The End of AFOL (Blog or Die! Entry #7)

Accepted entry for the “Article” category.

Author: Jake RF

Word Count: 1,362

The End of AFOL

 

AFOL – Adult Fan of LEGO, I hate this acronym.

Outside of a short in-real-life meeting with the notorious Ted Andes I’ve only been active with the LEGO community via the interwebs. Therefore I don’t believe I’ve ever actually had the need to use the acronym AFOL in spoken language. Is it pronounced /ā-fool/, /ah-fool/, or maybe /uh-full/? It has always just been /aw-ful/ in my head, but who cares. It doesn’t accurately describe anything.

What is an AFOL? Is anyone over 18 that buys a LEGO set for themselves an awful? Can you just buy one set or do you have to buy ten sets or a hundred sets before you officially join the ranks? Do you just have to state out loud that you think LEGO is cool? Do you have to build a MOC? Don’t get me started on how much I hate the acronym MOC. How do you even use that acronym and it make sense? If I say “Check out my MOC.” I’m basically saying check out my My Own Creation which is dumb. But if I say “Check out MOC.” I sound like an illiterate caveman. I hate it. Let’s just call them builds or models like normal people. I digress.

I’ve always felt the term AFOL to be one of the worst acronyms used by the LEGO community. I don’t like how it encompasses every type of LEGO enthusiast. There are definitely some types of AFOLs that I’m decidedly not. So let’s destroy AFOL. Let’s throw it in the dumpster and torch it. Let’s move past this inadequate acronym and create new and better ways to describe who we really are. We can then navigate within the community more efficiently. We’ll all know where we fit in the best, who to stay away from, and what blogs read. It’ll be great.

The revolution starts now. We have to get out from under the AFOL umbrella. What’s that? You don’t want to think about it? Change is hard and you don’t want to do any work? Don’t worry, not only have I done the work for you, I have even ranked each new LEGO enthusiast group from coolest to lamest based solely on my own very biased, often uninformed opinions. Without further ado, here’s the list.

  1. Adult Builders of LEGO (ABOL, /ā-bowl/), Builders, or The Rock Stars

Builders are truly the rock stars of the LEGO community. They are the Highsmith and Danson of LEGO enthusiasts.

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They don’t follow the instructions. ABOLs could care less what model is shown on the front cover of that unreasonably large box. For a builder, this is ideal box art.

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Builders hate the official model and will never build it. They don’t care what play features it has or what minifigs come with it. They just want to know what parts are in that box and how they can use them to make something better than what the corporate stooges at TLG put together. The LEGO designers didn’t even take the time to hide every stud, the lazy bums. There is even a large portion of ABOLs who recklessly disregard the rules of building, making illegal connections and overstressing parts all in the name of making something cooler and sleeker. Bloggers search these rock star’s photostreams for original models with clever connections and nice part usage. Some in the LEGO community might think builders are prima-donnas, but they undoubtedly have style.

 

  1. Adult Players of LEGO (APOL, /ā-poll/), Players, or The Manchildren

These guys never grew up. They’re oversized kids. APOLs actually care about the model displayed on the oversized LEGO box and what new minifigs are included. Players eat every word of the set reviews on Brickset, TBB, and FBTB like candy. They will watch all thirty-four minutes of a video reviewing a single LEGO set, then spend even more of their time complaining about the set not meeting their playtime standards instead of just spending all that time building the set they want.

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They like to follow the instructions, build the official models, and see how far the shooters shoot. I guess they probably display them and move them around every so often, I don’t really know, but they are definitely a step up from this next group because players actually open up the boxes and take the parts out.

 

  1. Adult Collectors of LEGO (/ā-coal/), Collectors, or The Unimaginative

I don’t think ACOLs really get LEGO. These guys like to buy LEGO, but never open the box. They store it unopened on a shelf, or in a closet, or maybe even on the floor if they are feeling especially unimaginative. These guys are a bunch of OCD weirdos who get upset if a box corner gets a little crinkled. I’m don’t know why anyone would want to be this type of LEGO enthusiast, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of ACOLs out there lurking in basements throughout the world. They are hoarders and should be avoided at all costs, except by ASOLs, who should see the easy mark and quick buck to be made. I might have to reconsider dropping ACOLs down a rank after watching this depressing twenty-five minute video of a collector meticulously showing off his stacks of sealed LEGO sets which remarkably has been viewed almost a quarter of a million times.

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Free that LEGO. It wasn’t meant to stay in the box.

 

  1. Adult Sellers of LEGO (ASOL /a-sol/), Sellers, or The Peddlers

ASOLs look at LEGO purely as a commodity. They buy low and sell high. They make it hard for APOLs to get that UCS Millennium Falcon because they bought five of them to list at double the price on eBay. Of course, there are the Bricklinkers and Brickowlers who so courageously feed the rock stars with the right parts to finish that Mona Lisa of a build.

