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Yuma man aims to set record with LEGO collection
It all started with an unassuming windmill set given to Kyle Ugone back in the mid-1980s. Now Ugone, a Captain in the Marine Corps and veteran of Iraq who just returned from a deployment in June, is aiming to earn a Guinness World Record for owning the most completed sets of LEGOS anywhere on the planet.
Ugone currently has about 1,250 completed sets all throughout his home. The sets literally cover just about ever usable surface in his house — bedrooms, living room and den.
He has built spaceships, railroads, pirate ships, castles, Star Wars figurines, robots, and just about every other set imaginable.
Above his living room mantel sits the Death Star, Darth Vader's TIE fighter, an X-Wing, and a bust of Darth Maul. Several Millennium Falcons rest on his kitchen counter. Altogether, Ugone estimates the sets are worth at least $50,000.
“Nobody really displays their sets is what apparently makes me unique,” Ugone said. “There are people out there with a bunch of sets but they are all in boxes and shipped away somewhere. I decided I wanted to display.”
On Saturday, LEGO expert Ash Nickle came to Ugone's house in Yuma from California to verify the authenticity of the sets, while City of Yuma Councilmember Cody Beeson witnessed the tally process to make it officially acceptable to the Guinness judges.
Nickle said the huge collection of completed sets is rare.
“He has some that were European only sets, especially the trains. His Star Wars collection is fairly extensive, especially the large ones. Some are rare to get and some are insanely expensive if you wanted to buy them now versus when they first came out.”
While Ugone has about 1,250 completed sets, because some were missing the original directions or were duplicates, only about 900 could officially be counted. But that still beats the needed mark of just 500 sets by a wide margin.
It took Ugone a year to build the sets. He estimated he built about six a day while watching movies. He was interrupted for the six months he was deployed to Iraq, but got busy once he returned home.
If other collectors try to break the record, Ugone doesn't mind.
“This is a one time, once in a lifetime deal,” he said. “If people want to spend six months of their life building sets to break it, they can. I will only do this once.”
Ugone didn't initially set out to break the record.
“I actually keep catalogs of everything, so what I do is take picture of every set I have for inventory purposes,” he said. “The problem was, my hard drive fried so I lost every picture. So I started building them again to take the pictures.”
Before he knew it, half a room was filled with completed sets. Then a collector in Ohio who Ugone corresponds with said he wanted to build every set LEGO has ever made.
Ugone then emailed Guinness to see if there were any world records for completed sets. There were none, and so they sent him an application package.
“I just kind of fell into doing it,” he said. “Once I got the packet and realized I could do it, that was when I was full bore towards it. Luckily I had a big enough house. I had to buy all the tables, which was the crazy part, but I had enough room in the house to actually do it.”
Ugone has been collecting and building LEGO sets since he was about 5 years old. That was when his parents gave him the windmill, wrapped up as a present, for a special occasion.
“That set came out in ‘86,” he said. “I remember opening it up and playing with it. That was the first one that set it off. Growing up I always wanted to be an architect or engineer type person. I always liked building stuff.”
Ugone does not have just one favorite set.
“There are a lot of favorites. As my favorite theme, I like the old space sets. They are all pretty cool.”
Ugone said his Marine buddies are understanding about his obsession with LEGOS.
“LEGOS are kind of weird. It is a childhood toy everyone kind of respects when they get older. If you say you have a bunch of LEGOS, they say, ‘oh that's cool. Can I come see them?'”
Ugone will continue to collect LEGO sets, but only themes that interest him such as space and Star Wars.
“They are always coming out with stuff. Just this month they came out with six or seven new sets,” he said.
Ugone has already bought several of the new sets, but hasn't built them yet. The fun is not in displaying the finished sets, but the process of building them, he explained.
Ugone is looking forward to becoming an official record holder. It will take a month or two for Guinness to make the title official.
“Its going to be fun and it all happened in Yuma.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.