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RECAP: LUG Visit with HILUG and LEAHI (PART 1)

Greetings CEE Blog readers!

I am CEE’s Community Strategist, Yun Mi Antorini, and I don’t usually write on the blog. But earlier this year I had the great pleasure of visiting two great LUGs in Hawaii: LEAHI (LEGO Enthusiast Association of Hawaii) and HILUG (Hawaii LEGO User Group) both located on O’ahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands in the United States. Here’s an account of my visit with HILUG.

You’d probably think that Hawaii residents are prone to engage in outdoor activities like surfing, swimming, or hiking and that a typical indoor hobby like building with LEGO would have a hard time in a region where the sun is (nearly) always up and where the nature is breathtakingly beautiful. Nothing could be more wrong! What I learned is that you can have the best of both worlds!

HILUG had kindly invited me to their monthly building meeting. I was warmly welcomed by Roy, Christine and baby Peregrine. Roy and Christine, who formed HILUG, hosted the meeting which took place in their home. HILUG differs from many LUGs by having both adult and youth members, Peregrine being by far the youngest, but not less engaged member!

Peregrine observing and taking inspiration from his surroundings.
Peregrine observing and taking inspiration from his surroundings.

The meeting began with a round of introductions that also involved presenting personal LEGO creations and getting feedback on those creations. It was very exciting to see how play and creativity really knows no age and how good ideas flow back and forth between people, creating even better solutions and new venues to be tested out. It was equally fascinating to learn about the diverse and fascinating backgrounds that people had. In the second part of the meeting, Roy showed how the LEGO Mixels elements could be put to good use. I can’t think of a better way of learning new LEGO tips and tricks than the way it was done here! The third and more formal part of the meeting involved discussing opportunities to do social builds, exhibiting the LUG’s work, and doing larger event that involved not only HILUG members.

Christine’s 10,000+ piece ring-tailed lemur mosaic made for "The Wildest Show In Town" at the Honolulu Zoological Society.
Christine’s 10,000+ piece ring-tailed lemur mosaic made for “The Wildest Show In Town” at the Honolulu Zoological Society.
HILUG members deeply engaged in sorting LEGO elements!
HILUG members deeply engaged in sorting LEGO elements!
HILUG members meeting in Kapiolani park.
HILUG members meeting in Kapiolani park.

Upcoming events in 2014 are the first outer Island event on Hawaii “The Big island” for HawaiiCon in September. In October, HILUG is attending Children and Youth Day at the State Capitol.  Links to HILUG events and information are located on the events page at HILUG’s website: www.hilug.org. You can also follow HILUG here: https://www.facebook.com/hawaiilug and here: @hawaiilug on Twitter and Instagram.

Later in the year, I will return again to tell more about my visit with the LEAHI group.

EVENT RECAP: Brickfête Toronto 2014

The public visitors at Brickfête Toronto 2014.
The public visitors at Brickfête Toronto 2014.

2014 marked the fourth consecutive year for the adult fan of LEGO® (AFOL) convention Brickfête Toronto, which takes place in none other than Toronto, Ontario; Canada. I was honored to attend this event for my third year as a representative of the LEGO Group and the Community Engagement & Events (CEE) department.

I arrived at the venue Thursday evening and was pleasantly surprised to see such a gorgeous new home for this event. This year, the owners settled on a new location which brought the event a bit closer to several existing local family attractions and activities. This location lent itself well to families looking for a weekend getaway. This was clearly evident during the weekend!

A life sized Minifigure Walkie Talkie as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
A life sized Minifigure Walkie Talkie as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
A motorized R2-D2 as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
A motorized R2-D2 as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.

Friday the event was only open to registered attendees (AFOLs & teenage fans of LEGO (TFOLs)). As such, the day was filled with a variety of games, activities and presentations in celebration of the LEGO hobby. I spent a majority of my time engaging with members of the local community and documenting some of the fabulous creations that were being set up. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to touch base with the individuals I’ve been speaking with over email and phone. I had a lot of great discussions with several LUGs such as OBB, ParLUGment, ToroLUG, SLUG, LUCNY, rtlToronto and WHaCKoLuG. I was not alone however, as my colleague Jamie Berard, Design Manager Specialist at the LEGO Group was also in attendance! We sporadically bumped into one another as we attempted to engage with as many fans as possible during our time. In the afternoon we both had the opportunity to host back to back presentations. As tradition, I hosted a presentation in which I detailed the CEE department, and all the programs and support opportunities that are currently available to the AFOL community from the LEGO Group. Jamie spoke to his design process for the new 10244 Fairground Mixer.

A Pokémon Stadium as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
A Pokémon Stadium as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
Jamie Berard, Design Manager Specialist from the LEGO Group, preparing for a presentation at Brickfête Toronto 2014.
Jamie Berard preparing for a presentation at Brickfête Toronto 2014.

