Part of why I’m here as a regular contributor is to provide a sort of guide to emerging from the “dark ages.” Over the coming months I plan to write a little bit about various ways that people can become more active in different kinds of LEGO communities or activities. The order may not make sense for other people, but it’s autobiographical. I could start with how to write comments on TBB, but that would just be silly. I’ll just lead by bad example in that arena.
So I’ll start with LUGs. A LUG is a “LEGO user group,” and they take many forms, but mainly fall into three types: special interest (Battlestar Galactica, etc.), train, and geographical.
I am a member of a geographical LUG (SandLUG) that covers mainly San Diego, CA, though members travel from as far away as Los Angeles to attend our monthly meetings.
Some of the great things I’ve experienced in my particular LUG are:
- Interaction with real people, including great builders who may not be very active online.
- Seeing fabulous creations in person.
- Family and food.
- Diversity in the backgrounds of the builders, their experience levels, skills and interests.
- Group activities like trading, contests, drafts and cooperative builds (more on those later).
(Above Right: SandLUG member Matt Armstrong’s [monsterbrick] bionicle Admiral Ackbar)
There is a lot of diversity in the dynamics of the LUGs out there, with some people having mediocre to bad experiences (complete with schisms and cliques). Some are just very different from my LUG because they’re more structured, exclusive or engage in different sorts of activities as well as regional or national variations. The good things I’ve experienced and described above could potentially exist in any LUG. I’d really appreciate feedback in the comments section about those differences because, well, I just like to learn stuff.
Think. Consider. Is this something you’re interested in doing? I know it is. You can’t hide it from me.
Next on an all-new Lugging: How to find a LUG.
What is the difference in a Train LUG and a Special Interest LUG?
I would assume it would be seperate by sheer numbers. I doubt there are very many BSG or TrekLUGs, but Trains are popular regardless of the medium. We’ve had a huge train show in our city every year as far back as I can remember, but this was the first year that the members of NovaLUG visited an event. There were only three members there, but they caught the eye of every kid at the Children’s Expo. I’m looking into joining myself, then they would double their number of members in my province! lol
@ Cm2: buriedbybricks pretty much answers that exactly how I would have, though with more personal experience on his part. As I was cruising the web looking for LUGs, I found train LUGs were equal to or greater in numbers in some regions than general interest LUGs. From talking to other experienced luggers, each of those major types of LUGs have very different cultures and attitudes, because though LEGO binds them, they have very specific reasons for being in that kind of LUG.
Are there localized special interest LUGs that aren’t LTCs (LEGO Train Clubs)? I guess there are groups that get together to play Brickwarz, which might be considered a special interest LUG.
Joining a general interest LUG is one of the best things that I’ve done. I’ve learned more than I could by just sitting and looking at my dinky computer screen. The best part about a LUG is the interaction with other FOLs. Talking on the computer is great and all, but you never really know a person until you actually meet them.
@ bruce n h: My impression is that special interest LUGs arent’s necessarily geographical, but they sort of gravitate based on where the members happen to live or the events/conventions they get involved in. ChiefLUG is mainly an online Battlsestar Galactica LUG, but I’m only aware of them doing displays on the West Coast of the US, with their hangar dispaly in Pasadena in May ’09 and the original display at BrickCon in Seattle Oct. ’08 (some members mail their creations to be displayed if they’re not able to attend).
@ Andromula: At my very first SandLUG meeting, I watched LEGOLAND CA project designer Bill Vollbrecht fiddle with pieces as he chose them in a draft and do the LEGO equivalent of doodling as he waited for other people to make their picks. Fantastic little vehicle parts and architectural elements that he made in minutes, sometimes just seconds. Blew my mind.
@bruce n h: SEALUG in Seattle and DixieLUG in Atlanta are both general interest LUGs that are separate from the local LTCs.
Some LTCs are rather focused on Train/Town, so general interest LUGs have appeal for a broader base.