- Associated Press - Sunday, April 24, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - He started in grad school, buying bulk bags of tan bricks when his budget allowed and piecing them together over the course of five years.

John Tooker’s Nebraska State Capitol now stands 3 feet tall, and consists of 25,755 bricks, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/26gKQIN ) reports.

It’s 1/140th the size of the actual building, with Lego landscaping that’s accurate down to the single bush.

“I meant for it to be a little bit smaller,” the 29-year-old said last week, his masterpiece filling two tables in the dining room of his Country Club neighborhood home.

Tooker, a lifelong Lincoln resident and Lego fan, spends his days working as a computer engineer at EFJohnson, which manufactures two-way radios for police and firefighters.

Nights and weekends are Lego time.

“Legos engulf our life,” says his wife, Nicole. “He’s always sorting them. He’s always doing something with them.

“His creativity shines through on this.”

John is a member of the Lincoln and Omaha Lego User Group, or LOLUG, a community of adult Lego enthusiasts who meet regularly to talk about their custom sets called My Own Creations, or MOCs, which they display in annual shows and in pictures online.

In 2014, he tried to visit Texas’ Legoland theme park by himself and was turned away because he didn’t take along a kid. He returned last year with Jessica, his 3-year-old daughter.

His creations are tucked in corners all over the Tookers’ living room: a dragon, a castle, a half-dozen LEGO roses he gave to Nicole for Valentine’s Day, the Lego cake topper he made for their wedding.

A wall in their basement is stacked with plastic containers, an elaborate and always-changing filing system for tens of thousands of Lego pieces.

On his desk at work: another dragon, another castle.

He’s built dozens of Lego castles over the years, none as massive as the Capitol.

“I’ve seen a lot of other people’s projects and just wanted to do something as grand as they have,” he said.

The tower, which John designed on his computer and finished first, has been displayed at six or seven LOLUG shows over the past few years. The rest of the building came together through trial and error, and first appeared in an expo at Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens last year.

It draws attention at those shows, something original and unique to Nebraska.

“Some people even say thank you,” he said.

When it isn’t on display, he stores the Capitol in 13 sections in boxes in his basement.

He doesn’t plan to dismantle it, and would consider giving the set to a museum someday, he said.

“As long as I could keep seeing it, that’d be fine.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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