I, like I am sure many people do, love Lego. And, while I'm not a plastic brick fanatic who owns each one of the best Lego sets currently available, I do love a good Lego build and have built a wide range of kits over the years from small, child-focussed play sets to 3,000-piece adult display models.
And, during this time building Lego, I've discovered a selection of mistakes that are guaranteed to hamper your build, health and enjoyment with any set. As such, right here I list the 6 most common Lego mistakes I've seen and experienced, so when you come to your next Lego build, you don't make them.
1. Not building Lego on an elevated, clean, level surface
Seriously, how many times have I seen people post pictures of themselves building their new Lego pride and joy on the carpet or on a crowded dining table. Can you build a Lego set this way? Yes, of course. But do you maximise your chance of losing pieces, giving yourself back pain, and drawing the build out to longer than it needs to be, too? Absolutely.
When I build Lego, especially big sets, I want to be calm and be in a calm environment – it all adds to the pleasure. I like putting on some music, get a cup of joe and get zen while I assemble the set. And having to fight with clutter or do so while feeling physical discomfort is definitely not going to help with that.
2. Not separating Lego pieces into categorised piles
I know, I know. Boring Lego man alert! But the truth is that while it may be tempting to just empty out all your set's Lego pieces onto the table and start building straight away, you'll have a far more pleasurable build if you spend an extra 5 minutes quickly splitting the components into loosely related piles.
By doing this when you then actually start building you spend much less time searching for pieces, knowing exactly where you're likely to find it. On big builds, especially those that stretch over a 1000 pieces, this is invaluable.
3. Not performing a second sweep of instruction pages
I guarantee this is a mistake you've likely already made at some time in your Lego building life. Here's the picture. You're cruising along, building a new set, and then suddenly you realise that the instructions tell you to affix a Lego piece to another piece that, worryingly for you, isn't on your build.
What then follows is a frantic pouring back through the instruction booklet's pages up to that point as you desperately search for the missing step. When you inevitably find it, you kick yourself for overlooking a simple piece addition that was clearly shown on the instructions all along.
This has happened to me, and more than one time. It tends to happen when multiple Lego pieces are called for addition in one step, with one of them being overlooked. The solution? Every time you go to turn a page in the instruction book, simply rescan it quickly to sense check you've actually added everything you should have.
4. Not walking away from a Lego build
Ah, yes, one of my personal repeat mistakes that, even now that I am aware of it, I still end up doing too much. Large Lego builds take time, they're projects that should ideally be relished and enjoyed by their owner – half of the joy of Lego set is actually building it, not just looking at the finished piece.
So you need to fight back against any urges to get to completion too quickly, no matter how amazing the finished set will look. This is because by getting obsessed with reaching completion you'll spend too long per build session, getting cranky and likely brick tired (when you're fingers start to hurt from snapping pieces together), as well as increase the chance of you making a build mistake like missing an addition.
Knowing when to walk away from a Lego build (especially large sets) is crucial. I tend to try to avoid this mistake by setting myself a time limit on how long I'm going to spend building in any one day. Seriously, by doing this you'll have a better time per each build session, draw out the build fun, and maximise your chances of having a perfect, problem-free build at the end.
5. Letting the rule of cool dictate your Lego placement
Another mistake I've personally made myself – and to disastrous effect. Let me tell you a short story. My partner bought me a Lego Millennium Falcon and, after having a superb time building it over multiple days, proceeded to place it around our home in a variety of display positions.
Unfortunately, I became a slave to the rule of cool and started placing it in ever more cool but potentially unstable locations. The result? In the end I had it on toward the edge of my office desk (so I could gaze on it adoringly each time I worked at it) and, after having got up early one morning in my dressing gown to do some writing, got the gown caught on the cockpit and the model was dragged off the edge of the desk.
The Falcon smashed spectacularly and to a level where I then had to actually dissemble most of the model just so I could get it back to a level where I could join it back up with the build instructions. It was a painful experience that I never want to experience again.
As such, always ensure that your Lego models are stably positioned and are in low-risk areas – as chances are if you don't you'll be left ruing your mistake.
6. Using your teeth to separate Lego pieces
We've all been there, right – two (usually small pieces) get pressed together and then need separating, but they're now seemingly cemented together and you can't get finger purchase.
So, what do you do? Stick the pieces between your teeth and try to pry them open that way. Well, one, this is pretty stupid as Lego brick separator's exist for this very reason (as shown above) and, also, that's a great way to give yourself teeth pain and, potentially, even accidentally swallowing the pieces.
Indeed, I use a brick separator a lot as it also helps protect your finger ends from the Lego piece soreness you get when handling a lot of it. Basically, it is a mistake not use a brick separator. Separators now come in most large builds, but if you haven't got one you can pick them up for a pittance online.