Piece of Peace exhibition

I finally found the time to share some more pictures of the incredible Piece of Peace exhibition I visited on my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. The MOCs are so awesome!

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The LEGO Castle Anniversary Competition!

Rivendell built by Alice Finch & David Frank
Rivendell built by Alice Finch & David Frank

We have found our ninth semi-finalist! Alice Finch & David Frank, from Mercer Island, Washington once again blow us away with an incredible castle themed MOC. Their build was selected as the “Best of Castle” at the US AFOL convention BrickCon and as such they will be receiving an entire collection of the 2013 LEGO Castle product line! This MOC will now move forward and compete against the 8 other North American fan conventions as well as the online winner selected on ReBrick! Yes, for those keeping track, Alice won at the US AFOL convention Bricks Cascade 2013 as well making this her second winning entry into the semi-finals!

You may ask yourself… What am I even talking about? 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 on ReBrick. The competition details have already been posted and can be seen HERE so anyone, anywhere, has a chance to enter!

EVENT RECAP: BrickCon 2013

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October 3rd through the 6th I was given the opportunity to visit the US AFOL convention BrickCon in Seattle, Washington. BrickCon is currently the longest running AFOL convention in North America with more than 10 years under their belt and this is really shown in how organized and smoothly it is run by the talented team of volunteers!

I was fortunate this year in that I was joined by two colleagues- Jamie Berard, Senior Design Manager, and Keith Severson, Senior Manager – Community Support, from our office in Billund, Denmark. I arrived in the area Thursday afternoon and met with both Jamie and Keith for dinner where we ran through the game plan for the weekend. We discussed some expectations as well as consulted the event schedule to ensure everyone was aware of when and where things were going to take place. Friday morning after a quick breakfast I headed over to the exhibition hall to engage with the local fans that were busy setting up displays and MOCs. I was happy to see several familiar faces as well as a nice gathering of contacts I had only previously known through email and phone. In particular, it was a pleasure to finally meet my contact Nelson from LEAHI, which covers the state of Hawaii.

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After a great day of discussions and engagement, Keith, Jamie and I joined the opening ceremonies. We had the pleasure of revealing a brand new exclusive LEGO set: 10243 Parisian Restaurant– to great reception! Afterwards, we were treated to two very different keynote speakers that provided some very interesting insights; they were a very good contrast with each other. We started with David Robertson, the LEGO professor, as he shared his research on the history and innovation of The LEGO Group. He was also available at the event for folks to purhcase his recent book: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. Afterwards we were treated to another great talk from Hillel Cooperman, who has given great keynote speeches the last couple of years. This year he focused on some areas of opportunity where he believes the company could do even better.

Saturday the event was opened to the public and they came in droves. There were extremely long lines waiting at the door but the volunteer staff were able to work through them in record time!

Keith and I conducted an impromptu LEGO Ambassador Meeting as there was several in attendance. We allowed each Ambassador to express concerns regarding the current state of the program as well as wishes and requests moving forward. The session was greatly beneficial and will aid our team as we look to advance the program further.

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Both Jamie and I gave our scheduled presentations at different points throughout the day. Jamie naturally focused on the LEGO design process by showing some behind the scenes development of the 10234 Sydney Opera House, a set he’d worked on for several years. There was a great turnout with many questions and discussion afterwards. Keith joined me for my session in which we went into detail on how the CEE Community Support team works with the fan community as well as provide more detail into the entire Community Engagement & Events department. In between meetings and presentations I wandered the event documenting the public as well as impressive builds. Among the vast array of creations I was very humbled to find an up scaled version of my Minifigure business card built by a fan. It reassures me of the positive relationship that I have worked hard to build with the community in my area over the last couple of years.

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After a jam-packed couple of days, I flew back home to Hartford Sunday morning. Overall, I had a fantastic time in Seattle for my third visit to BrickCon. I want to once again thank both Keith and Jamie for joining me on this trip; I know how much it means to the fans when they get the opportunity to meet more folks from within the company. So thanks to those guys for taking the time!

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

SweBrick Event in Norrköping

So the past weekend I was in Sweden to visit the friendly and always high spirited Swedes at their big event this year.

It was situated at the Work’s Museum (Arbetets Museum) in Norrköping and that was a really cool venue indeed.

The combination of old industruial building with muesum and then LEGO bricks everywhere was a really strong combination.

Sweet photoshop image of the museum as a MOC
Sweet photoshop image of the museum as a MOC

As you can see from the above image, the museum itself is situated really nice in the old industrial part of town and as an extra treat SweBrick had designed an event kit – which was a LEGO build version of the local trams riding around Norrköping. I was lucky enough to be given one as a gift as was Karen who accompanied me on this visit as she wanted to me the AFOLs face2face on their own “turf”.

Lots of dark green and flame yellowish elemets.
Lots of dark green and flame yellowish elemets.

A really sweet event kit that already sits next to the Gothenburg tram (they did for last year’s event) on my display shelf. Nice element selection and also a funny disclaimer on the side of the box and the age requirement is spot on! [laughs].

