Yesterday’s post detailed my 2.5 day drive from home in the UK to Billund, Denmark. Today I will tell you more about the town.
I had been booked into the LEGOLand Castle Hotel where I was given a large family room on the ground floor. The place was very much themed to the whole LEGO Castle genre, with dragons adorning a shelf next to the bed and on a huge back-lit “stained glass window” above the headboard.
Matching bedclothes, curtains and pelmet also kept the whole scheme “on brand”.
There were also murals everywhere dipicting minifigs doing epic battle with various foes. There was even a sword made of LEGO hanging above the loo!
Today was supposed to be a rest day for me, after so much recent driving. So I had the day free to explore Billund on my own. But first, I had an appointment to deliver the three boxes of MOCs for the Masterpiece Gallery, ready for setup day tomorrow.
I had last visited LEGO House in late February, when I came on a very long day-trip via plane from Stansted. But it felt very odd indeed sitting outside the House in my own car, waiting for the rain to ease up before going inside. It hardly seemed possible that I had manged to drive myself all the way here!
Once the cargo was delivered, I made the short journey to LopLet, a popular Fleamarket on the outskirts of the town. It is renowned amongst LEGO fans for having all sorts of vintage LEGO treasures available on its shelves, much of which is only put out in the week leading up to the LEGO House Fan Day (which is the day after tomorrow, as I write this). [Later addition: sadly LopLet has closed permanently in early 2020, so I was amazingly fortunate that I was able to visit during this trip.]
The shelves were indeed stacked high will all sorts of curiosities. Jack Stone is a theme I could never get my head around, but this pristine boxed example was available for fans of the heroic main character.
I also bumped into several AFOLs while I was browsing inside. One lovely couple were from Australia and had just been on one of the exlusive LEGO Inside Tours during the trip of a lifetime. Another was Paul Hetherington and his partner, both hailing from Canada. Paul is another AFOL who will be putting his work into the Masterpiece Gallery tomorrow. I have admired his work online for quite a while, so it was great to finally meet him in person.
I was trying to be good, but I was captivated by the tiny Modulex which was on display. Modulex is a smaller version of LEGO bricks which were made exclusively for architects during the early 1960’s. It often costs a fortune in the UK, and so I was really lucky to be able to kick-start my collection with these lovely treasures at a fraction of the cost. [You can see what I made with some of the Modulex in this later post.]
Having toured the flea market to my satisfaction, I drove back to the hotel to park the car. The weather had begun to clear up after the early rain, so I decided to take a walk into the heart of town. But first I went for a very quick look at the gates of LEGOLand Billund – sadly closed today, which was a shame. I would have liked to explore Miniland, even though I wasn’t too bothered about any of the rides.
These colourful LEGO soldiers were still standing to attention outside, even though there weren’t many visitors about.
I headed along Åstvej, passing the building site for the new global Headquarters of The LEGO Group. Still under construction, even the hoardings surrounding the site were delightfully LEGO-themed!
One showed minifigures, the classic Duck, a pine tree and aeroplane, while another showed a plan of the new site which is gradually taking shape.
It looks like they still have a few bricks to add to their model!
LEGO House itself was closed today (I got special dispensation to visit to drop off my models earlier), but Bamse Museet (The Teddy Bear Museum) is close by. The collection is housed in a building which used to be the private residence of The LEGO Group’s founding family, the Kirk Kristiansens. It was was built in 1959 and now displays over 1500 teddy bears. I decided to have a hot chocolate and slice of cake in their café – with a group of bears for company! The pandas were friendly enough, but the chap slumped at the back looked a bit like he had been on the sauce last night! I did not ask how his headache was going…
Fortified by my pitstop, I set off to walk around the centre of town. Ole Kirk’s House was the original family home of the first generation founder, Ole Kirk Kristiansen. It now houses a private museum of vintage LEGO for staff.
The new LEGO House was opened in September 2017, right in the middle of Billund on a site which used to house the Town Hall. Its modern looks and clean lines are very reminiscent of LEGO bricks themselves – a deliberate choice on the part of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, who has been a fan of the toy since his childhood.
The rest of my day was spent taking a long walk around some of the side streets of Billund looking for a few more geocaches. It was great to stretch my legs after being cooped up in the car for so long to get here.
Tomorrow I will write all about my amazing experience setting up my models in the LEGO House Masterpiece Gallery!