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Brick House
August 31, 2009 12:32 PM   Subscribe

James May built his own house with Lego.
posted by mattdidthat (123 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
James May? Captain Slow from Top Gear?

I'd be surprised he didn't make a real-life Lego supercar or something.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:35 PM on August 31, 2009


Wow! What a project!

Why do I have this awful feeling that Jeremy Clarkson plans to smash into it in a Toyota Hilux?
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:37 PM on August 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Man, that cannot be cheap.
posted by GuyZero at 12:39 PM on August 31, 2009


I don't think it's the same James May.

(assuming the guy with glasses in the house construction photoset is the "other" James May.)
posted by hippybear at 12:40 PM on August 31, 2009


It is indeed the same guy, and this is from a BBC series where he does all sorts of large-scale projects with various toys:

Attempting to build the world's first full-size house made entirely out of Lego bricks [...] Creating a Plasticine garden [...] Attempting to build a full size model Spitfire. [...] James also hopes to pit a Scalextric car against a taxi in a 1.6 mile race through a busy town centre... [...] ... planning to build a lifesize bridge made entirely out of Meccano in one of Britain's most historic university cities [...] And he hopes to build the world's greatest model train set to link two villages who have long since lost their railway.
posted by effbot at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Same guy
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2009


I wonder how that will hold up in a hail storm.

At this point, can we just posit that, yes, you can build anything out of legos and move the hell on?
posted by HumanComplex at 12:45 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


3.6 million Lego bricks...

That 800-million number in the post is clearly a mistake, and the three million number lower down is much more realistic. A confusion around the word "brick", I imagine, since he used Lego bricks to make "bricks" that he then used in construction.

But even then, those 2x4 bricks he used are still about 3 cents (USD) each in bulk, which gives me a cost of $108,000 USD for the bricks alone. Which is crazy, not not quite impossible I guess.

Unless, of course, he has a secret cheaper source for bricks. In which case I DEMAND ANSWERS.
posted by rokusan at 12:45 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder how that will hold up in a hail storm.

Lego is really, really strong, and it'd be almost impossible to remove anything from the middle of the walls. You'd really have to tear-down from the top. I suspect that would stand up to a sledgehammer better than most construction techniques, thanks to the resilience of the ABS plastic.

Hail? It'll bounce off.
posted by rokusan at 12:46 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the R-value of Lego bricks is.
posted by variella at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


No matter the price, I'm sure this will be a money spinner for BBC Worldwide (DVDs and international rights)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:48 PM on August 31, 2009


hmmm... if it is 3.6Million legos... $12.99 for the 280 piece multi color starter set... thats roughly $0.046/brick, thats $1,670,143 in legos...

I hope he got a discount...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2009


A quirky television personality who has built quirky things before would probably be able to get a contractor's discount from the LEGO Group. Especially for all the free publicity this project would receive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2009


Wonder what Jeremy Clarkson would think of this V8?
posted by Kabanos at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2009


Will he get the Stig to test live in it for about 3 months or so? 'Cause you know, you can't be too sure about anything in life until you get a tame racing driver to try it out.
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:51 PM on August 31, 2009


Lego is really, really strong, and it'd be almost impossible to remove anything from the middle of the walls.

I wonder how it will hold up to the elements. Lego brick connections might be strong under compression at the bottom of the frame, but there's less compression under weight at the top of the building, where wind and rain could more easily work their way in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:52 PM on August 31, 2009


Part of me was hoping this was the James May from Top Gear. That would certainly cement my feeling that he is the best presenter on Top Gear (after Tiff Needell, of course).
posted by parmanparman at 12:52 PM on August 31, 2009


He's gonna be really pissed when he finds out some Mega Bloks got mixed in there accidentally.
posted by crapmatic at 12:53 PM on August 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


Concerning the structural strength of massed LEGOs.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:56 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow that has got to be the ugliest life-size house made of Legos I have ever seen
posted by poppo at 12:58 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Referring to "James May, a toy fanatic from the UK" is like saying "Leonard Nimoy, an American photographer": accurate, but ultimately misleading.
posted by mhum at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think this dude may be a nerd.
posted by Mister_A at 1:01 PM on August 31, 2009


Hmnm... after watching Eat the Weak's link... that's a million legos. I think 3.6Million from the original link is an understated estimate. I might go as low as 8 million if it is very very hollow... but that puts the cost much much higher... 8Million legos is $3,711,429 dollars...

