while his mother, Rianne Beihl, enjoys a little break at Brickworld at the Grand Wayne Center.

It took Richard Kim about a year and a half to assemble more than 150,000 Legos into a recreation of the Battle of Helm's Deep from "Lord of the Rings."

When people tell the accountant from Cincinnati that he has too much time or money on his hands, he considers it a compliment.

Kim, 25, showed off his 400-pound "Lord of the Rings" display – about the size of a table tennis court – for the first time this weekend at the third annual Fort Wayne Brickworld at the Grand Wayne Center.

Brickworld was a chance for area Lego lovers to showcase their creations and share their passion for Lego design and innovation with the community.

Bryan Bonahoom, executive director of a Brickworld club in Indianapolis, said Brickworld helps communities learn about the craftsmanship required to build elaborate Lego creations and educates the next generation of artists and engineers.

"Legos are the most educational toys that exist," Bonahoom said, reflecting on how his own childhood obsession with Legos led him to a career in engineering.

But even though there was an Interactive Play Area specially designed for young engineers at the Grand Wayne Center, it was the 18-and-older crowd that got the most attention from a Lego representative who visited Saturday night and talked with three local Lego enthusiasts about starting a Brickworld club in Fort Wayne.

Ed DeWitt of Fort Wayne, one of the local Lego creators, said the Fort Wayne club would be a community for sharing ideas and building Lego displays for public venues, such as schools and libraries.

Bonahoom said many Lego enthusiasts who showcased their work at Brickworld Fort Wayne are members of Brickworld clubs in nearby areas, such as Michigan and Indianapolis.

Although plans for the Fort Wayne club are still uncertain, DeWitt is excited about the possibility.

"I hope to be heavily involved with it," DeWitt said.

He, his wife, Diane, and their sons Adam, 12, and Jacob, 6, showcased a Lego cityscape they built in their living room that stretched over several tables.

On the near end of the display, a choppy Lego ocean glistened next to a Lego beach where little Lego people were sunbathing. Near the center of the display, a stationary train was manned by the cast of "Toy Story," and the rest of the Lego greenery was spotted with buildings, some with lights that actually glowed.

A train track spanned the distance of the display, and a Lego train chugged around it.

DeWitt, who is an engineer at General Electric in Fort Wayne, said he programmed the track to help the train move and make noises.

"My wife calls it the Geek Express," DeWitt said, laughing.

Diane was in charge of the greenery and "bringing the scene to life."

The family bought some stock Lego kits and created some structures from scratch, Ed DeWitt said.

This is their third Brickworld in Fort Wayne, and they've shown this cityscape before, so it only took them three months to modify it for this year's show, Ed DeWitt said.

He and his wife loved Legos as children, and even though she got rid of her set before they had kids, he held onto his and passed his passion along to his sons.

By the time Jacob came along, building Legos was a family hobby.

The DeWitts attended their first Brickworld about four years ago in Indianapolis. Since then, they've enjoyed how the event brings communities together.

"It brings families out," Ed DeWitt said. "It also helps the economy because kids come and see this and say, 'I want that.' "