LEGO has gone all out to promote the new LEGO Stranger Things 75810 The Upside Down set released earlier this summer, with a hilarious retro designer video, and a contest on LEGO Ideas (don’t miss TBB’s own Darker Hawkins LEGO contest). These are all things that every LEGO builder can enjoy together, but LEGO has also released two items to much more limited audiences — Will’s fort Castle Byers (a small build given away only to attendees of launch events in London and New York City) and fan-favorite Barb (a unique minifigure only available at San Diego Comic-Con). Both of these are now only available at exorbitant prices on the secondary market. The Brothers Brick picked up each of these so we could bring you a hands-on review.
Back in April 1999, it would have been hard to imagine what LEGO Star Wars sets might look like in twenty years, but it would have been even harder to predict how the LEGO fan community would evolve over the next two decades. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars theme, I also wanted to take a moment to reflect on how LEGO Star Wars has affected my life, along with the lives of countless other LEGO fans all over the world.
Earlier this month, LEGO announced the one and only promotion so far for LEGO VIP Program “Black Card” holders. The Black Card is a special VIP card given to people who’d purchased 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon the first several months that it was available after its release last September. The Black Card and this “exclusive” promotional gift is limited to a relatively small number of LEGO builders and collectors — even among the “hardcore” LEGO builders on staff here at The Brothers Brick, only two of us purchased the UCS Falcon last year during the time when LEGO was issuing Black Cards — so we wanted to share our observations about the promo set as well as our experience as Black Card holders so far.
Change is inevitable within any community, and the online LEGO fan community has certainly weathered its share of major disruptions over the past 20 years.
Ever since the future of LEGO photo sharing website Brickshelf.com became unclear in July 2007, the majority of the LEGO building community has made its home on Flickr. But with Yahoo! failing to keep up with the times, the venerable web company has begun shedding its online properties, leading to the acquisition of Flickr by SmugMug earlier this year. Unlike the hysteria back in 2007, the reaction to the SmugMug acquisition among LEGO builders has been fairly muted, and generally positive given the sense that Yahoo! had effectively abandoned Flickr several years ago. This changed recently when SmugMug announced changes it would be making to Flickr’s Pro and free accounts at the beginning of 2019.
The convention is over. The last builds have been torn down, carefully packed (or tossed in a bin), and the staff have packed up and cleared the space. What’s next?
I can’t state this enough: a convention is a draining experience regardless of your physical health, activity level, or personal preference for human interaction.
You’ve just spent the last four or five days on your feet, on a cement surface, surrounded by 500-1000 of your new best friends, along with a few hours of thousands of devoted fans ogling your LEGO builds. Your body needs to repair itself. If possible, I recommend taking the day after a convention off from work to rest and work in some self-care.
2. Take care of your physical self
Since you’ve been around hundreds of strangers for the last five days, it’s very common to catch the common cold. By taking time to care for your physical self after a convention, you reduce your risk (in addition to basics during the convention, like hand-washing, hand-sanitizer, and doing your best to get ample sleep and water).
It’s convention Day One. Now what? (Spoiler: meet people!)
1. Get there!
It’s time to get to the convention. By this time, if you’re traveling long distances, you’ve already left home, and you’re in close proximity. Now’s the time to get to the convention hall, meeting space, convention center, etc. and follow directions for unloading what you’ve brought. If you’ve got smaller stuff that can be easily carried, park elsewhere and save the close spots and loading docks for builders who require crates and teams to carry in their builds. Make sure you have the load-in information, since details vary from event to event.
You’ve made your decision! You’ve picked your convention. Now what?
Congratulations! You’re thinking about going to your first LEGO fan convention. So, now what?
That’s a great question. Making the decision to attend is the hard part; the rest is just details. But the details are where things can get awfully bogged down. We here at TBB have collectively attended nearly a hundred conventions across the world, so we have a thing or two to say about attending LEGO Fan conventions. Each event has its own unique flavor, so even seasoned convention-goers attending a new event for the first time feel the same excitement of the unknown. This guide will benefit newcomers and old-hats alike.
We’ve boiled down the convention-going experience into three segments: Pre-Convention, During Convention, and Post Convention. We’ll be publishing guides on these for you over the course of the next two weeks. We’re going into a new year of conventions and want to help everyone be prepared!
I have always been the first one to admit that I have an intense fear of sorting LEGO elements. Spiders? Confined spaces? Heights? HA! I laugh in their faces!! But you set a big ol’ pile of random ABS in front of me with some empty drawer units and I start to hyperventilate, my palms start sweating and I get all twitchy.
Well, ok maybe I am just a lazy procrastinator who would rather play with LEGO than organize it, but I am still going to play the sortophobia card.
But there is light at the end of this cluttered tunnel…yesterday I took my first steps on the road to my sorted recovery. But before I get into that, I will give you a bit of a background.
