Since 1947 LEGO has been producing the small, colorful, plastic, building pieces we’ve come to know and love. Whether it’s the latest set relating to a movie or one of their cityscape designs, it seems like just about everything can and has been made out of LEGOs. However, a local optometrist, Dr. Trent Cluny, found one set LEGO has yet to create.
He tells me the idea actually came to him when it was time for the annual holiday office party at Olympia Vision Clinic. He wanted to come up with a funny gift. Because his six-year-old daughter had recently discovered the colorful, plastic blocks, LEGOs were fresh on his mind. As Trent explains, “It started out just as a joke. My daughter loves scientists. Building something that she could play with physically that represents what we do at my office was just kind of fun.” Furthermore, Trent says there are many sets with firemen and police but not many related to the medical field.
“So I modeled this LEGO set off our exam rooms. I started with just pieces we had and then got into buying specific pieces online. I made stickers to put on certain pieces and put a lot of time into it. It finally came together.” The reaction to Trent’s set was much more than he expected.
After his LEGO set was a big hit at the party, one of the other doctors decided to share photos of it on Facebook and quickly garnered 1500 likes in a few short days. But this was only the beginning. After receiving so much positive feedback and a lot of encouragement, Trent decided to submit his design to the LEGO Company itself.
The first step involved a short vetting process to make sure it fit their guidelines and the rest happened rather quickly. “Our party was on a Thursday,” he says. “On Friday we uploaded the pictures and Sunday morning I got it approved. By Monday or Tuesday, I already had about 900 people supporting it.” He’s still a long way from the 10,000 supporters he needs, but LEGO gives you plenty of time to get the word out. Once he hit 100 supporters, Trent received a one-year extension to gather the rest. If his numbers go up, that period can extend to two years. It’s not hard to go online and vote for Trent’s creation, but you do need to register with LEGO first.
If Trent’s design gets the required number of supporters (10,000) and is chosen by LEGO, he explains how actual designers will fine-tune his set before putting it into production. Additionally, Trent explains, “They give you one-percent of sales, so I’m not doing this to get rich. They also give you five complimentary boxes of your set to keep for posterity.” At the suggestion of others, he’s still making little changes to the set himself. A wall of glasses was a recent addition, which his daughter even helped him to design. However, she didn’t receive her own Optometrist LEGO set until Christmas morning under the tree.
Trent’s set is a near exact replica of one of the exam rooms at Olympia Vision Clinic where Trent is known as Dr. Cluny. From the complex optometry equipment down to the countertop sink and mirror, it’s very accurate and believable. “Just for an initial set, I feel very good that this is true to what our office is like,” he says.
Because we all know doctor’s offices can be a bit intimidating, to children in particular, Trent hopes the LEGO set will help children see a visit to the eye doctor as more friendly instead of something to fear. Perhaps other doctors can use it as a tool with their own patients, too. Trent offers this rationale, “When you walk in, you see all the different machines and wonder which one is going to take your eyeball out. Once you get kids settled into the exam chair and talk to them about what you’re going to do, they relax more.” Offering a way for kids to understand the office, machines and procedures in advance can go a long way to easing anxiety.
Besides the overwhelming response from his patients, Trent says that the community outreach has been a great part of the process. “I’m finding so many LEGO families,” he says. “It’s really great to connect. It’s a big community out there of people that love LEGOs.” Obviously, not just children love LEGOs. “I will admit I sometimes play more with the LEGOs than my daughter does,” Trent tells me laughing.
I’m right there with him, always encouraging my son to build his latest set with me as soon as he receives it. In fact, after showing him the pictures of this potential new LEGO set, I can say it’s already on his list of ones to get. If a ten-year-old boy’s reaction doesn’t convince the LEGO Company, I don’t know what will.
“What started out as just kind of a gag gift has snowballed into something that’s bigger than I ever thought it could be,” Trent says.
If you would like to vote for Dr.Trent Cluny’s Optometrist LEGO set, follow this link to register and become a supporter or visit Olympia Vision Clinic on Facebook for more information about the project.