Ted Talks – “District 18” (Final 2018 LSB Contest Wrap-up)

Another building contest hosted by the LEGO Speederbikes group on Flickr has come and gone, and the winners are now posted.  It’s the second time that I’ve been involved with hosting the contest, and from my perspective it was another successful year.  Last year’s contest was always going to be tough act to follow with 336 total entries.  That said, the number of total entry photos still topped out at 268 (2nd highest ever amount).

 

Since contest formats are what dictate the quantity of entries, I went back to determine the count of actual builders that participated in each contest.  Here is my best estimation… and I spent way too much time trying to figure this out:

 

2009: 92 participants / 207 entries (2.25 epp; entries per participant)

2010: 88 participants / 146 entries (1.66 epp)

2011: 75 participants / 122 entries (1.63 epp)

2016: 67 participants / 67 entries (1.00 epp)

2017: 116 participants / 336 entries (2.90 epp)

2018: 105 participants / 268 entries (2.55 epp)

 

The 2018 contest still comes in 2nd place in both participants and entries.  I was surprised that the number of participants was that high this year, based on the entry count and having a fairly similar format to last year’s contest (although it wasn’t required for “District 18” entrants to also enter the individual categories).  It appears that a lot of people only entered 1 or 2 bike categories, and then bailed out on the “District” category.  Perhaps a diorama was a little too ambitious for most people.  Still, to those 34 people that still stepped up to the challenge we salute you!

 

Overall Perception:

I know some Manifesto readers had expressed that the builds didn’t excite them as much as last year, but I saw some interesting and encouraging things on a couple fronts:

  • At the top of this list were the great critiques and collaboration that occurred from all around. It was good to see the community take another step-forward in bringing back “critique culture” to MOC sharing.  We can’t thank Keith and Rutherford enough for spearheading that effort, and Werewolff, Hoffmann and the rest of the Manifesto readership who chimed in as well.  Kudos to all.
  • As a whole, I thought the speederbikes were built more compactly than in years past. There was a noticeable reduction in the number of entries that seemed way too big, or looked more like a hovercar.  Many repeat contest participants also built their bikes smaller this time around.
  • NPU continued to impress, especially with the larger variety of new parts that have come out year after year. Speed Champions, Mixel joints, and Constraction Fig panels FTW!!! Some speederbike silhouettes may have felt the same as in years past (“boiler-plate?”), but the ways they are getting constructed is getting further and further refined.  There were so many impressive brick-built bikes, and impressive usage of the pre-fab bike chassis too.

 

Even though determining the total number of participants from past contests took up a lot of time, I was able to see some other interesting before-and-after trends from some repeat participants…

 

Stepping their game up

Some contest participants have definitely evolved their personal building style and have improved skills year-over-year.  Some examples:

Intentor

 

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From 2016

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From 2017

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From 2018

 

Zen Thorga

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From 2017

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From 2018

 

“The more things change, the more they stay the same…”

Then I also noticed there were some builders whose style gave me the feeling of having “déjà vu all over again.”

EliteGuard01

JM-500 Long Ranger

From 2017

JM-LR800 MP-HSAB (Revised)

From 2018

 

captainsmog

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From 2011

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From 2018

 

“Great Swap-out, Dude!”

Everyone should know I’m a big fan of the well-executed entry swap-out (since I did it myself during my 2016 contest win). Of all the entrants this year, Pico made the most significant move.  His original Space Police bike entry was solid, but it was a little “too solid” and on the larger side.  His replacement was a classic Space Police design that was one of the most compact speederbikes in the contest, packed with wonderful greebles and well placed stickers.  It is one of those builds where everything seemed perfectly placed to me.  That Fabuland Bunny Bike was also a solid entry for Abide too, which replaced his Tequila Delivery Service bike:

 

Pico’s Enforce

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The Original

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The Swap

 

Pico’s Abide

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The Original

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The Swap

 

“NPU? Don’t mind if I do!”

There was a lot of Nice Part Usage (NPU) this year, and called out by a lot of you in your comments and critiques.  These pics below call out some NPU solutions that I am personally planning to “steal with pride” for my future MOC’s.

