My Backstory

Before beginning, I first need to thank Alex for writing a great first post for Brick à Brac. I have written a number of similar posts over the years and have read more of them than I can recall, let alone count. As a result, I’m fairly certain that faced with the task, I would have included some kind of awkward, self-referential, ironic statement about introductory blog posts. Thankfully, he saved us all from that existential nightmare. Like him, I look forward to sharing many of my future creations, as well as some past creations and stories relating to LEGOs and their compatible brethren. I have one story in particular that needs to be my first post here: the moment that, in retrospect, marks when I started the path towards the creation of Brick à Brac.

I’d like to say that like Alex, and I’m sure all other adult LEGO enthusiasts, my journey spans decades. Sadly, that’s not true. Despite a deep love for them, at the age of 11 a combination of peer pressure, my keenly felt social awkwardness, and an irresistible urge to somehow fit in with other boys brought playing with LEGOs to a screeching halt. “Growing up” and moving on were distasteful, but mockery was more so. I didn’t really touch LEGOs again until nearly 25 years later, when my son became old enough to start playing with them. Shortly after that moment, I came up with a hypothesis that remains disproved: when dads buy LEGOs for their kids, they are really buying the sets they want and letting the rugrats play with them


It took another few years, though, before I was unable to merely content myself by only assisting my son in assembling his sets. Poly-bagged mini Star Wars sets were my initial foray back into personally owning LEGOs again. However, I simply assembled and displayed them on my work desk like… well, bric-a-brac. Nonetheless, it didn’t take long before my wife easily parsed through my not-so-subtle hints and gave me a LEGO X-Wing Fighter as a Christmas present. Other sets followed, but I continued to dutifully follow the directions for each and display them like any other well-intentioned collector would (more on this in future posts.)

The moment I stopped collecting and truly started playing, thus finally starting on the path to Brick à Brac, came in early December 2013. As part of the Christmas-season decorating, the family needed to place various knickknacks, tchotchkes and other small holiday-themed items around the house; many of these usually reside on the bookshelves. While placing them there, I came up with the idea of arranging a number of my LEGO mini-figures in a small, celebratory Christmas scene. Without knowing it, I had started a new household tradition: the Annual LEGO Holiday Diorama. Each year has brought a bigger scene, with a larger number of characters, and before I had finished assembling last year’s scene, I was already planning for this year. Furthermore, the dioramas 2013-holiday-sceneare no longer confined to Christmas. Last year saw the first Annual LEGO Halloween Diorama, and as with the Christmas version, planning for this year started before I completed last year’s display.

The majority of what I intend to post flows from that first Christmas scene. As Alex already stated, “Sometimes instructions just can’t keep up with what a story needs.” That sentiment was inherent in what I created in December 2013 and much of what came after (a lot of which I intend to share.) This foundation of Brick à Brac also serves as a principle of The Lego Movie, but we’re not delusional enough to take credit for that. Sometimes, you just need characters from the differing LEGO lines, including the in-house ones, to escape their particular universe in order to tell a story or create a scene. Then there are other times when you need a LEGO Luke Skywalker to run headfirst into a Character Building Weeping Angel or a Kre-O Klingon.

While I am looking forward to sharing my creations and seeing what Alex plans to bring to this site, I am also curious to see how Alex might influence me and vice versa. The fact is that Brick à Brac already features our first collaborative effort. The picture that currently graces the top of the About page started as an idea of mine, specifically for the purpose it now serves, but took its final form as the result of feedback and direction from Alex. The final result is something different from what I originally intended. Although we have different ideas about what we each want to do individually with our work here, I’m surevoldie-and-saruman there will be additional collaborations and times where one of us inspires the other in ways neither of us expects.

However, this all plays out, I look forward to it, and it looks like it should be lots of fun.

About Matthew Appleton

A dad and loving husband who is also an easily distracted sf&f junkie, LEGO enthusiast, Phillies fan, and writer wannabe who really has too many other responsibilities to be working on his many different on-going projects.
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