Lugging Pt. 3: Actually lugging (tips, etiquette and activities)

Now that you’ve become interested in LEGO user groups (LUGs) because of “Lugging Pt. 1” and have found a LUG because of “Lugging Pt. 2“, you’re thinking about going to your first meeting (I cling to the delusion that I’ve solved everybody’s issues). Here are a few tips on how to gird your loins for battle:

  • Join online ahead of time. I showed up over an hour early to my first meeting because I hadn’t signed up to the e-mail list, so I didn’t get the message about the meeting time getting pushed back. Brian Heins, the host that month, was kind enough to let me chill for a bit at his house ’til everyone else showed up, but still a little embarrassing.
  • Take money, just in case there’s something worth buying or doing that costs. Many LUGs also have membership dues, though collection methods vary.
  • Minors should generally be accompanied by a responsible adult, though some LUGs do not allow minors at all, and a few (rare) LUGs allow teenage fans of LEGO (TFOLs) to attend without adult supervision.
  • SandLUG and Co.

  • Expect it to take more time than you planned, my first two LUG activities were huge and some of us went to dinner after (4-8 hours total). My recent excursions to a group display at Star Wars Days at LEGOLAND California was 12 or more hours on both days. My wife has pretty much written off LUG days.
  • Don’t be cocky. Somebody there is better than you.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. Somebody there was cockier than you when they first showed up.
  • Be yourself. If you’re shy, that’s fine. After all, these are adults who sit indoors and play with toys. Watch and listen. Get to know the lay of the land if you’re not comfortable diving right in. If you’re comfortable, join right in.
  • DO bring your own creations.
  • Ask before touching somebody else’s creation.
  • Don’t bring a huge set or your entire LEGO collection and expect help with it. Most other luggers have their own massive projects they’re trying to deal with.
  • Don’t be surprised if the members are far more functional, intelligent, hot, wise, professional and kind than you might expect.
  • Somebody in any group is guaranteed to be or become a jerk at some point, take it in stride. They may just be awkward, and/or you may have misunderstood. Some are very aware of their foibles and take it well when you playfully point out their little quirks. I also raise my eyebrows and smile.

Most LUGs have some activity or activities to get involved in, some structured, some not. Here are some of the possible things you may run across at a meeting:

Maria Pini Browniefig

  • Show off your stuff and admire others’
  • Buy/sell/trade
  • Plan and create cooperatively
  • LUG business meeting: good LEGO deals, location of the next meeting, upcoming activities etc.
  • Play with LEGO
  • Talk amongst yourselves
  • Contests such as LEGO car races or building competitions
  • Food and drinks (this seems to be a Western US thing)
  • Dirty Brickster (a LEGO unwanted gift exchange)
  • A draft

Drafts are last, but definitely not least, they have been the core of my LUG’s monthly meeting so far, though we’ve branched out in recent meetings, just for some variety.
All you need:

  1. Enough boxes of a particular set for everybody
  2. Everyone participating buys a set
  3. Open everything up and sort by piece and color (bring lots of cups, trays and baggies)
  4. Determine an order for picking
  5. Everyone goes around in order and picks a particular pile of pieces until you run out (see below, photo courtesy of Ryan Wood)

Monster Draft

There are variations, fun sub-plots to insert in the middle, different ways of determining the order, ways of dealing with the runt pieces and whatnot, but y’all can pick that up as you go along.

So what do you do if you either can’t find a LUG or the one you find bites? Try starting your own. That’s in the next and final installment of Lugging.

9 comments on “Lugging Pt. 3: Actually lugging (tips, etiquette and activities)

  1. Morgan19

    I was wondering the same thing, and went back to re-read twice because I thought I’d missed something– sort of ends mid-thought. Is the idea of the draft that you keep the pieces for yourself afterwards, or everyone makes something with them, or something else?

  2. Thanel Post author

    @ talltim and Morgan19: Excellent questions. I took that part for granted, I guess. Yes, you keep the pieces. For example, I ended up with about 30 red steering wheels, but on the up side I picked up about 15 burgundy helmets and lots of lime green during my last draft (among many other things). Take them home and figure out creative ways to use them.

  3. notenoughbricks

    Looking forward to reading your 4th installment on starting a LUG. I’d love to know if there is a LUG on Long Island.

    The draft idea is one that has me really wanting to join a LUG. It seems like such a cool idea. You might not get every part from the draft that you want but what a great way to add a good number of specific parts to your collection of bricks!

  4. Thanel Post author

    Plenty of people in my LUG are BrickLink sellers. Everybody gets their turn, we don’t care much what people do with the parts once they take them home. We often end up casually trading right after the draft for parts that others viciously stole.

  5. ColourSchemer

    For those new to drafts, and of building with large quantities of the same part, it can be a bit confusing. “Why would I want 100 1×2 plates with two handles?”

    That’s because parts in large quantities stop being what they are as a single piece. 50 skeleton legs become railing balustrades. 300 headlight bricks become a pretty patterned wall.

    So a draft is a great, fun, and fairly inexpensive way to get large quantities of certain parts. And you learn a lot about what other people plan to do with their newly-acquired parts.

  6. wunztwice

    Great series so far, and very helpful for me and the uuber young LUG we’re starting along. Can’t wait for the next installment.

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