A Wonderful, Personal Announcement!

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It is with great pleasure that I announce the birth of my second son Austin Hinkle. He was born at 7:11am on Saturday 08-31-2013. He weighed in at 6 lbs 14.4 ounces and measured 20 3/4 inches long. Both the mother and baby are doing just fine and there were no complications during labor and delivery. I can’t express my appreciation enough to my team and the fans in my regions for their patience and support while I now spend time with him and the rest of my family throughout the duration of my leave. ­čÖé

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WEEK 34: Time for a Break…

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Wow, what a whirlwindÔÇŽ The past couple of weeks have been very busy with both catching up on two weeksÔÇÖ worth of business travel as well as proactively getting ready to be out of the office for 4 weeks. WeÔÇÖve been having lots of great discussions within the CEE Community Support Team about our strategy and direction for 2014. We have a ton of great initiatives on the books to explore over the coming months; I canÔÇÖt wait to really dive into them more this fall and eventually share with the community! I think our fans will like what we have been working on. ­čÖé

Thinking more to the present, late last week I was tasked with communicating a change in support to the LUG community in North America. As expected, this generated a great deal of debate and discussion. Throughout this entire week I have been working with the groups in my region to fully document their feedback generated from this announcement to funnel through to my colleagues within the organization. This will help us to fully review and plan accordingly moving forward. On a more positive note, IÔÇÖve seen a surge in event support requests coming my way, and I am happy to say that they have all been processed and sent support packages!

In addition to this, I have been taking care of logistics for my travel to Brickworld: Fort Wayne taking place in Fort Wayne, Indiana and BrickCon taking place in Seattle, Washington. IÔÇÖm looking forward to these events- especially, Brickworld: Fort Wayne. I have not had an opportunity to visit with the fans in this area before, so I hope to meet a few new fans and establish some new connections! BrickCon should also shape up nicely as we have a few nice surprises in store for the attendees this year. More details to be shared on that as we get closer.

Earlier, I mentioned that I would be out-of-the office for the next 4 weeks. Well, for those that have not heard- I am actually expecting the birth of my second child in just a few days! My wife is due on Tuesday August 27th (However, babies make their own schedules). To properly spend some time with my family during this time I have made arrangements to take 4 weeks off beginning today after I leave the office. All my LUG contacts and event owners have been properly advised of my leave and any last minute questions and concerns have been addressed. All there is left to do is shut everything off and go home.

Wishing everyone a great September, IÔÇÖll see you in 4 weeks!

The LEGO Castle Anniversary Competition! VIII

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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 ÔÇťbest ofÔÇŁ 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 eight semi-finalist! Joe Bergmans, from Citrus Heights, California brought his incredible MOC to Bricks by the Bay. His build was selected as the ÔÇťBest of CastleÔÇŁ 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 Joe!

Bricks by the Bay 2013

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Marking the end of my extremely busy summer season, I made my way to the west coast of the US to attend the LEGO fan convention Bricks by the Bay recently in Santa Clara, California. I was thrilled at the chance to make it back out and visit with fans from around the region, their last convention took place in March 2012 so there was a slightly longer than normal break between years.

Surprisingly, I made it over to the San Francisco airport with no issues on Thursday (CanÔÇÖt say the same about the flight home though- got stuck overnight in Washington D.C.). Since I arrived later in the evening, I simply checked into the hotel and caught some sleep before heading over to the event Friday morning.

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Bricks by the Bay is unique in that it only opens the event to the public for a single day: Sunday. As such, keeping with my travel schedule this year- this meant that I would actually never interact with the public visitors, as my flight home was scheduled for Sunday morning. An interesting observation, but nothing to complain about from my end. After getting my event credentials in order I took a quick tour of the exhibit hall and caught up with the event owners and volunteers. I also checked in with the LEGO Legends of Chima marketing staff to ensure they had been able to set-up their booth and activity area without issue. My two sessions were planned for Saturday so my Friday was free to engage with the fans uninterrupted. We had some great conversations and discussions, mostly positive but a few area of opportunity to bring back with me. In the evening Paul Lee, LEGO Ambassador for LUGOLA, gave a quite entertaining keynote address regarding many hot topics within the community recently. It was well received and was on everyoneÔÇÖs mind (and lips) throughout my time there.

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Saturday I held my traditional session, The AFOL community vs. The LEGO Group to a nice showing. I believe I had around 40-50 visitors who stopped by to see my presentation. The stage lent itself well with a very nice big projector and stadium seating! We dove right into details about the CEE team and the programs offered to support the LEGO fan community. Afterwards, I even received two emails from fans who were inspired by my talk to start their own LUGs! Following lunch, I hosted the official LEGO Q&A session which brought out some of the usual questions. A couple people were interested in becoming LEGO model designers, a couple queries regarding pricing and quality, and being in California we discussed the companyÔÇÖs recent presence at San Diego Comic Con.

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It was great to see some of my LUG contacts in person once again. I am happy to see the event continue to grow and develop each year! Well done to the team behind the event, I look forward to working with them again next year.

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

The LEGO Castle Anniversary Competition! VII

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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 ÔÇťbest ofÔÇŁ 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 seventh semi-finalist! Blake Baer, from Bedford, Pennsylvania brought his incredible MOC to BrickFair: Virginia. His build was selected as the ÔÇťBest of CastleÔÇŁ 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 Blake!