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No Kate Moss but heaps of impressive Lego at Modelworld

 

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This was a big hit with my nephews last year. “Two hours?” I shrugged when my brother wanted an estimate of how long he had for lunching in North Laine. As it was, we only left five hours later because the show was closing.

Modelworld has been an annual fixture at the Brighton Centre on the seafront since the Seventies – you may have even gone as a child – but if you haven’t been and you dipped into the website for an overview in the past the disappointing photos may have put you off. I based my own decision to book on a hunch that oversized Lego constructions and train sets sounded right up the boys’ street.

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Happily, it looks like the website has had an overhaul so there are more images and even a little video to give you an idea.

The set up is simple – it’s primarily a geeks-meet-kids fest, which works beautifully. If you knew someone obsessively making a giant scale model of a ship out of Lego bricks in their shed you might give them a, pardon the pun, wide berth. Kids however will say “wow!”, ask questions and relate the feat to their own more modest creations. The modellers get the appreciation they deserve and kids get a buzz quizzing adults on things that relate to their own world.

There’s usually a Doctor Who area you can glimpse from the seafront with wooden Daleks kids can have a go inside and a mock up Tardis (I managed to convince my then five-year-old nephew that one of the buttons would turn him into a girl).

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Last year there was a Millenium Falcon made out of Lego too and I predict more Star Wars stuff this year.

Clever marble runs with motorized Lego held my attention. There was also a Robot Wars-style smash up area and my personal favourite (see, I was totally won over), a road with remote controlled diggers lifting actual soil and transporting it about.

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I expected the huge train sets to have the biggest appeal for the boys but we spent the most time (about two hours with remarkable patience from them between set-ups) beside the tank where various water squirting model boats and a submarine that actually sank and resurfaced, were being put through their paces.

boats collage rCreated

Seven-year-old had just done the Titanic at school so was delighted when a detailed scale model of the ship made an appearance. “Are they going to make it hit the iceberg and sink?” he asked gleefully just as the commentary reminded us of the tragic loss of life, albeit to a Celine Dion soundtrack.

Kids can’t have a go at the controls of everything but there was some decent interactivity – a craft area, a tiny ride-on train and for a few extra quid the boys got to drive tanks around a course using giant remote controls. There was also the ad hoc chance to have a go at some of the boats for free – but control expectations here as not every child got a try.

tanks

For adults less happy to kneel on the floor, there’s a lot of standing. My husband who was running the Brighton half marathon the next day came over all panicky and went for a leg-saving break at the café kiosk tables upstairs. You could also take some time out in the craft area or try your luck in the small café near the entrance and hear about that epic structure the children are going to create, if only you’ll buy them enough Lego bricks.

Model World runs February 19-21 at the Brighton Centre. Tickets costs £9.50 adults (£7.50 concessions), £5.50 children or £26 for a family ticket (two adults, two children). brightonmodelworld.com

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