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My Dark Ages – By Greg Manning

In most every Adult Fan of LEGO ( AFOL) life there is a period known as their “dark ages”. This is a time when other non LEGO pursuits take precedence over the time spent building with LEGO. For eg: sport, girls, work, travel, etc. This period for me began around the age of 17 and lasted until my early 40’s.

There were periods where LEGO did become part of my life again, but this was mainly through living vicariously through my children. Both of my older boys have played with LEGO since they were small, starting off with DUPLO and working there way up to Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and Star Wars ( SW) sets. My oldest son is now 14 and seems to be entering into a dark ages of his own. He was always a mad LOTR LEGO collector but these sets are boxed away in his cupboard forgotten about as he pursues dreams of being the next Tony Hawk and countless hours “facebooking”. My younger son is very keen on SW LEGO and has several of the Clone Wars Sets ( Arghhhh!!! don’t get me started on a Star Wars rant!!!) along with X Wing 6212 and a few Snow Speeders as his prized possessions. He is 9 and has come out of his “rainbow” building phase and is showing real promise with his MOC building skills.

When I entered my dark ages my LEGO was placed in a few boxes and stored away. When I left home and later travelled and lived Overseas this was stored at my Mother’s and was basically forgotten about for years. When I returned to Australia I collected the possessions I had stored, which included the LEGO along with countless MAD magazines and 2000AD comics. I then proceeded to drag these boxes all over the country, always knowing what was in them but not wanting to open them OR get rid of them. After meeting the love of my life,getting married and having children, these boxes continued to move with us as our family grew. It was not until 12 months ago that I finally relented and allowed my boys to have access to some of the LEGO that was in my boxes.

It had become a running joke about “Dad’s LEGO”in the boxes in the shed. I had always told them that they could have it, providing they showed me that they were mature enough and could show me that they looked after their own LEGO. Well, you can guess how that went, they couldn’t show me they were ready for MY LEGO just yet. Their collection was always all over the place, they lost and ripped up their instructions, lost pieces, blah, blah, blah. Any excuse to hold onto my collection. Prior to my dark ages I was into Technic (vintage studfull designs) with a minor in Space ( Classic Space) along with random bricks. I did relent and the boys did get the random bricks to play with and in moments they were swallowed up into their collection.

I also decided “for old times sake” to bring out my Technic sets: Car Chassis 853, Auto Chassis 8860, Dune Buggy 8845 and Power Truck 8848. In a marathon building session I constructed them all. Little did I know what this was going to be the start of. My first LEGO purchase after emerging from my dark age was the Offroad Power 5893 set. After seeing it in-store at a ridiculous $120 plus I then began my eBay LEGO obsession. I finally purchased it in auction for $63 NIB. I have since purchased a 2nd set of this from eBay, for a lowly sum of $35 but it was 98% complete, missing the mud guards for the quad bike.

Not long after my emergence from my dark ages I was introduced to the wonders of the bulk LEGO lot!! Through a buy/ sell site on Facebook I purchased close to 20kg of LEGO for $250 with close to 30 instruction books included. This more than doubled my collection overnight! I was able to approx. triple this investment with sales on eBay. Most sets were 100% including minifigures. Now, if I ever added up the time it takes to wash, clean, dry, sort, inventory, print instructions, pick, build, photo, list, pack, post the LEGO I would be working for about 17c an hour!! I have been chasing this type of bulk lot ever since and have not come close to again purchasing such a wonderful lot. I now view that 1st lot as a dream come true. If I can cover my costs on a bulk lot these days I am happy as I usually end up with the set/ pieces that I want and sell the remainder.

In 12 short months I have expanded my LEGO collection tenfold. I am now bordering on obsession when it comes to my collection. As it has increased so has the necessity to sort and store it. I have a ever changing storage system. Just as I seem to have it organised I purchase more and the previous system needs updating. As an example: I store my bricks in long plastic containers with plastic dividers creating 4 compartments. One box started with 1x 1, 1×2 in a compartment, then 1x 3, 1×4 next compartment, 1×6, 1x 8 next and 1x 10 plus to finish it off. I now have had to double the amount of space for just my 1x bricks. These boxes are just divided into 2 compartments now. As they say you can NEVER have enough LEGO.

This article started as a discussion on my dark ages but has progressed to be about a lot more. I have had fun writing it and would like to write more about being an unashamedly proud AFOL!

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