Where in the World is… Kevin Hinkle?

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This week I’ll be traveling to the US LEGO fan convention BrickFair: Virginia in Chantilly, Virginia! I’ll arrive in the area Thursday afternoon and will be available at the event all day Friday and Saturday, returning to Connecticut Sunday morning. What does LEGO have in store for the attendees at BrickFair: Virginia this time?

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The AFOL Community vs. The LEGO Group
Kevin Hinkle, The LEGO Group

Join Kevin Hinkle, Senior Community Coordinator – Americas, from The LEGO Group, as he provides an introduction into who he is and how the company supports the LEGO fan community. What expectations come along with being a conduit between these two entities? An update of current projects will be addressed followed with discussion around what the fan community expects from The LEGO Group in regards to support. This roundtable discussion will allow opportunity for questions, concerns and suggestions to further strengthen collaboration between the AFOL community and the LEGO Community team.

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The LEGO Group Q&A Session

Kevin Hinkle, Senior Community Coordinator – Americas, from The LEGO Group, takes time to answer your questions. This is your opportunity to ask your questions and voice your concerns to an official representative from the LEGO company.

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The LEGO Legends of Chima Booth!
The LEGO Group

Thanks to our colleagues at the LEGO Legends of Chima team, we are proud to offer a fun and unique activity for all participants at this event. The booth will be manned throughout the course of the event and will feature games for AFOLs and the public. Come by and check it out.

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LEGO CUUSOO
Tim Courtney, The LEGO Group

What happens when you throw open the proverbial doors to the LEGO factory? A whole lot of great product ideas from the best LEGO fans out there, and some cool products like LEGO Minecraft Micro World. But what’s next? How will the site evolve? What kind of stuff can we make? And most importantly, how can you get your idea made as a LEGO product? Come and get the scoop personally from Tim Courtney, Community Manager – LEGO Cuusoo from The LEGO Group.

Please feel free to stop by and say hello while I am in the area!
My job is to support the fan community in North, Central and South America and I can’t do that if I don’t hear from you!

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My visit to Taiwan

I had a blast of a time in Taiwan. It is such a great country and the AFOLs are so nice!

I arrived on Friday and got taken out for dinner to a very nice local restaurant with great food.

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Afterwards we visited the Brickworks Cafe – a very cool place run by some AFOLs to give Kids the chance to play with/get inspired by LEGO Sets and bricks and MOCs! What a fantastic idea!

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Picture with Tony – the main organizer of the place and a very nice guy (2nd from right)

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Saturday I visited the Pockyland Event (which got over 7000 public visitors in 2 days!) in Taipei – very nice event with a lot of high quality MOCs and great AFOLs.

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Cool castle MOCs

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Taipei City gate

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Like this Temple a lot!

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Robots.

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Very good pirate ships

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Winner of the building Competition

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In the afternoon I visited the Taipei 101. Very impressive!

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We ended that day with a great group dinner.

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Next day we took the Shinkansen 700T to Taichung to visit another smaller exhibition nearby and got back to the event in Taipei in the afternoon.

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We also shortly visited the house of the Pockyland Ambassador Rack to see his incredible Burj Khalifa MOC.

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Today I visited with some AFOLs from TWLUG the Palace Museum and the Chan Kai Shek Memorial Hall and we had a very nice group meeting and LEGO Q&A with several members of TWLUG.

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Tomorrow I will visit another small exhibition with MOCs and a shop with LEGO Bricks before I will be home bound in the evening.

Thanks a lot to all the AFOLs in Taiwan who made this visit so great and memorable to me! I had a great time.

WEEK 30: In the Eye of the Storm…

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It’s been great to be back in the office this week, traveling definitely takes its toll. The summer season always presents a huge challenge in terms of travel due to the large number of US LEGO fan conventions that take place. Those following my journeys here know that over the last few weeks I’ve hopped from Billund, Denmark to Dallas, Texas and up to Toronto, Ontario in a relatively short amount of time. Despite the time away from home, I’ve had a wonderful time reconnecting with several fans in the areas and had a lot of great discussions. Now that I’m back I’ve been digging myself out of a very full inbox and voicemail collection- But I don’t have very long, because just as my title implies, I head right back out next week for back to back trips to Chantilly, Virginia and Santa Clara, California.

This week I’ve been collecting and processing all the data reported into me from the LUGs in my regions for the second quarter. I send out a simple check-in with all the groups I support once each quarter for a few different reasons. First and foremost, I think it’s important to check in and ensure they know I haven’t forgotten about them. Secondly, I want to ensure that if there have been any changes within the group, that we have the most up-to-date information as possible to accurately support them. Lastly, I collect metrics from the shows & events that have taken place all across the Americas to get a clearer picture of the activity level for each region. This data is collected and utilized for internal proposals for more resources to better support the community. This year, I’ve had a much better response rate to these requests (most likely thanks in part to the new LUG & event support programs).