Awesome that this is done just for TV... because you know - there's nothing better that could be done (humanitarian wise or entertainment wise) for $3.7 million dollars.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2009


Without question, this is the glorious end result of somebody saying to him "Here you go, kid. Here's a ton of Legos. Enjoy."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:07 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Referring to "James May, a toy fanatic from the UK" is like saying "Leonard Nimoy, an American photographer": accurate, but ultimately misleading

Not sure anything beats "Bob Dylan, known from his work with the Traveling Wilburys" in that category (heard on Swedish radio ages ago).
posted by effbot at 1:08 PM on August 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Lego - an expensive residential building material - is also a great toy.
posted by salishsea at 1:11 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just wait until his foundation settles.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:13 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish my house was made of LEGOs, as it would sure make re-wiring easier.
posted by Mister_A at 1:15 PM on August 31, 2009


Aren't LEGO™ brand building blocks really dense? Wouldn't the walls be super heavy? I'm failing to come up with numbers on a quick search; how does the density of Legos compare to, say, the density of clay brick?
posted by Nelson at 1:20 PM on August 31, 2009


8 Million legos is $3,711,429 dollars...

You are paying too much for your Lego, friend.

Those 2x4 bricks, as I said above, are about three cents each in bulk, not thirty!

The average piece is much higher, especially if bought in sets, but that's because you're averaging out a collecting of pieces that includes some very complicated and expensive ones (gears, motors, large blocks, hinges). The 2x4 brick is one of the very cheapest, individually.
posted by rokusan at 1:22 PM on August 31, 2009


8Million legos is $3,711,429 dollars...

Given the amount of publicity this will generate for LEGO, I highly doubt they're charging the BBC full (bulk) price...
posted by Dysk at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2009


posted by Nelson Aren't LEGO™ brand building blocks really dense? Wouldn't the walls be super heavy? I'm failing to come up with numbers on a quick search; how does the density of Legos compare to, say, the density of clay brick?

Well, remember that those individual (small) LEGO™ bricks are hollow. I would imagine a LEGO™ brick and a clay brick of equal size would have different weights. Perhaps there's a MeFi engineer willing to do the math on this one?
posted by mattdidthat at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2009


This article is woefully incomplete without a floor plan.
posted by kimdog at 1:27 PM on August 31, 2009


In fact, if you go somewhere like Bricklink, you'll find the price for a 2x3 brick is about a penny, if you go used. Granted, I wonder where you find that much in mass new.
posted by zabuni at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2009


zabuni, you contact LEGO and tell them you're going to put their product on television in a really flattering light, then let them know where to put the containers.
posted by Dysk at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2009


"Lego is really, really strong, and it'd be almost impossible to remove anything from the middle of the walls."

Mythbusters built a 6 foot tall ball of solid Legos and rolled it down a fairly gentle dirt slope. It fell apart after a few yards. I don't think these structures are that fantastically strong under real world stresses. For example, a small sample may resist huge amounts of pressure, but once you make something the size of a wall I doubt it very rigid at all.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:35 PM on August 31, 2009


y6y6y6y, rolling a ball of LEGO is probably the type of stress most likely to cause it to break apart. LEGO joins in a way that makes it much stronger when oriented in a manner such that gravity exerts pressure to keep the joins tight, rather the sheer force across the joins (which will quickly break stuff apart). Unless you plan to start rolling your walls around, they'll be pretty solid.
posted by Dysk at 1:38 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The way LEGO bricks hold together is that they're pretty good under compressive loads and OK for transverse tension loads, but they have virtually no tensile strength in the up-down direction. It's like rolling a ball of wet sand.
posted by GuyZero at 1:39 PM on August 31, 2009


Note that real bricks are much the same way - if you built a wheel out of brick and mortar it would fall apart too. Houses are all about compressive loads for the most part, except for joists and roof trusses which are under tension. (the lower chord of a truss is under tension while the upper chords are under compression)
posted by GuyZero at 1:41 PM on August 31, 2009


how does the density of Legos compare to, say, the density of clay brick?

Lego bricks are made of ABS, which has a density of about 1040 kg/m3. That's about half the density of solid clay brick, which is about 2000 kg/m3.