 

I really liked the way James Zhan used the Friends handlebar as a kickstand (on the other hand, the windshield is kind of comical when you think of the practicality of it…)

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This back array of engine exhaust pipes (beneath the backpacks) from Jon Lie was the perfect solution to a project I’m currently working on for Brickworld Chicago 2018…

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I’m always a fan of spoiler part usages, so this paired configuration by GeekPerson naturally caught my eye.  I’m sure I this configuration could come in handy.

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“Walk the plank!”

The use of 1×4 and 1×6 tiles also caught my attention… but I guess it would have been harder not to notice those big planks of plastic strapped to the sides of a speederbike.  Using that part never crosses my mind when I’m building a speederbike … just like it never crosses my mind to get those soggy chickpeas and beets that are placed on salad bars.  Who eats those?  I guess as in all things it is a matter of personal taste, and these gents integrated them better than I would have imagined.

 

Fabz

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ff

LEGO7

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Carter

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… and Carter

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… and Carter again…

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Category Action:

ENFORCE:

For me, this category had 3 different speederbike building strategies fighting it out at the top; oOger building with large figure panels, Pico building up a motorcycle frame, and Guy Smiley building and shaping his bike with system parts.  They all had thoughtful part placement, sticker placement, and image presentation.  When oOger posted his bike, I felt that was the moment the “gauntlet was thrown down” in Enforce.  Pico went back and swapped out his entry some time later, and I remembered thinking “I didn’t think anyone could catch up to oOger’s bike, but this classic Space Police bike is wicked!”  Of course the final weekend always has some surprises in store, and Guy Smiley didn’t disappoint with his SWAT inspired speederbike.  The only gripe was how dark that photo was.  After adjusting my monitor a bit, I could see all of the wonderful details.  Those white “hover pads” were delicious.  oOger’s bike was in the top 3 for all four judges (no small feat), and that sealed his victory.

Winner – oOger

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ABIDE:

Abide was by far the toughest category to judge, due to all of the diversity of designs and themes.  Abide set itself up to be an “anything goes” category (that is, apart from added weaponry).  There were two definite strategies at play; building bikes that were job specific, and those that were “everyday” bikes.  Each of the judges’ final “Top-10” lists seemed equally split along those lines, so both approaches were appreciated.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a water-world vibe from many entries… and speaking of water, those turd references were definitely sinkers and not floaters.

 

To me, it felt like Halfbeak’s messenger bike was the one that “threw down the gauntlet” in this category, and perhaps in the overall contest as well.  It was such a unique speederbike design that caught a lot of early attention.   The other one that caught my attention as it was entered was Sean Mayo’s steampunk bike, having a lot to do with the unique parts usage and the presentation.  Otherwise, I went over every single bike entry a couple times over in this category to determine who else would be included in my Top-10 list. I think it was just the nature of the category.  In the end, it was “P.B.”, known by some as Delatassius, who carried the day… (watch out, all you DA3 players… better get to know your enemy)

Winner – P.B. (Deltassius)

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REBEL:

The original thought for creating the Rebel category was “wouldn’t it be cool to build some roving speederbike gangs?”, and that evolved into the whole “District 18” concept.  That said, we still wanted to see anyone’s interpretations of the “Rebel” category beyond that initial “gangs” idea.  Leading the pack were the bikes that were intimidators, and the bikes that represented the “larger than life” personalities of their riders.  No matter the interpretation, Rebels want to be noticed (… it’s just that they don’t want to be caught).

 

F@bz, Carter, and Djokson had some of the notable entries for me fighting it out at the top of my list.  Early in the contest F@bz delivered a NPU laden bike, which is his proclivity.  I haven’t seen those flexible spike parts actually flexed in many MOC’s.  Then Djokson’s bike delivered with his signature style of Bionicle parts integration, and its alien vibe.  Finally, Carter’s signature hands-in-tubes construction was brought back once again, with the added touch of throw-bot visors.  For me, his Rebel bike was his most successful out of his 3 entries, and successful in integrating that 1×6 tile.  The deft placement of a well-built “assassin droid” that could straddle the back end was a very smart play. Tim Schwalfenberg also got his sleek bike entered just in time during the post-deadline grace period (Tim also had grace in his acceptance of the missing the deadline; however others opted to petition _zenn, who made the call to extend, as he felt sympathetic to the poster confusion).  This category was decided by a single point, which edged Djokson across the finish line first by a claw tip…

Winner – Djokson

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DISTRICT 18:

The districts were so much fun to take in, and very tough to judge.  These are the thoughts that were going through my mind when judging the dioramas (and not in any order of priority or weighting).