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That looks mind-numbing, but the part-sellers are the unsung heroes of the LEGO community, silently counting, sorting, and listing every part LEGO has ever produced. However, the question must be asked, are they in it for the love of the hobby or just the money? I’m guessing there are far more of the latter than the former which is why they fell below the guys who like to stare at unopened boxes in my ranking system. It’s a tough call.

 

  1. Adult Builders of LEGO Trains (ABOLT /ā-bolt/), Train Builders, or The Ridiculed

I’m not sure why, I’ve never actually met and therefore never had a bad interaction with an ABOLT, but these guys are at the bottom of the list. They are a group alone and not the rock stars they would be if they just built something other than trains, but I guess every group needs its Jerry Gergich.

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They want to be cool, are probably talented, and may be really nice, but they build trains. They are the punchline to every LEGO joke. It is just the way it is. I mean, seriously, who wants to hang out with these guys? Look at the silver lining though, you builders of trains, it turns out Jerry Gergich has a huge penis and a supermodel wife.

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While Highsmith and Danson idiotically jump to their deaths.

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Well, there it is. That’s it. The end of AFOL is nigh. I know what you are all thinking. Very few people fit completely into any of these new categories, so maybe we should just stick with our catchall AFOL tag for everyone. You are wrong. You must pick a side and join your exclusive new group. It is time to categorize and separate from each other. You can only be friends with LEGO enthusiast if they are just like you and hold the same core values. If I’ve learned anything from the leaders of our great nation, and what better example can we draw our values, it’s that anyone not in our own group is an idiot, each and every one, and if they say something sensible, disregard it. And if you aren’t from Amurica, your opinion is next to worthless, amiright?

30 thoughts on “The End of AFOL (Blog or Die! Entry #7)

  1. So what do you do with a builder that wants sets for minifigs and has one or two on display, while staring at unopened polybags and exclusives (the ones the acols whine for, mind you, not the so called ones on l.com) sets. that also happens to sell stuff and wishes for a huge penis and a supermodel wife (I’ll even build trains for it if I have to)?

    I never liked acronyms, I don’t see the point. So no, I don’t want it extended into more, but rather get rid of tags completely. I fail to see why lego fans feel this desperate need to brand themselves in such a way – do other hobbies have this as well? I’ve never seen AAFF (adult action figure fans) or other things like this.

    And what’s more, we have to somehow drag sellers into this and give them a special status while not really knowing what to do with them. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. Never saw people wondering whether shoe sellers are shoe fanatics. Or whether paint sellers are painters. It’s perfectly simple, there are people that make money selling lego, and lego fans making money selling lego. The seller status doesn’t come into it, the only lego fans that should be in any way included are the… lego fans. So ASOL shouldn’t even exist, they’re just categories 1-3 that also happen to sell.

    That being said, while I disagree with the idea of the article, it was definitely a fun read and you perfectly described the quirks of each group.

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  2. Only a Sith deals in absolutes!

    Ah, train builders, the guys who refuse to build a model of that one train engine they love, because Lego just doesn’t make the right shade of red. Yes, dark red is almost right, but not quite. I kind of respect that sort of dedication and madness, though.

    Now, regarding the terms AFOL and MOC, I never use them in polite company (read: muggles and the unwashed masses) myself. I tend to stick to “Lego fan” and “model”. I share your dislike for MOC as it easily leads the sentence fragments like “my MOC” that don’t make sense when you expand the acronym. AFOL I’m more okay with, but only in the company of people where I don’t have to explain what it means.

    I think it’s the “builder” aspect that sets Lego fandom apart from many other fandoms, especially since it’s very accesible. There are “builder” aspects in some other fandoms of course, for example people doing mashups of plastic model kits, or creating customized tabeltop gaming miniatures. Those are harder to get into than Lego, or at least they are to me because I tried all three and Lego is the one that stuck.

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  3. So everyone gets their own echo chamber ? That’s what happened to political discourse in the USA and look how well that turned out…

    No. AFOL is an awful term, and no non-awful will connect with it so I can agree with you there but putting everyone in boxes is not the way forward.

    The article was a fun read though.

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  4. Fun read – perhaps some may not be able to discern the satire from seriousness though (I’ve learned this lesson before). The current acronyms are about as old as LUGNet I suppose, and are about as relateable and user friendly. I cringe at AFOL (and ABOL is better for what most people mean when they apply the AFOL term), but AFOL is the term coined by the founding fathers… aka the train guys. Its broad use is a tough tide to swim against…

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    1. I was going to stay out of the comments and see if I wrote this well enough for the satire to be understood, but since you called it out I’ll jump in and confirm. Nothing is to be taken too seriously in the article. I’m just trying to poke a little fun at us all and maybe call us out a little for our subconscious tendencies, with a jab at our current political landscape at the end. Hopefully, no one gets too offended.

