This past weekend I attended my first Lego convention: Bricks Cascade 2014. I’ve never been very interested in conventions, but I decided to attend because this is a local show that is closely affiliated with PortLUG (of which I am a member). I registered early and spent time building a MOC to display. Then I got a bit nervous.
I’m fairly new to the Lego hobby. Though I’ve been playing with Lego off and on since I was a young child, this would be the first time that I would display my creations for so many other builders (and the public) to see! I worked right up until the day before the con to get everything to look the way that I wanted.
I didn’t go on the first day of set-up, since I only had a few models and it conflicted with my schedule, so Friday was the first day of Bricks Cascade for me. I packed a shoulder bag with supplies and carried my models in a plastic bin. The wife gave me a ride to the convention center and in I went.
The first thing I saw was dancers. The whole convention center was overrun with young girls for some kind of dance competition. In fact, it wasn’t until I ran into one of the other guys from my LUG that I learned which hall we were in. I signed in and picked up my registration packet and badge and headed off to find the Mecha section.
The Space section (of which Mecha was a sub-category) had yet to get very organized, so I put my models in an open area and started to take it all in. My swag was cool, a mix of freebies and advertisements from the convention’s various sponsors. This was my first taste of how much value I was going to get for my registration fee and how well spent it was.
Around noon we had opening ceremonies in a nearby conference room. The show runners welcomed all of us and talked a little about the show. We got introduced to Keith Severson, who manages Lego’s Community Events & Engagement team. He would be announcing a new set on Saturday and generally chatting with the fans about their relationship with Lego.
Then they started with the door prizes, randomly calling names and letting people choose from a selection of prizes and bulk Lego. It suffices to say that most of the sets were worth more than what I’d paid to get in. I didn’t win anything this round, but there would be more chances to come.
After that there was a lot more set up to do. Builders were busy all around the hall, setting up, testing and troubleshooting their displays. We set up a huge battle scene in our section, and my little squad of mecha wound up in a melee with another builder’s SWAT mechs. The scales were all wrong, but it was fun to set it all up.
By the time the we had our end-of-day wrap up, I was getting tired. I’d helped move empty tables out of the way and I’d been walking on concrete for hours. Keith unveiled the new Sand Crawler set that comes out in May. There was a lot of oohing and aahing over that. I picked up a nice little prize and headed home for some rest.
The next day was a little different. I arrived around 11, after grabbing supplies (meaning healthy snacks). The hall had opened to the public at 10 and it was packed. Other builders were saying that it was much busier than the previous year. I stashed my bag and the next thing I knew I was left in charge of policing a section of the display.
The rest of the day flew by in a blur. I talked to people all afternoon about the models on display and made sure that the stanchions kept everyone a polite distance away from the tables. I had a lot more fun that I expected to, chatting with people about Lego and sharing their enthusiasm. I managed to talk up the LUG to locals and share insights into the various models on display.
After the public exhibition closed at 4, I took my chance to wander the hall and get pictures of my favorites.
I took myself out for some dinner after that, but I came back for the awards ceremony. Keith Severson was our keynote speaker, and he gave a nice presentation on how his team supports Lego fans through LUGs, Conventions and online reviewers. The real meat of the session was the awards though. There were a lot of awards and prizes to hand out, but it went quick. I won a prize for my Mantis Mecha Squad (I’ll blog more about them soon). This made me pretty ecstatic. I gushed to my wife when I got home and showed off the brick-built medal and Lego set that I received as my prize.
The last day was much of the same for me, but I was still having fun talking to people at the show. My wife and son made a short visit and the little man was pretty blown away by all of the cool stuff. When the public show ended at 4, everyone switched gears pretty fast.
Everyone started packing up for the trip home. There was a general pause while the last couple of awards were announced and a few more prizes were given out. Then I took my box of models home.
All in all, I had a great time. I connected with a number of other builders and had a couple solid days of sharing my passion for Lego with other people. That alone was worth the ticket price, the fact that I brought back a pile of prizes only sweetened the pot.
I had a single small MOC this year, but already I am thinking about larger builds for future shows. I have a lot of building ahead and I’m about to start counting days until the next show, which should be BrickCon in October.