  • Quality of the speederbikes (and were all 3 types present in the scene)
  • Quality of the District (overall design, and building skill/techniques)
  • Was their any action?
  • Were the speederbikes clearly the focus of the action? Were they easy to see?

If any District scored lower than expected, it was likely due to missing the mark a little on one of those areas.  On the other hand, overcompensation in one category could also carry a District higher up the rankings.  It wasn’t an easy decision.

Winner – W. Navarre

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All of the entries we were impressive, considering that the contest entry period only ran for 33 days.  We knew that was going to be a challenge for many, with both time and available parts supply, and why we decided to allow digital entries.  Not too many people took advantage of that, but it was still good to see that there were digital entries posted in all categories.  In the end, including digital entries really felt like a non-issue.

 

For me the story of “District 18” was one of unrealized potential.  There was so much anticipation based on the bikes people already posted, only for their dioramas to never materialize.

 

Felipe Avelar came out of the gates very strong, teasing us all with a tempting array of speederbikes just waiting to be swooshed.  I thought for certain we would see something from him in the “District 18” category, but it never came to pass.  Perhaps his daughter was having too much fun playing with them, and he didn’t have the heart to take them away.

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More districts that I was hoping to see:

  • I really wanted to see one from LEGO 7, based on his aquatic themes speederbikes (like his Lantern Taxi that I’ve already linked). I think combining his speederbikes into Shmail’s apocalyptic water-world could have made a winning combo.
  • Klikstyle had some spectacular vignettes that I thought for sure were building up to becoming a district.
  • Per_ig delivered some speederbikes that could have been right out of a colorful version of the Ma.K universe.
  • Spac13 had me thinking that he might deliver on a Jurassic World diorama.

 

Closing Thoughts:

My mission statement for the contest, if forced to write one, would have been “to inspire lots of people to build cool things, and have fun doing it”.  The number of participants indicated that we did inspire lots of people to build once again.  I know that the contest also delivered on the “build cool things” part of the mission too.  I hope it was enjoyable for both the participants and spectators alike, but that is not for me to decide.

 

What I enjoyed most was whenever someone was told that their entries were their “best MOC yet!”  Contests are at their best when they can be the unexpected spark for a person to build something new, as well as a pushing them into building something they wouldn’t otherwise have considered.  I’m glad that the contest could be the catalyst for many such builds this year.  Keep on building!

 

20 thoughts on “Ted Talks – “District 18” (Final 2018 LSB Contest Wrap-up)

  1. But dioramas are so hard… who has time for that? I only managed to build one bike, digitally, while at the office, so obviously not me. 🙂 The dioramas you did get were mostly top notch. I was the opposite you were on that category. I was impressed to see that you got as many as you did with high quality.

    Thanks for not including mine in the deja-vu category. You probably could have, maybe should have.

    Zhan’s windshield is pretty humorous. Thanks for pointing that out. Shields everything except your face!

    Two more comments:
    1. The write-up needed an airing of grievances section. 😉 But seriously, it did.
    2. Thanks for hosting the contest and giving out all those cool prizes.

    Like

    1. Yeah, I spared you from the “deja vu” since you declared up-front that you were designing an alternate in your WIP images.

      I also appreciate you going “all-in” with the digital building experiment. I thought your renders turned out really really good… there is still something more satisfying to building something and being able to put it on a display shelf… or bringing it to Brickworld Chicago this summer 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheers for the shoutout Ted! Forcing yourself to (re)think out of the box is fun if time allows. Also the inspiration and feedback provided by fellow enthousiasts was awesome to receive. Good fun and engagement all around. Looking forward to next year.