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  5. Nice one Jake! Love your style of writing, social sarcasm always brings a proud tear to my eye. 😉

    It does, however, make you think reflectively. I don’t consider myself any of the above, because to some extent I am all of the above. I’d say I am more identifiable as an ABOL; however, I have dabbled in trains (look, it was one time back in college, I was curious and didn’t know the consequences! I didn’t inhale! :D) I am an ABOL that swooshes and vrooms; therefore, I am an APOL too. An ABPOL. I don’t sell, but should; and I don’t collect, but do. So I am an ABSPCOL. And I did build some trains. Granted, one flew and one was a gag gift; but, I also have to be an ABSPCTOL. I also like Bionicle, which must be a classification subset as it has been determined NOT to be Lego and must therefore be defined as something. ABSPCTBOL. I fear that we may be venturing close to some sort of insulting comment reflecting questionable heritage and/or sexual preferences in Swedish if it had umlauts.

    If someone paints, then they are painters; if someone sculpts, then they are sculptors; if someone Legos (verb form, present tense) are they Legoers? LEGOers? Play-wellers? AFOL is so insipid because nine times out of ten you’d have to explain it to whomever you’re talking to as you wouldn’t use this term inside our cult, only to the unclean heathens that say Legos as the plural form. Fan? Am I? It’s just what I use, does it make me fanatical because it’s ridiculous in the eyes of the unbelievers? Then we’d have to say AFOM (Adult Fan of Meth) instead of Tweaker, and that word fits so appropriately well. In that respect, outside the norms of society, I think AUOL (Adult User of Lego) or AAOL (Adult Addict of Lego) OR AZOL (Adult Zealot of Lego) seems more appropriate. But those words sound like grunts, look like an aviation magazine, or are copyrightedly close to the name of some stone god from the original Star Trek.

    I don’t know, I’m fine with “just a dude with Lego.”

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    1. This is the exact response I was looking for, tears of pride.

      I’ve been a little of each of these as well, except be a train builder or collector. I’m not that kind of weird. 🙂 I started with building the official models, then started building original models, then bought multiple UCS sets to sell for profit to spend on more LEGO and increase my collection. Now I’ve settle almost exclusively into being a builder. I very rarely even buy LEGO anymore*. I used to keep a pretty good count on the amount LEGO I had, but after I reached about 50,000 pieces I decided that was enough to do what I really enjoy which is building from my own imagination when the spark arises. And if I need some parts to finish something off I’ll just buy the parts I need on Bricklink.

      My original thought for this article came from reading all the complaints about things people don’t like about the official models from TLG on pretty much every AFOL site. As I wrote in the ACOL section this seems like a utter waste of time to me so I was going to really lay into these complainers, but then I realized that every AFOL has their own way of enjoying the brick. For some it is complaining about it. Builders are to coolest though, no doubt about that.

      *I should clarify this sentence. I don’t buy LEGO for myself anymore, but I’m pretty sure my daughters’ collection will rival my own in a few more years. And, yes, I have been known to steal a part or two from there pile when needed. I feel no shame for that, they are always getting into my stuff the little vermin.

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  6. It’s interesting how the world at large runs on a lexicon of hobbies and pasttimes and what ever else you pick up during a midlife crisis. I think often, when people hear of “Lego” as our hobby of choice, we feel the need to justify what that means. For US, it means creators. For some, it means those who use it as a money machine (something that culture seems to dig, as evidenced in part by Ted”s comic entry). For a few guys, it’s exquisitely replicating trains. Yep. For other guys, it’s collecting every single thing Lego has made. OK honestly, that’s kind of creepy. So they are a horder, *gulp*.

    I’m lucky enough to be among the younger gang on this website, so I can still justify the excuse that Lego is just a more drawn-out childhood thing for me than most. People probably expect it will disappear once I’m out of college, married, working full-time and raising kids. (Still waiting for any of that to happen). But when I bring up the thousands-strong Internet world of AFOLdom, I think those people realize it can be more than just the side-effect of growing up in a sheltered homeschool lifestyle…

    When I turned 18, I was counting down the days. Not until becoming a legal adult or any such thing, but for becoming an AFOL. Finally getting credit for allying myself with real adults and getting away from those builders that believe the Lego world starts and ends with their politics or alliances in the medieval role-play they moderate. I could finally chill with the Rowntrees and van Grootvelds of this more enlightened Lego fan world, even though I share few of the emotional connections that y’all have to the hobby, since you grew up with it.

    I enjoyed the read. Thanks for making me reminisce on those useless days of waiting for my birthday, since I couldn’t agree more that the acronyms are pretty useless. I hope Wolff, Prasad, Aaron and others tune in, since there are certainly a number of young guys who deserve the AFOL title just as much as the adult dudes.

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  7. Loved this article, and the tongue in cheek nature of your writing! For me, I honestly hadn’t ever really given the term much thought, but you’re dead right when you say it covers too much to really be a ‘go-to’ term.

    Echoing on from what VA said, I too have been counting off the days until I can be considered an AFOL, ‘chilling’ with the supreme builders that make up the Lego sphere. However, it’s not as clean cut for me (and doubtless others would’ve felt the same), as I turned 18 this year. This means, by legal standards, I’m an AFOL (in Aus at least), but numbers wise I’m still a TFOL. SO… which should I consider myself as?

