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Bricking it: How stud subculture reminded me of the awesomeness of Lego

In a surefire sign that I'm getting old, I dimly thought today's Lego wasn't as good. But what the brick do I know? I've stumbled into a fully formed subculture

When I was a kid, I loved Lego. As the youngest of three brothers, I amassed a pretty tidy collection of 70s Lego (and yes, the plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos, no matter what anybody says). As a geek in training, my favourites were the Space sets, so I loved these reinventions of classic Space models. And when I wasn't, like most schoolboys, making handguns, I made a TARDIS and a very, very crude Starship Enterprise.

In a surefire sign that I'm getting old, I dimly thought today's Lego wasn't as good. The introduction of weird franchises (Bionicles, anyone?), the relaxing of the 'no guns' policy, and the preponderance of set-specific pieces put me off. But what the brick do I know? Googling the new Indiana Jones sets -- meh -- and the Batman sets -- holy studs! -- revealed the world of the Lego modder. The ingenuity and creativity on show in some of these intricately detailed models is incredible.

I love that I've stumbled into a fully formed subculture, with its own heroes, language ('bley'), tropes and stories. Blogs such as Brothers Brick pick the highlights from the hundreds of creations on sites including Mocpages, Flickr and Brickshelf. Tropes include the post-apocalypse and fantasy castles, often combined with other genres, such as the recent strand of filtering Star Wars through steampunk, or even the Bible! And then there's the ingenious meme of taking dementedly detailed giant models and reproducing them in microscale.

If, like me, your Lego collection is now just a memory, virtual building is possible with the Lego Digital Designer. But seeing as the true resplendence of Lego is in bricks and (no) mortar, I'm off to hunt around in the attic.