Every two days, Sean McConville has the front windows of his new vintage Lego shop cleaned – because of the hand and nose prints. “People walk by, kids press their faces to the glass trying to see what I’ve got in the shop.” He doesn’t mind, though.
With 3000 sets made up of more than two million pieces, there’s always something interesting to see at Brickville in Kensington. The bricks-and-mortar (and online) store specialises in rare, retired and hard-to-find Lego sets.
There’s a range of stock available, from sets that attract serious collectors, like the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Republic Dropship for $2200, to sets that suit fans who love to build – a Technic Chevrolet Corvette, the Jurassic World Dinosaur Fossil Exhibition or a three-in-one ferris wheel.
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It’s a cosy space filled with shelves of lovingly displayed Lego sets. Some are new; others are second-hand – dismantled, weighed, sorted and resealed into fresh bags according to the Lego manual. And you can settle into an armchair to do some free building.
McConville has been passionate about Lego since childhood – he still has the space sets his mum bought him in the ’80s – but reconnecting with it as an adult was part of a grieving process. “Four years ago, my wife passed away,” he says. “At the time, my kids were 16 and 14, and I’d just started a new job.
“I fell apart. I was suffering from anxiety, my son was diagnosed with autism and was struggling at school, so I decided to take some time off to get my head right. I dug out our old Lego and we started spending time together as a family.”
They reassembled those vintage space sets, bought some new ones, and even went on a pilgrimage to Legoland in Chicago. “I started building my own collection,” McConville says. “I found if you buy three of the same set, you can build one, keep the other two until they retire and, when you sell, you’ll be net-neutral.”
After a few years of collecting, he had $250,000 worth of Lego in storage. And he saw an opportunity to change what he was doing with his life.
“My anxiety was easing up and I thought, ‘I need to get back out in the world’. I missed people. After 25 years in a corporate job, I just wanted to open a shop where every customer walks in the store and thinks, ‘Wow, this is awesome’.”
The Macaulay Road store is the result of that desire. It attracts children, collectors, casual builders and the Lego-curious. At the time of interviewing, the rarest item in the shop is the Marina Bay Sands Limited Edition Architecture set set, going for $1560. But even minifigures can fetch a high price; Lando Calrissian, the Star Wars character, goes for $225.
Although plenty of special sets fill the shop, McConville isn’t precious; anything is up for sale and none of the built sets are behind glass, except his prized ’80s space sets.
“Lego is meant to be played with. I love it when families dig through pieces at the building table or find a set to work on together,” he says. “I’m so pleased to finally be doing my dream job. In corporate, there’s no joy. I’d rather spend a day in this shop with people who love Lego as much as I do.”
530 Macaulay Road, Kensington
Thu & Fri 11am–6pm