• Francesco Spreafico
    On the last week-end of July, ItLUG held its main event in the town of Lecco: ItLUG Lecco 2018. It's our biggest and oldest event, its first edition was in 2006 in a nearby town, and since 2014 it's been in the modern local branch of Milan's Politecnico University, with its huge classrooms that are just perfect for a LEGO® exhibition.
    This year we had more than 200 registered AFOLs, coming from all over the country and also from the rest of Europe: France (LUG'est), Romania (Asociatia Brickenburg), Croatia (Kockicke), Switzerland (SwissLUG), Germany and the Netherlands. 
    I will not a make a list of my favorite MOCs because I'm sure I'd leave something awesome out, the quality of all of them was amazing... just look at the photos! I'll just mention the very big ones... LUG'est's Paris Steampunk 1889, Brickenburg's Advanced Blacktron Spaceship, ItLUG and Toscanabricks' Duomo di Firenze, CLV's Cime di Lavaredo, and ItLUG's Centro Piacentiniano di Bergamo.





    Besides the exhibition we also had different kinds of activities, for AFOLs and the public:
    - The Vintage Museum. It has become a tradition for this event to have a section of a classroom dedicated to vintage LEGO wooden toys and early sets, to show how things used to be once;

    - The AFOL Video Quiz. Just for AFOLs, a quiz where participants had to guess sets and answer questions based on videos and images shown on a screen;
    - LEGO WeDo workshops for kids. This was a great success last year, so we decided to do it again... and it was again a success!
    - The Robot Sumo Tournament. Another tradition, every year with more and more teams "fighting" each other to win the tournament;
    - A LEGO SERIOUS PLAY® seminar for parents and children;
    - The CreActive contest for children, where children can build something at home and bring it to the event;
    - The Pick n' Build play area, where children (and adults) can build whatever they want right there at the event;
    - A GBC layout;
    - The Divine Brick-Comedy; a photo project recreating Dante's Inferno with BrickHeadz;

    - A presentation about the history of the 2x4 brick, to celebrate the 60 years of the brick.
    Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itlug/albums/72157671853573058
     

    Kim Thomsen
    With the launch of the new Powered Up system in the LEGO Train 60197 and 60198 a lot of questions surfaced in the AFOL Community. We asked the Ambassadors of the Recognized Communities to bring all those questions to us and below you have the answers to all those questions.
    We hope this will clarify and answer a lot of the questions and concerns in the AFOL Community.
    If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below and we'll do our best to answer them - as long as they are on topic.
     
     
    Physical product/platform details:
    Is "Powered Up!" the collective name for all things electric with the new connector (and thus includes Boost and WeDo 2.0), or is "Powered Up!" just the name for the new train engines and the ones in the new tumbler?
    Powered UP is the name of the new LEGO electronic building platform. This new platform has 2 main connectors: The new plug used for wired connections and a wireless RF connection using Bluetooth LE. The wireless connection is both used between physical Powered UP elements and to mobile smart devices. Current products using elements from the Powered UP platform are: WeDo 2.0, Boost, CITY Trains, DUPLO Trains and the App controlled Batmobile.
    Seeing that this new system has also been incorporated into the App-Controlled Batmobile set for the DC Comics SuperHeroes theme upon its debut, has Powered Up been designed in mind in any way to be more easily utilized by many other themes than before with Power Functions?
    The Powered UP platform is being designed to replace the Power Functions platform. It is offering a more intelligent wired connection with broader usability, a wireless BLE connection with better possibilities than IR and link to mobile smart devices opening a new range of App connected possibilities.
    Wouldn't it have been possible to incorporate more than 2 outlets in the battery box? For many applications more than 2 options would've been great (especially technic, eg cranes where you need one motor each for rotating the crane, raising/lowering the hook and moving the hook)
    Moving ahead with the Powered UP platform development we will design elements for different model and product purposes.
    Will the new system roll out to the Techinc line and if so, has consideration been given to the frequent use of more then 2 motors in many Technic MOCs?
    Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.
    Is there any way to stack the new connectors like the PF 1.0 ones?
    The new plug is not stackable like the Power Functions plug. Sensors cannot be stacked and in most cases you want to control one output function at the time and not more together. This was done to enable more intelligent interactions through the wire.
    An example of this is that all elements can now be electrically identified, so when attaching e.g. a train motor, the Hub and the App can now recognise it is a train motor. This allows us to help younger users put things in the right place. Another benefit is that we can optimise functionality based on particular elements, for example when using a train motor or the add-on light, the handset increments/decrements power (good for train / setting light) but when using the medium motor, the handset sets 100% power when a button is pressed down (good for RC vehicles).
    What are the electrical characteristics of the system: max current at the outputs, minimum and maximum voltage at the outputs?
    More technical details will follow later this year
    What type of batteries and how many will the pack hold? And the remote?
    The LEGO Smart Hub 2 I/O (used in the CITY Trains and the Batmobile) hold 6 AAA batteries and the Smart Controller hold 4 AAA batteries.
    Can you use rechargeable batteries? (Lithium, NiMh, …)
    Yes, you can use rechargeable AAA batteries.
    How does the battery life compare to the old PF system? How did power consumption changed since switching from Infrared to Bluetooth?
    The power consumption is comparable between the two platforms.
    Will the hub be eventually programmable and/or use sensors?
    The Powered UP Hubs will support all components that can be plugged in (such as motors, sensors, light etc..). The firmware of most Hubs can be updated to ensure support of new functions across the platform (the WeDo 2.0 Hub is not firmware updatable).
    Where is the logic? In the hub, on the Hub Smart Device or on both?
    You can say it is a bit of both. The mobile smart device can receive information and send control commands to the hubs. Logic links can then be programmed on the smart device. Apps to support this will be developed over time.
    Naturally there is enough logic/functionality within the Hubs to support handset control without a connected app. We are doing some functionality local to Hubs as needed, for example speed regulation on the tacho motors of the Smart Move Hub in Boost as this needs to function faster than control over Bluetooth LE can provide.
    How reliable is the system in an environment with many active controllers?
    The Powered UP platform is designed to be used in a classroom environment with many active devices (products such as WeDo 2.0).
    With WeDo 2.0 we have seen over 45 active independent networks working OK without noticeable impact to model action/reaction.
    Are you planning to make over the air updates possible? If the answer is yes, how about making the controller software Open Source under some conditions?
    Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware. It is the aim to make interface specifications available for open source use. More technical specification will follow later this year.
     
