It took me approximately five hours to build the BTS Dynamite Lego set from start to finish.
Made up of 749 pieces and with a recommended age of 18 years and above, I’ll admit that the candy colors and spinning gears were cute but intimidating to someone like me who’s never built a set in her life. Normally, I’d turn down the challenge to build anything like this. Instead, I said yes in the same way most of my life decisions have been made over the past few years: the set involved BTS.
In the past six years, it was BTS and K-pop that led me to doing things outside of my comfort zone, like listening to hip-hop or reading philosophy books to interpret their music videos. It was BTS that led me to fly to another country and endure hours outdoors in negative temperatures just to see them perform. This time around, it’s BTS that pushed me to build my first ever Lego set.
Now, I wasn’t a stranger to Lego prior to this. I grew up with a younger brother who was obsessed with building things. As a child, I was constantly surrounded by plastic toys and their detachable parts. Legos, Zoids, Beyblades, and the occasional Tamiya — name a popular kids toy marketed for boys and my brother had at least one variation of it. The thing about my brother is that he loved bringing them around with him everywhere as any kid would carry their favorite stuffed toy. The difference was that his beloved figurines had detachable parts and thus carried the risk of being broken wherever we went. When he wasn’t busy creating imaginary scenarios with them, he’d stuff them in his backpack when we’d go out, or put them on the dining table during mealtimes.
Because they were easily breakable, I preferred to be a spectator over a builder. Many evenings were spent watching him and my dad hunched over a table for hours, pieces of different shapes and sizes spread over its surface as they’d both try interpreting the instructions in the manual. My brother eventually graduated to focus on collectible Star Wars Legos — most of which he built, and some of which he kept in the box. All are still with him until now. The reverence with which he regarded these “toys” stayed with me, but it would be years until my practical self finally understood what it meant to treasure these collectibles.
The moment of clarity came to me via K-pop rabbit hole. You never really know how deep you’re getting into something until you’ve amassed enough of it to necessitate buying separate storage space. In my case, it was an Ikea Baggebo cabinet, filled to the brim with an assortment of albums, season’s greetings packages, plushies, and more — all acquired during a period when I was living for each comeback teaser, album release, or concert date. It was a time I felt like I could do anything. I had all the motivation and energy to think everything was going my way, and things magically did.
With K-pop merchandise, the satisfaction of unboxing and seeing all of the inclusions (photocards, stickers, and other random paper or cardstock-based inserts) is immediate. You open it, you sleeve the photocards, then display the album or whatever package it is on a shelf for all to see. Done. With Lego sets, you clearly have to work for that joy. Thankfully, I had two building assistants in the form of my brother (whose face lit up as soon as I told him about the challenge), and my boyfriend (he had also never built a set before). My brother started by teaching some of his Lego best practices, which included putting the working bricks in bowls to make it easier to sort through, and not opening all the brick packets all at once.
A cute little retro booklet in the box says that this particular product came from Lego’s crowd-sourced Ideas program. An idea sent in by Lego fans-slash-ARMYs Josh (JBBrickFanatic) and Jacob (BangtanBricks), the universal appeal of the retro music video sets from the “Dynamite” video garnered over 10,000 supporters, leading to the creation of the actual set.
The instructions were straightforward enough, with the build consisting of four sections, all of which were segmented into separate plastic bags marked with their respective numbers. This set had a lot of tiny pieces, and there was a learning curve in interpreting which was which on the instruction manual. Having started in mid-afternoon, we kept assembling until dark, putting together tiny square tile upon square tile, sticking the proper stickers where they were needed (a note — the record store stocking the group’s discography was a fun touch, though I wish they had space for the mini albums too).
Eventually, we hit the first roadblock: there was a piece missing. After turning the whole table over to look for it, we decided to take a break to eat. I went back to doing my actual work while my boyfriend took over building – it turns out I had assembled one section wrong, so he’d had to reverse engineer it to figure out where the missing part was used. I finished the final section the next morning: the stage. Rejoicing for this last hurrah, I placed the member minifigures in their respective sets, snapping away to get all the good angles.
“Dynamite” wasn’t my favorite era, but seeing the seven Lego minifigures lined up together brought me back to a time of my life when the entire world was on lockdown and BTS was one of my remaining sources of joy. What would it be like if OT7 filmed a “Run BTS” episode where they formed teams to build this set? I could already see it playing out in my head, the Korean variety show editing peppering the video with pauses and rewinds, the giant question mark captions appearing over the members’ heads when they couldn’t understand why the pieces weren’t coming together. If the world was still on lockdown, maybe some members would build it on Vlive (RIP).
Looking at the finished product, I found myself missing the days of my heightened obsession, when despite all the chaos going around, seeing my K-pop biases doing mundane things gave me the sparks and a will to live.
The five hours I spent building this set were just another five of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours I’ve spent on BTS, and as usual they’re five hours I don’t regret. I still do miss BTS, and this momentary escape from the stress of the daily grind helped me tap into some of my favorite memories of the group.
I started building the BTS Dynamite Lego set thinking I was doing so because I miss BTS, but completing the build made me realize that maybe I miss who I was then more. With Hobi enlisting and the other members due to follow soon, there’s still a lot that can happen between now and the group’s uncertain 2025 reunion. Maybe by that time they’ll have another BTS Lego set to immortalize the comeback reunion. For now, I’m holding on to the collectible BTS Dynamite set to remind me to keep that spark alive.
The BTS Dynamite Lego set is available on bankeebricks.ph and Lego Certified Stores in Metro Manila.