By June Mathews
When Trenton Stewart was 5 years old, his older brother, Parker, received a Lego Star Wars V-Wing Starfighter set for his birthday. After a couple of failed attempts to assemble it, Parker lost interest. But Trenton took the set and built it.
Thus began the youngster’s fascination with all things Lego.
“I soon realized I was able to build whatever I imagined,” said the now 15-year-old Mountain Brook High School student, “and I started building everything.”
As he’s gotten older, Trenton’s efforts have moved from assembling packaged Lego sets to using scrap bricks for whatever he wants to create. He’s become particularly adept at building guns that shoot Nerf bullets or Lego pieces.
“It’s not the fact that they’re guns but the fact he has figured out how to make them work with pretty much just rubber bands,” said his mom, Allison. “These guns have functioning magazines, and it’s seriously the most unreal thing. It’s all out of Lego, and he figured it out himself.”
But, says Trenton, his favorite Lego piece is likely a replication of the legendary sword of Artorias from the Dark Souls game, a project for which he had to order the pieces. He was 11 years old at the time.
“It looks simple and basic, but it took several attempts to get it right,” he said. “It actually taught me a different way of thinking when comes to building.”
As Trenton’s passion for building grew, so did the number of Lego bricks in the Stewart household, and his mother began finding them everywhere – in the refrigerator, in the washing machine, in pockets, and one time even in her salad.
“At one point they were so scattered, I put down a six-foot piece of blue painter’s tape to mark a boundary. A Lego brick couldn’t cross the piece of tape,” she said. “My lecture on this lasted about eight minutes, and the boundary lasted about six. I waved the white flag after that.”
Fortunately for Trenton, though, his mother saw beyond the disarray to her son’s remarkable skills and realized what an exhibitor table at Birmingham’s BrickFair event could mean for him. So, two years ago, that’s what he got for Christmas. BrickFair, according to organizer Todd Webb, is a Lego fan show built by fans for fans.
“For our exhibitors, we have tons of models to share and show off, games to play together, and admiring, learning from and inspiring each other,” he said. “For our public visitors, we have all the Lego creations to share, as well as meeting and talking with many of the creators and other entertainment as well.”
The first BrickFair took place in 2008 in a 10,000-square-foot hotel ballroom in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
BrickFair events now require expo halls ranging from 70,000 to 130,000 square feet and take place a few times a year in different places around the Eastern United States. BrickFair first came to Birmingham in 2012. This year’s local event will be at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, Feb.3-4. It’s Trenton’s third time to participate.
Demonstrating At Brickfair
“We love BrickFair,” said Stewart. “The crowd is great, and they’re always so enthusiastic to see what Trenton is doing, and they fully appreciate what he’s done.
“The biggest difference between him and other exhibitors is that the things he builds actually function, so he stands there for eight hours and demonstrates what his guns do.”
As for Trenton, he enjoys meeting the other builders and interacting with the people who stop by his table.
“I look forward to seeing kids’ faces light up or the adults who are shocked when a Lego gun can actually shoot,” he said. “For me, BrickFair is all about the people who come to see me and tell me about the things they’re doing as well. There are so many great people there.”
When not building with Legos, Trenton’s interests include spending time with friends, volunteering at the Birmingham Zoo and playing video games, “because I’m a teenager,” he explains.
Not surprisingly, given the skills he’s honed with Lego, Trenton aspires to one day be either an engineer or a film director. Lego, he said, will always at least be a hobby, but he’s not ruling out something more.
“If a career in Legos began to happen, I would not complain at all,” he said.
Tickets for Birmingham’s upcoming BrickFair are available in advance or at the door for $14 per person, per day. Ages 3 and younger are admitted for free.
For more information, visit brickfair.com. ❖