Toys at the End of Childhood

Presenza 9493 Visitando Siena

We were not sure what we'd find, a day after that koi fish unfroze our hearts. What had the community gotten up to these past years?

Is there a community? The culture feels, admittedly after only an hour's investigation, broken. On the Flickr LEGO pool, creations continue to pour in, but where are the forum posts? Or even actively commented-upon photos? The creations are... underwhelming. They are the same as what was on display 5 years ago, and 5 years before that. They are mere toys.

Forums once spoke of LEGO as art, or as design, or at the very least, as something more than just cutesy action figures and their backdrops... what happened? Is it possible that we are finding ourselves missing Nannan??

We find one ray of light, not on Flickr but on Instagram. Is this where the hobby thrives? With only photos, there can be no discourse.


But here in the work of Jeff Friesen, there is promise. Restricting himself to a 20x20 plane and a strict axonometric view, Friesen still creates whole worlds. He grabs from imagined pasts, retro-futures, and arcade architectures to create the sublime.

It is something. Is it enough?


  1. I think as it's become more common for builders to meet in person at conventions, they're more likely to exchange information and interact privately through Facebook, Google hangouts, or Discord rather than public forums like Flickr. Every time I hear someone on Flickr complain about lack of community interaction though, I can't help but feel that posting and trying to revive the forums might be a better use of their time.

    As for what people are building, I think the truly creative and thought-provoking stuff, while rare, is still out there as it's always been. With all the new licensed themes that Lego has added in the last 10 years, the hobby has exploded with the type of people who see Lego as a way to reconnect with their childhood, surely something we all feel, but it doesn't go much deeper than that for a lot of them. If Instagram is where all the action is, then I guess it's nice to see the community thriving somewhere. It's just a pity that it's somewhere as comment-light as Instagram.

  2. I've seen Instagram come alive the last few years for many hobbies and photo-based cultures and communities. At first I found the site layout prohibitive, especially because I'm chagrined to combine my personal interests with the "professional" (har har) Lego interests. Still, there is some community to be found, but as you say here, it comes at the distinct cost of communication. Can community exist without communication? I have my personal opinions, but regardless, there is a lower quality of community without the frequent commentary, feedback, and collaboration.

    Jeff's works here are incredible. Somehow I feel like Instagram offers a better system to sustain series like this than Flickr does. Maybe it's the way the photos are organized or the ease of navigating via hashtags. Either way, I have a lot of catching up to do in the Instagram community, and this blog might just be the kick in the pants I need to do it.

    1. I think you are right regarding this particular series being suited for Instagram: the builds can be aesthetically framed in a square, and are presented in a single photo.