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Dr. Michael Sternberg is a LEGO Champ!

Featured Article

Retired Optometrist Goes Lego Wild in Venice!

There’s a Mouth-Dropping Display of Over 40 Lego Buildouts in Michael Sternberg’s Spare Room

Article by Emily Leinfuss

Photography by Stephanie Snow Photography

Originally published in Venice City Lifestyle

Dr. Michael Sternberg was born and raised, and practiced optometry for 32 years, in Williamsburg, VA. After he retired and moved to Venice with his wife Angie in 2007, he started checking off bucket list activities.  

For example, after a few years, the couple moved back to Virginia for a while. When they left for good, Michael captained a 45-foot boat down the Intercoastal to Englewood where he became the Dockmaster at the Royal Palm Marina. Then, after he met Venice restauranteur - Brewburger's owner Michael Bacon - Michael got on board to help with the construction of Brewburger's second location. Today he still works part-time at Shuck & Ale. 

But LEGO took him by surprise. 

“About five years ago I saw a (LEGO) kit to build a Lamborghini (car),” says Michael. Fast-forward from that first LEGO build to today where, due to the kindness of his wife, the couple’s spare room displays more than 40 constructions from LEGO's sophisticated “Icons” line. That number of constructions would likely total more than 100,000 pieces and more than 600 hours.  “Most of the ones I’ve completed are vehicles, but I also have a Treehouse, a Motorized Lighthouse with a rotating beam, and one with a Thanksgiving theme that acts as a centerpiece.” 

Michael admits he enjoys seeing peoples’ reactions, especially kids – to his LEGO creations. “It’s absolutely amazing. When they walk in the room their jaws drop.” 

So far, of the couple’s four children and four grandchildren, only one – 10-year-old Wyatt – has become a LEGO champion like his Pop Pop. “Wyatt has been building LEGO for as long as I have. He builds kits I send him, then he dismantles some to make projects of his own.”

After he had had 15 or 20 kits under his belt, Michael deemed himself ready to make what he calls, “the ultimate move.” He began tackling the Titanic, which is a 53-in., authentic scale model designed to be built in three sections. The model boasts interior views of the first-class dining room, grand staircase, boiler room and more. “My wife is going to Costa Rica with her girlfriends and I’m planning on taking it apart to put in the lights and sound,” he says. 

Although he never played with LEGO blocks as a child, these newer, more-challenging LEGO kits turned out to be the activity Michael had always needed. “I just have to be doing stuff with my hands. I used to get in trouble in elementary school for it. I’m 70 years old now, so can’t do some of the repairs and fixes around the house like I used to,” he says. But he can do LEGO!

“I find it very mentally challenging,” says Michael. However, as he ages, putting them together has become increasingly physically stressful. “Some pieces are very tiny, so my fingers get stiff, and I wear a back brace to keep from hurting myself,” he explains. 

Although it seems like a solo thing to do, it’s not, says Michael. “While ‘Dr. Mike sits and builds models, Angie is working in the yard, making the garden look great. We have one of the nicest yards in our neighborhood of Venice Gardens,” he says. 

There’s also a huge Internet-based LEGO community to tap into when he gets stumped. I can post a picture of the project I’m working on, and people will help me get unstuck.”

Michael enjoys seeing peoples’ reactions, especially kids – to his LEGO creations. “It’s absolutely amazing. When they walk in the room their jaws drop.” 

  • LEGO "Titanic" with assorted LEGO vehicles below and boxes above. Saving the boxes retains the value of LEGO Kits.
  • LEGO Flowers make a beautiful bouquet.
  • A LEGO 'Vintage' VW Camper Van.
  • LEGO motorcycles, race cars, trucks and more.
  • LEGO Technic Heavy-Duty Tow Truck.
  • A "Special Forces" helicopter made of LEGO.
  • The LEGO Treehouse has three cabins in all.
  • LEGO Motorized Lighthouse features a rotating light and Fresnel lens element.
  • Dr. Michael Sternberg is a LEGO Champ!