Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eight (8) Ways To Have Fun At A Lego Convention

Last weekend, I went to a Lego convention. It was my first. It wasn't supposed to be -- I had fully intended to make BrickCon in October my first -- but since it was in Portland, and so was I, how could I resist? And so I took myself to the first annual Bricks Cascade, had a jolly time, and now I am here to share with you eight ways you, too, can have fun at a Lego convention. I'm sure there are more than eight, but this is what you get.

Way To Have Fun #1: Plow Your Way Through A Giant Pile Of Bricks

Bricks & Minifigs, my second-favorite store in the wide world, has a table with bricks where you can paw through and pick the ones you want to buy. At Bricks Cascade, there was a roomful of bricks. It was glorious.

If you don't mind purchasing pre-owned Lego bricks, this is a great way to find unique pieces. (Or any pieces, really.) I was able to uncover shop windows, special printed bricks, and bricks of some of the rarer colors (dark red, dark green, dark blue, gold, and the much-coveted purple.) It was a little strange being down on the floor with a dozen other adults, trying to find the best bricks before they were snatched up, but it was also very rewarding. And -- I must give credit -- it was much more dignified than certain other shopping free-for-alls, like, shall we say, Black Friday at Wal-Mart. 

Way To Have Fun #2: Buy Stuff

What would any convention be without vendors? Bricks Cascade had plenty, and each seemed to be hawking something different. Some sold official Lego sets, some had custom minifigs, some sold Lego jewelry, and still others peddled T-shirts. I bought a pair of Lego barrettes, two top hats for my minifigs, a Ron Weasley minifig (I own nearly every other HP character BUT him! Still need Hermione, though), two ostriches (I'm thinking of forming an army of them), a Bricks Cascade T-shirt, and this Lego set.

It's a great set. Part of the Lego Creator line, the bricks within the box can be turned into three different log cabin-y structures using the included instructions. And I decided I would take it upon myself to build.... well, all three of them!

 Yeah, there was a bit of down time Saturday afternoon. There were a few competitions I wasn't partaking in. Streams of people were coming into the exhibit hall to view all the Lego structures. My humble MOCs (creations) were nestled between two rather big, impressive ones, and I got a little forlorn when most people seemed to be looking right past mine. So I decided to distract myself by building something at one of the inner (non-public) tables. First I built the cabins... and then...

Way To Have Fun #3: Do A Creative/Free Build

I took the pieces I'd bought from the roomful of bricks (about two dozen bricks in all) and all the pieces from the cabin set, and started to build. I had so many roof and window pieces that I decided that some type of building/house was in order, and before long I'd decided this creation was destined to be a Wacky Inventor's Workshop.

Forgive my need to show it from every angle, but it's honestly one of my favorite things I've ever built. It's funny how, despite limitations (only having certain bricks to work with), you can still make something truly grand. Remember that, kids. Life isn't always about getting new stuff or having lots of it; it's about making something good out of what you have. Ooookay, jumping off the soapbox in 5... 4... 3... 2...

Way To Have Fun #4: Show Off Your MOCs

MOCs, or My Own Creations, is any Lego thing -- be it a mosaic, a sculpture, a building, or a vehicle -- that was not thought up by the Lego company, but by its builder. So the first three cabins above are not MOCs, but the one with the lollipops on top so totally is!

Folks who attend a Lego convention for the weekend will often bring their MOCs for public display. MOCs come in all shapes and sizes, and there are many different categories: pirate, castle, technic, train & town, etc. 

I heard about this convention about two weeks before it actually happened, and I had no MOCs ready for show, except for a half-made Green Gables House. I had only needed half; I was (well am) making an Anne film, and was using the front of the house as a set. But since a facade would look a bit strange at a convention, I decided to finish it....

I took it to the convention and saw that it looked really small and pathetic sitting there all by itself. So the next day I took a couple other pieces I'd made for my film and made a little composite scene....

That there is a miniature train station, a horse-drawn wagon, and a lighthouse. The lighthouse can actually light up, but I didn't opt to use the light-up brick in the exhibit hall because you would not have been able to even tell. But in the dark... oooh la la! 

Another thing I chose to make was Disneyland! Ambitious much? Not really. I did a miniature version of it, being inspired by Microscale creations. Microscale MOCs have a kind of minimalist vibe, and they don't take up a lot of room. Anyway, here's the happiest place on Earth...

The dumbo & teacup rides actually spin! Wheee!

My creations didn't win any awards (I wouldn't expect them to, me being such a newbie) but they got some nice comments and I'm proud of them! I may save Disneyland for the convention in October.

Way To Have Fun #5: Compete!

Competitions are a staple of Lego conventions, or so I have read.

At this one there was a blind minifig competition, where we had to try to tell what figure (merman? soldier? bunny rabbit?) we were holding, through a plastic bag.
 Annnd we were blindfolded.

There were 15 figs for everyone. When all things were said and done and the scores were tallied, I found I'd gotten nine correct. Some people got all 15. HOW.

Another game had us building a Lego car inside a clear plastic bag. All the pieces were inside, our hands were outside, and the directions were available. It was NOT easy. A winner was called when my car was only half done. Apparently, this one takes practice. Next time, I shall conquer!

The third game I competed in involved a big pile of bricks -- 25% Lego, 75% the forbidden off-brands and knockoffs. A group of us got down on our hands and knees and weeded through the pile for half an hour. Every Lego brick equaled one point. Any non-Lego brick was negative one point. I think I came in second place, but the first-place winner (who, incidentally, also won the build-in-a-bag game) beat me by at least 300 bricks!

Way To Have Fun #6: Watch Others Compete!

I suppose someone could try to participate in as many games as possible at a convention, but watching them is also pretty fun. (And... no pressure!) Three of the ones I got to witness were:

A team build, where six people worked together to build the London Bridge.

The team that won was really fast, and they worked so well together. Each of the players got to keep a chunk of the bridge.

Another interesting one to watch was the Creative Build. Each player was given two Lego sets -- and they couldn't have been more different. One was a Ninjago set, and the other was from the Friends line. The objective was to make something, and, in the end, have the fewest number of leftover bricks. Each creation was unique, and it was cool to see the results.

Wacky Racers was funny. People made cars and slid them down a ramp, seeing how far they could travel while remaining intact. Winnie The Pooh took many turns down the ramp, more often than not breaking apart from his vehicle and landing in a sad, fluffy heap.

Way To Have Fun #7: View Others' MOCs; Get Inspired

Seeing things that others have built out of Lego serves to inspire the budding builder; I am not exempt from this. While some of the creations blew my mind ("I could never build that"), others set the wheels in my head a'spinning with ideas. 

Here are a few of my favorite creations at the convention....

Way To Have Fun #8: Watch Other People Go Gaga For Lego

 Faces were lighting up all over the place. I heard shouts of "Whoa!", "Awesome!", and "Look! Lookit! LOOK!!" The public had arrived. Kids and adults alike were mesmerized by the variety of things on display. It'd be hard to know how many people went straight home afterwards, dragged out their old bins of bricks, and started building, but I'm willing to bet a lot of them did.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. I added new bricks to my collection. I learned some new techniques. I met fellow Lego fans. And best of all, I got to be surrounded by a million colorful little bricks, each a part of something truly special.

No comments: