Friday, March 17, 2017

Bricks Cascade: 2017 Edition

I think I need an I Survived Bricks Cascade 2017 T-shirt. Or maybe an engraved brick. Oh sure, the con itself was great. But between co-running the spatially-largest theme (which meant being at the convention center for 10-12 hours a day) and tweaking my knee sometime Saturday (resulting in an annoying limp), I felt, by the end of it, like I'd been run over by a life-sized LEGO train. x_x

This was my 10th LEGO convention and 6th Bricks Cascade. After a few tiring LEGO-y weekends in my past, I've learned to pace myself at these events. I remind myself, You don't have to do everything. You can go to bed early. You can sleep in if you're tired. Enjoy yourself! That's what this is all about!

This, of course, never works when you're a theme coordinator. Then, all you can do is brace yourself and hang on and hope for the best.

"The Best" means, in a nutshell:

*That no one in your theme accidentally drops or breaks a MOC.

*Every MOC has ample room and can be seen and enjoyed.

*Everyone goes home with the things they came with. (Plus honestly-gained LEGO, where applicable.)

*Nobody uses the words "worst year ever" in your presence.

So, I guess things went well?

All in all, 2017's Bricks Cascade was pretty epic. We had twice as many convention attendees as in years past (more than 300). Over 800 MOCs were registered. And on the public days, there were more interactive elements than I've ever seen at this convention (or any other non-LEGO-sponsored event, in fact.) There was a DUPLO play area, a LEGO art wall, a car-building area and racing ramp, several cosplayers doing photo ops, Minecraft photo ops, caricature artists, battle bots, interactive MOCs, and more. It was as if someone went to LEGOLand, took notes, and said, "This. This is how it should be."

Well done, con overlords. Well done indeed.

Of course, the LEGO creations (or "MOCs") were big draws, too. With over 800 different ones present, there was something for every taste and interest. While I didn't escape my theme's area too often during the convention, I did get to make a few rounds, and in doing so, discovered these gems:

Majisto's Magical Workshop, by Kevin Wanner

Blue Shadows, by Jon Furman

Micropolis Firestation, by Ben Kahn

The Left Tunnel, by Jon Furman, one of 3 Indiana Jones MOCs he brought.

And these beauties, from Town & Train....

and from elsewhere....

And now, Back to Town & Train...

This was my 3rd year as Town & Train co-coordinator with my friend and fellow AFOL, Andrew. Third time's the charm? Practice may make perfect in some cases, but every year is different at Bricks Cascade, and it seems like any experience I gain doesn't seem to benefit me much the following year. Sure, I had my trophies built a little earlier than usual this year, knowing I didn't want that pre-con crunch craziness to happen. And it didn't. The craziness just happened to hit mid-con.

But enough about me -- let's talk about winners! Everyone loves winners! Well, at LEGO conventions, anyway. And not to sound trite, but I love a lot of the non-winners too. Why can't we just have 50 trophies? (Oh yeah, cuz I'd have to build half of them.)

This year, Andrew built the trophies for Best Big Building, Best Small Building, and Best Vehicle/Train, and I built the trophies for Best Scenery (a tree with a tire swing next to a stream), Most Creative (a futuristic microscale playground), and the three little honorable mention trophies (a train, a brick city, and a shiny city).

This year, Andrew and I recruited three friends & fellow attendees to help us judge. It's nice to have five opinions come together, so it's not just me making "it's 9pm on Friday night and I need to have the winners to the theme overlord by 10am tomorrow and I'm so tired I can't remember my middle name but hey, let's judge some builds!" decisions.

In the end, the trophies went to the following:

Best Big Building went to Ari's Village Deli and Apartments, by David Guedes.

This was an attractive building, with subtle detailing on the front that gave it realism. It also had some fun details: note the yellow "Simpsons" heads on the roof masquerading as flowers, as well as the line of drying laundry. The side alley also had some fun things going on, but of course I neglected to take pictures of sides of things, because *tiredness excuse.*

(I also have to add here that Red Brick Road was our collaborative theme build this year. Every MOC on the road had to have at least one red masonry brick in it. It turned out very well, I thought! Thank you to everyone who participated.)

The award for Best Small Building went to 854 12th St., by Allen Smith. 

This creation has actually come to Bricks Cascade previously, but we had not had the pleasure of awarding it a trophy until this year. It's a lovely little build, and I especially love the roof and the back deck.

Best Scenery went to Winter Canadian Village, by Dave Schefcik. 

This was a slightly modified version of the "Christmas Village" the builder brought to Brick Con in 2016. This time he added "snow" to the trees and made the whole thing even better! There's so much to see; it's a delight.

Best Vehicle Or Train went to NY Central J3A Dreyfuss Hudson by Anthony Sava.

This was one of the hardest categories to judge, because while I like LEGO trains and vehicles, I don't know much about building them. Nearly every one I've ever built has been via instructions. So how do I know what's the best? Finally, I went with: Does it look like the real thing? Yeah, Does it look well-built? Yep! Is there something special or different about it? Yes. Awesome. Okay, I like THAT one! Then, to my surprise, several of my fellow judges agreed with me and had picked this as their #1 too. Yay! We have a winner!

(As an aside, there were a lot of cool vehicles this year. Watch me go begging for separate train and vehicle trophies next year.)

Most Creative went to Little Blue Can Do It, Can You? by Jason Bonn.

Heck yeah, literary MOCs!

Honorable Mentions went to:

The fun & busy Watoo's Wonderland Carnival, by Michael Gilliam...

The funny & slightly sinister That Creepy Park Bathroom, by Jenelle Nowak...

and the beautiful Oregon Adventures, by Davey Olson....

Thanks again to everyone who brought things, especially those who spent time during public hours hanging around your MOCs. (I understand some may have had other themes to spend time with or were volunteering elsewhere. No worries. But those that helped in T&T, I sing your praises -- because I can.)

So I did manage to get away from T&T a few times to participate in the more traditonally "fun" elements of a typical LEGO con. I signed up for the One Handed Build on Friday. I didn't do very well. (That game requires some pre-con practice, I think. And maybe a clear head.) On Sunday, I joined in on Dirty Brickster, a LEGO-centric Yankee/White Elephant gift exchange. I "stole" a combined gift of this and this, and no one stole from me, so... score!

In the con-wide raffle, when my name got called I got to choose from three sets (or some bulk parts). My eyes beheld the glow-in-the-dark pieces in this beauty, and I knew it had to be mine.

I also made a few purchases from the vendors around the con, including 2 skirts from Cape Madness, and a LEGO birthday card.

At the new event called "Garage Sale" on Friday evening, I made some good trades and purchases and came home with 2016's City Park set, as well as a handful of new minfigs.

While I did buy a couple small baseplates from the Bulk Buy room to add to my Dirty Brickster gift, I did not set aside any time this year to go digging through the piles of bulk. :(

But on a happier note...!

Here are the MOCs I brought to the convention this year, starting with the ones that made their con debut:

^Play Family House, Play Family School, and Play Family Merry-Go-Round

^Circlecity, a microscale build.

^Two of my photos from this project made their way into the Photography theme.

^The Golden Feather, a bird shop, part of the collaborative build Streets Of Brass.

(The building with the ship's wheel.) ^Podley's Place, named for a character in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, because I dunno. Also, obviously, part of Streets Of Brass.

^Happy Sunny Magical Princess Play Castle (where Ariel the mermaid has apparently been drinking, whoopsedaisy!) More to come about this one, as it has lots of "secret" elements I'm excited to show off.

^Cascadia By Train, a 16x16 mosaic entry for the collaborate build Our Cascadia. 


This is only my second trophy, after the Honorable Mention I got at Bricks By The Bay for Brown Bear Goes For A Stroll, which was also a 16x16 mosaic of sorts. Hmmm, maybe I'm on to something...

Meanwhile, my Kitchens came back...

And the Neighborhood Of Make-Believe made its Oregon debut! (It had previously appeared at Brick Con in October, 2016. (A simpler time.))

(Photo by Heather M.)

The large trolley is not mine; Boone L. built that beauty.

And that... I believe... is it! Four days of craziness, fun, friends, bricks, prizes, and happy-exhausted feelings!

You can also check out my blogs or videos for Bricks Cascades of the past: 2012201320142015, & 2016.