Friend of the blog Ted Andes returns with his in depth analysis of the recent BrickUniverse-Louisville fan event in Kentucky. Without further ado, take it away Ted!
Ted Talks – “The suns shines bright…”
“…In the military you could look at someone’s “fruit salad” and judge how “salty” they were. I think me and Nate are the “bootest” of the show batch. Until I can count more shows than fingers, and get more badges, I’ll be bush league.” – Charley
I am not a military man, so I am always leery about the “cultural appropriation” of any military jargon. Rutherford has earned the right to use it here on The Manifesto, and honestly I’m not all that savvy with it. However, that opening quote is the perfect lead-in to this article. Charley (No. Not that Charlie) is the man leading the charge to establish a local LUG here in Louisville, KY. It comes from the After Action Review (AAR) of his first time displaying at a Lego convention. It also shines a light onto an interesting paradox – the smallest cons aren’t always the best cons for making a displaying debut (or at least for your psyche). The underlying format of those small cons can really make a huge difference for both the tenured builder and the newly enlisted AFOL alike.
To call BrickUniverse-Louisville (BU-Lou) a “Lego convention” is not entirely accurate based on the expectations of most ABOL’s. BU-Lou is just one stop of a lengthy “Lego Fan Expo” tour that roams around the country. When wunderkind Greyson Beights came up with the format for his traveling Expo, he mentioned studying the “European-style LEGO conventions” as opposed to the ones in North America. What does that mean? It means that the “public comes first”. I had heard that about European cons before, from my European Flickr contacts. It’s the reason why many European based builders travel to the USA instead to get their “builder-centric” convention fix at BrickCon, Brickworld, BrickFair, etc…
The overall mission of BrickUniverse was summarized by Greyson during his interview with brickfanatics.co.uk: “… the benefit to the local community is threefold. First, we provide a great experience to AFOLs and TFOL with games and seminars—an experience that is seldom available on such a large scale. Second, we show families (both parents and children) the endless possibilities with LEGO bricks. They see what there can be built, how they can use LEGO bricks to learn engineering or History (Medieval LEGO!), and so much more. Third we help the local community and economy, which at times can be in a drought and could use some rain so to speak. Whenever you plough some 15,000 people in a central location over a span of only two days, you’re bound to see the local economy thrive.”
Now this “great experience” can vary from location to location. It all depends on how many AFOL’s they can expect to display at any given show. BU-Cleveland is actually one of their more builder focused conventions (with awards, seminars, etc.). For BU-Lou, it’s still the fan-focused experience. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different, and it could always grow up to be more than that. One great thing about the public-Expo format is that it enables LEGO conventions to test the waters in many LEGO-starved markets across the country. BrickUniverse even holds an event in the much maligned Tulsa! (…are you reading this, John Palmer?). I believe Greyson is working towards scheduling 12 BrickUniverse events across the USA in 2018.
At the smaller BU-Expos, creating a “great experience for AFOLs and TFOLs with games and seminars” translates into building challenges for the public, and giving them multiple play-brick locations. The “great experience” for the displayers at BU-Lou was limited to an ill-timed emergency evacuation alarm during Friday’s set-up (it was due to a water pipe bursting at the KY Expo center). So there were no mixers, no opening/closing ceremonies, and no seminars that were so hot that they set wheelchairs on fire. That said, each local displayer was still given a coveted “Brick Universe Louisville 2018” badge brick for their “fruit salads”, and a LEGO themed book from No Starch Press; a very nice and appreciated gesture (a copy of Mike Doyle’s “Beautiful Lego” is now sitting on my bookshelf).
The Nerd-tastic Four! – by AdamDodge