Where Did the Brickmania Chicago Store Move?


Not so long ago, Schaumburg, Illinois was a sort of mecca for Lego® fans because they could visit the LEGO® Store, a Brickmania® Chicago store, and the museum Blocks to Bricks in Woodfield Mall, and the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago across the street at the Streets of Woodfield mall.  Also, Brickworld® holds the annual Brickworld Chicago convention in Schaumburg. [The next one will be from the 15th to the 22nd of June, 2022.]  Unfortunately, Blocks to Bricks closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 and never re-opened.[1]  Further, Brickmania, L.L.C. continues to have a store in Schaumburg, but it is no longer in Woodfield Mall or the larger retail district around Woodfield.  Rather, it moved diagonally across town in a southwesterly direction to south central Schaumburg, close to Schaumburg’s frontier with the suburb of Roselle.

The old Brickmania® Chicago store was located near one of Woodfield’s department store anchors.  Specifically, it was in a wing that led from a general mall entrance to the J.C. Penney department store.  At that location, there was a large window display that memorably recreated a scene from the war film Fury (2014).  It did not simply a tableau of a scene from that movie but rather depicted a camera crew filming that scene.  At the old location, I purchased a Brickmania® World War II American fighter plane set (for one of my brothers), a book that used pictures of Lego® tableaux to illustrate episodes from British history (for my nephew), and a knight Minifigure (for myself).

Founded by Daniel Siskind in 1999 (and effectively re-founded by him ten years later), Brickmania® is known for selling A.F.O.L.s (adult fans of LEGO®) and T.F.O.L.s (teenage fans of LEGO®) custom historically accurate military-themed building kits comprised of LEGO® bricks; customed-printed military-themed LEGO® Minifigures™; and aftermarket accessories that are compatible with Minifigures™.  Usually, these Brickmania® kits are vehicles from the First Great World War, the Second Great World War, and more recent wars.  However, the first kits Siskind ever sold were compatible with the old LEGO® Castle theme, and last year Brickmania® released a Roman villa kit.

In 2019, the Brickmania® Chicago store moved from Woodfield Mall to a larger space in Cove Shopping Plaza, a strip mall on Wise Road.  Consequently, it is now closer to the Schaumburg Boomers minor league baseball stadium – now called Wintrust Field – and the Metra commuter train station than to Woodfield Mall. 

Figure 1 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Brickmania® Chicago store at 522 West Wise Road, Schaumburg, Illinois 60193.

In addition to Brickmania® kits, the Brickmania Chicago store also sells LEGO® Collectible Minifigures™ (like Bricks & Minifigs).[2]  These are on display at the central desk.  On my visit, I purchased a Lovecraftian Minifigure™ from The LEGO® Group’s Atlantis theme (product line).

When I visited the new shop in April of 2021, it had a scale model of the U-505 on display next to Brickmania’s famous model of the U.S.S. O’Hare. The O’Hare was a destroyer named after the U.S. Navy’s first flying ace, Lt. Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare (1914-1943), like O’Hare International Airport. [3]  The U-505 was a German long-range attack submarine that the U.S. Navy captured on Sunday, June 4, A.D. 1944.  She has been on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago since 1954.  She is an American war prize and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The U-505 model was built by Nate Flood, a police officer in Lincoln, Nebraska and is on loan from him. 

Figure 2 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: At the old location, the Brickmania® Chicago store had a tableau that depicted a scene from Fury (2014), but at the new location it has models of the U-505, a Kriegsmarine attack submarine, and U.S.S. O’Hare, a U.S. Navy destroyer.

Figure 3 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is the open bride atop the conning tower of the U-505 model.  We see two anti-aircraft guns mounted behind the conning tower.  The presence of the scallop shell emblem on the conning tower tells us this is a depiction of the U-505 under her last commandant, Oberleutnant zur See (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Harald Lange (1903-1967), who was in charge when U.S. Navy Task Group 22.3 captured the U-505 south of the Cape Verde Islands on Sunday, June 4, A.D. 1944.