I’ve squeezed in a few meetings this week, one with my colleagues at the legal department to discuss a few issues that have recently come up, always a favorite. I also met with the marketing manager for LEGO Legends of Chima to discuss how successful the traveling booth has been at the last two US conventions. Yesterday, I caught up briefly with the marketing manager for LEGO Castle who will be putting the finishing touches on the grand prize for our year long castle contest. Don’t forget that if you do not live near a US LEGO fan convention, the contest is open globally via ReBrick (As of yesterday, they had still not yet received a single entry)! The director for Merlin affairs and I met to brainstorm collaborative opportunities between LEGOLAND and the fan community in North America, and I have one more meeting scheduled tomorrow with the Trade & Marketing Manager for LEGO Canada, Inc. to better align our support efforts to the community in Canada.

Somehow on top of that, I have also been processing two element orders for recently approved LEGO Certified Building Projects (LCBP). The process can be quite cumbersome as elements need to be researched individually and prices calculated manually. Some of my colleagues in Billund have started to return from their summer holiday so discussions have been taking place on support efforts and resources for 2014. I know one area that has me quite concerned currently is traveling. I have already received confirmation for an additional 4 US LEGO fan conventions in 2014 in addition to the existing 9. This puts a very heavy burden on both my travel budget and time away from both the office and home. We have lots to discuss as we iron out our plans for next year…

LUG UPDATE: We officially welcomed a new LUG this week into North America! TV-LUG – The Treasure Valley LEGO® Users Group is not devoted to only television! With members covering areas of Idaho and Oregon this new group offers a great new opportunity for fans in the area. We look forward to working with them more in the future. North America currently has 93 active LUGs!

Great visit to Hong Kong

The past 3 days I have been around in Hong Kong to meet with the local LUGs and my colleagues from the LEGO Hong Kong office.

On the first day I visited some parts of the city to see some shops selling LEGO sets and parts and to get a first impression of the place.

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William was so kind to take us around
(the tall guy is Joseph from Shanghai)

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Yesterday I visited the Piece of Peace exhibition touring from Japan to Hong Kong displaying many greatly build MOCs. Incredible!

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This model was built by Andy Hung.

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This one by Schneider Cheung (with me in the picture)

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In the evening I participated the HKLUG Summer gathering with over 100 AFOLs. Great event with a funny building activity and some cool MOCs.

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And we had a nice lucky draw for the participants (CK and Vincent from HKLUG and Pater Fung, LEGO HK Marketing Director in the middle)

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Today I had a meeting in the LEGO HK office and met later with 10 AFOLs from Legend Bricks to visit their very cool and impressive new academy/studio/warehouse, to see the great MOCs and to have a nice dinner together. It was great fun.

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Now it is 1am here so I take a rest now before I leave for Taiwan tomorrow.

The LEGO Castle Anniversary Competition! VI

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The members of the CEE (Community Engagement & Events) team are always on the lookout for unique and interesting opportunities to support the fan community. Working closely with the North American LEGO Castle marketing team we are happy to continue our yearlong competition celebrating the anniversary and return of LEGO Castle in 2013! We have partnered with the 9 large fan conventions taking place in North America in 2013 (BrickFair: Alabama, Bricks Cascade, BrickFair: New England, Brickworld: Chicago, Brick Fiesta, Brickfête: Toronto, BrickFair: Virginia, Bricks by the Bay and BrickCon) as well as with our colleagues on ReBrick to offer up an opportunity to win an entire collection of the new 2013 Castle product line.

As each convention already offers up a castle themed section for MOCs, as well as some form of “best of” category at the event, we have agreed that the winner chosen at each event will become a semi-finalist in our competition. This individual will be rewarded with an entire collection of the 2013 Castle product line once available, as well as enter into a final round amongst the winners chosen at each of the other conventions to compete for a secret grand prize. We understand that not everyone is able to attend these events; as such, we have opened up the competition online as well with our colleagues at ReBrick. The competition details have already been posted and can be seen here so anyone, anywhere, has a chance to enter!

We have found our sixth semi-finalist! Adam Hollings, from Acton, Ontario made the trek out and showcased his fantastic castle display at Brickfête: Toronto. His MOC was selected as the “Best of Castle” at the event and as such he will be receiving an entire collection of the 2013 LEGO Castle product line! His MOC will now move forward and compete against the 8 other North American fan conventions as well as the online winner selected on ReBrick! Congrats Adam!