    But, I suppose as your article said, it doesn’t really matter because the terms are confusing anyway. I’ll just stick with ‘I like Lego’ and roll with that, even as everyone else says that it’s merely a phase I’m going through as they roll their eyes behind my back.

    Little do they know that my minifigs have just saved the world from annihilation at the hands of an ancient robot with vengeance in it’s heart. So, there’s that…

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    1. Careful with the spoilers man! I haven’t got to the end yet… AFOLism might be more to do with attitude than age. There’s plenty of actual AFOLs who whine like little Timmys if they don’t get what they want (Jake’s ‘manchildren’) but they don’t hang here so we’re all good.

      Welcome to the club.

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      1. Precisley, the distinction between afols and tfols (I don’t know the age here 15+?) is not that big, many afols by numbers could well belong to the kfol club (there, I managed to use all 3 of the moronic acronyms in one sentence!).

        There’s quite a few tfols I interacted with on flickr I was sure were adults and I was surprised to find out they were waaaay younger than I thought. Which is another reason why this tags suck.

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      2. Nick,

        You nailed it! Like I said in my first FFE,

        “One last thing about this notion of being an AFOL. I have tossed the term around in a decidedly liberal fashion in this essay. ADULT fan of Lego. If you think the title is anchored in your age… your wearing blinders. On line… nobody has any age. We are mixed up and anonymous and many of us lie about everything… gender, age, ethnicity… In the end, we have no choice but to judge one another BY OUR CONDUCT. Are you young and want to be treated with more respect? Step up your game. Are you treated like a child despite your age? Might want to think about the cause for that. On line, ADULT is just a mindset. So set your mind.”

        So many mankinder out there! So many times I have been trying to deal with an unruly kid who doesn’t want to follow some contest rule, or some kid who is harassing other group members… and then I find out, the guy is like 28 years old! 36 years old! 45 even! Grown men acting like little snot nosed punks! And, ever so rarely… that guy your talking to… who is chopping you tp bits with his build skills and his calm demeanor… and you find out he’s some 13 year old kid… and suddenly you remember what a dumb ass you were when you were 13 years old… and you feel totally out classed.

        AFOL is about conduct, not age.

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  8. Jake,
    I liked this article. I think you are the only guy so far who has written critically about our culture. And THAT… is excellent! AFOL culture itself, is not a popular topic, but I think it is one of the most important topics any of us can wright on. But you not only chose an unpopular topic, but you wrote critically. You wrote an aspect of our behavior that you disapprove of. This is only the second article in this contest that has what I call and aggressive thesis… and I love those. So make no mistake, I’m a fan!

    But wait! Theres more!

    You also jumped the gap between AFOL culture and the larger culture in which we are all embedded. I often feel as if we want to talk about AFOL culture as separate or discrete from greater culture. We want to use our own micro culture as an “escape from” or a temporary “retreat from” greater culture. This is a doomed venture because of course, most of the people on this site are embedded in the same macro-culture. And because human nature (greed, compassion, resentment, respect… all that stuff) is universal. We NEVER get away from that stuff… but we seldom talk about it. In your article you did! And I love that!

    But… you waited until the very last paragraph to pull back the curtain and give us the “For real for real dillyo!” That last paragraph, when you point to modern political discourse and say basically: “See… hyper-compartmentalization, false dichotomy and needless hyperbola! Its everywhere! ” But coming so late in the essay, it was like a flash bulb to the face… right before we are kicked out of your fun-house article and back into the cold dark night. Blinking and blind. (dam… that’s some powerful imagery! Take credit for that man… you inspired it!)

    Now, all that said, I think your structure was kind of weak. I know I know… sarcasm. And yes… we all dig it. Especially on this dam site. Sarcasm FTW! But in this case, your sarcasm obscures your real thesis (as evident in some of the comments). Again, I was with you, and am with you on your real thesis… AND on sarcasm. But you can see how quickly that snake gets loose and confuses people! Sarcasm is like a bag of hornets!

    Wait, I take that back. Sarcasm is NOT like a bag of hornets. Fucking NOTHING is LIKE a bag of hornets! That was a totally stupid metaphor. But a bag of hornets is a terrifying notion! They are so big, and their stings are really really painful! And hornets scare the piss out of me! But your sarcasm is not painful, and does not scare the piss out of me… hell, your sarcasm cant even fly… and doesn’t have an exoskeleton!

    I’m screwed at this point. Thinking about scary ass bugs… sort of lost my chain of thought.

    Ah! Bugs… Hornets… traits… classification and taxonomy! Ok, I’m going to shut up about your articals structure. I like your point, I thought you structure was slightly confusing, and THANKS for mentioning the larger cultural challenges. Right on! But now… TAXONOMY!