    Thanks for putting in the effort with this wrap up as well as with the whole contest management and judging process.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, I know i should have build a diorama. But lack of Time… and beside I’m not that good (yet) at building dioramas. So instead of shaming myself i did nothing but bikes. Next Time.
    But anyway thanks for hosting the contest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for doing this wrap-up Ted; really nice to see your perspective on the way things went. This was my first time competing in a contest like this, and I honestly couldn’t get enough of it! The feedback on my builds that forced me to rethink how my bikes worked was a pleasant surprise, and really helped me improve the models!

    Just like to thank you and the judges once more for running the contest, as well as thank Keith, Mike and Hoffman for their critique throughout. Thanks for the shout-out as well! It means more than you now 😀

    Pumped for the next one!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for having me as a last-minute guest judge, Ted. I’ve already posted some of my thoughts and favorites in the honorable mentions thread, but I was surprised at how different some of our top picks were. I was scratching my head at some of yours, Cole’s, and _zenn’s while some of my top 3 didn’t make any of your lists. I guess it goes to show how much variety there is in this genre, even in a year where the designs can feel lackluster at times. This was polar opposite to my experience judging for Real World Starfighters last year. The theme of that contest meant we were judging more on how much thought went into the “science” behind the designs than their aesthetics, and that lead to a very clear and unanimous winner with only minor disagreements for 2nd and 3rd place.

    Re: the dioramas:

    I think the diorama thing is a bit of a mismatch for this contest because it puts focus on both the micro (speeder bikes) AND the macro (dioramas). Trying to balance both of those and put that much attention to detail at both levels in only a month is kind of nuts. I think the real strength of LSB is the fact that bikes are quick and easy to build even with a small collection of parts. Those more daunting factors in building big are stripped away and all that’s left is pure creativity with the limited size you’re working with, which makes the effort very accessible. As cool as some of the dioramas were, a lot of them felt rushed and the number of entries is telling. I had trouble even picking and ranking 10 that I liked. I also wonder how much influence the diorama category had on the overall vibe of the contest. I can see people not being as interested in the contest as a whole if they weren’t motivated to go for the main event, but then again we of course saw a ton of entries from people who didn’t seem to care, so who knows. I’m just spitballing some cynicism here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep – I agree with a lot of that.

      Seeing the different judging opinions was jarring to me last year too, and I wasn’t too surprised that it happened again. It also happens a lot when entrants push the envelope of what a “speederbike” should be, and some judges view them differently (is it acceptable? too large? seem more like a car? etc.). If I recall, the same thing happened when I hosted the Steampunk contest and judged it with Rod and Guy… In the end, the victory goes to the entry where all judges seem to have some high-regard for, but not necessarily everyone’s 1st place pick.

      But now that you’ve peaked behind the curtain of the LSB judging process, you can also safely bet that at least ONE judge in 2016 had to have favored your Coelacanth over my Trailblazer… I think this is where rowntRee should insert his “Art School” insights on how people view and interpret art differently…

      We probably should have had the District 18 be vignettes vs. a larger diorama… but you may have just put your finger on the pulse of why many of the bikes were built smaller this year; to fit into a diorama. On the flip side of that, people that built their bikes too big shied away from building a diorama…

      Anyway, it was a fun, ambitious challenge but you can’t force it. Going forward, I’d advocate for one-bike with base/vignette being the focus.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I remember your comment on Gol’s that his looked more like a cave racer than a speeder bike, which may be different things to you but to me a cave racer is just a type of speeder bike. I think I have slightly more leeway than you guys regarding size too when it’s justified.

        Another thing is differences in interpretation of the categories. You brought up at one point that the contestants weren’t stretching the categories that much, but that goes for the judges too. Oscar Cederwall and Guy Smiley were very obvious choices for Enforce because they’re clearly police bikes, but I think Anthony Wilson’s Needler didn’t do as well partly because it goes against expectations of what an Enforce bike should be. Maybe not stretching the categories that much was a good strategy on the part of the contestants.

