FALL RIVER — You can see it from the sidewalk: a replica of the Titanic, nearly five feet long, spanning the front window of Bob Higgins’ home on Beach Street. What you might not be able to see is that the model, a 1:200 scale reproduction of the famous cruise ship, is made from thousands of tiny LEGOs.
Higgins, 86, has made a hobby out of collecting and building highly detailed models out of the small plastic blocks.
“It keeps you nimble,” he said.
Higgins said he needed a way to stay occupied after his wife of 64 years, Janice, died last year. His son gave him a LEGO set meant to build a replica of the Disney castle.
“I was hooked,” he said. “I get up at 7 a.m. and I work on them until 7 at night sometimes.”
Higgins said it was the perfect hobby to keep both his hands and brain active. Now, his living room and a side room are filled with intricate LEGO creations, like the Coliseum, the Taj Mahal and Star Wars space crafts.
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He said he doesn’t have a particular favorite, but is particularly proud of the replica of the Hogwarts castle from Harry Potter, which he mounted on a rotating stand to better see all sides. It even has moveable staircases to mimic the ones from Hogwarts.
The average set with a few thousand pieces usually takes him about a week to assemble, Higgins said. He uses a lamp with a built-in magnifying glass to manipulate the tiniest pieces, some of which are just about a quarter of an inch across.
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The Titanic is a jewel in Higgins’ collection, and a recent edition. Around Christmas time, he spent four hours sitting outside the LEGO store in the Providence Place mall waiting for it to open to make sure he could snag one of the newly-released sets, which, at the largest set that LEGO has produced to date, were only available in limited numbers. The nearly 10,000-piece set took him two weeks to assemble, working through four thick books of instructions.
A carpenter by trade who spent 34 years doing maintenance for the Fall River School Department, Higgins likes to tinker. LEGOs are his most recent fixation, but he also has spent decades expanding on an elaborate electric train set up in his basement, and he has two vintage cars in his garage that he’s restoring, a 1939 Bentley and a 1921 model T.
He’s also getting the younger generations involved. His great-granddaughter keeps him company sometimes while he builds LEGO sets; he buys her smaller kits to keep her occupied.
“But eventually, she’s gonna get into the big ones,” he said.
Audrey Cooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.
This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Fall River man recreates famous landmarks and movie props out of LEGOs