Boy with Autism builds world’s largest Lego Titanic replica
Pigeon Forge- A 26-foot-long, 5 foot-high, 4 foot-wide Titanic model- built out of 56,000 Legos by a boy with autism from Iceland is on exhibit at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge.
With a passion for the ill-starred ocean liner, Brynjar Karl Birgisson built his Titanic replica when he was only 10 years old. Brynjar created his replica using only a blueprint he created with his grandfather in a borrowed storage room.
The massive replica, along with Brynjar’s motivation and construction forte grabbed international attention. Now 15, Brynjar, became known as “the Lego boy” as his Titanic replica toured Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Germany. The Lego liner has now been anchored in the Pigeon Forge attraction through 2020.
The liner has interior lights and 200 Lego passengers on its decks. The floor was painted in a deep black which makes the platform of the model seemingly invisible.
The Pigeon Forge museum created a five-minute video that plays in the background of the replica showcasing the iceberg struck by the Titanic along with black and white photos of passengers.
While visiting the attraction with his Mother Bjarney Ludviksottir and grandfather Ludvik Ogmundsson, Brynjar said, “it was born to be here, I was really happy to see it, I love it.”
The museum has stated that the replica constructed by Brynjar is the largest Lego replica model of the ship in the world. The Titanic sank in the early morning of April 15, 1912. Roughly 1,517 people died after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sank on its voyage from Great Britain to New York.
Titanic Museum co-owner Mary Kellogg learned of the Lego replica when Ludviksdottir wrote her a letter. “There was no place to keep it,” Kellogg said. “It was going to be destroyed unless they found it a home.”
Kellogg was interested in the construction of the ship but was more so interested in the real story, which was that a young boy with autism built it.
After becoming fascinated with the ship Brynjar wanted to build the replica out of Legos after seeing large model objects during a trip to LEGOLAND in Denmark.
He asked his grandfather, an electrical engineer, how big would a Titanic Lego scale model be? “I thought when I told him it had to be so big, he would stop. But he didn’t,” Ogmundsson said.
Friends, family, and strangers all donated money to help purchase the Legos. Ludviksdottir started an online crowd funding so supporters could donate for Brynjar’s work. The total cost was 800,000 Icelandic Kronur, which is roughly $8,105 in U.S. currency.
The total hours worked came out to 700 hours. In order to complete the massive replica, Brynjar had to work hours after school, stacking and gluing pieces together. After the stern collapsed twice he became discouraged but Brynjar refused to quit.
“As the bricks went up and up and it began to rise, it became an obsession,” he said. “It was, I need to finish, I had to finish. So many people stop at a project … But anything is possible if you believe.”
Building his Titanic changed his life, helping him move out of an “autistic fog.” When he began, he was extremely shy and spoke little. But Ludviksdottir encouraged her son to plan and speak about his idea. She helped him write letters, create a YouTube video and talk to strangers.
“It would have been easy to say this was not possible, that we did not have the money,” she said. “But something in the back of my head said … go for it, don’t kill the dream. And he was able to figure it out.”
In 2013 Brynjar spoke at the nonprofit TED’s TEDx kids meeting in San Diego. A little over a year later he spoke to 1,200 teachers in San Diego about the project.
The museum has paid to have the Titanic model shipped in three sections from Europe. Members of the Tennessee Valley Lego Club rewired the ship’s LED lighting, reassembled the ship, and fixed up some Lego funnels. They also rebuilt the bow’s Lego bridge.
“This is a big deal in the world of Legos,” club president Peter Campbell said. “You do see things this large but not very many of them. And he was 10 at the time, so it’s definitely unique in that regard.”
The original figures that Brynjar included on the ship were from star wars and other comic books. Because the museum wanted a more authentic experience the club president Peter Campbell created 200 figures from photos that were sent to him from Kellogg of actual passengers.