Of course, a Lego wall is not solid ABS, so its density will be a bit lower. Depending on just how much air is in between the bricks, the density will be more or less close to that of drywall.
posted by jedicus at 1:41 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


For example, a small sample may resist huge amounts of pressure, but once you make something the size of a wall I doubt it very rigid at all.

If anything I would think that it would be too rigid. Typically, houses have to be able to flex to account for the normal variations in humidity and temperature over the course of the day and the seasons. What happens when you build a house out of millions of tiny inflexible plastic cubes attached with little plastic nubbins? I would think that it would be more susceptible to cracking. Any amount of sheer usually undoes a lego masterpiece. Even the mortar in block houses is meant to flex.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:42 PM on August 31, 2009


Also, note that assuming he's using modern construction techniques, there's really no load on the outside walls/exterior sheathing at all. They sheath houses with styrofoam these days which has no strength at all.
posted by GuyZero at 1:43 PM on August 31, 2009


The Mythbusters used a similar technique, creating large bricks out of small bricks and then assembling the large bricks together, but a wall is very different from a ball, and even with the ball it seemed like their methodology was not as solid as it could have been. The fundamental problem that you have large areas where your components don't overlap is going to create the potential for stress fractures. A wall built out of the stuff would probably be considerably more sturdy, especially if his 'bricks' weren't brick shaped, but rather trapezoidal. It's the overlap between bricks that gives lego walls their stability.
posted by jeffkramer at 1:43 PM on August 31, 2009


I would think that it would be more susceptible to cracking.

UV degradation would be my biggest concern, above even structural flex.
posted by GuyZero at 1:44 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]



This is in England. It will get about 15 minutes of UV a day tops.

My only concern is that they won't brick him in.
posted by srboisvert at 1:46 PM on August 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


He could probably glaze the outside in some kind of uv resistant clear coat. The house would probably be airtight, though. One of my friends knew a guy who had an expanded foam house back in the 70s. It was so airtight that when you shut the door your ears would pop.
posted by jeffkramer at 1:54 PM on August 31, 2009


If that thing ever catches fire, that's gonna be one sizzling vwoop-ing puddle of expensive plastic. It'd probably be almost impossible to put out too, being composed substantially of petroleum. How's that Lego oven coming?
posted by jamstigator at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2009


jeffkramer, every house my parents have lived in in Denmark has had this feature. It generally indicates that you've got a well-insulated building.
posted by Dysk at 2:07 PM on August 31, 2009


Houses are all about compressive loads for the most part, except for joists and roof trusses which are under tension.

Until a decent wind blows, and the roof eaves start acting like sails.
posted by rocket88 at 2:17 PM on August 31, 2009


rocket88, judging by the pictures of the construction, it does not look like it will have eaves that extend beyond the walls, meaning that there will likely be nothing to catch wind in the manner you describe.

It's not going to be a fantastic house to live in by any means, but I'm sure they've thought it through enough that it won't collapse at the slightest provocation, either.
posted by Dysk at 2:27 PM on August 31, 2009


Some of the bricks were donated by members of the public. It's for a TV series -- he also displayed a plasticine garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, attempted to build the world's longest model railway and built a lifesize replica of the Brooklands race track with Scalextrix.
posted by afx237vi at 2:28 PM on August 31, 2009


My only concern is that they won't brick him in.

"For the love of God, Montresor!"
posted by kurumi at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there a picture of the finished house? Or did I miss it in the link?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2009


Until a decent wind blows, and the roof eaves start acting like sails.

Even then, they don't look like load-bearing walls so their ability to hold weight in any direction is largely moot.
posted by GuyZero at 2:31 PM on August 31, 2009


GuyZero, the roof could still blow off it, though, if it were constructed in a manner that allowed wind to catch it from beneath. Of course, the problem of building rooves without standard eaves was solved ages ago on Tiree.
posted by Dysk at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2009


I showed this to my 7-year-old son, and he said "That seems like a waste of Legos."
posted by rikschell at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


James is, of course, already well-known for curious innovations in the use of pre-existing materials.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:46 PM on August 31, 2009


Well, since we're doing this thing, I suppose I should get started if I ever want to finish my 1:1 scale model of the Sears Tower that I'm building out of Lincoln Logs.
posted by quin at 2:53 PM on August 31, 2009


