You’ve made your decision! You’ve picked your convention. Now what?
This is an important first step: you need to register. This involves going to the Convention’s website, making an account, and paying to secure your spot. At the time of registration, you’ll need to pick the text for your brick badge, which is a set of custom engraved or printed bricks. You may also need to sign up for games and activities ahead of time; every convention is different, so make sure to read all the guidelines when you’re signing up.
Registering means you get access to the entire event, including any guest speakers, classes, lectures, and prize drawings. Many events include a goody bag with registration that has coupons for vendors, a program with schedule of events, and other awesome surprises.
Many events offer tiered pricing, meaning you’ll pay a lower registration fee the earlier you register. Keep an eye out on The Brothers Brick for upcoming event announcements. Events typically open registration six months prior to the event; you’re always free to check their sites directly.
Different fan-based conventions can run upwards of $200-$400 for the event; most LEGO fan conventions will cost $60-$80 per person for registration, depending on the location.
You’ve registered; now it’s time to build. While building isn’t required, this is a great opportunity to share your passion with other fans. The LEGO fan community is welcoming and supportive of builders regardless of their skill level. There will be people at the even with more skill and experience than you, and that’s perfectly okay. Build and bring your creation anyway.
If you’re stuck, you can always contact theme coordinators (usually listed on the convention’s site) and see what’s still needed for any particular theme’s display, if the event organizes itself that way.
LEGO fan conventions typically have an overall theme; if you’re having builder’s block, check out the theme and see what ideas take hold.
3. Register your creations!
Congratulations! You finished your build. Now you’ve got to let someone know it’s going to be there.
Table space is a premium at a LEGO fan convention, so it’s very important to let them know. The information is handed over to the theme coordinator, who makes sure there’s room for everyone who wants to bring something.
If you don’t register your build, there may not be space for you. It doesn’t matter how awesome your 6-foot display of Feudal Japan might be; if there isn’t enough space, those who registered their builds will get first dibs.
4. Make your travel arrangements
Some of us are lucky enough to live within reasonable driving distance of our favorite events. The rest of us have to make travel arrangements. This usually involves flying, long road trips, and hotels.
Flying: flyers need to take transportation of their builds into serious consideration. It’s either on the plane with you or on a delivery truck, and either way, it’s not friendly to fragile builds. If you are flying, consider building modular to making packing and transportation as easy and quick as possible.
In terms of flights, there are many insider tips you can rely on to get the best deal, including:
- Booking two one-way fares on different airlines
- Booking your flight on a Tuesday, before prices go up for the weekend
- Consider flying in our out during the week, if you’re able
- Sign up for your preferred airline’s emails to take advantage of sales and deals
Driving: if you’re close enough to make a road-trip of it, you’re in luck! Your builds will travel with you the entire time. Consider seeing if any other local LEGO fans want to road trip with you, to save on fuel and give you a travel buddy. It makes the drive that much better. You’ll need to research a few things, too:
- What is parking like?
- Is there parking available prior to checking into the hotel, or will you need to seek alternate arrangements?
- What is the cost to park?
- What are the loading times?
- What are the loading procedures?
Hotels: Check the Convention’s site – they may have an agreement with a hotel for a discounted rate. You’re not required to stay at the preferred hotel, but that is where the party’s at. It’s always worth trying to stay there. Don’t be afraid, too, to see if you can split a room with someone. It’s a great way to cut your housing cost in half.
5. See who else is going
Conventions are awesome because it is a gathering of people who share the same passion. The LEGO community is pretty tight-knight overall, and often people will attend multiple events in a given year. As you attend more, you’ll make more friends, and each convention posts a list of who is attending their event. This presents an amazing opportunity to:
- Plan meet-ups
- Find your favorite builders
- Plan collaborations
Your name will also show on the list, letting everyone else know that you’re going to be attending!
Once you’ve made plans, or have contacted some people who are going, you’ve got a starting point for an amazing convention.