A chat with Philippe Gerard, an AFOL based in Dubai
A Chat with an AFOL – Philippe Gerard
A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with a resident Adult Fan of LEGO® in Dubai. Philippe Gerard lives in Mirdiff with his wife and has been a LEGO® collector and builder for over 20 years. Read excerpts from our interview below.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with LEGO®
My name is Philippe, and I have been collecting LEGO® for over 20 years. I’ve been collecting toys my whole life but I started with LEGO® in the early 80’s with Star Wars. Like a true Star Wars fan, I started collecting merchandise and got infatuated with Star Wars LEGO® sets and minifigures. My son would get some Star Wars toys and we would play and build together.
LEGO® is purely a hobby for me, I can never sell my creations. It is very difficult for a pure collector to sell his collection.
How long have you been in Dubai and how do you feel about the LEGO® community in Dubai?
I’ve been in Dubai for 9 years and I came here with about half my LEGO® collection and have been building it up ever since. In the UAE I have met people through Facebook. We are about 20 people in the UAE who are really passionate about LEGO®. We meet and discuss new ways of bringing LEGO® into Dubai, exchange ideas and appreciate each other’s collections.
What is your favourite LEGO® theme?
The LEGO® Movie! The LEGO® Movie was absolutely fantastic. It was about the AFOL community, because at the end you realise it could be the real-life of someone who is passionate about LEGO® and starts sharing the experience with his son. It is really magical and relates well with the AFOL community.
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to get started with LEGO®?
Buy whatever you can. Get whatever you can. One day you might regret not buying it when it was available. Some parts can be hard to find and may not come back often in the market, so when you see something you really like grab it and don’t hesitate.
Which of your creations is your favourite?
The carousel definitely. It is really such a beautiful piece. It was a very rare, hard to find LEGO® kit. But I was lucky enough to get my hands on it.
How is your family involved in your LEGO® life?
My wife is crazy about LEGO® just like me. I’m sure when I’m at work in the mornings, she plays around with the minifigures in the LEGO® city, because I see some have moved when I come back home! She takes care of everything and helps clean them, and is just as passionate as I am. LEGO® is really a family affair. You can buy a kit and build sets together with your child, it brings everyone together.
How many bricks do you think you have so far?
About 300,000 – roughly! In the beginning I thought it would be best to sort out my bricks by colour but now I do it by shape. It’s just so much easier to find the colour you need in one particular shape, rather than hunting in a sea of blue for the shape you need. I find it very therapeutic to sort out LEGO® bricks.
Which is your favourite minifigure?
I love this little Nesquik bunny. They made just this one minifigure as a promotion and I was lucky to grab it.
How long does it take to build one house in the LEGO® City?
One house doesn’t take too long, maybe 2 evenings. It took me the longest to build the Ghostbusters house. You can see all the little details in the house. It took me almost 2 weeks because I modified it.
So what’s the dream?
My dream is to have a big house with my full collection in the Philippines. I will open a café and put all my creations on display. Of course, in front of its own box. It is very important to have the box in very good condition. A fun fact – when you open your box of LEGO, you are the first human hand to touch it. Nobody in the factory is authorised to touch the LEGO®. In a few years’ time there will be more minifigures on earth than people.
What would you dream LEGO® project look like?
The list is endless! I don’t have a particular dream. I tend to work on ten things at a time and I am always putting away bits and pieces from sets and boxes to use in a different project. I don’t have the space to build a huge project right now, but I enjoy playing around with different sets and designs. I have recently ordered the Disney castle, it comes with over 4000 parts. So that will be my next big project, I look forward to it.
What are you looking forward to most at STACK?
Meeting other people definitely! I look forward to meeting other AFOLs. I’m sure there are many people living in Dubai and in the UAE who have private collections and haven’t been discussing LEGO® much outside. It would be good to meet them and maybe even work on an official AFOL community website for the UAE together. I also look forward to showcasing my work and teaching kids and young people all the great things we can do with LEGO®.
Watch highlights of our interview below!