"Holy Grail" of Legos reflects passion - Uintah Basin Media: Basin Life

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"Holy Grail" of Legos reflects passion

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Posted: Monday, March 3, 2014 3:48 pm

Legos.

Bionicles.

Kanohi.

Platinum and gold.

$15,000

The common link between them all rests in a collection of Lego kits and special release "masks" owned by Andre Hurley of Roosevelt.

"I began playing with Legos when I was about 8 years old," Hurley said. "By 11 I knew I was collecting, not just playing with them anymore."

Over time Hurley collected an expansive assortment of Lego kits, which included virtually every packaged kit ever made.

Around the turn of the century, Legos started a story line of products called Bionicles.

"It was the first time the company had approached a storyline to launch products," Hurley said.

Then, things became more interesting in his collecting, as he studied, he learned the company had produced special limited edition Bionicle masks as incentives and rewards for employees.

The gold mask was officially released in 2002 and the platinum piece followed in 2003.

There were five gold masks made which were released to the public. It isn't really known how many may have been given internally to Lego company employees. They would have received them as bonuses.

"There were five official gold masks released to the public, which came with a presentation case and a neck chain," Hurley said. "Then, in 2003 Lego and Toonami had a contest giveaway, which they wanted to be 'epic.' For first place, the winner would get the entire line of 2003 Legos, a flat screen TV and to top it off, the pure platinum Avokhii mask."

A young boy won the prize and put the Avokhii mask in a box under his bed and forgot about it, until his college costs became a concern. The boy remembered the mask and thought it might help with his bills.

Stopping by a jeweler, he was offered $3850 for the mask as metal scrap.

But, fate would intervene, he spotted the "Brick Hut", owned by Caleb Raff, in Santa Rosa, Calif. Raff understood the collector's value of the piece and bought it from the original owner.

Raff eventually put the piece up for sale on Ebay for $29,000, about the same time that Hurley finished his set collections.

"In 2013 I finished collecting one of every Lego set ever released in each production year, plus one of each of the collectibles," Hurley said. "I also had one of nearly all the comic books too."

Then he saw the listing for the platinum Avokhi mask. After numerous calls to Raff, Raff decided to give Hurley time to raise money for the purchase.

"I was only missing two of the key pieces to have a complete collection, a gold mask and the platinum Avohkii," Hurley said. "Then, a gold mask came available while I was working toward buying the Avokhii. I bought it, but that set me back on raising the money for the platinum mask."

In Nov. 2013, Hurley got the gold mask. After selling about a quarter of his collection of kits, he raised enough money to make an offer of $15,000 on the Avokhii mask, an amount which is considered the largest ever paid for a single Lego piece.

"I got the gold mask in November 2013 and then got the platinum mask on Feb. 16 this year," Hurley said.

Raff would only sell the mask in person, so Hurley and friends made the road trip to Battle Mountain, Nev., almost exactly half-way between Santa Rosa and Roosevelt.

"The transaction went perfectly," Hurley said. "I care about the collectability of the piece, I am not going to scrap it. To me it is a piece of art, an investment. This is the Holy Grail of Legos. There is only one in the world."

Eventually Hurley hopes to rebuild the rest of his collection and have the most complete collection of Legos in the world. He lacks only a few additional promotional pieces to make that goal a reality and maybe set up a display somewhere.

In the meantime, Avokhii, the mask of light, is kept in the dark confines of a very secure safe, waiting.

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