As I posted, last week I headed to Brickworld Chicago. I've gone to several LEGO events on the West Coast, but this year I decided to venture farther afield. Sure enough, the stars aligned (read: my work schedule cleared) so that I could travel to Chicago this past weekend. Read on to find out what it's like for a first time attendee at one of the largest LEGO events of the year.
Unfortunately, because of aforementioned day job I wasn't able to make it to Brickworld until late Thursday afternoon. The event had started the day before with set drafts, a mixer and the opening of the display hall. On Thursday there was a full array of activities all day, culminating in the opening ceremonies that featured Kevin Hinkle as the keynote speaker. I arrived just in time for the opening ceremonies, and I was amazed at the size of the crowd in attendance - it was so much larger than any LEGO event I'd been to before. According to the website, over 1000 people registered for the event.
I was ready for my first full day on Friday. First, though, I had some choices to make! For every time slot there were multiple activities offered. For example, at 3 pm, there were the following choice of presentations:
- The LEGO House (presenter was Stuart Harris from LEGO House)
- LEGO for a Living
- Constructing Hollow Domes of Various Scales
- Discussion on LEGO YouTube Channels
And that doesn't even include the set drafts and other competitions going on! There were several difficult choices to be made over the course of the day. By the end of the day, I’d attended sessions on “Magic Tricks with LEGO Bricks”, “LEGO in the University Classroom”, “The LEGO House”, and “AFOL Designer Program”.
In the middle of that there was also a silent auction being held to benefit local children’s charities. I was fortunate enough to win this set from JK Brickworks, which also earned me another brick for my brick badge. The silent auction was just a prelude to the live auction that was held on Friday night.
Of course, any spare time in between sessions could be spent in the display hall, which was over 100,000 square feet of display space. LEGO MOCs for as far as the eye could see (along with some vendors). In the center of the hall was a dedicated space for LEGO Games which included the vintage sets I wrote about over the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday during the day were dedicaed to public exhibition. Thousands of people made their way through the exhibit hall on both days. They were there for the amazing MOCs. And some incredible MOCs there were!
I liked this series of vignettes from the Indiana Jones movies by John Klapheke.
This amazing Deep Space 9 build by Adrian Drake has over 75,000 pieces and took two years to build.
I’m always on the lookout for MOCs that feature the wonderful colours from Elves sets, and I think these creations by Kristel Whitaker and Tim Lydy were among my favourites of the entire show.
I loved this Pirate Town build by Barbara Hoel and Phred Schunke. There were so many Easter Eggs built into the scene, which never failed to entertain no matter which area of the MOC you were viewing.
Rocco Buttliere had an array of wonderful Architecture MOCs, but I think my favourite was this one of Mount Rushmore.
VirtuaLUG made their presence known with this build depicting various scenes of the classic movie The Princess Bride. It wasn’t until the end of the event that I noticed the lettering of “Princess Bride” could be read both right way up and upside down.
EuroBricks had a very popular build with their Potion Shoppe. Everything under the purple covering is made of LEGO - including the rug, the lamp and all the furniture. There were some exquisite mechanical functions included, too. This creation was the collaboration of 18-20 builder spanning several different countries. I'll likely post more pictures of this build on flickr as there were so many great details.
Late Saturday, the special event was the "World of Lights". The lights were turned off in the exhibit hall so that any builds that were lighted could be featured. Having the lights off allowed some of the sets to be shown off to their best effect.
Few builds made a greater impact with their lighting than these phenomenal builds by Lia Chan.
The dark allowed you to fully appreciate the amazing shadow play build by Amanda Feuk. Amanda also won the Brickmaster Award over the weekend, making her the first woman to receive the honour.
Even the GBC folks got into the spirit with some lighted modules and glow in the dark soccer balls.
I really enjoyed Barbara Hoel’s creations. These are not the only MOCs she brought to the event - these were especially created for under black light. I love the intricacies of the builds and the vivid use of colour. I have it on good authority that we may be seeing some of Barbara’s work in LEGO House in the not too distant future!
Sunday was a shorter day for me, as I had a flight to catch. However, before I left, I was gifted with another coveted brick for my brick badge.
GayFOL is a group of LGBTQ+ AFOLs and their allies, and Brickworld was the first event where they had an official display area. I will be writing more about GayFOL and their terrific builds at Brickworld Chicago in an upcoming article.
The weekend went by all too fast. I was able to meet many Bricksetters and enjoyed chatting with all of you - even though I was battling a cold all weekend and only had half a voice! Many thanks to Bryan and Kathie Bonahoom for putting on a great event - this was their last Brickworld Chicago as they’re passing the mantle on to others, but they have promised to still make appearances at future events.
I think I needed about twice as much time to do everything I wanted to do. But I suppose that’s what the next time is for……