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.
- 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:
- Show off your stuff and admire others’
- 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:
- Enough boxes of a particular set for everybody
- Everyone participating buys a set
- Open everything up and sort by piece and color (bring lots of cups, trays and baggies)
- Determine an order for picking
- Everyone goes around in order and picks a particular pile of pieces until you run out (see below, photo courtesy of Ryan Wood)
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.