Having used quite a few of the 1×1 quarter round coral pieces on Totem Tower, I still had plenty left for this model, along with the larger 4×4 macaroni tiles which I got from recent trips to Pick A Brick walls.
Archives for September 2019
Having had another wonderful day at LEGO House yesterday, today it was time to hit the road again for the journey south to the little town of Skærbæk for the 2019 Skærbæk Fan Weekend. Little Caz had packed up her car and was ready to go.
The drive took about an hour and a half along fairly quiet Danish roads, and I arrived mid-afternoon at our cabin at Skærbækcentret, which has a long association with this international fan-run LEGO convention. My cabin-buddies had arrived yesterday evening on the bus from Billund, but were busy settting up their displays, so I was able to take a nice photo of the inside of our home from home.
I had brought along 12 blocks of Micropolis for display. The one change from the layout I had for Caterham just a few days ago was the addition of a special block built in the shape of the SFW logo (2nd from left on the top row) which made its debut here.
Thankfully, these too had survived the trip in the back of my car pretty well. They looked great set out together, however I wasn’t going to be spending much time with them over the weekend…
My setup wasn’t over yet – I had also brought along those Great Ball Contraption modules which had been on show in Caterham last weekend. GBC is always a bit stressful to sort out, and I felt the pressure as most of the folks in the collaborative display had been unpacking for ages by the time I arrived!
When I first signed up for the convention, my original intention was just to bring Micropolis. But then things happened… In May, it was announced that, for the first time ever (and probably the only time ever), the three Big Guns in the GBC world would be displaying together at SFW, namely Tom Atkinson from the US, Akiyuki from Japan and Maico Arts from the Netherlands.
This scheme had been cooked up by the Hanlon brothers – Joshua and John – who run the very successful LEGO YouTube channel Beyond The Brick. They had interviewed Tom and Maico about their GBC modules many times during visits to various shows, and had also met Akiyuki during a visit to Japan.
So, if I was going to bring my GBC anywhere, then this was it! How could I pass up an opportunity to share the line with these fine gents – and many other great folks too?
Maico brought many of his iconic modules along. Tom managed to bring three of his in a suitcase and Akiyuki’s cute Robots made the journey from Japan intact.
Finally, setup was done and I was able to relax a bit before the onslaught of the weekend!
I was able to sneak around some of the exhibits before the public hours started, and these are some of my favourites. However, I was in a bit of a hurry so I’m afraid I was quite poor about taking note of who built what, so I’m unable to attribute the builders for many of these wonderful pieces.
The first thing which caught my eye was this large scale town layout with many fine trains and lots of lovely MONORAIL:
And talking of Monorail, I’m always drawn to custom builds using this track – and this elevated tram with amazing station was no exception:
LEGO’s Classic Space themes are always a draw for me, so this huge M:Tron base deserved a closer look:
Paradisa Beach was built my by LUG-mate and cabin buddy, Catherine Rankine, aka Crankybricks. I loved the way she has integrated old and new for a seamless diorama here:
Slimer was a lot of fun – but I feel very sorry for Hot Dog Costume Guy who has been mistaken for the real thing by the evil slimy dude.
This exquisitely designed roof made from lovely purple tiles was also an eye-catcher. Little Caz could not resist posing for a photo:
Many of my Masterpiece Gallery compatriots had also stayed on for SFW. This beautiful Tea Ceremony was the work of Eero Okkonen, whose work is next to mine the cabinet in Billund.
I’ve no idea who had added these aliens building a sandcastle but they are great fun!
Jonas Kramm had built a series of microscale castles depicted in the Game of Thrones franchise. Since I don’t watch, I can’t telly you which one this is, but it has some cool kinetic elements too.
Back to Classic Space and the Blacktron subtheme this time. With more monorail!
This crazy Friends-themed Death Star was one of several which show the best of mash-up culture:
One highlight of Saturday was the opportunity to meet Jakob from the Brick Bakery YouTube channel. We have been long-time supporters of each others’ channels, but this was the first time we have met – and what a lovely chap he is!
