Let’s get this right. Lego is a registered trademark. And you can never have too much Lego – in all its forms.
Ask any child clamouring for the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Chima, or Hobbit. or...
The list is endless. The potential for treading on Lego or, worse still, accidentally kneeling on a errant piece is even more so. Ask any parent.
All of which leaves Julie Eustace with a success on her hands – thanks to other mums and dads and minders bringing their kids to her Marton home and business base of Build A Brick Parties or Saturday Brick Clubs.
The wording is such because of Lego’s strict licensing laws – although Julie prides herself on using only Lego products for her parties.
To avoid the risk of legal wrangles she also ran the idea past trading standards and was told the wording was fine so long as it was stressed “Lego is a trademark of the Lego Group of Companies and is not connected to Build a Brick Parties in any way.”
Build a Brick Parties is one-year-old on Saturday. It’s built such a following Julie has cut back on her main child minding business to devote more time to it.
“I no longer take in under fives as a child minder but over fives,” says the Ofsted registered CRB cleared child minder.
“It’s meant a financial loss but kept me sane – and means I can put more time into the Build a Brick parties.”
Her house may be on the line if she doesn’t make a go of Lego but she jokes there are probably enough bricks within it to build a replacement!
Most are in the original boxes to which they are returned, others in tubs. Julie doesn’t count the bricks out and in or frisk the kids for missing Princess Leias or Luke Skywalkers but finds most of the bricks, characters and kits come back intact.
“I could probably run a nice sideline in Tupperware parties with all the Tupperware I use.” That’s the real (registered trademark) stuff too.
Julie set up Build A Brick Parties on son Nathan’s 12th birthday because he was Lego mad and liked the idea of a Lego party.
Nathan’s autistic, a bright lad with Aspergers which means when he gets into something – he really gets into it. And, boy, did he get into Lego.
He attends Park School for special needs children. A group of parents who got together there last September and style themselves the See Saws hope to book one of Julie’s parties.
See Saws organiser Julie Clarke admits: “It can be hard finding things for our kids to do. The Build A Brick Parties are right up our street.”
Prices range from £90 to £400, depending on the number of kits, play zones, party extras, games, treats and children involved. Julie finds the most requested kits are Lego Star Wars, Lego City, Lego Racers and, particularly popular with girls, Lego Friends. Julie likes Lego Harry Potter herself and prefers the new Hobbit range to the Lord of the Rings kit. “I’ve become pretty good at Lego myself but have to follow instructions whereas Nathan doesn’t.”
With his 13th birthday this weekend, Nathan still likes Lego, but doesn’t want a party because he often helps reassemble kits after his mum’s hosted one at home.
Given the fact he can reassemble the entire Death Star space station within a few hours the Lego force is clearly with young Nathan. As for his mother? It’s a nice niche market for a single mum with a point to prove after some wrangling with Lego.
“I may not be able to call what I do Lego parties or Lego clubs but Lego is a big supporter of raising awareness of autism – and that’s how it all started for me too. We supply the bricks – the children supply the imagination.”
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall of educational and play value for Lego lovers.
A year on Julie is beginning to branch out. Not only are her bespoke brick birthday parties doing well she’s also started a new £4 an hour Saturday Brick club at her home for the over-fives.
After presenting a promotion in St Johns Square last Halloween she’s been invited back to host another at Easter.
Julie is also running a FREE Build A Brick party at Central Library, Queen Street, on Saturday, February 9, from 10.30am to 4pm, in celebration of National Library Day.
As ever, the event will feature Ninja Man, the identity of whom, as with all self effacing super hero types, has to remain a closely guarded secret in “real” life.
While Julie’s lips are sealed as to who Ninja “Man” really is – word is her 14 year old daughter Jasmine now knows all the Ninja moves.
You could call her a chip off the old block.