He could have picked better colors.
posted by Balisong at 3:11 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was all going so well until some bright spark decided to install wall-mounted radiators.
posted by ob at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: millions of tiny inflexible plastic cubes attached with little plastic nubbins.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:24 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


FOR GOD'S SAKE PEOPLE LEGO IS A MASS NOUN!!!!! STOP SAYING LEGOS!!!!!!
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


FOR GOD'S SAKE PEOPLE LEGO IS A MASS NOUN!!!!! STOP SAYING LEGOS!!!!!!
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady


lol
posted by mattdidthat at 3:42 PM on August 31, 2009


Beautiful Screaming Lady, a mass noun? Unless you can provide a citation to back that up, it's almost certainly false. The convention by LEGO themselves seems to be to never use the term to refer to bricks directly, but rather use the term "LEGO bricks" or "LEGO blocks". This gels with the original Danish 'legoklodser'. In any case, both "three lego" and "tre lego" sound horribly wrong to my ear. "Three legos" and "tre legoer" doesn't sound much better, though.
posted by Dysk at 3:42 PM on August 31, 2009


You know what, I know that their corporate material demands the phrasing "LEGO bricks and toys" but I always thought that all the British people I knew who said "Lego" as a plural sounded really weird. It has always been, for me and my sister, "a lego", "some legos". So scream all you want, beautiful lady, but your way is as grating to my ears as my way is to yours.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Legos:
Oh no you didn’t! Technically, the official plural form for more than one element of LEGO is “LEGO® brand building bricks”. That’s ridiculous, though, so most LEGO fans refer to one or more bricks as “LEGO”


In any case, both "three lego" and "tre lego" sound horribly wrong to my ear. "Three legos" and "tre legoer" doesn't sound much better, though.

Of course. You don't say 'Seven water', do you? Similarly, if I ask you what you want to drink, I'd hope you wouldn't tell me you wanted a glass of waters. You're confusing a mass noun with an irregular plural.
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Borther Dysk beat me to it.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:56 PM on August 31, 2009


It's "a brick" or "some lego".

Calmly and quietly yours,
BSL
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2009


I certainly don't equate legos with water. Water is.... water. A bunch of lego[ brand building brick]s are a bunch of individual things.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:59 PM on August 31, 2009


And when I'm sitting on the floor and want my sister to pass me a bunch of legos, I'm going to ask for a bunch of legos, not a bunch of bricks, which in my mind default to much heavier, more substantial things that are maybe less painful to step on but a lot less comfortable to manipulate in a lot of other ways than legos. Then again, I never said Kleenex or Xerox, but I don't go around screaming at people who do either. Potato, potato.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:02 PM on August 31, 2009


The key thing here is LEGO is a trademark. And therefore you got ridculous corpspeak like
How LEGO® Enthusiasts May Refer to LEGO Products on the Internet
The LEGO Group has become aware that many LEGO enthusiasts around the world are using the Internet to share information and ideas about our products. Several unofficial homepages have been established and there appears to be a great deal of activity and interest in these sites. ...
If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say "MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS". Never say "MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs"
Therefore, officially, LEGO® is not any sort of noun at all.
posted by Nelson at 4:06 PM on August 31, 2009


I want to see someone build a house entirely out of thawed frozen waffles.
posted by maudlin at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2009


Um, you guys talking about how the wind is going to blow this down. You realize it has a wooden frame holding the structure together, right?
posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on August 31, 2009


Insects. Rain. Sleet. Sunlight. Wind. Critters. This LEGO house is going down like a slut on prom night.
posted by mistersquid at 5:00 PM on August 31, 2009


FOR GOD'S SAKE PEOPLE LEGO IS A MASS NOUN!!!!! STOP SAYING LEGOS!!!!!!

It's a US/UK thing. In American English, the plural or mass noun is most commonly "legos." Objecting to that because the term in UK English or International European English is "lego" is sort of like screaming at Americans to STOP SAYING ELEVATOR THE WORD IS LIFT!!! It just gets you hoarse, and confuses the Americans so they invade another country to feel better.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:20 PM on August 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


You don't say 'Seven water', do you? Similarly, if I ask you what you want to drink, I'd hope you wouldn't tell me you wanted a glass of waters.

