Lego legacy - Final bricks added to 2-year project

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Tim Finley and his children, Declan and Jillian, survey the scale-model Lego replica of Fennelly’s Irish Pub, the Elkader business co-owned by Finley and his wife, Trisha.

A rather serendipitous discovery was a Lego piece that bears a striking resemblance to Sweet Corn Days mascot. It occupies a place of honor in the Lego replica of the Finelys’ pub.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

A Northeast Iowa man and his son are building a legacy, one plastic brick at a time.

Tim Finley, Elkader, and his 9-year-old son, Declan, are putting the finishing touches on a replica of Fennelly’s Irish Pub, the Elkader business Tim co-owns with his wife, Trisha. The model, built to scale, is comprised of between 5,000 and 6,000 Legos, and took the pair nearly two years to build.

“I don’t remember how this came about,” admits Tim. “At some point I just thought it would be neat to do a replica of the restaurant.” Declan was immediately on board with the project: “I was excited when Dad told me we’d be doing this,” he said. “I thought it would be fun to build something that’s real-life.” 

Tim has been interested in Lego construction since childhood and still has many of the kits he received as a youngster. Declan, who got interested in Lego-building by working with his dad’s sets, has amassed his own impressive collection. And he’s become skilled beyond his years. Many of the kits he assembles are recommended for kids nearly twice his age.

Tim created the blueprint for the pub using a Lego-hosted computer design program. He then began the tedious search for the pieces he and Declan needed to build their masterpiece. Some of the pieces are from the Lego catalog, which includes the company’s complete inventory of 14,000 bricks in more than 60 colors. Others were purchased from collectors who buy, sell and trade online. And still others were from sets that Tim purchased just for one or two specialty bricks.

“Lego regularly releases series of figures usually based around a theme of some kind,” Tim explained. “One of the releases featured a figure shaped like an ear of corn. I immediately thought using that figure and the replica to help promote Sweet Corn Days,”

Tim and Declan are putting the finishing touches on their creation, which they’re building in a “Lego cave” in the restaurant’s basement. The room has a table for large-scale pieces and display space for some of the pair’s fully assembled creations, including Declan’s pirate ship.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, one of Tim’s two favorite creations is also a pirate ship.) Other surfaces are covered with boxed sets and loose bricks. For Lego lovers like these two, it’s paradise.

And just to show that you don’t have to love Legos to be part of the creative process, Tim’s daughter, Jillian, who has always had an artistic flair, made the sign that adorns the front of the mini-pub.

The Lego pub will make its debut this weekend at the restaurant. Tim said Lego aficionados usually hide a silly figure in their creations. So while marveling at the scaled-down pub, see if you can find a tiny gray mouse.

Following Sweet Corn Days, the replica will remain on permanent display in the pub.

Next up for the father-son builders? Declan wants to do a replica of the Finley’s home.  He’s also working on a Star Wars themed, make-your-own creation.

“I’ll probably always do some sort of Legos with my dad,” Declan said. “It’s really fun.”

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