Figure 4 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a head-on view of Nate Flood’s model of the U-505 at Brickmania® Chicago.  Visitors to the U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago are greeted by a similar view of the real U-boat.

Figure 5 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a view of the U-505 and U.S.S. O’Hare models that shows the Brickmania® model kits and Brickmania® clothing displays along the east wall of the store and the Warhammer 40,000 display along the north wall.

Figure 6 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a view of the aft-end of Nate Flood’s model of the U-505 at Brickmania® Chicago.  We can see the twin rudders.  Mr. Flood used dark gray bricks to represent the wooden upper deck.  The round pieces on the deck are hatches.

Figure 7 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a view over a watch tower and a 40-milimeter twin-gun placement on the U.S.S. O’Hare model overlooking the U-505 model. In real life, of course, these warships were never side by side. Rather, they are likely displayed together because they are both tied to Chicago.

Figure 8 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a view of the aft-end of the U.S.S. O’Hare model with the front door of the Brickmania® Chicago store in the background.  The water effect is created with a huge number of 1×1 round semi-transparent blue bricks and a smaller number of 1×1 round white semi-transparent white bricks that represent surf.

Figure 9 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: On the starboard side of the U.S.S. O’Hare model at Brickmania® Chicago store is a dark visual joke with an open-mouthed shark swimming toward a Minifigure™ man’s head bobbing on the surface with red 1×1 round bricks to represent blood – as if that shark (or another shark) had already eaten most of him – and is chasing a woman.

Figure 10 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a lifeboat with an injured sailor and dog on the U.S.S. O’Hare model.

Figure 11 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: Here, we see the gun placement at the aft-end of the U.S.S. O’Hare model with 20-milimeter Oerliken twin-barrel guns. This is an anti-aircraft battery.  We also see part of the rear five-inch/38-calibur twin-barrel gun.

Figure 12 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a side view of the anti-aircraft battery at the aft-end of the U.S.S. O’Hare model and the rear five-inch/38-calibur twin-barrel gun.  Beyond, we see a display of a Brickmania® model of a stealth fighter and armored vehicles.

Credit: Brickmania TV Caption: In this video, posted on July 12, A.D. 2029, Brickmania® founder Daniel Siskind talks about the U.S.S. O’Hare model, which Brickmania, L.L.C. built in Minneapolis to permanently display at the Brickmania Chicago Store.  He relates the history of the real U.S.S. O’Hare, how he and colleagues designed and built the 11-foot-long model, and he shows off diagrams they used to guide them. Mr. Siskind pointed out that the model ship has its modular construction in common with real U.S. Navy warships.

Figure 13 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: The north wall of the Brickmania® Chicago store is lined with recreations of famous black-and-white portraits from the Second Great World War rendered in LEGO® bricks.  The one on the far left is Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944).  The one at center left is Captain Daniel Inouye (1924-2012) of the U.S. Army.  The one at center right is Doris (“Dorie”) Miller (1919-1943), a U.S. Navy cook.  The one on the far right is Lt. Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare (1914-1943).  There are free-standing shelving units in front of the north wall.

Figure 14 Credit: C.K. O’Connor Caption: My then-six-year-old niece took this picture of a model of the Tiger 131.  [The British Army’s 48th Royal Tank Regiment captured a real Tiger 131, an example of a Tiger I tank, on display at The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorest, England.]  The Tiger I was a heavy tank that served on campaigns in North Africa and the Soviet Union.

Figure 15 Credit: C.K. O’Connor Caption: This is a model of a Sheman tank my young niece photographed at the Brickmania® Chicago store.  The 1/48th scale Brickmania® kit sells for $140.

Figure 16 Credit: C.K. O’Connor Caption: The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a single-seat fighter plane produced by the Soviet Union to counter the vaunted Luftwaffe (German Air Force).  It continued to be built after the war for use by the Soviet, Polish, and Yugoslavian air forces.  The Brickmania® kit sells for $165.

