Published January 17, 2013
This kid’s a real chip off the old Glock.
As gun control dominates Capitol Hill and dinner discussions nationwide, one British engineering student is on a block-by-block mission to put more guns into more homes — one LEGO block at a time.
Jack Streat, an 18-year-old University of Durham student, is a well-known LEGO weapons builder with more than 30,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, where he showcases four life-size, functional replicas of the world’s most recognizable firearms, including the imposing Desert Eagle with blowback action and an AKS-74U assault rifle with folding stock.
“It started when I was about 12,” Streat told FoxNews.com of his hobby turned part-time profession. “Guns were my thing at that age and I always built with LEGOs, so it was obvious to combine two things I thought were pretty cool at the time.”
Streat, who estimates he has “quite a few thousand” LEGO blocks, took his love to the publishing world last year with the release of “LEGO Heavy Weapons,” a 368-page how-to-guide to build realistic replicas of firearms that use rubber bands to propel tiny plastic blocks several feet or more.
While Streat is not the first LEGO enthusiast to build guns with the iconic toys, he has sold more than 4,000 books since May and is lauded online as a “legend” of the LEGO community.
“If you sold these in kits, I would buy them,” one post on Streat’s YouTube channel read.
“Long Live the Streat,” read another.
Streat’s book provides exhaustive instructions to build the replicas, which he estimates would cost roughly $100 to build separately, a “fairly expensive” venture, he said. But he does not sell his finished products to toy gun or LEGO enthusiasts, as he keeps the virtually all-black pieces to build new weaponry.
“They already existed when I turned up on the scene, but I came up with a few new ideas,” Streat said of LEGO guns. “But I suppose I was one of the top people at the moment doing it.”
For now, Streat has “packed away” his countless LEGOs as he focuses on studying engineering. When asked about critics who say any replica gun is a potentially dangerous standoff waiting to happen, Streat compared his wares to Airsoft or pellet guns.
“They’re less powerful, less realistic and less durable than an Airsoft gun,” he said. “And they’re not as dangerous. So whatever views you have on Airsoft guns apply vaguely here. For me, it was about finding something interesting to build and guns filled that criteria.”
Michael McNally, brand relations director of LEGO Systems, told FoxNews.com that the company does not endorse the content or practice of unauthorized books, and in particular, those featuring content that doesn’t fit with its brand values.
“That said, we do have a Fair Play Policy that members of the fan community use to fuel their passions for building those things that we will not produce,” McNally told FoxNews.com in an email.
Streat’s book does come with an emphatic warning that the replicas are not suitable for children under the age of 12 and requires adult supervision.
“When building or firing them, always wear eye protection,” the warning reads. “For maximum safety when carrying these models, the hammer and bolt should both be forward and the chamber empty. The replicas may fire when dropped or hit.”
The book also warns against handling the replicas in public because they have been mistaken for real weapons.
“If you take your LEGO gun out in public, add a bright orange tip to the muzzle as a way of saying that it’s not the real thing,” the warning concludes.
Streat, meanwhile, acknowledged that some of his online critics find the juxtaposition of LEGOs and high-power artillery to be “quite scary,” including someone he suspects to be affiliated with the Denmark-based company.
“I find it quite hypocritical,” he said. “It’s just good fun.”