Janesville34.9°

Lego Christmas: A hobby 'gone awry'

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 26, 2007
— It’s hard to explain just what Rene and Troy Tarnutzer’s basement is like.

It’s like Christmas time at in the Land of Primary Colors.


Or like the home of a six-year-old with a Lego fixation who won the lottery.


Words just can’t do it justice.


Here are the facts: Troy Tarnutzer, 38, the beloved husband of Rene, adored father of Alex, 3, and fairly normal guy, has more than 200,000 Legos, Duplos and Quatros.


With those 200,000 pieces he has made … no wait, it would be easier to list the things he hasn’t made since he has put together more than 700 pre-designed sets.


“It’s a hobby that’s gone awry,” Tarnutzer said.


Most recently, Tarnutzer created garland for his Christmas tree using more than 1,400 Lego pieces. He used a drill press to put holes through each one, and then strung them together with fishing wire. He also created Lego decorations for a wreath.


“We ordered the Legos straight from the company; they came in a giant refrigerator box,” Rene said.


The Tarnutzer’s tree has more than 270 ornaments—including 25 Lego candles and 32 Lego candies—and 1,600 lights. Under the tree, a train—made of Legos—runs past a green dragon—more Legos—and a vivid Lego sign.


The colorful tree dominates the basement “Lego Room.”


The room includes: Red, blue and yellow furniture; a Lego-themed bathroom with Lego clock and Statue of Liberty; wooden cornices that look like Legos over the windows; Lego planes hanging from the ceiling, a child’s table designed especially for making Lego creations; a Lego train on a shelf near the ceiling runs past dozens of little Lego train stations, police stations, shipping yard and other buildings and bins and bins of Duplos, Quatros and Legos.


It sounds like chaos, but really isn’t: The well-lit room is surprisingly tidy, like a Lego store before opening hours.


In 1999, when the home was new, it was on the Parade of Homes.


“People kept on saying, ‘How many kids do they have,’ and the answer, at that time, was ‘None,’” Rene said.


Now, Alex often sits down with Legos with Dad.


“It’s such a great outlet for him,” Rene said.


As for Troy, he’s already thinking about his next project: An all Lego Christmas tree.



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