I would, but I'm contraries.
posted by nonspecialist at 5:39 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Surely legos is more correct than lego? I mean, it's pretty obvious to me that saying "fewer legos" is more correct than "less lego", as lego is discrete. I know it's hardly an authoritative source, but Wiktionary seems to suggest that my memories of English lessons might be correct...
posted by Dysk at 5:49 PM on August 31, 2009


I think Lego is an adjective describing the kind of brick.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


ornament is crime...but lego's ok
posted by doobiedoo at 6:34 PM on August 31, 2009


Will he get the Stig to test live in it for about 3 months or so? 'Cause you know, you can't be too sure about anything in life until you get a tame racing driver to try it out.

Some say he has dimples on his buttocks the same size as Lego bricks.

And that his other car is a Technic Formula 1 racer.

All we know is, he's called Master Builder Stig!
posted by armage at 7:16 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just my two cents, but I'm on BSL's side, here. Even as a kid, I found "legos" really cringe-worthy; sort of like when a kid would say "how much dollars?" or "brang" instead of "brought."

I always used the word "Lego" to refer to the stuff collectively, but the pieces as pieces, or by some descriptor, so you'd have "some Lego," but, say, "ten of the yellow ones" or "one more antenna."

Grass is a more fitting mass noun referent than water, IMO.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:34 PM on August 31, 2009


Surely legos is more correct than lego? I mean, it's pretty obvious to me that saying "fewer legos" is more correct than "less lego", as lego is discrete. I know it's hardly an authoritative source, but Wiktionary seems to suggest that my memories of English lessons might be correct...

It's about countable and uncountable nouns, and there are differences between U.S. and British English usage of them.
posted by zardoz at 8:02 PM on August 31, 2009


I always used the word "Lego" to refer to the stuff collectively, but the pieces as pieces, or by some descriptor, so you'd have "some Lego," but, say, "ten of the yellow ones" or "one more antenna."

Me too.

So, would the 'legos' vernacular have people asking for a 'yellow Lego' or saying 'pass me that long skinny Lego?'
posted by stinkycheese at 8:29 PM on August 31, 2009


Lego is really, really strong, and it'd be almost impossible to remove anything from the middle of the walls. You'd really have to tear-down from the top. I suspect that would stand up to a sledgehammer better than most construction techniques, thanks to the resilience of the ABS plastic.

I'd be most concerned about the stability of the plastic in UV light and what chemicals it might decompose to.

Surely legos is more correct than lego

No more than "Maoris" is more correct than "Maori". For one thing, Lego is a loan word.

"Legos" really gets on my tits, personally, and I only really started encountering it with American English.
posted by rodgerd at 8:51 PM on August 31, 2009


Therefore, officially, LEGO® is not any sort of noun at all.

Yeah, but they didn't include the corporate brochure with the brick sets back in the '70s, so my step-brother and I just called them legos.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:02 PM on August 31, 2009


zardoz, I tried to alude to that with the term "discrete" (meaning 'countable' in this context). I'm not sure what the US-UK difference is, though - does one group refuse to accept that they're countable?
posted by Dysk at 9:17 PM on August 31, 2009


"Lego bricks" is an unwieldy term at best. If I refer to “Lego” I am – by default – referring to multiple bricks or other plastic components of the Lego-brand type. If I mean to talk about the company that manufactures the bricks I will talk about “the Lego company”. The company's attempt to wrestle control of the nomenclature back from the public imagination is pretty nakedly an effort to demonstrate some measure of copyright enforcement should they ever be faced with the loss of their trademark through genericisation (think Band-Aid, Xerox, etc).

That said, it puts me in mind of Toyota’s annoying insistence that the plural of “Prius” isn’t “Priuses” or even “Prii” but is instead “Prius-class vehicles”, making them sound like some kind of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier instead than hugs-and-unicorn-farts-powered hatchbacks (step one in keeping me from mocking your product is not giving it such a daft sounding name in the first place).

