Bricks Cascade 2017

Two weeks ago, I attended my fourth Bricks Cascade. I was really excited going in, with 29 models registered and my first year as a volunteer theme coordinator. We were going to have a huge hall, twice the size of the largest hall we’d had in the past. It felt like a lot was riding on making this a great convention.

The Wednesday before the con should have been an easy day of prep. My models were all boxed and ready to transport. My son threw a monkey wrench into my well laid plans, coming down with a fever and spot of stomach flu. I spent the day doing damage control and trying to figure out how I’d get everything to the show if my wife needed to stay home with the boy. I don’t drive, so we had planned on her driving me and my boxes to the show.

Luckily, he recovered quickly enough that he was able to drive with us (I was crammed in the backseat with my Ships). A quick unload, some kisses goodbye and I was ready to start getting those 60,000 square feet filled with LEGO models.

I showed up just shortly after the hall opened at 10am, but volunteers and attendees were already busy staging models. Registration was all ready for check in too, so I was able to pick up the first of my swag and my badge.

This year, they provided not only a convention brick, but a name brick and that fancy little Mt. Hood topper. I like to keep my brick badge concise,  so this is what I wore for the long weekend.

That first day was mostly about staking out territory and getting models set up. The hall filled up nicely, especially considering the sheer amount of table space that we had to work with.

In the evening, we had a bit of a mixer, with the con providing pizza and other refreshments. I met a few more builders at the tables that night, then I took the bus home with a full belly.

I biked in on Friday, not realizing that the hall opened earlier than the previous day. I arrived to find a builder trying to set up his massive space ship on the Steampunk tables. Since I was in charge of Steampunk, I had to be that guy who told him to stop what he was doing. A few frantic moments and then we shifted the tables and got things where they belonged.

We had opening ceremonies at noon on Friday. About three hundred builders filed in for first of many meetings. This year, the convention committee encouraged us to share selfies with other builders.

#brickscascadebuddies

I’m not sure if I did that right.

After we’d embarrassed ourselves with some social media, they gave out a bunch of door prizes. My name got called in that first meeting, so ran up and grabbed some bags of elements.

Sweet stuff! The BrickLink value on these paid for my registration by a wide margin. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all those pink railings yet, but it will be glorious!

In the evening, we had a key-note speaker, Tony Sava. I’d shared a table with Tony at the mixer the previous night and I already knew his name from the rabid train builders in my LUG. He’d come up from Texas and he gave a great talk about the interconnectedness of the AFOL community.

I biked home, tired and happy.

The next two days, the public days, went by in a blur of exhaustion and wonder and so much talking. I ran a game, played in a game. I talked to the public. I talked to all the first time attendees (there were a lot of them). I ran a LUG meeting. I talked more than I had in a month.

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At the end, I came away with three trophies. One of my Ships won in Space. I took home the Micropolis trophy for the third year. I even managed to win the one game that I played, a Blind Build.

Honestly, I wish I’d had more hours in the day. There were so many great models (over 800 registered!) that I barely got to see most of them. Normally, I manage to make at least one slow pass through the whole hall, but this year I barely feel like I scratched the surface.

One thing that I really appreciated with this year’s convention is the addition of Friends & Family night. My wife and son were able to swing by on Friday evening and see the hall before it was open to the public. This let them avoid the crowds and I was able to explore everything with them.

I was part of two collaborations this year, where many builders contributed models to create larger layouts.

Streets of Brass is our Steampunk town layout. This was the second year and we had around 15 contributors and dozens of buildings and vehicles. My co-conspirators and I are already planning to make it even bigger and better next year.

It was really great to hear the positive feedback on this display. Attendees and the public were excited to see collaborative town in Steampunk.

We had a particularly large Micropolis layout this year. Over 30 full blocks of buildings. Our theme this year was castles, and we had some great entries.

It was a great four days and in the aftermath, trying to find ways to fit all my boxes back into the apartment, I laid out all my loot.

That is a lot of loot. Those bags in the middle I got just for attending. All the sets came with trophies or were compensation for helping with the convention (running a game, coordinating a theme). So many bricks, fuel for next year’s awesome models.

All in all, this was the best Bricks Cascade that I’ve attended. The convention committee has worked really hard to make this a great con for attendees and it shows. I’ve heard similar opinions from other attendees, as they talk about how much this show has improved in recent years.

Next year should be bigger and better. See you there!

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