BrickCon 2011 Trip Report

Another year, another BrickCon. The annual Seattle, WA LEGO convention has come to an end and I am writing this sitting in the Seattle airport, waiting for my flight to board.

After foolishly staying up until 2am the night before, I got up at 5am Friday morning (that’s right, 3 hours of sleep) and drove to the San Francisco airport. I parked my car and rode the shuttle to the terminal, checked my bag, and flew to Seattle. I didn’t bring any LEGO to the convention. I had a checked bag with all my clothes, toiletries, etc., and a carryon backpack with my laptop and camera. I brought a large suitcase – the one I had bought in Chicago at Brickworld – and packed an empty duffel bag as well in case I would need more luggage for the return trip (to carry all the prizes I hoped to win, and the LEGO I planned to buy). Since I was staying on the floor at a friend’s house, I brought along my Aero Bed mattress, which added to the bulk and weight of my suitcase, but not too badly.

The Seattle airport is a happy place for me. As a child I used to fly to Seattle at least once a year with my parents to visit my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins, and we would always arrive at the N terminal on United. My flight this time was on Alaska but we did fly into the N terminal. Sea-TAC Airport has this underground “train” system (I use quotes because it uses rubber tires on a concrete guideway, so it’s not really a train) that connects the N terminal island to the rest of the airport. As a kid I used to love standing at the front of the train and watch out the front window, and even though I’m 40 years old now, I still enjoy it.

I picked up my bag and made my way by light rail and bus to my friend’s house where I took a brief nap before heading down to the convention. The location of the convention and my friend’s apartment were perfect for this – the #28 bus runs directly from downtown, right by Seattle Center, and continues on to a point a few blocks from her place. It follows the exact route I would take if I were driving, and runs frequently, and all day, from 5am to midnight.

I attended the opening ceremonies, which was mostly an orientation type presentation to explain the program of events and location of things, and then went to a meetup of the California LUG (LEGO Users Group) members. There were a couple of us from BayLUG but many more from southern California. We talked about our LUGs’ upcoming event plans and a little about Bricks by the Bay, about which I mentioned that we would shortly be opening up registration and looking for volunteers. After that, I spent the afternoon watching and participating in various contests.

My plane is starting to board, so I’ll continue this later.

BrickCon 2011: Blogging Panel

I am at BrickCon, writing this in a classroom in the Seattle Center, in the audience of a panel on LEGO blogging. Josh Wedin and Andrew Becraft from The Brothers Brick (TBB), and Ace Kim from TBB and From Bricks to Bothans (FBTB), are talking about their experiences in the LEGO blogging community.

I don’t have one of those T-shirts that says “I’m Blogging This.” but I am anyway. There’s a video recording being made, so you’ll be able to watch it later if you wish.

Topics include:

  • Search engine optimization and blogging strategies
  • “Hiring” other contributors to write for the site
  • Using Amazon affiliate links
  • Shifts in the online LEGO community (LUGNET, Flickr, Brickshelf, blogs, etc.)
  • In-person events (BrickCon, other conventions, LUG meetings, etc.)
  • Not profitable to run a LEGO site
    • income not enough to live on
    • TBB gives back to the community instead of profiting (incorporated as a for-profit org, but run as if it were a not-for-profit)
    • FBTB is a sole proprietorship
  • What benefit do you get from it?
    • Andrew: Not the fame. Acts as a journal of his experiences in the community
    • Josh: Just likes to write about LEGO, to day what he thinks
    • Ace: Not a MOC builder, so it is his way to feel part of the community; also likes running contests

BrickCon 2009

Last weekend (October 1-4) the BrickCon LEGO convention was held in Seattle, Washington. I drove up to the convention and had a wonderful time!

As it turned out, my friend Donia who I met dancing in Santa Cruz was moving to Seattle that weekend, so I was able to combine helping her move with attending the convention. It also got me a place to crash so I could save the cost of a hotel room. I drove her car to Seattle, while she followed in a van she borrowed from a friend of hers. After the convention, I drove the van back home. On my way north, I stopped in Portland for the night Thursday night, and stayed at the apartment of another friend I knew from dancing. While I was there I went to the Waltz Eclectic and had a great time! In the morning I did a little Goodwill shopping and had lunch with yet another dancing friend before heading to Seattle.

BrickCon 2009

I got to the convention Friday in the early afternoon and unpacked my LEGO models. I brought the Scrambler, various cars and trucks and RV’s, a few train models, and my DC-3 airplane. The Scrambler and DC-3 were motorized, so in keeping with the theme of the event, “Bricks in Motion,” I thought it was especially important to bring those.

