My son is a Lego devotee. Lately he’s been absorbed with Lego Ninjago, a quartet — then a quintet — of young ninjas taught by a wise old master to defend their people against The Bad Guys (who are variously snakes, skeletons, and their master’s brother-gone-evil). If you’re not familiar with Lego Company’s new marketing tactic, I’ll tell you about it, because it’s brilliant. You probably know that Lego makes toys for Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. This is the opposite. A year or so ago they created the Ninjago series of toys, then they made a Ninjago TV series in which the world of Ninjago comes alive. The characters are actually Legos, although a bit more flexible and of course they talk and change facial expressions. Lego put the series on YouTube as well as on a kid’s TV network, and rocketed itself back into the stratosphere of children’s toys.
I’m happy with my son’s preoccupation. I love Ninjago because the five young ninjas are close friends, almost brothers, and they use their unique skills to work together and defeat the villains. I love band-of-brother series and I designed my Falcon Club series like this, although of course one of my Falcon Club “brothers” is a woman.
Lately my son has been making custom Lego minifigures as gifts for me. This means he takes Lego minifigures, characters that Lego sells, and recombines or paints them to resemble characters I like. Case in point: Flynn Rider, Rapunzel and Maximus from Disney’s Tangled. My son and I went to see this movie in the theater more times than I’m willing to admit in public. On one particularly low day for me months ago, to cheer me up my son brought me the above figures. Rapunzel even has her short brown hair from the end, which I’ve told him many times I like better than her long blond hair. What a sweetie. He also recombined minifigures to make Viola, the heroine of How to Be a Proper Lady. Viola doesn’t wear an eye patch; nevertheless, this little lady expresses her fiesty spirit pretty darn well.
Sometimes when I rhapsodize over one of his minifigures he’ll just give it to me, without changes, like this one, Lego’s “Cavalier” who is to me the hero of my Falcon Club book #4 (to come).
Two minifigures have been on my desk for many months now. One of them sits at the corner of the desk. She is Lego’s “Fortune Teller”. But to me she is the Gypsy woman that opens my new book I Married the Duke. The fortune she prophesies for the three orphaned sisters of my Prince Catchers series sends them on their way to seeking out the prince who will tell them the secret of their past. My son bought this with his own money for me as a surprise gift.
The other minifigure is a simple custom design. My son took the Green Ninja from Ninjago, gave him a sword from his Castle set and some shoulder armor, replaced his ninja mask with Star Wars’ Anikin Skywalker’s hair, and slung a black strip of kerchief around his right eye–his blind eye. With this he created the hero of I Married the Duke, Lord Lucien Andrew Rallis Westfall, former naval hero, merchant shipmaster, Comte de Rallis, and heir to the Duke of Lycombe.
Luc stood beside my laptop while I wrote the book, reminding me with that jaunty, confident grin that no matter how hard haughty governess and would-be princess Miss Arabella Caulfield resisted him, he would in the end win her.
So I guess this post is just a little thank you to my son for being so generous and wonderful, and entering into my world of fun so whole heartedly. I love you, punkin.
What were your favorite toys when you were a kid? Did they inspire you to creativity?
(p.s. I’ve posted an excerpt from I Married the Duke on my website.)