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Schaumburg’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center unveils ‘Star Wars’ showcase

Andrew Johnsis master model builder LEGOLAND Discovery Center Schaumburg Ill. | Sun-Times Media

Andrew Johnson is the master model builder of the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Ill. | Sun-Times Media

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LEGO ‘Star Wars’ Miniland

♦ March 8- Dec. 31

♦ LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago, 601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg

♦ Tickets, $21

♦ (847) 592-9700;

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Updated: March 12, 2013 3:52PM

‘Star Wars’ and LEGO — for many children, they click together as tightly as one LEGO brick into another.

Starting March 8, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago opens the temporary exhibit “LEGO Star Wars Miniland,” the first time an American LEGOLAND will showcase a “Stars Wars” exhibit.

It’s also the first new exhibit at the Schaumburg LEGO emporium since it opened five years ago. The exhibit is a galaxy far, far away from the Chicago and jungle-themed LEGO rooms at the center.

“I’m really pumped for it to be open,” said Andrew Johnson, LEGOLAND Discovery Center’s Master Model Builder. “I’m really excited to see how guests react to it. It’s always great to have something new in our center.”

The exhibit’s theme was the result of a voting contest sponsored by LEGOLAND.

“Local LEGO fans and guests voted and ‘Star Wars’ won, so we know off the bat people are really going to enjoy it,” Johnson said. “Beyond kids loving ‘Star Wars’ and LEGO, parents are going to be impressed by the detail that went into this exhibit.”

The “Star Wars” Miniland focuses on “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Using 500,000 LEGO and 2,000 “Star Wars” minifigures, the exhibit recreates two scenes on the planet Naboo, including the battle between droids and Gungans, the native inhabitants of Naboo. Also reimagined in LEGO is the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace featuring a young Anakin Skywalker.

The three scenes include interactive components — young hands can control the pod race or operate a spaceship. And while the small exhibit isn’t an immersive experience like LEGOLAND Discovery Center’s jungle room, where animal noises and greenery surround LEGO apes and birds, or quite as grand as the LEGO recreation of Chicago, it does offer a number of impressive touches, such as each LEGO minifigure in the podrace audience sitting in the appropriate seat as seen in the movie.

Johnson thinks the exhibit will be a hit with kids and their parents.

“We’ve been joking that the kids are going to be pulling their dads out of the exhibit,” he said.

The “Star Wars” exhibit will be up through the end of December, but the center has planned a slew of kick-off activities March 8-10. They include a Droid battle in the Chicago exhibit, members of the “Star Wars” 501st Legion strolling around in full costume, and an opportunity to participate in building an oversized LEGO Yoda.

Did You Know?

♦ The plural of LEGO is LEGO. So when you tell your kids to pick up their LEGOS, you are incorrect. You should be telling them to pick up their LEGO, or LEGO bricks. Or just hope they does it on their own.

♦ How Did You Get That Job? LEGOLAND Discovery Center Master Model Builder Andrew Johnson, 24, is the Chicago area’s own master model builder, charged with setting up the center’s exhibits and leading a team of model builders. A Bartlett native, Johnson said he played with LEGO as a child but really got into them in college when he worked at a camp that used LEGO as its main teaching tool.

When the job came open nearly a year ago, he submitted a video explaining his qualifications and was subsequently invited to participate in a competition called “The Brick Factor.” After three rounds, including one focused on Chicago where Johnson built the Daley Plaza Picasso sculpture out of LEGO, he was selected for the full-time job.

“It’s possible to build anything out of LEGO,” he said. “The largest thing I’ve built completely on my own is a four-and-a-half foot Optimus Prime Transformer.”

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