The Lego Americana Roadshow returns to its only California stop this year — the Glendale Galleria — to bring its version of American cross-country sightseeing using scale monuments built entirely with Lego bricks.
The traveling Lego exhibit opens at various locations throughout the Galleria on Saturday, and it will run through May 29. The event is free and will display 10 large-scale Lego replicas of American landmarks such as the White House, Supreme Court and Washington Monument.
The Lego installations will also include free hands-on activities such as a Lego play area in the upper level of the mall. Six "brickscapes" in 2-by-3 plexiglass cases will showcase random Lego scenes using standard mini-figures.
According to Andrew Little, the Lego roadshow tour manager who traveled with the Lego monuments to Glendale, a "brickscape" model of a mall made to look like there is an exhibit inside it will be on display. There is also a planned space scene, Mt. Rushmore display and ski scene, where mini-figures are "building" a snowman.
"It's the more fun side of the show. [The monuments are] the history and educational part of it," Little said. "Still, for me, it's so gratifying to get to see people's expressions when they see the monuments. It's awesome."
Every monument was assembled at Lego headquarters in Enfield, Conn., by up to eight master builders using the same standard pieces available at retail stores. For safe and secure travel, builders used some metal pieces inside the structures and glued the Lego bricks together.
About 1 million Lego bricks were used to construct the monuments, the largest of which is the Lego Capitol Building. It took a team of eight builders 1,700 hours to build the structure, which is 25 feet, 7 inches long.
According to Lego model designer Michael Provenzano and senior builder Colin Page, the monuments are first designed digitally using the same 3D modeling software used to make the Lego animated movie. Those designs are later ported into the Lego Brick Builder software, where a rough version is assembled for builders to reference.
Builders then fine tune the structural nuances, relying on photos that show details the software may not capture.
"It's puts us more on our toes because these monuments are so iconic," said Lego master builder Chris Steininger.
However, the team said the hours of labor are worth it when they finally get to see a child's amazement as they walk up to the models, touch them and can't believe they're built entirely with Lego bricks.
"It's definitely pretty awesome to see kids and families interact with something you've spent hundreds of hours building," he said.