Saturday the event was opened to the public and I was happy to see so many interested participants make it out! While weaving in and around busy onlookers I was able to snap a few pictures and check in with fans as they fielded questions from the public. Not too long after the doors opened we were also greeted and entertained by local members of the 501st legion, a very well known group of Star Wars costumers. Another great day of conversation was had and right before taking a break for dinner, Jamie and I took up an invitation to visit a local independent toy dealer’s shop: Lasting Toys. It was fun to see so many LEGO products as well as products from the community in once place. As we spoke to Michael, the store’s owner, we browsed his racks of older LEGO products- he even let me take a childhood favorite of mine! Once we returned to the venue we took our seats and enjoyed another fantastic charity auction hosted by none other than the Magno in Charge himself- Chris, from rtlToronto. This auction in particular is always extremely entertaining and I look forward to it every year. Before calling it a day, and wrapping up another event, I grabbed a few coffees and timbits® from a local Tim Hortons and enjoyed them with a few night owls who were building space ships for a collaborative project entitled: GARC.

A motorized ride as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.
A motorized ride as built by a Brickfête Toronto attendee.

A huge thanks once again to the community for making me feel welcome at this event. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and have already taken the opportunity to have a few cups of coffee from my new mug at the office. 🙂

For those interested, I’ve uploaded all the photos I took while in attendance on my Flickr account.

Sound off in the comments if you were in attendance at this event! What were your thoughts?

 

Window into the Community

The CEE display case located at The LEGO Group's corporate office in Enfield, CT; USA.
The CEE display case located at The LEGO Group’s corporate office in Enfield, CT; USA.

My colleagues and I tend to acquire quite a collection of items during our time supporting the adult fan of LEGO (AFOL) community. Each business trip is sure to result in stacks of business cards, bags of custom printed and/or engraved LEGO elements and handfuls of unique products designed to compliment the LEGO hobby. Not to mention the occasional shipment of goodies to the office! 🙂

Well, what exactly do we do with all that stuff?

The answer is clear! We share these items with our colleagues and team mates across the entire organization. As our department is split between  Billund, Denmark and Enfield, CT; USA each side of the Atlantic manages a display case to highlight the AFOL community, a world we operate in every day (Check out my colleague Kim’s recent post for a shot from Billund). I’ve just recently updated the case here in the US with new items I’ve collected as well as some new graphics to help onlookers grasp what they see when we’re not around.

What do you think? Any items in there look familiar? Let me know in the comments.

EVENT RECAP: Brickworld Chicago 2014

CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and Kim Ellekjær Thomsen.
CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and Kim Ellekjær Thomsen.

The first of which I refer to as, “the big three,” has come and gone. The adult fan of LEGO® (AFOL) Convention: Brickworld Chicago 2014 successfully entertained hundreds of LEGO fans and thousands of public visitors at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois; USA. Not only is this premiere AFOL event well established and impressively operated, it does well to attract an overwhelming number of AFOLs and teenage fans of LEGO (TFOLs) from all across North America and beyond! This year, my colleague Kim Thomsen, European Community Coordinator, was available to join me for not only his first visit to an American AFOL Convention but for his first time in the United States period!

Bender Bending Rodriguez as built by an AFOL.
Bender Bending Rodriguez as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.

Kim and I arrived in the area Thursday afternoon to allow us an opportunity to take a quick drive downtown before the event’s opening ceremonies in the evening. As Kim had never visited the area, I felt it was my duty to take him to the top of the tallest building I could find! Before heading 1,000 feet (305 meters) into the sky, we had a quick check in with our colleagues at the local LEGO Brand Retail Store in Water Tower Place to discuss any pertinent questions or concerns regarding the local AFOL community and/or event. After a wonderful chat with the Store Manager and his team, we ascended into the sky. The view of Chicago was simply breathtaking as we sipped a few cups of coffee from the top of the John Hancock Center.

We pulled into the event venue with a couple hours free to settle into our hotel rooms and prep for the opening ceremonies. As with other AFOL Conventions operating in the North American market, I had been in close dialogue with the owners of this event for several months. These events are supported to various degrees by the LEGO Community Engagement & Events (CEE) department and as such it is my responsibility to manage both the relationship and logistical coordination on behalf of The LEGO Group. After so much planning behind the scenes, it’s great to take a seat and let everything take shape!

A European castle as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
A European castle as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.

Our keynote speaker was David Robertson, author of the book: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. He gave a great presentation speaking to some of the history of The LEGO Group and the reason why certain decisions were made. Although there were literally dozens of folks that were interested in speaking with Kim and I late into the evening, we wrapped up an exciting day to conserve energy for what was to come.

Friday the event was only open to registered attendees so Kim and I did our best to engage with as many AFOLs and TFOLs as possible throughout the day. While folks were still setting up My Own Creations (MOCs) and displays, we caught up with various contacts from all across both North America and Europe! Throughout the day, Kim and I conducted three presentations that were open to all who were interested. One of which was dedicated to the LEGO Ambassador Network. This provided some information into what the program is, what people can expect from it, and provide greater visibility to both the program itself and currently participating members.

CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and Kim Ellekjær Thomsen speaking with the Beyond the Brick team.
CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and  Kim Ellekjær Thomsen speaking with the Beyond the Brick team.