    Labels. Again, it’s a mundane word that has a bad reputation because we almost always use it to describe shitty things. Labels are fine, as long as we remember that they are just tools we use to organize our thoughts. Time was… way back when I was a kid, that turtles and frogs were “Labeled” amphibians… and tortoises and toads were labeled reptiles. I have an old “How and Why Wonder Book” that lays it out like that. Black and white. Science! Well, shit, I lost a bet on the subject a few years back because at some point in my lifetime they moved them around and now turtles and tortoises are both reptiles… and frogs and toads are both amphibians. Taxonomy is an arbitrary tool, and subject to change. If we didn’t have a robust taxonomy for insects… every honey bee and hornet would be a bee. Get them mixed up in real life and let me know how that works out for you!

    AFOL is an arbitrary term… and there are ultimately as many subcategories as there are people in the hobby. Because… no two AFOLs are exactly alike. But UTILITY… usefulness… that is different. The utility of a name lies in either how much of a population it describes… or in identifying a crucial difference. Guys who collect are fans of Lego… and so are guys who build. They are both this: AFOL… but they are not both that, or that: Collectors or Builders. AND… there are MANY of BOTH in the AFOL population. That’s the HOW MUCH part of utility. Now, the CRUCIAL part: A certain poisonous snake my only represent 3% of the snake population in a given county… but it’s really important that you recognize a member of this 3% when you see one! Point being that I consider many popular AFOL labels to be of marginal utility. The term AFOL means basically: Person who has Lego and talks to other people about it. (Before anybody says it… Yes… if a 40 year old person had legos… and he played with them in his basement… and spoke to nobody about it… he might still be an AFOL… but who CARES! If a tree fell on an AFOL and there was nobody there to hear it… would it still snap his spine? Odd scenarios involving hermits and Nut Jobbers don’t meet the UTILITY aspect of labeling.)

    Unlike scientific Taxonomy, which is anchored in certain physical characteristics, social taxonomy is much vaguer. Behaviors can overlap and or change over time. A collector can start to build can start to mod can stop collecting and start selling and do all at once and then only do to fests or join a lug or six! They overlap and change. Fluid, not fixed. And that is FINE! Behavior changes, so let the label change. Also… an incorrect label doesn’t actually hurt… and if we are talking about the anguish of being called a Train Head when in fact, once you built a Unicorn… then just shut up man!

    It’s when we start to treat a label as a set of published parameters… solid, and predictable… that we lose our way. Labels give way to stereotyping… and prejudice… and that stuff not only leads inevitably to social injustice… but is also just a really INACURATE method for evaluating people. Not only wrong… but often useless. (unlike theft for example… which is totally wrong… but CAN BE quite profitable!).

    Reading the comments your article inspired, I am caught on this notion: Why? Why in the name of the merciful blood stained gods… would young builders “count the days” until they could be considered AFOLs? What benefits am I missing out on here? Adults in the legal sense… yes. Got it. Alcohol… consensual stuff… voting… ok. But Adult in THIS hobby? Break it down for me guys? What are the benefits of age in this hobby? Out build the older guys and then rub their aged noses in our superior efforts! Punish the indifferent elders! Let them huddle together in their stupid club houses while you young guys run buck ass wild through the streets swooshing bitchen MOCs all over the place! What the hell do you young Turks care what a bunch of half dead, palsy ridden, paper magazine reading, dorks have to say (or not say) about your work? Stop counting the days… and kick some ass already! I chastise you!

    Anyway… ummm… Good topic… weak structure… Hornets… Taxonomy… Prejudice… Crazy mixed up kids… Oh! Right… Excellent article man!

    Attack!

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    1. “and there are ultimately as many subcategories as there are people in the hobby.” This is wonderfully and dangerously close to what Gandhi said about religion. “There are as many religions as there are individuals.” And not to get too abstract with the notion, but maybe there is something to be said here that is uniquely parallel. Creation, expression, passion, there’s a distinct reason I studied both art and religion in tandem as I really saw very little difference (even got a degree in both, I don’t recommend it if you’re pining for adulthood and want to make any sort of salary.) Art is religion, religion is Art, we are artists, this is our religion. We have a set of beliefs based on our experiences defined by our imagination. We have dogma dictating our behavior and doctrine defining our actions. In the loosest sense of the term, religion is simply how we cope with nature in societal interaction. Community. Communion. We are a cult with no need for a leader because we all are, we pray to a plastic brick that allows us to express ourselves, and we have many varied choirs, preachers, saints, sinners, zealots, Jack-Mormons, and everything in between.

      Wow, went through that with only a beer and a half. 😀

      Sincerely,

      Keith’s art/religion school girlfriend.

      P.S. Kick ass is right! Bring the pain, you little bitches! We like it like that. Especially Mike. Don’t ask.

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    2. Well, you see Mike, I’m not exactly a very skilled writer, especially for a satirical take on the LEGO community. Being an engineer, I only write reports and emails conveying facts and things that can be numerically quantified. I haven’t written anything like this since college probably, which was around 15 years ago. Holey crap, I’m getting old.