        Unrelated note about Carter’s bikes: A lot of people liked his Rebel bike the best but I think his Enforce bike didn’t get a fair shake because there isn’t a good shot of it at its best angle. If you look at his District 18 entry you can catch a glimpse at the side details better, which aren’t shown at all in the main overhead shot.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hoffman, I have to agree with a lot of what you said there. Almost all the Top 10 of the Enforce category were police bikes. I think there were a couple military type bikes in there, but they got no love. Maybe they were just not as good or maybe there was some bias about what was really desired from the judges in that category. Who knows…

        On your unrelated note about Carter’s bikes. I like the idea of the rails he used, but his rebel and enforce bikes didn’t work for me because those rails looked too much like sled rails, like Santa’s sleigh type of rails, but his abide bike avoided that look and I thought that one was pretty awesome.

        I wonder if this contest would be as popular if it was just a challenge without “winners”, like Nnovvember or Maktober or even those starfighter monthly challenges Tromas used to hold. Probably not, those have been in decline. There needs to be a little carrot out there to get the masses involved.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Entrants themselves we’re biased and indeed built more police bikes. Being generous in my count of “non-police” bikes in that category, 10 out of 75 we’re not. That means just over 85% we’re police. Ignoring quality for a moment, and the needed speederbike feel, stastically there SHOULD have been one non-police in the Top-10. Bias? We all have them, that’s why we include multiple judges with different points of view (who all selected independently)… but not necessarily a coordinated bias for police bikes only. The needler was close for me, but the novelty of an amorphous arrangement of needels camouflaging the sub-structure just didn’t reasonate with me strongly enough (I lean towards part combos that I can see that fit together in amazingfit ways, and with no gaps, etc. Not a rule, just a bias, and there are always exceptions – always good to post alternate views and breakdown shots. Control the narrative. Leave nothing to chance).
        A speederbike based on the Punisher or Ghost Rider would have really hit my sweet spot. Jake – as you know, your bike was just too much of a repeat for me (and if I participated and entered a TrailBlazer redo, I hope I would have had the same reception… But you were on one top 10 list… Or was that ‘my’ old bike…). For the others, many of the military we’re too large-ish for me (or less speederbike-ish).

        Addressing Gol’s “cave racer”, it was my 6th place, so I surely appreciated that one as a future speederbike.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The stats do kind of clear up the reason for why their were so many police bikes in the Top 10 Enforce category. You can’t really pick something else if that is basically all there is.

        Mine was definitely a repeat. I built it as a companion for my last speeder bike. And like I said before, it probably should have been in your deja vu category. I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out what zenn meant about it looking like an old speeder of yours. Thanks for clearing that up because I wasn’t seeing the resemblance to your Trailblazer.

        Though I mostly agree with him, I do have to say that I was kind of disappointed that zenn’s main complaint about my speeder was that it was digital. They were allowed to be entered, but I’m gathering from his comment that he maybe didn’t agree with that decision or at least wasn’t going to take digital entries seriously. I might be reading too much into his comment. I’m lazy and didn’t go through all the bikes as closely as you did so I’ll go ahead and ask, were there many digital entries and did any make the Top 10?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Jake – So as a rule in post contest commentary I try to only talk about what I was thinking and my selections, as I am open to transparency. I don’t bring up what other judges selected, or didn’t, as I respect their opinions (even if I disagree) and they should be the ones to share it they decide to… But I will make this one exception here; _zenn was the one judge that had you on his Top-10 list. So now read back his comments in that context.

        It was my idea to allow digital entries via the Manifesto digital builder discussion. There was no objection from _zenn on that, and Cole was busy moving his family into a new abode (and was pretty much hands-off due to the demands of personal life)…

        These days with quality rendering (for people who want to pay) who can honestly tell anymore really what is digital and what isn’t? In many cases it takes a really keen eye to determine it, or honesty/ reputation of the builder. But I think there were only 3-4 people that were obviously digital… out of 105 participants.