When my wife and I moved into our house, I attempted for the first time to sort my LEGO. But like the rookie that I was I made a crucial mistake and sorted my entire collection by colour. It was hard enough to find a yellow headlight brick in a giant bin of bricks, let alone trying to find one in the bottom of a drawer that only contained yellow elements. So basically my three or four weeks of sorting were wasted and I started re-sorting it all into part type to better fit my style of building. Well that was 8 years ago and I haven’t really stopped sorting since. I would say that about 2 years ago I was approximately 85-90% fully sorted and organized. And I have been on a steady decline since.
Fast forward to 2013 and things got really bad. I hit my rock bottom. Readers may remember my AFOL’s guide to having a newborn. In particular point #1. I have learned over the preceding 10 months, that #1 is #1 for a very good reason! I didn’t really slow down the level of production of my builds, but my efficiency with build time had certainly been affected. Then I just became really lazy and made zero effort to stay organized. My LEGO collection basically became an un-useable mess of cluttered drawers and overflowing shelves. It took ages to build a simple model and believe it or not, it even started to take the fun out of building.
Well 2014 is a new year, and I intend to get my butt organized! Not only to increase the ease of building, but also for my wife’s sanity. We now have three, going on 4, LEGO maniacs in our house and I can only see this getting worse if I don’t nip it in the bud now. So that is where my steps on the road to recovery come in. What were they you ask? Simple. I dumped everything into a big ass tub.
And I have to say, it felt really good to do that. For the first time in 8 years, I am actually looking forward to sorting. It’s a brand new year and my future is looking bright and organized!
26.5 kg (58.5 lbs.) of un-sorted LEGO never looked so good!
The last stage of the sci-fi theme month trifecta is upon us. And NnoVVember is the original theme month. Started in 2008 by the late great Nate “nnenn” Nielson as a personal challenge to post a Vic Viper starfighter from the Gradius video game series for each day of the month. The challenge has continued each year since, and evolved into a yearly tribute to Nate since he passed away tragically in April of 2010.
Well this year is no different and we want to see everyone’s contribution to the monthly build challenge. However, after some discussion in the Vic Viper flickr group, we want to make sure that everyone brings their A-game. The whole premise of these theme months is to challenge people to build things that they otherwise may not have. But it appears that they are starting to become just an excuse to try and get your build on the final poster/map. Now don’t get me wrong, seeing people building, no matter the quality is great. But it does appear to be a trend in seeing submissions, that quite often by the builders own admission, are sub-par. People are rushing to either get as many builds as possible submitted, or scrambling at the last minute to get something added.
I saw this a lot during the Ma.Ktoberfest challenge, where people continuously posted builds and admitted that they didn’t really think they fit the theme and typically that they didn’t even fully understand what the theme was. I felt rather elitist when having to edit these submissions out, but at the end of the day, the information is out there. I know myself and the other organizers get a lot of satisfaction out of hosting these sorts of events, introducing people to a new theme and challenging them in their building. But if they are choosing to not look into the plethora of background information provided and/or interact within the group to learn from the active members, then that is no fault of my own. Rest assured that there is never a shortage of high quality builds, but I see this as somewhat of a slippery slope and I certainly don’t want the trend to continue and in turn discourage others from participating in the future.
So with all that being said, for this year’s NnoVVember let’s honour Nate’s memory the best way we can, let’s see Quality over Quantity Nate always gave us top quality builds, so we should do the same for him.
Disclaimer – mildly sappy post to follow…
Remember this post I did a few months back? Well, I still feel the same about the online community, however, I now have some very serious concerns on where this community is headed…yes, and it is all due to the recent changes to Flickr.
I felt that these concerns were serious enough that it justified a separate post, as opposed to me simply commenting on Andrew’s again.
Really this is a personal plea to all those that feel it necessary to leave Flickr. I know many are very upset about the new format, have issues with the new pricing structure, and take offence to how Yahoo handled the system rollout. But at the end of the day is it worth the fragmentation of our community? Personally I don’t think it is. Honestly, I am not entirely happy with the new system, but I also don’t hate it to the extent that I want to see the history of what we have on Flickr lost.
At the end of the day there are no perfect solutions. I don’t think we can expect Yahoo! to go back to the old system, but I don’t think it is realistic to expect/hope for every contributing member of the current community to seamlessly move to an alternate site. Therefore I think that the only ‘solution’ is to wait it out and see what happens over the coming weeks.
This is about more than just Flickr and it’s individual users, this is about a thriving community of friends spread across the globe with years of history. The site may look vastly different, but as of right now the people are exactly the same. So before anyone rage quits, may I ask that you first stop, take a deep breath and think about our wonderful COMMUNITAY!
Big group hug!