The Great Ball Contraption layout at Skærbæk Fan Weekend in Denmark was very special this year. It’s the first time that three GBC big guns have been in the same display – namely, Tom Atkinson from the US, Maico Arts from the Netherlands and Akiyuki from Japan! The trio were brought together for the event by YouTube channel Beyond The Brick, who have been covering GBC around the world for several years. When I heard they were going to be there, I knew I had to take some of my own GBC modules to play along too.
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!