At the old location, the Brickmania® Chicago Store sold books that had something to do with LEGO® such as Brick History: A Brick History of the World in LEGO by Warren Elsmore, which I purchased for my nephew.  However, when I visited the new location on Thursday, April 8, A.D. 2021, the only books I saw were Brickmania-published instruction manuals.

On my visit, the side walls of the Brickmania® Chicago store were lined with shelving units that displayed Brickmania® military vehicle model kits made of LEGO® pieces and clothing emblazoned with the Brickmania® logo.  At the far corner of the east wall and the north (back) wall is a display of Warhammer 40,000 miniature wargame products.  According to the shop’s Instagram feed, they started to carry Warhammer 40,000 in 2020.  There was a selection of new building kits that were made by competitors of The LEGO® Group on free-standing shelving units near the back wall.   The military model kits were made by Cobi, a Polish toy company that manufactures building blocks which are similar to LEGO® bricks.[4]  The shop also had a small selection of licensed Halo and Pokémon kits that were made by Mega Construx, a Canadian toy company.[5]   The Pokémon kits attracted the attention of my then-ten-year-old niece, so if you’re looking for a gift for a child instead of a grown man or a teenage boy, there are options.  These Cobi and Mega Construx kits were also more affordable than the vast majority of Brickmania® kits made with LEGO® pieces.  At the central counter, as at the old location, there are a wide array of Collectible Minifigures™ and customized Minifigure™ soldiers. 

In addition to the display with the large-scale models of the U.S.S. O’Hare and U-505, were artworks mounted on the backwall that are worth noting.  These were LEGO® brick reproductions of black-and-white photographic portraits of famous figures from the Second Great World War.  On the far left is a portrait of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891-1944) of the Wehrmacht.[6]  At center left is a portrait of Daniel Inouye (1924-2012), a Japanese-American from Hawaii who served in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Infantry Regiment and went on to serve in Congress.[7]  The portrait at center right is of Doris (“Dorie”) Miller (1919-1943) a U.S. Navy cook who won a Navy Cross for heroism.[8]  At the far right is a portrait of the aforementioned Butch O’Hare, the eponym of O’Hare International Airport.

Cove Shopping Plaza is at the northwest corner of Wise Road and Spring Cove Drive.  The address of the Brickmania® Chicago Store is 522 West Wise Road, Schaumburg, Illinois 60193. The phone number is (847) 252-9911.  The Webpage for it is https://www.brickmania.com/chicago/

Currently, the Brickmania® Chicago store is open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays, from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays.  They are closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

At the time of my visit, COVID-19 protocols were in force that prohibited more than ten people on the premises at the same time.  Customers and employees alike had to wear masks or face coverings.  I assume these protocols have been dispensed with, but there is no indication that is the case on the Webpage. 

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ENDNOTES


[1] Founded by the LEGO® Certified Professional Adam Reed Tucker, Blocks to Bricks was dedicated to building toys including LEGO®, Erector Sets®, and Lincoln Logs®.  Tucker’s LEGO® models of famous buildings had been featured in the temporary exhibit Brick by Brick at the Museum of Science and Industry from 2016 to 2018.

[2] There are two Bricks & Minifigs shops in Illinois, one in west suburban Wheaton and one in southwest suburban Crest Hill.

[3] In 1978, the Armada Española (Spanish Navy) purchased the O’Hare from the U.S. Navy and rechristened her the Méndez Núñez in honor of Vice Admiral Casto Méndez Núñez (1824-1869).  The ship was scrapped in 1992.

[4] Most, but not all, of the kits Cobi makes are models of historic or modern military vehicles. 

[5] Mega Brands (formerly Mega Bloks and Ritvik Holdings) is a Canadian company that since 2014 has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American toy company Mattel, Inc.

