A day of Lego wizardry

Families swarmed the lawn of the Americana at Brand on Saturday for the unbeatable combination of Lego toys and Harry Potter paraphernalia.

The park at the center of the outdoor mall was the site of a Harry Potter Build-Off, a national competition in which Lego architects build sets inspired by J.K. Rowling’s best-selling Harry Potter books and the mega-hit Warner Bros. movies.

Families took pictures with a 9-foot-high Rubeus Hagrid, a benign giant from the series whose likeness was crafted out of Legos by an artist in the Czech Republic. A few steps away, admirers took in a detailed, 100,000-piece Lego version of Hogwarts Castle, complete with soaring spires, bridges over gaping canyons and sea caverns at the foot of the gray and green plastic cliffs.

The creator of the piece is Connecticut resident Chris Steininger. His father, Lego master builder Dan Steininger, was in charge of the build-off as well as an afternoon full of related games for young people.

Steininger said his son was recently named a master builder, joining his father and only five others. “I’m very excited about that,” Steininger said.

Lego launched its Harry Potter line of toy sets in 2001, when the first movie came out. The collection now includes more than 50 sets allowing children to build miniature versions of locations depicted in the fantasy series, such as Hogwarts Castle and Dumbledore’s office.

Lego has created more than 20 Harry Potter miniature figures for the series, as well as at least eight sneering versions of the evil lackey Draco Malfoy.

Families also waited to enter a tent showing an eight-minute trailer for the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” the last film in the eight-part series.

Jamie Norden of Franklin Hills watched as his sons Max, 5, and Angus, 3, played with tubs full of purple Legos in a tent on the Americana lawn.

“They’re not quite into Harry Potter,” Norden said, and they seemed to be just like their old man.

“I haven’t graduated from Legos yet,” Norden admitted.

Coen Sosa, 9, of Burbank, said he’s more of a Harry Potter type than a Lego guy, having seen several of the movies.

“Some of the characters you haven’t seen in a while come back at the end,” he said. “I like how it all comes together.”

Kendell Jasper, who has a home at the Americana, brought sons Kameron, Kaleb and Kohen to check out the festivities.

Not old enough for Harrymania, they like their Legos. “They dump them out of the box and build something every day,” Jasper said.

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