But to the terminology debate at hand, I consider terms like “boxes of lego”, “less lego”, “fewer bricks” and “a two by two flat plate, a four by two brick, and a two by two lazy susan plate” to be the accepted vernacular amongst my family and friends.
posted by MarchHare at 9:59 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would much rather have a life size Lego pirate ship.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:24 PM on August 31, 2009


I (growing up in southern California), can't remember ever referring to a single piece by any name. It was quite some time before I ever even realized the the brand name was Lego, and not Legos. We would ask for Legos. We would play with Legos. If we were playing with them, I might say "I'm looking for a long skinny yellow one". But I would never ask for a Lego. When would I ever need to specify a single piece of Legos? Maybe if I had to report to my mom what the dog had eaten. But that never came up. The dog wouldn't eat just one Lego.
posted by team lowkey at 11:07 PM on August 31, 2009


So, would the 'legos' vernacular have people asking for a 'yellow Lego' or saying 'pass me that long skinny Lego?'

Yes.
posted by Authorized User at 11:54 PM on August 31, 2009


zardoz, I tried to alude to that with the term "discrete" (meaning 'countable' in this context). I'm not sure what the US-UK difference is, though - does one group refuse to accept that they're countable?

Well, there's the 3rd person singular vs. 3rd person plural.

In U.K. English you say "The crowd were rowdy."
In American English you say "The crowd was rowdy."

The former assumes the listener knows the crowd is made up of many people, hence the plural verb. The latter uses the singular verb as the subject itself is singular. As an American I always said Legos. In British English do you say "Do you have any Lego?" Sounds strange to me.
posted by zardoz at 12:51 AM on September 1, 2009


In British English do you say "Do you have any Lego?" Sounds strange to me.

Especially if the guy saying it with the pseudo-British accent just pulled up next to you in a limousine at a stoplight. I have a feeling you'd be happy you couldn't see his lower half at that point.
posted by Scattercat at 2:05 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's just the way Americans like to say it, and they're not going to give that up. You can shout all you want but they're never gonna lego.
posted by Elmore at 2:16 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Listen, I'm still having a bit of a difficult time believing this is actually Captain Slow, aka James May.
posted by TrishaLynn at 3:55 AM on September 1, 2009


As I say in pretty much every Lego thread, relentlessly:

"Three pieces of Lego" (or "three lego bricks") to sound like a grown up.
"Three Legos" if you are five or trying to be cute.

As a cute grown-up myself, I use both, depending on the desired effect and depending on how five-years-old the Lego(s) in question make(s) me feel.
posted by rokusan at 4:57 AM on September 1, 2009


Mythbusters built a 6 foot tall ball of solid Legos and rolled it down a fairly gentle dirt slope. It fell apart after a few yards.

I love Mythbusters, but those guys fail when they get out of their element. And sorry, asavage, but baseball and Lego are two of the weak spots. That lego bit was just silly.

(I built a ball out of solid steel blocks and rolled it down a hill and it fell apart even sooner. OMG, Lego is stronger than steel!)
posted by rokusan at 5:59 AM on September 1, 2009


So, would the 'legos' vernacular have people asking for a 'yellow Lego' or saying 'pass me that long skinny Lego?'

No, a real Lego person would ask their sister assistant to "hand me a yellow 2x4 brick", "I need a 1x12 plate".

Or often "I need one of those little antenna-bendy doodads with the ball on top that looks like Bender's head."
posted by rokusan at 6:01 AM on September 1, 2009


Giving it a bit of thought, my usage of the word 'lego' as a noun in English* is stupidly inconsistent. It's definitely "a box of lego" rather than "a box of legos" - the latter sounds wrong to me. However, "pass me two lego" sounds equally wrong, so I would say "pass me two legos".

I'm going to keep doing it, mind.


*(in Danish it's very consistent, as it is used as a mass noun ("en kasse lego"/"a box of lego") but in the situations where that sounds wrong, 'brick' is always appended ("tre legoklodser"/"three lego-bricks").
posted by Dysk at 6:28 AM on September 1, 2009


Back on topic, I'm a little disappointed he didn't use the pieces to make some mosaics or patterns more visually interesting than a huge stripey box.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:42 AM on September 1, 2009


"Three pieces of Lego" (or "three lego bricks") to sound like a grown up.

If you're trying to sound like a grown-up, conversation about Legos isn't the direction to go.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 AM on September 1, 2009


Does this photo show some of the bricks coming apart already?

Why didn't they at least use some construction adhesive on the bricks? I bet they are planning on recycling them after a while.
posted by orme at 7:53 AM on September 1, 2009


Couldn't they have used LEGO DUPLO bricks to save some time?
posted by mikepop at 7:55 AM on September 1, 2009


Legos are OK, but I would rather play with Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys.
posted by libcrypt at 8:19 AM on September 1, 2009


mikepop: Couldn't they have used LEGO DUPLO bricks to save some time?