      The article had a life of its own really. It started, as you know, as a quick observation of how silly I think it is that AFOLs get upset about the quality of some of the sets TLG produces. The I realized that each of us has our own thoughts about what is important to us and that we tend to stick close to those who think the same way. I don’t think there are too many AFOLs whose passion is collecting official LEGO sets reading the Manifesto and it seems most of the AFOLs here complain about sites like TBB for there bland set reviews and self published MOCs. So then I thought it would be fun to create little subgroups for each and then I made the connection to politics and how prevalent and dangerous compartmentalizing ourselves is to each other. Each time the article evolved I had to go back, add, or change previous parts of the article. By the time I got to the end I wasn’t really sure it all got put together the correctly, but was way too lazy to even think about any major rewrites so just sent it to Keith for publishing.

      Honestly, I was a little surprised that some didn’t get the sarcasm immediately. I tried to lay it on thick enough to get understood without overtly stating it. It is pretty obvious that the structure, or the writing itself, was weak after reading the first few comments. They must have thought I was a total stick-in-the-mud dick. Maybe they still do if they haven’t gone back through the comments section. Oh well.

      Thanks for the review and sorry to kick you out of my fun house so violently. 🙂

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      1. Jake,
        “Holey crap, I’m getting old.” No… not yet your not. Real old age… memory loss… constant grumpiness… frequent disorientation… Lawn Care Obsession Disorder… wait till you reach all THAT action! Then… then you realize your body is just a moving, crumbling tomb… and you are doomed to be trapped in it! Forever! Until death! DEATH!

        “Each time the article evolved I had to go back, add, or change previous parts of the article.”
        This is a MONEY observation! It suggests that you would write… read… re-write… re-read… and so on. It’s annoying because its so time and effort intensive. But the payoff is huge in terms of writing quality! Lots of people say they think they are not good writers because they have to go through this annoying process… changing and adjusting… the whole article keeps changing as you write and re-write… I say most peoples writing would be better if they did MORE of this!

        Sarcasm… especially on line. I have stepped into a bear trap on line more than once with sarcasm. Failing to recognize it in the words of others, and failing to make it clear to others when I was being sarcastic. I love sarcasm… but without a real time face, or the elements of timing and voice tone to go with it… it’s very slippery!

        Yea man, I wanted to pound the table when somebody finally drew some connections between AFOL behavior and the larger culture we all share. It was good stuff man!

        Attack!

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  9. “Honestly, I was a little surprised that some didn’t get the sarcasm immediately. I tried to lay it on thick enough to get understood without overtly stating it.”

    It’s not about not getting the sarcasm, it’s about the point of the article. I didn’t take it as a sarcasm for sarcasm’s sake, but rather thought it had a point to it, or rather, a solution if you will, to the situation you decided to mock. Hence the comments you got.

    By going this route, you kind of killed the conversation, because you don’t challenge anything here, you don’t invite anyone to disagree with you – there’s nothing to disagree with in the first place. You were basically just stating the obvious in a sarcastic fashion, making us chuckle at the silliness of our hobby. And since we’re so intent on discussion here, we sort of grasped at the only thing we could.

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    1. I dunno, your first comment and now this one suggest to me that you didn’t really get what Jake’s final point was. Everything you said “in opposition” to the article in that first comment seemed to be in complete agreement with what Jake’s actual argument was, that over-compartmentalizing is bad. And it’s probably Jake’s fault for not making that point clearer. I blame Jake.

      And I’d say there is room for disagreement as evidenced by Mike’s *succinct* rant on taxonomy and… hornets? (What the fuck did I just read…) In the last FFE there were a lot of comments making a distinction between collectors and builders, my own among them. Generalizations can be useful sometimes. But that’s just what they are: generalizations. One size doesn’t fit all. Of course there are gonna be outliers, edge-cases, and overlaps. That’s just the way the world works. But is that reason to not talk about builders, collectors, sellers, etc. as distinct groups? I don’t think so, in the same way it’s useful to talk about demographics in marketing or politics. Overlap and fuzziness are inherent and should be implied. Categories are what help us organize and make sense of the world, even if they aren’t always perfect.

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      1. That’s true, I didn’t get his final point – what I wanted to say is that everyone most likely got the sarcasm part. I figured his final point was the current acronyms suck, we need different ones that don’t (not that we should split it into a ton of subgroups, focusing on that I was just continuing along the line he did with the article) while I find no use for them in any shape or form. Dude/dudette (we don’t need ffol either!) with lego is where it’s at.

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      2. I think I got it. EDWL /ed-well/ or El Duderino with LEGO, because you know we aren’t into that whole brevity thing.

        I’ll take any and all blame. I’m not a writer and probably bit off more than I could chew. My thesis admittedly evolved throughout the writing of the article. There is little doubt I didn’t get it clearly put back together in the end.

        I think now I’m going to reread the first three paragraphs of Mike’s review and go back to my happy place. 🙂

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  10. I love it. You can get lewd out of it which is awesome!