Friday night we had the opening ceremonies, where the new 10210 Imperial Flagship was revealed. There was much oohing and aahing. Afterward we all went to the LEGO store in Bellevue where we were able to get discounted LEGO sets – 50% off “scratch & dent” sets (prize tickets were used to determine order for selecting up to 4 items) and 20% off everything in the store. It was quite crazy, as it always is at these events, but a lot of fun too. I think I restrained myself pretty well, all things considered, but I still spent a lot of money.

Saturday was the first day that the exhibit was open to the public. We had about 4500 people go through looking at all the LEGO models on display. Most of the day I spent with my nose in the computer, avoiding the crowds. I didn’t go around and take pictures at all Friday or Saturday, though. A few people had to leave Saturday night, so I missed a few models, but Sunday (even more people came on Sunday; over 4700!) I made up for it in terms of picture-taking. I managed to go around to all the tables and take pictures Sunday, mostly during the public hours. Also, the friends I was staying with came by Sunday and I was able to see the exhibit through their eyes which was a lot of fun.

Sunday was Donia’s birthday, so we went out for sushi and chocolate. We were going to go to a swing dance featuring Gordon Webster but didn’t manage to get around to it. (But it’s OK because he played at the Friday Night Blues in San Francisco this past Friday, and I was able to go to that – the music was amazing!) But back to the BrickCon trip… On the way home I stopped in Portland for the day, and met with a colleague from Oracle who was based there. I went to Random Waltz in Portland that night (If you like dancing and ever find yourself in Portland on a Thursday or Monday night, you gotta check out those waltzes. The dance community there is very welcoming and friendly, and I had a great time at both of them!), stayed the night in a hotel paid for by the company, and then went home the next day. I got home around 2am Wednesday morning.

My pictures from BrickCon can be seen on Flickr (or view as slideshow). Warning: there are over 400 photos so it may take a while to see them all!

Train show this weekend, then off to Seattle for BrickCon

This coming weekend, I’ll join members of the Bay Area LEGO Train Club (a subgroup of the Bay Area LEGO Users Group) at the Great Train Expo in San Jose. We’ll put out a large train layout, about 25×25 feet, with lots of trains, a city, and the usual stuff. Come on down and say hi. It’s at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds in San Jose. Admission is $7 for adults (good for both days) and kids under 12 get in free.

And then, I’ll be driving up to Seattle next week for BrickCon! A friend of mine happens to be moving to Seattle for the first of October, so I’ll be borrowing/ferrying her car up, while she follows up in a van she’s borrowed from a friend of hers, which I’m driving back home in. Sounds complicated – wish me luck! Anyway I’ll be coming up with an assortment of MOCs, though probably not as much as I took to Portland for BrickFest this spring – I’m carrying some of her stuff up, and anyway I ought to be able to see out the rear window.

My Video of BrickCon 2008 (Part 2) on LAMLtv

As promised, I made a second episode for LAMLtv about BrickCon. The main feature is an interview with Joe Meno, editor of BrickJournal.

This video stuff is a lot of fun. I’ve got a lot more ideas for video projects. For example:

  • BayLUG meeting and event footage
  • Interviews with BayLUG members
  • My MOCs and those of other local folks who will consent to being taped
  • Other LEGO conventions (I’m already planning on BrickFest PDX in 2009)

If you have any thoughts about LEGO video projects, you can share them with me here or over on the LAMLradio blog.

Nobody expects the Spanish Iniquisition!

You’re probably well aware of the famous Monty Python sketch about the Spanish Inquisition (if you’re not, or if you haven’t seen it in a while, or just want a good laugh, it’s available on YouTube). Well, it turns out that someone – I know not who – put together a LEGO homage to this great piece of British comedy on the castle display at BrickCon. In fact, I even took a picture of it. But the thing is, I didn’t spot it at all until someone pointed it out on my Flickr photos!

The guy who spotted it, who goes by the name </arpy>, edited my photo and reposted it in his photostream. Isn’t Creative Commons grand? Anyway, here’s his version of the photo:

Spanish Inqiusition (cropped)

I guess I should spend more time admiring the creations and not so much time staring at the viewfinder of my camera, eh?

My Video of BrickCon 2008 (Part 1) on LAMLtv

At BrickCon 2008, I shot video of a lot of models on display and interviewed a few people. The result has just been released as an episode of LAMLtv, the new video podcast arm of LAMLradio. This episode features interviews with Simon Kent, design lead at Lego Creator in Denmark, and Jenn “The Brick Chick” Wagner, as well as footage of models on display.

I have enough footage to make at least one more episode. I hope you enjoy!  Let me know if you have any feedback – comments, questions, or suggestions. And if you are interested in video, contact James Wadsworth and offer your services. It’s a lot of fun to be involved in LAMLtv and there’s always room for more.