A couple of weeks ago I spent a long weekend at my local LEGO convention, the fifth annual Bricks Cascade. This was my third year of attendance (2014 and 2015 reports) and my biggest showing yet, with over a dozen models in four categories.
Bricks Cascade is still a fairly young convention, and every year there are growing pains. This year, the convention was held in a ballroom (instead of one of the larger convention halls). This had the advantage of being carpeted (easier on the feet), but the space was smaller. The smaller venue and the growing public crowds made it feel even busier and helped to hide the fact that some of the themes were hurting for models.
My registration swag included not just the usual engraved convention brick, but an enameled pin celebrating the fifth year of the show. Personally, I’m not a fan of pins like this, but they’ve become fashionable at geek conventions in recent years and I am sure that other exhibitors enjoyed them.
In addition to the usual selection of vendor coupons and such, every registered attendee received one of these cool custom kits. I haven’t built mine yet, but it’s a handsome little star fighter. They also had Classic Space and Blacktron variants available for sale. These wound up getting sold to the public as well and they were pretty much sold out by the end.
Though I took a lot of models this year, my set-up was fairly simple and I had plenty of time to play a couple of games on Friday. First up was a Master Build, where we were tasked to build the best model that we could from a pair of unrelated sets. I did my best, but the microscale spaceship that I crafted from Friends and Elves parts wasn’t enough to get more than a nod. Later, I attempted the Blind Build, but I didn’t fare much better there. I had a lot of fun in both games though, so I think I’ll try to do more in the future.
Friday night there was a keynote by Megan Rothrock, author and designer. She was engaging and passionate about the hobby, recounting her career at LEGO and how she came to write her successful series of LEGO books.
There were also a lot of door prizes given away. One of the things that Bricks Cascade excels at is swag. Every attendee had their name called on Friday and took home a prize. I opted for three bags of bulk elements. Since each bag contained 15 16×16 plates, I nabbed nearly a $150 worth of elements. That alone more than compensated me for my entry fee.
For the two public days, I was tied to the Microscale section, staffing the tables. Normally, that means talking with the public, but our section was overshadowed by a massive steampunk castle that attracted all of the attention. Mostly I hung out and tried not to get too bored. I got a bit of swag for my efforts, so that helped.
The awards ceremony was held on Saturday night. I took home trophies in Microscale (for my Micropolis bridge) and Steampunk (for one of my contributions to a collaborative street scene). Then we had a whole second round of door prizes. Another 45 16×16 plates for me!
I was pretty wiped out by Sunday. I’d already hauled most of my swag home, but in the closing ceremonies I received honorable mentions in Space and Mecha.
Once I got home I was finally able to assess some of my swag. I had received six different sets (two with trophies, two with honorable mentions, and two for helping staff the tables) and six bags of elements. The retail value of that pile comes to well over $500. That’s about an order of magnitude more swag than I’ve received at other conventions.
The convention also offered grab bags for sale. Each bag was a quart zip-loc stuffed with semi-random LEGO elements for $8. I bought my full allotment of 10. I’m still swimming in sorting and organization backlog, so I haven’t had a chance to open them up yet. I’ve seen pictures and heard descriptions of my friends’ bags and I’m sure that I’ll be getting my money’s worth.
All in all, another successful convention. I had a lot of fun and I showed off my models. I came home with a ton of new LEGO to fuel more building. Win!