    Regardless of everything we said here, I’ll go back to my initial comment – it was a hilarious read and the characterizations were spot on, which made it a great read for me. Only thing to change in a future one is to focus a bit on the point and make it come across clearly.

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  11. In my mind, MOC sounds like mock (hey, don’t mock me) and AFOL is like asshole pronounced with the absence of teeth (you affhole!).ALF (Adult LEGO Fan) seems neat though.

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    1. Yeah, ’cause ALF can’t possibly have any bad connotations. Nope not a bad thing about that. Nothing from the 80s disparaging there at all. No cat eating Muppets to be linked with in the least. Yeah, ALF! We’re doomed. XD

      Like

  12. Official Contest Review

    Entry # 7

    Title: The End of AFOL
    Author: Jake RF

    Views: 285 Comments: 27

    Favorite Quote: “I know what you are all thinking. Very few people fit completely into any of these new categories, so maybe we should just stick with our catchall AFOL tag for everyone. You are wrong. You must pick a side and join your exclusive new group. It is time to categorize and separate from each other. You can only be friends with LEGO enthusiast if they are just like you and hold the same core values.”

    Favorite Comment inspired by the entry: “AFOL is like asshole pronounced with the absence of teeth.” – Angka

    Single Sentence Summary: An examination of the shortfalls of our lexicon and suggestions for improvements.

    The Good:

    1. You manage the difficult task of breathing fresh life into what seemed initially like a tired concept. When I read your title and thesis I must admit that I mentally shrugged and was prepared to be disappointed but you really made the most of it and I found myself laughing and enjoying it despite my initial prejudice. As long as I have been a part of the hobby, I remember people have been complaining about the nomenclature but rarely in such a humorous fashion. I think you nailed the sub-categories of Lego nerd with precision, even if there is a great deal of overlap as many of the commentaritat pointed out. I don’t think your point was to be exhaustive but to generalize for comedic value and stereotype in order to make a point. You also did a good job of taking the piss out of everyone, even the “coolest” subset of Lego nerds (the ABOLS) gets a jab or two for slavish devotion to studlessness and high-minded attitudes, something we clearly deserve. Just like Primus with his TBB blogging rant, I appreciate the fact that you took a strong position on a cultural topic and through the two fisted attack of sarcasm and satire, you all but forced the reader to engage with the topic with fresh eyes.

    2. Even though your ratio of text to visual aids may be skewed a bit heavily towards the visual, I thought your media selections were inspired and probably the best of any entry. Each picture or video matched its category flawlessly, my personal favorite was the “ideal box art” for ABOLs, maybe it’s playing right into my own self image but that’s exactly how most builders look at a set. I also “enjoyed” that craptacular review of the Hoth Assault and the MSIB hoarding video, they fall into the category of being so bad they are actually good. Even the sorting time lapse was oddly hypnotic and soothing. So you get points for your media, they were seamlessly integrated into the article and took what was already a very funny article and put it over the top.

    3. Although I generally don’t take the comment section too seriously into account when judging these entries, I thought your piece inspired some of the best conversation. Of course more responses does not necessarily equal quality responses but you manage to trigger both in your readers. You obviously touched a nerve and inspired people to really engage with ideas like cultural compartmentalization, our need to label each other, status and cultural norms. In terms of this blog and this contest I think the ultimate goal is to ignite the conversation in an entertaining way and you came through big time. I had as much fun wading through the comments as I did reading your piece, they were almost an extension of the article itself. You didn’t just answer the comments out of politeness or decorum, you interacted with each person to really take apart the topic and explain your position.

    The Bad:

    1. I take great exception with your taxonomy of coolness because you’ve got the bottom of the list all wrong. To set the record straight, the correct order is clearly:
    1. ABOL 2. ASOL 3. ABOLT 4. APOL 5. ACOL. Sure Train guys are humorless and the very antithesis of cool but nobody in the four corners of our shared hobby is lower than a collector. They never open the box, they hoard multiple copies… they are truly worthy of our scorn in a way that the others simply are not. Even the historically maligned train guys look down on them. Great Ball Contraption enthusiasts look down on them. Mindstorms geeks look down on them. You say it yourself “They are hoarders and should be avoided at all costs, except by ASOLs, who should see the easy mark and quick buck to be made.” How can I trust you as an authority on such an important and cherished topic as the lexicon when you can’t even get the ranking of coolness right? I’ll even ease up on you a little and admit that numbers 2-4 are purely a matter of taste, I could accept almost any arrangement in that range but the bottom of the barrel?…iIt simply has to be collectors.

    2. I didn’t really have a problem deciphering your tone or sarcasm but it seemed like some of the readers did. I like to think sarcasm is more of a surgical tool than a strategic weapon, and again, much like Cameron’s article on TBB I think you went a little overboard to the detriment to the point you were trying to make. I’m not a hyper structuralist like Rutherford so I don’t mind that you waited until the conclusion to really state your position but I think if you’d eased of the snark just a little you might have been more effective in getting your point across with clarity.