This presentation in particular had several currently active LEGO Ambassadors in attendance: Jeffrey Viens who represents ChiLUG, Abner Finley from GMLTC, Chris Eyerly from KLUG, Chris Hettinger from IowaLUG, and Sam Wormuth from BroLUG to name a few. The other two presentations were actually one repeated in order to give more individuals the opportunity to participate. As tradition, I hosted a presentation in which I detailed the CEE department, and all the programs and support opportunities that are currently available to our AFOL community from the LEGO Group. As a special gift, those in attendance were given not only one of my elusive Minifigure business cards but Kim’s too! 🙂

Saturday the event was opened to the public and as expected, they came in droves. Kim and I split up and continued speaking with as many fans as possible. There were a great number of discussions taking place all across the venue and as usual it was extremely helpful for us to reaffirm a solid pulse on what the community is talking about at the moment. In the evening we were treated to an official screening of The LEGO Movie as coordinated with Warner Bros. Entertainment and the brickfilming website: The Set Bump! As if there weren’t enough amazing talks, seminars, presentations, and workshops taking place during the day- they crammed one more treat which was the annual tradition of the World of Lights. All the lights in the expo hall were turned so that every MOC with lights could truly shine. It was just a stunning experience and great atmosphere.

The public visitors at Brickworld Chicago 2014.
The public visitors at Brickworld Chicago 2014.
The Castle of Hope as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
The Castle of Hope as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.

Sunday after a rather quiet breakfast (I think our voices were gone…) Kim and I headed for the Chicago O’Hare airport. While I rested up on my flight back to Connecticut Kim embraced a long trip home to Denmark.

Kim and I were very grateful for the experience and had a pleasure speaking with everyone. I found it extremely difficult to recap everything that took place as there simply was so much going on throughout the entire weekend. Well done to all the volunteers for another fantastic Brickworld Chicago!

Gotta' catch 'em all! Ash Ketchum and Pikachu as built by a Brickworld Chciago attendee.
Gotta’ catch ’em all! Ash Ketchum and Pikachu as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.

For those interested, I’ve uploaded all the photos I took while in attendance on my Flickr account.

Sound off in the comments if you were in attendance at this event! What were your thoughts?

Please Welcome Ana & Kristin!

Members of the AFOL Community may have noticed a few new names on some recent correspondence regarding our community support programs. I am very happy to share that both the Danish and US offices have made arrangements to offer part-time support for the Community Engagement & Events (CEE)’s Community Support team! What does that mean? Well- Jan, Kim and myself have been extremely busy over the last several months maintaining our global support programs such as LUG Support and Event Support. In addition to these great initiatives our time and resources are constantly needed on other fronts. To help lighten the load, each week both offices will have someone come in to help out part-time.

Now that they are getting more comfortable in their roles, we figured it would be a perfect opportunity to provide a proper introduction:

Ana Albouy joins Community Support team members Jan Beyer and Kim Thomsen in Billund, Denmark.
Ana Albouy joins Community Support team members Jan Beyer and Kim Thomsen in Billund, Denmark.

“My name is Ana Albouy, I was born in Costa Rica and went to live in France in 1999. My husband works for LEGO Education and together we have 2 kids: Chloé and Adrien. I started to work with the Community Team in January 2014. I am very happy to be part of Keith, Kim, Jan, Kevin and Kristin´s team and to support the LEGO Fans all over the world through my work.”

Kristin Labossiere joins Community Support team member Kevin Hinkle in Enfield, Connecticut; USA.
Kristin Labossiere joins Community Support team member Kevin Hinkle in Enfield, Connecticut; USA.

“Hello! I’m sure most of you are wondering who this new person is emailing you instead of Kevin. Well, here you go:

My name is Kristin Labossiere and I’m lucky enough to be the new part-time member of the Community Team! I received my Bachelor of Arts in French with a concentration in French cultural and literary studies from the University of Connecticut in 2012 – Go Huskies! I’ve been employed by the LEGO Group since March of 2013 as a French Consumer Services Advisor and in October of 2013 I became the Administrative Assistant for the Consumer Services department, which is where I spend most of my time. I absolutely love my new job working with the Community Team on Tuesdays because I get to spend most of my day chatting with wonderful AFOLs about what amazing events their LUGs are participating in or sponsoring. I’ve also secretly been creating a list of events I want to check out (Geek Market in Ottawa is right at the top!). As a heads up I should also tell you all that I’m getting married in May (very exciting!) and my name will be changing so don’t worry if all of a sudden your emails are coming from Kristin Petrone instead! I am also the proud mommy of two fuzzy little demons darlings (aka cats) named Jasper and Izze and I love to cook, read and build modular buildings, as well as pretty much anything else I can get my hands on. I’m becoming a bigger LEGO fan everyday because it’s so easy to love!”

Please join me in welcoming both Ana and Kristin to the Community Support team!

 

Beyond The Brick – Kevin Hinkle Interview

My colleague in the US, Kevin Hinkle has been interviewed by Beyond The Brick.

Even if the interview is quite long – almost an hour, it is definetly worth watching as they do get around a lot of the details of our job and what we do.

Great interview Kevin – looking forward to visiting you in June in Enfield – when I also get to visit BrickWorld.