'Top Gear' star downshifts to Legos

U.K. car show co-host James May will spend weekend in house built almost entirely of Legos as part of his new television series.

James May setting the cornerstone for the Lego house at Denbies Wine Estate, a vineyard in Surrey, England. Denbies Wine Estate

James May, co-host of U.K. car show "Top Gear," has a new gig for entertaining engineers and toy lovers alike.

The show, "James May's Toy Stories," engages the public in extreme building with favorite childhood toys and films the communal construction in progress.

While the show won't air until spring on BBC Two, photos and videos of the projects are already showing up online.

May's show includes the construction of the first house made almost entirely out of Legos. It's located on the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, England.

The video below, posted by Bacon Group Architecture, showcases the interior, which will include a Lego toilet, bathtub, and bed. Upon completion, May will live in the house for a weekend.

The construction challenges, which are scattered throughout the U.K., depend on local volunteers--both adults and children.

"James May is a man on a mission: he wants to get kids out of their bedrooms and away from their games consoles, he wants to drag parents off their backsides and get them all playing together again," according to BBC Two.

Many of the projects are also attempts at world records.

For example, the show's crew and volunteers attempted to build the world's longest model train setup, a length of about 10 miles. That ambition was comically foiled by people who stole pieces of track, placed pennies in the track, and ultimately caused the train's battery to burn out, according to the Telegraph.

May has already won an award for a garden of flowers made entirely from Plastacine--molding clay similar to Play-doh--that he entered in England's annual Chelsea Flower Show.

In another project, architecture students helped May construct a bridge of Meccano parts across a 40-foot-wide canal in Liverpool, England.

Meccano kits generally consist of pre-holed metal plates, gears, and wheels with accompanying nuts and bolts for building small mechanical gadgets and vehicles. The town choice was significant as Meccano opened its first factory in Liverpool in 1907. The bridge was designed by Hayden Nuttal, a design director of Atkins Structural Engineering, and the North East Meccano Guild aided the students with construction.

May is also getting back to his auto roots. The show plans to showcase the construction of a large-scale track for Scalextric cars and hold a race through the center of a town.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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