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Building connections piece by piece

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Kevin Lariviere has used Lego to mark major moments in his life.

In the living room of his Transcona home, there’s a Lego mosaic of one of his wedding photos with wife Colleen that was a 10th anniversary gift. He also once created a ring holder (complete with a ring) for her on Valentine’s Day.

"It’s used not just for playing with. It’s used for everything," he said.

Now, he’s using the Danish toys to help connect with his sons Caleb, 6, and Liam, 3. Lariviere said while he does buy and build kits with their instructions, within a week, the kit is dismantled and pieces are used for something brand new.

"One thing I’m working on right now is the Berenstain Bears tree house, because we’re reading the books," he said, noting he also works on pirate and castle-themed projects. "I always enjoyed my imagination growing up, and I can go into a castle and I can pretend and just have fun, and I’m passing that onto my kids."

As well, Lariviere joined the Manitoba LEGO Users Group approximately a year ago. The group meets every two months, and Lariviere said group members support each other with various projects.

"We’re starting to get to the point where we can see what people are into," he said. "We’re encouraging, helping each other out — ‘how can you build this differently?’ or ‘how can you make this look more realistic?’ if you’re looking for that, or ‘which pieces to use?.’"

The group shows off its projects at two shows every year. This year, the first will be Manitoba MEGA Trains Oct. 19 to 20 at Canlan Ice Sports at 1871 Ellice Ave., and the second will be at the Winkler Hobby and Toy Show at Winkler’s Southland Mall. Lariviere plans to contribute a castle to the shows.

North Kildonan resident Chris Berti is also a group member who joined last year. Berti enjoys creating science-fiction-inspired projects, noting he’s currently working on a spaceship and a couple of robots.

"It’s unlimited – you can do it as much as you want for as long as you want, and if you’re not happy with it, you take it apart and you build something else," he said.

Berti explained he used LEGO growing up and still had his collection at his parents’ home in Ontario. When he became a father, he decided to have his old bricks shipped to Winnipeg,

"I still use the stuff that I used 40 years ago, and the kid, when he’s old enough, he’ll get it and then he can give it to his kids," said Berti. "It’s almost an investment in a way."

Both Berti and Lariviere acknowledged there can be a stigma attached to being an adult LEGO user, so they appreciate finding other like-minded people.

Berti found the group after searching for LEGO creations on Flickr, though they do have a more direct online presence. For more information on the group, visit www.mblug.org.

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