Karen and I arrived on Friday – after flying to Stockholm and riding a not so impressive Skoda CitiGo 1.0 to Norrköping and we were amazed at the level of hospitality we were shown. We instantly got the “BIG TOUR” and everywhere we went everyone were smiling and chatting – I guess stress on having to set up several MOCs is not something they “use” in Sweden? And then on Satruday the exhibition kicked off with close to 2000 visitors in 6 hours. In the evening the Saturday Night Dinner was really fun followed by a presentation by me and Karen on our jobs and what we do in the Community Engagement & Events department. To top everything off they had Superkalle do a rather stunning presentation on plastic compounds and illegal builds.

On Sunday we only had time for a quick visit at the event before heading back home. It did seem though that event was already crowded by visitors and I am certain that the end figures show that SweBrick need an entire floor more in the building for next time.

We also had a quick look in the basement where a local toy store had agreed to set up a makeshift store selling lots of LEGO sets at fair prices. Plus several boxes of random bricks had been put into tubs and the kids could be part of a building contest – so much rattling and happy faces in one place makes you proud to be part of the company and even prouder of the work that AFOLs do – just because they can and it is their hobby.

A BIG THANK YOU to SweBRrick – I hope to visit you again at some point in time.

I have uploaded all the images I have from the event to my image folder HERE (opens in a new window).

If anyone has any pictures from the event that I can have, please burn them on a CD, put a signed note that allows us to use them there and send it to me.

Your LEGO Ambassador (Ras74) should have my address.

 

 

 

 

EVENT RECAP: Brickworld: Fort Wayne 2013

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Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting an area of the United States that I’ve never been to before. Brickworld: Fort Wayne 2013 took place at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 28th and 29th. The event is owned and operated by the same fine folks of the more well known Brickworld: Chicago AFOL convention. Now, Brickworld: Fort Wayne is not an AFOL convention, but rather an AFOL exposition. Over the last couple of years the Brickworld team has expanded their brand and now host additional smaller expos in surrounding areas, this year that included Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Lafayette. I had a discussion with the event owners much earlier in the year and gave my word that if time permitted, I would arrange a visit to one of these smaller events during 2013. Fort Wayne, as it happened, was the only event that was able to fit into my schedule without conflict. Knowing that a majority of my travel is to AFOL conventions, I was looking forward to visiting a different kind of event. To my delight, I was greeted with a lovely change of pace and more intimate setting with some local fans.

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I arrived in the area Thursday evening and joined the Brickworld event owners for a nice dinner. We discussed some expectations of the weekend, as well as some planning for event support in 2014. As Friday was dedicated to set-up of MOCs and vendor spaces, I decided to take the 2 hour drive down Friday morning to Indianapolis to visit with the local LEGO Store Manager. We’ve been working together for several years so it was good to touch base in person about some of their questions and concerns in regards to the AFOL community. I was happy to hear that the relationship between the local LEGO Store and surrounding LUGs was very healthy!

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After making my way back into Fort Wayne in the afternoon I wandered over to the exhibit hall and engaged with the fans on-site. I was able to connect with a few that I had not met previously so it was good to put faces to names / email addresses. I was also given the opportunity to meet an AFOL who had recently relocated from South Korea to the United States. He was able to provide some interesting insights into his previous LUG, with a staggering membership claim into the thousands. I was also happy to help provide a hand in setting up his incredible scaled model of the battle of Helm’s Deep from The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, I finally got the answer to my question of just how much LEGO can one person get into a vehicle (Thanks MichLUG!). My day was spent meeting with and speaking with as many fans as possible; there were many great discussions and insights for me to bring back to the office.

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Saturday the event was opened to the public so I took the opportunity to wander the event documenting some of the crowds and awed faces. In between some continuing conversations with the fans I worked on a presentation for the evening to help provide some insight into what programs are offered to the LUG community and some best practices for forming a LUG. We were lucky to have several groups represented so we took turns sharing experiences and guidance. The presentation and discussion were well received. I will be tweaking some of the slides and hopefully utilize this for my 2014 AFOL convention presentation.

I flew back to Hartford Sunday morning, giving myself a few days to get ready for my next trip. I had a great time at Brickworld: Fort Wayne. It gave me a nice understanding of a smaller exposition and a better picture on some of the ways I can continue to support them in comparison to the AFOL conventions. Thanks for the warm welcome to those in the area!

My full set of photos will be uploaded to my Flickr photostream soon.

Happy Birthday LEGO Systems, Inc.!

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In 1973, LEGO Systems, Inc. was officially incorporated in the United States as a division of The LEGO Group. This led the way for The LEGO Group to officially sell LEGO products in the US.

This month, the Enfield office celebrated the 40th anniversary of this milestone by erecting The LEGO Heritage Wall as a way to look back at the history of the LEGO company both worldwide and here in the Americas. Sadly, due to business travel I was not on site for the physical celebration and unveiling of the wall- however…

As an employee of LSI, I am proud to say Happy Birthday! Looking forward to the next 40 years. 🙂