[6] Born in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire, Erwin Rommel was a German Army officer and theorist who served successively in the Germany Imperial Army, the Weimar Republic’s Reicheswehr, and Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht.  He was the author of Infantry Attacks, an enormously influential book published in 1937.  Generalmajor (Major-General) Rommel participated in the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the invasions of the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in 1940.  He received command of the Deutsches Afrika Korps (German African Corps) and promotion to generalleutnant (lieutenant-general) in 1941, which placed him in a position to spearhead the German-Italian invasion of North Africa.  He thereby gained the reputation as the “Desert Fox.”  After his victory at the Battle of Tabruk in Libya, Hitler promoted Rommel to generalfeldmarshal (field marshal) in 1942, but after the tide of the war turned in favor of the British, Hitler recalled him to Europe.  Field Marshal Rommel held commands in Greece and Italy before Hitler put him in charge of defending France against the anticipated Allied invasion to liberate France (by British, American, Canadian, Free French, and Free Polish forces).  It was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel who fortified Normandy.  A court-martial conducted by his fellow field marshals and generals concluded Field Marshal Rommel was implicated in Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg’s plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler with a bomb on July 20, A.D. 1944 and overthrow the Nazi Party in a military coup d’état.  Generaloberst (General-Colonel) Friedrich Fromm (1888-1945), Commander-in-Chief of the Replacement Army, who had been in on the plot, killed Claus von Stauffenberg and three other officers who had been ringleaders of the July Bomb Plot after Hitler revealed he had survived the explosion.  Rather than put Rommel, who was recovering from injuries sustained when an Allied fighter plane strafed his staff car whilst he was returning from a visit to an SS Panzer Corps headquarters on July 17, A.D. 1944, through a kangaroo court trial in the Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court) and execute him, which Hitler realized would lower morale since Rommel was the most famous German military commander and widely respected on both sides during the war, Hitler sent a message to Rommel to commit suicide and receive a state funeral or his family would be killed with him.  Roland Freisler (1893-1945), Judge-President of the so-called “People’s Court,” sentenced Claus von Stauffenberg’s brother, Berthold Schrenk Graf von Stauffenberg, and hundreds of army officers involved in the July Bomb Plot to death.  

[7] Born in Honolulu in what was then the Territory of Hawaii, Daniel Inouye served in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Infantry Regiment, which fought in the European Theater in the Second Great World War.  His right forearm had to be amputated due to an injury he suffered whilst fighting the Germans in Italy (after King Victor Emmanuel III sacked Mussolini) and received an honorable discharge in 1947 with the rank of captain.  He won the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Medal of Honor.  Captain Inouye had to give up his dream of becoming a surgeon and studied political science thanks to the H.I. Bill and then earned a law degree.  He served in the territorial legislature from 1953 to ’59.  A Democrat, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1959 to 1962 and in the U.S. Senate from 1963 until his death in 2012.  He was President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate from mid-2010 until his death.

[8] Doris (“Dorie”) Miller was a U.S. Navy cook third-class who won a Navy Cross because he helped several wounded comrades aboard the U.S.S. Virginia during the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor and fought back by shooting an anti-aircraft gun he had not been trained to use. Unfortunately, Dorie Miller was one of 644 men who lost their lives when the Japanese submarine I-175 sank the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Liscome Bay.  People who have visited the U-505 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry may recall seeing a copy of the well-known portrait of Dorie Miller on display in the exhibit hall.


2 responses to “Where Did the Brickmania Chicago Store Move?”

  1. […] Founded by Daniel Siskind in 1999 (and effectively re-founded by him ten years later), Brickmania, L.L.C. is a firm known for designing, making, and selling custom sets of historically accurate military vehicles comprised of LEGO® bricks to A.F.O.L.s (adult fans of LEGO®) and T.F.O.L.s (teenage fans of LEGO®).  In 2021, Brickmania® returned to its roots with the release of a Viking longship and several limited-edition ancient Rome kits.  The Brickmania Website has an online shop.  In addition, Brickmania has retail stores in Minneapolis; Chicago; and Chantilly, Virginia; San Diego; and Vallejo, California.  I have written articles about both Brickmania, L.L.C. and the Brickmania Chicago Store. […]

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