EVENT RECAP: Brickfête: Toronto 2013

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Last weekend, hot off the heels of my previous event, I got my passport ready and ventured across the border to attend Brickfête: Toronto in Ontario, Canada! This was the third consecutive year for the event and it was great to see how much it has grown overall. I was thoroughly impressed throughout my entire time there and was grateful for the warm welcome.

Catching a rare direct flight out of Hartford, I arrived in Toronto relatively early in the afternoon on Thursday. I took this opportunity to drop by the event site to see what was going on. The event takes place within the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel, utilizing the ball rooms available. As I made my way across the hotel I noticed several (if not every) meeting room was reserved for the event. This was definitely a sign of growth in comparison to the previous year and brought a smile to my face. While folks were busy setting up MOCs and preparing the grand ballroom, I was fortunate in that I was able to grab a quick meeting with the Trade & Marketing Manager from LEGO Canada, Inc. who happen to be there dropping off a few support items. We had a great discussion on better collaboration and alignment between each other. It was extremely beneficial and we have already scheduled a quarterly touch base meeting to explore new opportunities to support the LEGO fan community in Canada. 🙂

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Friday the event was only open to the registered attendees. As you can imagine, most of the day was spent putting finishing touches on MOCs and displays. Vendors continued to set-up their wares, and there were games and activities scattered about. While engaging with the fans and taking photos I bumped into our visiting LEGO designer Pierre, who had already checked in a day before me. Originally from Québec, he was able to reconnect with a few friends while in town. We touched base for our presentation in the evening and continued to wander about the event speaking with fans. After a great day of discussion I joined the general assembly in the evening. The event had reached out to the local LEGOLAND Discovery Center so the Master Model Builder was also able to join Pierre and I for an official LEGO Q&A session. All 3 of us fielded questions appropriate to our areas of responsibilities. Afterwards, I gave the audience a condensed version of my community presentation, followed by the Master Builder who showed his path into the job and behind the scenes tidbits.

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Saturday the event was open to the public, and they came ready for fun! I was pleasantly surprised to see so many folks filling the ballroom and meeting rooms. There were a few moments where I had to pick a corner and just sit with the crowds swimming around me. It was really exciting to see so many people show up to the event, and again, just another indication of the tremendous growth the event has been able to deliver. After a day of community & public engagement, Pierre gave a great presentation on the LEGO design process using one of his models as an example. Following up, I unveiled the new Winter Village Market along with the accompanying designer video. This was the first time we had unveiled an exclusive LEGO set at a fan event in Canada!

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I had a fantastic time at Brickête: Toronto this year, and I look forward to the next. Oh, and you may wonder why the sudden addition of “Toronto” to the event name? Well, I want to make sure you don’t confuse it for Brickfête: Montréal taking place this November in Québec. The Brickête team made the announcement that in addition to the Toronto event there will be a second traveling event. I couldn’t have been more excited to hear the news and look forward to more growth from the region!

My full set of photos can be found in my Flickr photostream HERE

The LEGO Castle Anniversary Competition! V

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The members of the CEE (Community Engagement & Events) team are always on the lookout for unique and interesting opportunities to support the fan community. Working closely with the North American LEGO Castle marketing team we are happy to continue our yearlong competition celebrating the anniversary and return of LEGO Castle in 2013! We have partnered with the 9 large fan conventions taking place in North America in 2013 (BrickFair: Alabama, Bricks Cascade, BrickFair: New England, Brickworld: Chicago, Brick Fiesta, Brickfête, BrickFair: Virginia, Bricks by the Bay and BrickCon) as well as with our colleagues on ReBrick to offer up an opportunity to win an entire collection of the new 2013 Castle product line.

As each convention already offers up a castle themed section for MOCs, as well as some form of “best of” category at the event, we have agreed that the winner chosen at each event will become a semi-finalist in our competition. This individual will be rewarded with an entire collection of the 2013 Castle product line once available, as well as enter into a final round amongst the winners chosen at each of the other conventions to compete for a secret grand prize. We understand that not everyone is able to attend these events; as such, we have opened up the competition online as well with our colleagues at ReBrick. The competition details have already been posted and can be seen here so anyone, anywhere, has a chance to enter!

We have found our fith semi-finalist! Matthew Greene, from Fort Worth, Texas came out and showcased his amazingly detailed display at Brick Fiesta. His MOC was selected as the “Best of Castle” at the event and as such he will be receiving an entire collection of the 2013 LEGO Castle product line! His MOC will now move forward and compete against the 8 other North American fan conventions as well as the online winner selected on ReBrick! Congrats Matthew!