He filmed this interview with me about my Micropolis layout, which you can see below:
As well as talking to me about my Micropolis display, he also interviewed me about my contribution to the GBC loop we had running all weekend.
Saturday was a busy, full-on day so I had an early night rather than partying in other folks’ cabins! I must be getting old…
I had spent much of Saturday tending to the various GBC models in my own part of the loop. A trio from Tom Atkinson were next to mine on the table, and from time to time, Tom had disappeared to do interviews or attend workshops. So occasionally I was left to supervise his models too! A couple were fine, but his “Perpetual Prototype” which is famed for him saying it needs to be rebuilt was a littl more finicky! But all in all he was a great GBC neighbour, and a thoroughly nice guy to hang around with.
I was pleased to be able to contribute some commentary about my own GBC modules when Beyond The Brick filmed their walkaround of the whole loop. My contribution starts at 18’12” if you want to skip straight to it.
I did manage to escape on Sunday afternoon to attend the workshop run by the Women’s Brick Initiative. There were three sections to the event, firstly Alice Finch showed us some excellent building techniques:
Next up was Sacha who stepped in at the last mintue to talk to us about toy photography after the original workshop leader was not able to take part:
And finally we made some LEGO-themed jewellery with JacQueline Sanchez:
I was one of half a dozen members of London AFOLs to attend SFW this year, so we all decided to pose for a group photo with our banner:
And here we are, at the end of an amazing weekend, with my collection of Show Bricks from the last few days, including three GBC bricks autgraphed by Tom, Akiyuki and Maico:
Tomorrow we will begin the journey home to England!
I recently acquired a couple of bulk lots of LEGO Clikits very cheaply from ebay. Clikits was a bizarre, short-lived genre of LEGO which was released between 2003 and 2006, and largely aimed at young girls. The components were designed to make jewellery and plastic picture frames adorned with hearts, flowers, stars and various other candy-coloured pieces. Much of the Clikits range is not directly compatible with LEGO system pieces. but I was determined to use some of the bits I had acquired, to decorate this new office block for Micropolis. Some of the bracelet bits will click onto the side stud of a SNOT brick, and that’s what I used here to give the impression of fancy windows.
After our private set up day yesterday, the LEGO House was open today exclusively for the 2019 AFOL Day, for visitors who are in Denmark for the Skærbæk Fan Weekend in a couple of days. Fairy Bricks were in attendance with one of their huge LEGO mosaics, and I was able to complete square 358 while I was waiting for the events to begin in earnest.
It slotted into the pattern somewhere near the middle, but didn’t look like it really fitted there until the mosaic was complete (which we will see later on).
As the AFOLs gathered in the atrium, Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, 4th generation owner of the LEGO Group, was interviewed by Jesper Vilstrup, General Manager of LEGO House. It was an upbeat discussion and fans were able to chat briefly with them both afterwards.
I was able to thank them in person for the amazing opportunity of being able to display my work in the Masterpiece Gallery, and we traded Sigfigs as a souvenir, which was very cool.
Upstairs in the main Gallery, AFOLs were beginning to wander about and look at all the wonderful exhibits.
The video link I included in yesterday’s blog post will show you my interactive tour around the Gallery, but I will also showcase some photos of my favourites from each builder here. The first is this really fun Hot Dog van by Hsinwei Chi of Taiwan. He is one of the two other AFOLs I share the display case with.
I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite from my own MOCs! So here’s another view of it in its entirity.
Eero Okkonen is renowned for his character builds and this rendition of his favourite Finnish Heavy Metal band Circle is no exception. Each band member has so much life in him!
Jason Allemann, half of well-known building team JK Brickworks is famous for his kinetic models. These chariot race horses can gallop along while the chariot gently sways behind them. None of the builds in the cabinet were moving, but they did have a display showing a video loop of how the models work, which adds a great deal to their appeal.
Krystal Dubois in the K in JK Brickworks, and this wonderful model showed off bags of humour and character which I enjoyed very much.
