Clint Parry started playing with LEGOs when he was 4.
Decades later, he’s built his masterpiece — another homage to the number four, as in the four major Detroit professional sports teams.
On Wednesday at LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Parry and staff unveiled a 1,500-pound gem, featuring a giant Olde English D flanked by the Red Wings and Pistons logos on the left, and the Tigers and Lions logos on the right.
The piece, with unbelievable attention to detail, will be a permanent display at Great Lakes Crossing, unless it ever takes up residency in The District Detroit, which could happen down the road. Pistons and Lions officials — as well as their respective mascots, Hooper and Roary — were on hand Wednesday, and came away impressed.
“We’ve already been talking to a couple of the franchises downtown,” said Parry, 30. “I would say it’s definitely a possibility.”
The brainchild behind the project was Adrian Thompson, a United Kingdom native who moved to Michigan to join the executive staff at LEGOLAND and SEA LIFE Center. Thompson’s a big sports fan, but his expertise mostly involved, you guessed it, soccer.
So when he got to Metro Detroit, he wanted to embrace the Detroit sports teams, especially now that they’re all playing within blocks of each other in the heart of downtown.
That’s when he approached Parry, who’s official title is “Master Model Builder.” He got to work right away, first sketching things out, then researching different logos of the teams — he chose the old-school, 1980s Tigers logo — before heading to the computer to start the exhaustive building planning process.
In the end, Parry required 72,750 LEGO bricks — yes, that’s an exact figure — which were shipped from Europe, and arrived in Auburn Hills, taking up four full palettes.
The building began late this summer.
“Adrian had this vision, a big Detroit sports project,” Parry said. “And it just kind of started from there. He wanted to show his enthusiasm for his newfound sports (interest), as well as celebrate The District Detroit. We just really wanted to celebrate that, the Detroit spirit.”
In all, Parry spent more than 150 hours designing and building the 6-foot-tall display, which is constructed around an 800-pound medal display (to keep it sturdy, in case it’s bumped or worse by some rambunctious kids). The LEGOs, themselves, weighed in at 700 pounds. The entire piece is anchored by a podium with wheels, so it can be relocated if need be.
The Red Wings, Pistons and Lions logos are the current logos, including the Pistons, who unveiled their new logo this past offseason. He went with the 1980s Tigers logo because that’s the one he finds most interesting on clothing when he’s talking to people around town.
Parry started with the mammoth, all-blue Olde English D, which he admitted was a tedious process at times.
“The side logos are all very colorful, all intricate patterns,” said Parry, who lives in Clarkston, and is originally from Iowa. “The D in the center, it’s all blue, so it did get to be a little, ‘OK, I’m just going around in circles.’ But overall, it’s absolutely a fun process. I love doing big projects like this.”
LEGOLAND in Great Lakes Crossing opened in the spring of 2016.
Prior to the opening, LEGOLAND went searching for its local “Master Model Builder,” and held an open-call competition that included about 100 participants tasked with a series of pop-quiz building assignments. Parry was living in Wauseon, Ohio, about 45 miles east of Toledo, working at a library, when he told his bosses he was going to travel to Detroit for a couple days to participate. He didn’t expect much to come of it, other than some fun times with LEGOs, and maybe a little sightseeing.
But when the January 2016 competition ended, he was the last one standing.
And Parry, with his wife’s blessing, accepted the job.
“I decided, well, I’ll try it. I just decided I’m just going to go and enjoy myself, and see what happens,” Parry said, laughing. “And then it was Sunday afternoon, and I had to make a very awkward phone call — ‘Hey, remember that silly LEGO thing I was talking to you about? Yeah, I’ve gotta put in my two weeks.’ ”