If they can build it, they will come.
That might well be the adage in the Wyoming Valley as children of all ages eagerly count down to the arrival of the first LEGO movie by participating in fun, party-like events at area libraries and bookstores.
Of course the guests of honor at these block parties are LEGOs, lots and lots of LEGOS, the interlocking plastic bricks or blocks that can be assembled and unassembled and connected in scores of ways to make vehicles, buildings and figures.
The first LEGO movie will be shown in theaters nationwide, including Wilkes-Barre Movies 14 and Cinemark in Moosic, on Feb. 7, and that day can’t come soon enough for local little ones.
About 10 children, ranging in age from 3 to 9, assembled last weekend at the West Pittston Library to build a model city using the popular toys.
Summer Belles, youth services coordinator, tasked each child with creating a different structure to add to the city, such as a garage, library or school. Slides of some creations by noted LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya from his “Art of the Brick” exhibit were shown to illustrate that “anything can be done with LEGOs.”
But the children already knew that, considering many of them have been fashioning imaginative pieces on their own since the age of 3.
It didn’t take long for Cole Cresho, 9, of West Pittston, to begin putting together a garage. His fingers nimbly flew into the pile of assorted shapes and colors of LEGOs spilled out onto the table in front of him. But this wasn’t just any ordinary mechanic’s business. It was “Cresho’s Hot Rod Shop.” The framework was built as he quickly set aside a space for his LEGO vehicle.
“Playing with LEGOs is my favorite activity,” he said.
Jake Ochman, 9, of Moosic, is planning to see the LEGO movie for his birthday. A big fan of the toys, he received 12 building sets for Christmas.
“The film has a lot of action in it,” he said after viewing a trailer of the movie.
Jake shared his LEGOs with brothers, Noah, 8, and Seth, 4, who flipped through a library book for ideas on how to make some buildings for the city. “This really keeps the children busy,” said their father, Paul Ochman. “I like the fact that they aren’t playing video games all the time. Doing this gives them a chance to use their imagination.”
Lynn Muchler-Stash of Edwardsville has seen a difference in the attention span of her granddaughter, Chacelyn Stash, 3, since the toddler recently began playing with LEGOs. “She’s able to match the colors,” she said. “And her knowledge of the shapes is coming right along.”
Belles noted that her daughters Mia, 8, and Andie, 6, who participated in the event, can “play up to four hours straight with LEGOS.”
Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Wilkes-Barre Township will offer a LEGO Hands-On Learning event Saturday. “The Countdown to the Movie” will take place at 11 a.m. at the Arena Hub Plaza store.
Plenty of LEGOs will be provided so children can participate in building their creations, said Sean Ustat, an assistant manager at Barnes & Noble. “LEGOS are very popular with kids of all ages so we expect that this event will be well-attended,” he said. “The LEGO books are also very popular and have translated well into other LEGO activities.”
Children will be able to listen to the movie theme song from the upcoming soundtrack and enjoy a screening of the trailer, said Donna Wench, community relations manager. Those who attend will receive a mini movie poster. The children will be divided into two groups, based on age, for activities that include puzzles and LEGO building. Another event is planned for March in which children can re-create their favorite scenes from the movie.
The Pittston Library has a LEGO Club that meets at 3:45 p.m. every second Monday of the month at the library, 47 Broad St. Children ages 5 and up are welcome, and no registration is required.
A huge crowd is expected for the LEGO movie, said Kyle Sowers, associate manager at Wilkes-Barre Movies 14. “Advance ticket sales have been good so far,” he said. “Our party room, where we host children’s birthday parties, is booked through the month.”
The original 3D computer animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly underprepared.
Characters such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Abraham Lincoln, Panda Guy and William Shakespeare appear in the movie. Uni-Kitty, a never-before-seen figurine, also makes her debut.
The film, rated PG, stars Chris Pratt as the voice of Emmet. The voices of Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett also star.
And the critical reaction? Just from viewing the trailer, Cresho and his crew of master LEGO builders in West Pittston already have given the movie a thumbs-up.