Marion Weintraut’s model was a large-scale dilapidated mansion. There were so many fantastic details showing how the building was going to wrack and ruin – but among my favourite techniques was Marion’s use of the sprues (which normally get thrown away after builders have extracted the three-leafed plants from them) to form vines creeping all over the building.
Zio Chen had made some charming little lucky pigs (for the Chinese Year of the Pig) as part of his display. I also loved the intricate plaque with Chinese writing, although I’m sorry to say I can’t read what it says.
Paul Hetherington’s build was another highlight – he’s a builder after my own heart in his use of bold colours to build architectural subjects. You could look at this for hours and constantly see new details emerge.
Timofey Tkachev’s Steampunk-style typewriter also caught my eye. Although it’s clearly more up to date than you think, since is has a key for “.com”!
This mosaic portrait of John Lennon was by the late Aurthur Gugick, an American AFOL who was tragically killed in a car accident in March along with his girlfriend. I wasn’t aware of his work until I saw this picture, but it’s clear that the LEGO community has lost a very talented artist. This picture will apparently hang in one of the offices at the new LEGO HQ building when it is completed later this year. A fitting tribute to the man, I think.
Simon Hundsbichler is an Austrian AFOL who has a knack for bringing living things to life in brick. My favourite model which he brought along was of this tiger drinking from a swampy pool.
Serbian AFOL Milan Sekiz meanwhile had built an Iron Man suit of armour which he can actually wear! It looked quite fragile and was one of the last models to be fully set up in the Gallery yesterday.
Matthew Goldberg’s fantastical creatures are mostly built from Bionicle and other constraction elements. They can look quite unlike “normal” LEGO but still show a high degree of skill and artistry to each creation.
All the models in the Masterpiece Gallery are amazing in their own way, but I think my favourite has to be this spectacular coral reef by Ryan van Duzor. He is a biology teacher by trade and this astonishing MOC has to have some of the craziest parts usage I have ever seen!
Sven Franic’s wizardly-inspired owl, magic wand and other paraphernalia was chosen for inclusion just before Sven got a job as a LEGO designer. It’s not surprising to see why they hired him!
Stephan Gofers’ two models were quite different – this western train ambush had many wonderful details to admire. His other build was a teetering version of Jack Skellington’s house which looked like it was defying gravity.
A few weeks prior to my Danish trip, I had been chatting with Matthew Ashton who I follow on Twitter. He is VP of Design and lead judge on the first ever LEGO Masters TV show, which aired in the UK on Channel 4. I wondered if he would be around during the AFOL Day and he said he would probably be in meetings all day but wasn’t sure. Just before lunch today he tweeted that he was free for half an hour if I wanted to say hello at the House! And so here we are, all smiles. What a lovely thing for him to do, seeing as I’m just another fan, and I’m sure he has thousands of those!
There were various other activities going on during the day, including a tour of the LEGO factory but sadly I wasn’t able to get on one of those – there was a bit of a scrum for places and I was just too late. But I was pleased to see that the Fairy Bricks Mosaic was finally finished – can you spot the square that I made?
During the afternoon I was interviewed by Beyond The Brick about my Micropolis MOCs (my section starts around 4’26”). It was woven into their tour-around-the-gallery video, compèred by Stuart Harris, which was finally released on Christmas Even 2019 (they clearly had a bit of an editing backlog after their European trip!).
That capped off another amazing day at the LEGO House! Tomorrow we will head south to the international gathering of AFOLs that is the Skærbæk Fan Weekend.
Unlike many of my other GBC modules, which I have built from other people’s plans, Buckets of Fun is one I designed from scratch myself. As this is usually a long iterative process, it has taken me quite a while to refine its performance to be reliable for long periods at a show. Here is the latest version:
It finally happened! And I still can’t quite believe it!
I had an amazing time setting up my Micropolis MOCs in the LEGO House in Billund. Ever since reading the invitation email in mid-March, I have been trying to imagine what today would be like.
I met up with 14 other AFOLs in the hotel lobby at 8:45am and we were taken by coach to the LEGO House. Some folks had had long flights and only just arrived last night, while one or two of us had been in town for a day or two.