Duplo joins are nowhere near as strong as lego joins. You'd end up with a house that'd be much more prone to breakage.
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on September 1, 2009


I'm so glad it's not just me that finds the plural 'Legos' feels like someone scraping fingernails down a blackboard.

Variety in English usage is great (for example the US plural of 'dive' is much more elegant than the British one). However, on this one you're just wrong. The analogy with 'grass' as a noun used in the singular for a multiple of stuff is apt.

Secondly, who on earth asks for a single Lego brick without qualification? They're not interchangable - 'pass me a four-brick', or 'a yellow tube-brick' or whatever. So in the bizzaro-world of 'Legos' the word 'Lego', which is after all their trademark is never used?

Adding 'Lego' to list of things Americans do not understand, proudly taking its place with 'tea', 'biscuits' and 'healthcare'.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:34 AM on September 1, 2009


See, my main problem is, whenever I hear "lego", my brain immediately finishes it with "my Eggo."
posted by hippybear at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna build a death panel out of Legos.
posted by orme at 8:59 AM on September 1, 2009


who on earth asks for a single Lego brick without qualification?

People who don't care what kind of lego they get. Nonetheless, the singular lego retains uses where the nature of the lego in question is not important:

Oh fuck, the dog ate a lego.
Holy crap, the dog just shat a lego.

Timmy, take that lego out of your nose.
Timmy, take that lego out of your mouth.
Timmy, take that lego out of your ear.
Tommy, stop putting legos up Timmy's nose.

I just stepped on a lego. Pick up your legos now.

I don't know how that lego got there, doc. One in a million.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:32 AM on September 1, 2009


I hope his big brother never, EVER, comes over.
posted by beelzebub at 10:33 AM on September 1, 2009


I think it's "legoes" and I ate three fish yesterday.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2009


Or in the South, "laygoes".
posted by Fleebnork at 10:49 AM on September 1, 2009


Good god, only metafilter could devolve/evolve a conversation about a loony building a bin out of lego bricks into a grammar fight.

You kids today...get off my internets!


That said; the brick house has no windows. It's going to be very dark in this house of Lego.
posted by dejah420 at 11:53 AM on September 1, 2009


It has tiny little lego windows - you can see them in some photos.
posted by GuyZero at 12:20 PM on September 1, 2009


I can't wait to see this show already. It was announced back in March, and the stories about the stuff he's built have been dripping out since but I really just want to see it.
posted by smackfu at 3:12 PM on September 1, 2009


To make matters worse, I have an aunt who pronounces it with a long e. Leego, or maybe league-o.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:21 PM on September 1, 2009


Doesn't this exact same USA versus the World thing come up everytime Lego is mentioned on the blue? the 'legos' has been annoying me too but can we just not go there again. The US nutters will never give up their poor english skills. forget it.
posted by mary8nne at 3:43 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


can we just not go there again. The US nutters will never give up their poor english skills.

Heh. That's a nice couple of sentences. Legos.
posted by smackfu at 6:27 AM on September 2, 2009


Doesn't this exact same USA versus the World thing come up everytime Lego is mentioned on the blue? the 'legos' has been annoying me too but can we just not go there again. The US nutters will never give up their poor english skills. forget it.

Favorited for irony, intentional irony I hope. I'd also like to mention that in my neck of Appalachia growing up, if you insisted on calling them anything but Legos you probably would have been forced to eat a few.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:57 AM on September 2, 2009


I was just using "Legos" by force of habit, the inertia from an innocent childhood misunderstanding of the proper pluralization. Why shall I continue to do so? PATRIOTISM!

LEGOS, LEGOS, LEGOS - you can suck it, NATOS!
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:52 AM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


an innocent childhood misunderstanding of the proper pluralization

You mean "pluralisation"?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:17 PM on September 2, 2009


(for example the US plural of 'dive' is much more elegant than the British one).

What are those plurals and which one of them is 'dives'?
posted by Authorized User at 10:19 PM on September 2, 2009


Lego house faces demolition unless it can find a buyer.
posted by Electric Dragon at 2:54 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Too late: Lego house demolished.

Some of those pics pain my heart.
posted by rokusan at 11:57 AM on September 22, 2009


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