While I've been doing time, er, sorry, while I've been spending time in Florida with my friends and family here, an intriguing thing has happened. An 8' tall Lego man washed ashore on Siesta Key (Sarasota, FL). While that in itself is a pretty funny sight to behold, what has piqued my interest is the enigmatic message on his chest. "No real than you are." There is too much of the editor in me not to fill in the word that was left out. Should it not read, "No (more) real than you are?" That in itself is quite a statement, given that said Lego man is made of fiberglass. Although a brand new Legoland theme park has just opened up nearby in Winter Haven, on the grounds of the former Cypress Gardens, the park claims that it had nothing to do with the big Lego float. While it would be a great publicity stunt, I suspect they're telling the truth. If they'd been responsible, I think that it wouldn't have a typo on it, and they'd take responsibility for it and claim the object for the park. Why not?
Just because they aren't behind the stunt doesn't mean it isn't one. This is not the first of its kind. So far, I've found videos of two other nearly identical figures that have washed ashore. One in 2007 at Zandvoort in Holland and one that washed ashore in the UK at Brighton Beach. That was in 2008. Given that a new park just opened up in Florida a mere ten days before the arrival of the giant Lego man, I had to wonder if the appearance of the other figures coincided with other park openings, but upon further investigation, I discovered that the appearance of giant Lego men didn't start 2007. The park in the UK opened in 1996 and their big guy didn't appear until 2008. While I do think it's a publicity stunt, I don't think the Lego folks are behind it. According to an article in Sarasota, Florida's Herald-Tribune, an artist in the Netherlands, one Ego Leonard (name on the back of the giant Lego dudes), is responsible. They emailed the guy at his website and got a response in first person from Mr. Lego himself. The email reads:
"I am glad I crossed over. Although it was a hell of a swimm," the email said. "Nice weather here and friendly people. I think I am gonna stay here for a while. A local sheriff escorted me to my new home."
Apparently it takes this fellow two ems to "swimm" around the world. That is one hell of a swimm after all.
What I want to know is, how many more Lego men will show up? The one that landed in Holland had the number 9 on his back. I haven't been able to find the number on the UK man, but since the Florida one had the number 8, I suspect there are more to come unless the great white sharks out there are giving themselves indigestion by biting into these fiberglass babies. Blech!
If you want to learn more about Lego Man, a.k.a., Ego Leonard, he has his own website (of course he does!). http://www.egoleonard.nl And a Facebook page: V=http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001127118502&sk=wall He's also tweeting apparently. https://twitter.com/#!/egoleonard I just signed up to follow his plastic tweets. To read more about the first (known) Lego Man washing ashore, I refer you to: http://www.marketingvox.com/giant-lego-man-washes-ashore-in-holland-032233/ More about the Florida incident can be found at: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20111025/WIRE/111029721/-1/new?p=1&tc=pg and more about the UK one can be found in many places, but here's one link to get you started: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7702121.stm
Happy Lego-ing. Thank you, Ego Leonard, for an interesting topic to occupy our idle hands/minds while you promote your art. Very effective marketing trick and nice pun off the Greek word for I (ego), as in I, Leonard, and the word Lego, which makes for an interesting subject for art as well as a statement about the plastic state of the world in general. Well done!
Videos of the Lego Finds:
Holland in 2007
UK in 2008
USA (Florida) in 2011
Beth Mitchum is the author of six novels, one collection of poetry, one collection of biographical essays, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link: http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks