LEGO Fan Weekend 2014, Skærbæk Denmark

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended the 10th and final LEGO Fan Weekend in Skærbæk, Denmark, on September 26-28. I say “final” because it is the last time that it is being run by the LEGO company, but the local LEGO fans will be taking over running it as of next year, so the event will continue. However it was my first time there and I had a great time!

My photos have been posted on Flickr, so go check out all the great MOCs (My Own Creations) that were on display. I was the only one there from North America, but I didn’t bring anything to show. There was a good sized group from LUG Brasil, about a dozen Hong Kong fans, and some from Australia, but most were from around Europe, especially Scandinavia and Germany.

I had a very long day getting there – a 10-hour flight to Frankfurt, a 5-hour layover there, and then another hour flight to Billund got me to Denmark, but I still had an hour-long bus ride and another hour-long train ride before I got to the town of Skærbæk where the event was held. So when I arrived Friday evening I was really wiped out, but I adapted fairly easily to the time zone the next day.

The venue, Skærbæk Fritidscenter (which translates as “Leisure Center”) is a family holiday resort in southwestern Denmark on the coast, featuring athletic fields, swimming pool, bowling alley, and 69 cabins which each sleep 5-6 people. The cabins were all rented out and used by the LEGO fans so that we had a 24-hour social experience with other participants – convention-style activities during the day, and parties in the cabins at night.

Like most LEGO conventions, it’s open to the public Saturday and Sunday to show off the models in the exhibit halls, and meanwhile there are workshops and other activities for the participants. There was one speed build, but not as many games as I’m used to at American cons. But since the event is under two hours drive from LEGO headquarters in Billund, there were plenty of workshops by people from LEGO. I attended a number of these:

  • LEGO Ambassador Program presentation by the LEGO community team explaining how LEGO Users Groups will be interacting with the LEGO company under the new program
  • Designing the Exo Suit with both its designers: Peter Reid (who submitted it to LEGO CUUSOO/IDEAS) and Mark Stafford (Senior LEGO Designer who designed the final kit) talked about the LEGO IDEAS program and the cooperative process they used to design this kit
  • Designing the Fairground Mixer with designer Jamie Berard (LEGO Design Manager Specialist) including some of the sketch models and insights into the design process
  • Discover The Legends in Hong Kong – an introduction to the Legend Bricks group of LEGO fans from Hong Kong
  • LEGOLAND as a worker and as an AFOL – Stephan Sander is an AFOL from Germany who builds a lot of “miniland” models, and Kevin Hall works at LEGOLAND Windsor

In addition we had a special dinner Saturday night where the senior LEGO designer Steen Sig Andersen gave a presentation about designing the LEGOLAND Train set (#4000014) which was produced for the 2014 LEGO Inside Tour, and then we were all surprised to find out that they had a copy of that set for everyone at the event! They made a special “LEGO Fan Weekend” edition of the set in a white box and distributed one to each of us. (Since then, several of them have been sold on BrickLink for over $1000 each, but I’m keeping mine!)

To cap off the weekend a group of us went bowling Sunday night, and one of the LUG Brasil members asked to trade his club T-shirt for my Bricks by the Bay 2013 T-shirt. We took off our shirts and swapped them right there in the bowling alley, just like soccer players after a big game!

Like all fun weekends, this one was over too soon. But the next day (Monday) many of us went to Billund to go shopping at the Employee Store there. I bought a LEGO brand suitcase and several sets to take home (I discarded the large boxes right there in the store and stuffed the contents into my luggage). I went to pizza for lunch with a group of French AFOLs and got a tour of the LEGO museum, which featured the whole range of LEGO’s history from the original wooden toys through the present day.

That afternoon a few of us got a rare chance to take a tour of the LEGO Factory! Unfortunately there was no photography allowed for the tour. We saw the injection molding machines, the robots that collect the parts, conveyor belts, and the famous 30m high storage facility with robots whipping back and forth retrieving and storing bins of parts. Everything is highly automated and very high tech. (The actual printing and boxing is done in the Czech Republic, where labor is cheaper.)

After that I got a ride to the town of Vejle, where the nearest train station is, and then took the train to Copenhagen (København). Unfortunately I came down with a cold, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying myself. I spent a day in Copenhagen, then took the train to Hamburg (via ferry) where I spent another day exploring the harborfront and taking a tour of the world’s largest model railroad, and then down to spend the night in Mainz (near Frankfurt) before flying back to the US from Frankfurt Airport (where I saw a LEGO model of an Airbus A380 on display) – but not home! I flew to Seattle instead for the BrickCon convention, which I’ll write about next…

Here are links to all the photos from the trip so far:

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