    3. Although you were well over the prescribed word count, it almost feels like you gave the topic short shrift when combined with your comedic focus. This article felt light to me, like you had your thumb on the scale when checking the weight. I wish there was more meat on those bones to chew on, the category descriptions just barely scratched the surface. I think each sub-group of Lego nerds could have been expanded on both for laughs and to support your point, maybe including a real world example of each kind of Lego nerd would have added something to the topic. I know that’s kind of personal and you don’t want to offend people but you were going for sarcasm anyway and I think you’ve got the skill to tackle it with enough sensitivity so as not to be cruel. Or maybe just an anonymous anecdote from your own experience with each kind of fan either in person or online. I think your paragraph about train-guys was my least favorite, they are the low-hanging fruit of the community and I think the joke fell flat there. It’s like making fun of the fat kid in school with glasses and bad acne, if you’re gonna go there, be clever about it.

    The Whatever:
    I have to thank you for inspiring a new acronym for repeated use in my own personal Lego lexicon, an I’ve already started to pepper my commentary with it. Yes, Keith’s Own Creation is primed to take not only the Manifesto, but the very world by storm. “Say, did you happen to see the new KOC today? No, it’s not on TBB but it’s one hell of a KOC!” That KOC is triumphant, it might be the best KOC of the year!” So thanks for putting me in touch with my very own KOC, you’re the only participant to make me rediscover the value of KOCs. The lexicon is all what we make of it, and I’ll make mine a KOC.

    * I will re-post this review along with the rest of your competitors when the final results are issued.

    Like

  13. Thanks for the feedback Keith. I wrote this more because I want to contribute to the blog than to win your cool swag, not that I’ll turn it down if I do win. I was worried that this entry would seem stale. There seems little doubt that others have thought the acronym kind of silly and that this has been discussed before. It is just that I’ve never been in any of these discussions since I haven’t been around as long as the rest of you guys, even a lot of the younger guys here. And I’ll admit I didn’t do a very extensive search of old blog posts to confirm this fear. So I’m glad you didn’t hold that against me and I was able to make it a little interesting.

    I really need someone to write about the history of LEGO fandom particularly the online history. It started with LUGnet, then went to MOC pages. It seems at some point every category had its own home, a classic space website, a pirates website (the scandalous Forbidden Cove), a castle website. Those all seem to have disappeared when Flickr came along and they all became groups there. This what I’ve been able to piece together. It has to be a fairly rich history with lots of interesting characters and unnecessary drama. If anyone knows about it, they should put this into writing. Or maybe it already has and someone needs to direct me where to find it.

    Anyway, I’ve gotten off topic. It seems like the train guys were integral to starting up the online community or starting the term AFOL and maybe even MOC. I don’t really know. And I don’t know why people pick on the train builders? As I stated in my entry I don’t really understand this, but I have definitely picked up on it while interacting with other builders online. I thought I did them credit liken them to Jerry Gergich who was actually a really talented, nice guy who was really misunderstood and picked on for no reason. Putting them at the bottom of my list was not an actual reflection of my uninformed opinions if I’m being honest. That was totally a joke based on comments I’ve seen about them. It was a joke I thought would play well to the crowd that read The Manifesto, but it totally could have been seen as making fun of the fat kid. I really didn’t even know that train builders were the fat kid. I’ve never met them and all my info on them is secondhand biased opinions.

    I think you definitely called out one of my mistakes by not making ACOLs last. I think you might be wrong about at least some of ASOLs though, if not a majority. I think there are some really cool guys who are serious fans of LEGO whose main contribution to the hobby is selling, but I pretty quickly found a ton of videos and blogs from people who clearly saw the brick only as a commodity. I’m not sure I could put them in the top half of the rankings. I feel I should also mention the MISB video was published by a guy that is a rabid LEGO fanatic who probably more deserves to be in the ABOL category than the ACOL. He mostly likes to review sets, but has videos of original models as well. He isn’t a complete a-hole.

    As large as that boxed collection is, I’m pretty sure he opens far more boxes of LEGO than he keeps shut. Still… why!?

    I would have probably added ADBOL (Adult Digital Builders of LEGO) if I would have been on my game and we could have all had a stirring discussion on the qualities of digital building here instead of your Giesel post. Consider that a missed opportunity.

    Like

  14. I’ve thought of ALF before as well and wondered why that didn’t end up as the original abbreviation. Although I’ve never watched Alf, at least ALF is a true acronym. I never pronounce AFOL as a word, but as A-F-O-L. Pronouncing it as a word is indeed awful and sounds like you have marbles in your mouth. MOC hasn’t bothered me at all really, except I guess it’s pretty low hanging fruit for MOCkery. Ok, I’ll see myself out.

    As for more normal terms, I think these are the real solution if we don’t like these hackneyed abbreviations and/or acronyms. Build, builder, train-head, spacer, etc., get to the point.

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