Lego fans flock to Cantigny's annual show

Did you happen to catch Jabba the Hut lounging outside Pizza Hut while stormtroopers enjoyed some Dairy Queen? Or Superman circling the top of Willis Tower this weekend? NO? How about SpongeBob SquarePants lounging in a rooftop hot tub?

These weren't clips from winter blockbusters but rather scenes on display in Wheaton this weekend at the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club's 14th annual Lego Train show at Cantigny Park's Visitors Center.

Those scenes, as well as an exhibit featuring a 26-foot-long model of the U.S.S. Missouri battleship complete with the historical scene of the Japanese surrender during World War II, drew crowded lines Sunday that wrapped and snaked through the building.

Michelle Heemstock of Wheaton said she doesn't remember the last time she stood in line so long for something for herself, but her 7-year-old son, James, used his "puppy dog eyes" to persuade her to bring him once he heard about the show.

"This show and Christmas are my two favorite toy-related holidays," James said. "I was so excited when my mom said we could come back this time."

His favorite scene this year was of the Millennium Falcon being repaired in a Hoth hangar.

"It's gimongous," he said.

Children weren't the only ones wide-eyed though. Kevin Muellner, a "fifty-something" engineer from Carol Stream, said he enjoys the combination of "fun" and "extreme detail" the club members put into their scenes.

"Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, my job requires a lot of extreme, precision detail," he said. "I enjoy getting out and seeing these guys add some fun into their detailed pieces. I mean, did you see SpongeBob in the hot tub on the roof over there? Hysterical."

In lieu of $5 parking fees for the event, organizers collected new, unwrapped toys for the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots charity drive.

  The 14th annual Lego Train Show at Cantigny Park was packed Sunday. Mark Black/
  Jeremy Huggin and his children, Grace, 10, and Ben, 7, of Batavia check out a Lego creation Sunday at the 14th annual Lego Train Show at Cantigny Park. Mark Black/
  The 14th annual Lego Train Show at Cantigny Park was packed Sunday with Lego fans viewing the creations of the Northern Illinois Lego Train Club. Mark Black/
  This year Cantigny Park's annual Lego Train Show included a model of the U.S.S. Missouri, complete with the historical scene of the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. Mark Black/
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