After some welcome introductions and going through the timetable for the day, we were taken on a tour of the House led by Senior Experience Designer Stuart Harris and Mike Ganderton, Head of Experience Development, together with Birte Knudsen (Senior Project Manager at LEGO House) and Søren Mølby who had been communicating with use via email for several months.
Several of my fellow AFOLs had not visited the House before, but all of us were awestruck at the amazing Tree of Creativity which soars up to the roof from the main atrium, surrounded by the huge spiral staircase. At the bottom, we saw the iconic LEGO Duck, a wooden model which was on of the first to be made by Ole Kirk Kristiansen when he started his toy business in the 1930’s. Its shape was carved into the “bark” of the tree.
Each branch holds iconic LEGO sets from the company’s history. My favourite was the Classic Space diorama which can be seen from the top of the stairs.
This is a view of the Masterpiece Gallery which not many people get to see – five empty display cases, guarded by the three Dinosaurs, ready to take some of the finest examples of LEGO models from around the globe. Very exciting!
Soon we were invited to start unpacking our precious models. Mine had travelled in the car in three specially made cardboard boxes – which were surprisingly strong. Although this might look like carnage, I was delighted with how well the models had held up during the trip and it didn’t take many minutes to sort them out and put them back on their bases. I’ve been to several shows where the “Baby’s Bottle” circular tower has arrived “flat packed” and has had to be rebuilt, which takes quite a while! No such problem here, thank goodness.
I was being watched by my favourite red Duplo Dino while I unpacked all my MOCs. What a great guardian for my models!
Minor repairs done, and everything dusted, the models were ready to go in the display case. But then we got distracted with another tour around the History Collection in the basement!
I loved that they have built these bricks in concrete into the foundations of the building – with a little moat of real ABS LEGO bricks around the bottom.
Once things were all set up (I will show you a picture a bit later), those of us who had finished were asked to build some cakes and party food out of the many bricks which are to be found around the house. I made a purple present and a cake in the shape of the logo of one of my favourite YouTube channels, Brick Bakery!
Some folks took a long time to complete setting up their models, as they were very intricate and fragile, but once we had all completed our exhibits, we were invited to the atrium to add our own Six Bricks combo to their Wall of Fame. Apparently there are 915,103,765 different ways of combining just six 2×4 red bricks. When you visit LEGO House, your wristband will get you in, but it also allocates a unique combination to you when you leave. This was mine. We were also asked to write something profound on the card next to it – I did my best!
And this is what my Six Bricks combo looks like in situ – on the top row, and in the company of some of the other great folks who are displaying this year.
Then we went back to the Masterpiece Gallery for some more photo opportunities. I loved this view of the cabinet my creations are in, framed by the Duplo Dino.
We were also given these lovely brick trophies to commemorate our models being on display. It will be a great momento of the experience!
Below is a picture of the 2019 Masterpiece Gallery AFOLs, photo courtesy of The LEGO Group. L to R:
Stephan Gofers (Netherlands); Caz Mockett (Great Britain); Hsinwei Chi (Taiwan); Simon Hundsbichler (Austria); Zio Chen (Taiwan); Paul Hetherington (Canada); Milan Sekiz (Serbia); Sven Franic (Croatia, I think); Timofey Tkachev (Russia); Krystal Dubois (Canada); Jason Allemann (Canada); Eero Okkonen (Finland); Matthew Goldberg (USA); Marion Weintraut (Germany); Ryan van Duzor (USA).
What a fantastically talented bunch of people – I’m in exceptional company!
We also had a group shot taken in the atrium, with Stuart, Mike, Søren and Birte hiding at the back! (Photo courtesy of The LEGO Group).
Then it was time to go back to our hotel, buzzing with energy and still trying to process the memories from such an amazing day. I would love to say a huge thank you to Stuart, Mike, Birte and Søren for treating us like VIPs and giving us such an awesomly unforgettable experience!
This video shows a full walk around of the Masterpiece Gallery, showing each of the models in detail. Enjoy.