When I told my son Cameron, 7, that we would be visiting the new Lego Store in Sherway Gardens the day before the Grand Opening, and that (gasp! Call Children's Aid!) I'd be taking him out of school for this, his response was, "I think I'm going to faint."
As some of you know, my boys are NUTS about Lego. They play with it every day, put Lego on their wish lists for each gift-giving occasion, read Lego magazine, visit Lego.com and count their allowance in anticipation of what they might be able to buy. Cameron even had a Lego-themed birthday party.
So naturally, yesterday's outing blew his mind.
The moment we arrived at the store he clapped eyes on the Star Wars Death Star model - a coveted collector's item - in the shop's gallery window. (You can also get a good look at the impressive Tower Bridge set there.)
"I'm Brandie Weikle" I said to the Lego staffers who showed us around. Cam echoed "and I'm in Lego heaven."
Cam had a great time with that. SO many smiles on this outing.
At the "Master Builder Bar" kids can follow instructions to build Lego models using the bricks in the middle of the table, or play games online, as Cameron is doing here.
Immensely popular with the truly commited Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL), the "Pick-a-Brick" wall offers an ever-changing combination of bricks in various sizes and colours, perfect for creative types inventing their own Lego models.
Speaking of creativity, one of my favourite parts was staring into these display cases to see models put together by talented builders who aren't even Lego staff - just fans happy to share. This theatre, complete with skeleton under the stage, is great...
...as is this circus scene.
As we pulled out of the parking lot after our visit was done, Cameron said "My favourite part was just walking around, seeing what they had and being AMAZED at what they had."
If you haven't had a chance to check out my story on the Lego store opening, you may not know that the grand opening runs Friday from 11-7, and Saturday and Sunday from 10-6. A highlight will be the construction of an eight-foot R2D2 in Sherway Garden's central square.
I also wanted to share that I was helped with this story by Phil Fraboni, an adult fan of Lego who plans to be at the opening on Sunday. Fraboni has been playing with Lego since he was a wee boy. His collecting passion today is Star Wars Lego, of which he was around 50 sets.
Here he is showing off some of his assembled Star Wars kits. So dedicated is Fraboni to both Lego and Star Wars that this weekend will also see him trooping with the 501st Legion Canadian Garrison in London dressed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars Captain Rex armour.
His mother is a much better Lego mom than I am. She saved all of his sets from childhood INCLUDING THE INSTRUCTIONS! Fraboni plans to put these all together once he has the display space!
You can follow Phil Fraboni on twitter at twitter.com/hamcam.