Talk about a time-consuming (and expensive) hobby.
Tomáš Kašpařík is a self-described “35-year-old kid” living in the Czech Republic.
He loves thrill rides, roller coasters and yes… LEGOs.
Combine those passions and you get Kašpařík’s latest project: a 90,000-piece, moving roller coaster modeled after the real El Toro coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.
Kašpařík estimates that it took him about 800 hours to create the giant build, including shopping for the pieces and designing the tracks.
“Just like most LEGO enthusiasts I build alone,” he said in an email. “Everyone has different imagination and if I created it with someone else, it would not look the way I want it to.”
The coaster is so large — more than 21 feet long — it wouldn’t fit in Kašpařík’s flat. He had to rent a room to house the build during the construction phase.
In addition to the rolling climbs and falls that match the lines of the El Toro coaster, Kašpařík’s build adds elements of pure fun with landscaping, LEGO mini figures, an amusement park-style merry-go-round and aerial carousel.
Look closely and you’ll see Homer and Marge Simpson among the thrill-seekers.
But make no mistake: Building this giant masterpiece took elbow grease, some advanced math and a lot of patience.
“The biggest problem with a coaster this large is humidity and temperature,” Kašpařík says. “It affects friction between the wheels and the track, so in extremely cold, hot or humid weather the cart moves at different speed.
“This can cause it to go too slow and not to make it over the hills, or to go too fast and derail from tracks, which is catastrophic for the passengers. :)”
Kašpařík used a hot-air pistol to heat the coaster’s rails, allowing him to bend the track as he needed. He spent about 50 hours — more than an entire work week — just molding the track.
This is not Kašpařík’s first go-round with large-scale LEGO models. He has built “The White City” from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, a Ferris wheel and an interactive amusement park with moving rides, a haunted house and a maze.
Children could actually make the rides in the LEGO park move by pushing buttons.
Kašpařík said his roller coaster build works exactly like the real wooden coaster on which it is modeled. The cart carrying the passengers has plates on the bottom that contain “teeth” that are pulled up the tracks by a chain.
The chain is powered by a small LEGO engine hidden inside the base of the model.
Want to go see it? Book your ticket to Europe now.
The coaster is sitting in 45 separate boxes, waiting to be unpacked in a LEGO museum/hall of fame of sorts in Prague.
It will be part of a permanent display there, beginning in January.
Does Kašpařík have any words of wisdom for other would-be LEGO master builders out there?
“The best advice I can give is to practice your imagination.”