        One more addendum: I read that Felipe didn’t have time to build a district due to finding a job. As good a reason as any. Congrats Felipe!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Interesting… that zenn is an alright guy after all. 🙂 I wouldn’t hold it against anyone to not vote for it if only for just the reason it is digital. I might get a little flack for this comment, but I still think it is a bit unfair to allow them. I have gone back through and redesigned my speeder using only pieces that existing and it doesn’t look as good. I think it still looks good, but it doesn’t look as clean. I was restrained to pick either orange, dk grey, or white for the main color instead of the metallic blue I used for my entry and I had to make some other sacrifices in part usage as well. Once I get around to buying the parts and building it I’ll post it. Maybe I’ll even post a side-by-side of the real one vs the digital one and see how closely I can get them to match up because I think you are right, pretty soon you aren’t going to be able to tell the difference with as good as the renderings are getting, unless they use parts in colors that don’t exist.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey, Ted!

    Thank you for the quote about my evolution. Looking the pictures I could also see it! 😀

    I’m very inspired by your amazing creations (my last year’s entries were a nod to your style), and being in the Top-10 this year was a sincere honour!

    As for the article, it was very nice to read about the statistics and your insights of the contest. There were so many amazing builds that I believe it was very hard for you judges to choose the winners!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One addendum: As I have been collecting the mailing addresses to send out custom tiles to the top-10 and diorama participants, I now have a HUGE appreciation for how international the LSB contest truely is. Our flickr avatars/profiles often hide both our appearances and nationalities, so it is nice to see that despite our supposed differences we “Leg Godt” together. Here is the count so far, in no particular order (just as they come to mind): USA (3), France (2), Italy (2), and one each from The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Serbia, Spain, England, Scotland, Brazil, Australia, Taiwan… and counting.

    It will be interesting to see if Keith’s readership stats over the contest period reflect that too…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ted! Thanks for rounding out the coverage on the contest, a successful one by any measurement. I especially appreciate you including the raw numbers in the beginning, I always find that interesting and the entries per person really stood out this year. I wonder why it was so much higher? I feel like I’ve already commented on most aspects of the contest, nothing that happened in the last couple of weeks really changed my perception about this year’s iteration. I think the final selections of the judges were perfectly reasonable even if my own mental list was a little different. I think the lack of drama after the results thread was made public speaks volumes.

      As for the effect the LSB had on the Manifesto it’s difficult to say but I’ll give you what I’ve got.

      -There were 137 direct referrals from links in the LSB group, a little over half of which were the links to this article.

      -We picked up 4 or 5 new commenters over the span of the contest, all of them leaving a single comment or two.

      Week 1 wrap up: 278
      Week 2 wrap up: 214
      Week 3 wrap up: 292
      Your final wrap up: 460

      I’m going to try and include a graph into this comment but in case I can’t the numbers slowly declined as the month went on, but that’s also due to the decline in number of posts on the site. I didn’t really pimp the blog very hard in the LSB group, I was happy to act as sponsor but I wasn’t trying to use your stage for my guitar solo. Overall I’m happy with the way things went and I have no doubt we picked up a few constant readers.

      As for next year, I think you should pull out all the stops for the 10 year anniversary. Open category, larger-than-minifig scale, parts-restricted category…or maybe go with abstract categories like Love/Hate/Fear, Larry/Moe/Curly, Circle/Triangle/Square. Mix things up a bit. I think it’s interesting that a community that prides itself on creativity refused to subvert any of the categories and a boilerplate emerged for each one. It would be interesting to try and fight that trend, even the dioramas kind of looked the same. Speaking of which, I would ditch it as it’s own category and let the folks who are inspired to build them, do so on their own.

      Maybe some team or collabo aspect could be fun too. When the time comes you should call for ideas and see what shakes out.

      Another great year Ted, kudos for being a great front-man and putting up with the hassle of shipping. Few people realize what a pain in the ass it is to close out a contest and I’m sure you’ll be at least another week or two writing personal responses and shipping out SWAG. Nice work my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love the wrap-up, finally got to read it all.

        I second the motion for larger-than-minifig-scale speeders. Especially if it can still include a rider. Check this out, it was probably the best MOC at Bricks Cascade:

        IMG_2415

        I know that I want to build something like it. It would be neat to incorporate buildable figures into speeder bike MOCs more often.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks for sharing that MOC photo and “seconding”. I’ve got an idea or two on a format that can make an “anything goes” contest possible, and still be a fair competition across disparate building scales, building mediums, etc… So I think it could happen…

        Liked by 1 person

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