    Elements
    Can we stack different elements on the same port?
    The Powered UP plug cannot be stacked. This architecture is chosen to enable more intelligent interaction through the wire. See previous notes.
    Motors used for PowerUp system look to be similar to PF ones. Are there any 
    improvements of similar type motors compared with PF?
    We are always aiming to improve quality and performance within the frames possible.
    What is the Nm (torque) for: The train motor, the medium motor & the Boost motor? Is the internal train motor the same as the PF train motor?
    More technical specification will follow later this year.
     
    Connectivity
    How many Powered Up hubs can I control with a single remote?
    You can link up to 5 devices (Smart Hubs or Smart Controllers) together.
    To create a network you first need to connect a Smart Hub and a Smart Controller.
    How many hubs can I control with a smartphone/pc?
    This will to some extend be device dependant. On iOS devices the current limit is 10 hubs and it may change over time.
    Can I synchronize the hubs using the remote or the app? How?
    You can have multiple Hubs on the same channel color and control them simultaneously.
    How many motors can you control with a single hub?
    With the “Smart Move Hub 2 I/O” used in the Boost product you can control up to 4 motors – the 2 internal and 2 external. With the “Smart Hub 2 I/O” you can control 2 external motors.
    Does that mean a Technic set with more than two features will need multiple hubs?
    Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.
    The range on the remote has been reported to be only 3-4 meters. What range is Powered Up supposed to have? Why is it so small?
    The range of the BLE connection can be limited by different factors such as electromagnetic interference. Under normal circumstances the range should be well above 10 meters.
    We are looking into the specific case giving only 3-4 meters range.
    How does the train motor behave when the controller goes out of range? Will it continue to run or stop? How long does it take to re-establish connection when the controller comes back in range?
    When the Hub and Controller go out of range the connection is lost and both Hub and Controller will enter advertising mode (LED blinking white). If a motor is running it is turned OFF. If Hub and Controller get inside range again while advertising they will link again.
    Is it possible to select what happens when the transmitter goes out of range? (e.g. choose between “keep doing what you’re doing” which is useful for trains and “full stop” which is useful for many other applications)
    You cannot select to keep the motor running. After advertising without connection established the Hub and Controller will turn OFF.
    Can the controller work as directional 'bang/bang' (hold to drive) or only accelerate/decelerate? Or do you need a different controller for that (like the PF Train and Technic controllers)?
    The default function of the direct link between Controller and Hub will depend on the component controlled. The Train motor will be speed controlled with the “+” and “-“ buttons and stopped with the red button. A Medium motor (used in Batmobile) and the Tacho motor (used in Boost) will be “bang-bang” controlled with “+” and “-“ buttons. When releasing these buttons the motor will coast and pressing the red button will brake it.
    Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).
    Can you simply connect a motor or lights to the power hub and turn it on without needing a remote or an app?
    The Hubs of the Powered UP platform are connection points for wireless link and control.
    Can the hub or future product in the line be used as a static power source (turn on and run, without connecting to a controller)
    Currently the Hubs can only run input and output actions when they are connected.
    Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.
    Do you get more range with the phone vs LEGO controller?
    The wireless range from a smart mobile device will depend on the device. The range from Smart Controller and mobile device should be comparable.
    With the new phone app, what happens to the motor when the phone goes to sleep/standby? (Does the train motor keep running?)
    When connection is lost the Hub will enter advertising mode and motors will turn OFF.
    What platforms will the control app be available on?
    This will develop over time and will be communicated together with the app information.
    What are the required minimum specifications for iOS, Android and any other platform the app will be released on? will there be a list of android devices on which the software will work available
    This will develop over time and will be communicated together with the app information.
    Is there any way to "nail a pairing down"? Imagine I have a Controller C(A) and a Receiver R(A) to control my first train, and another set C(B) and R(B) to control my second train. Now I restart the whole layout on the next day, can I be sure that C(A) still connects to R(A) and not to R(B)?
    When a network (one or more Controllers to one or more Hubs) is established this network is remembered when turned OFF (press and hold the Hub button to make it leave the network, press and hold the Controller button to turn the network OFF). When you turn the members ON again the network is re-established. If you are running more networks (like described in the question) remember to turn members of the network ON together.
    Note: Erase network memory by turning the Hub OFF, then press and hold the button for 5 sec, the LED blinks purple, release the button, done.
    Does each receiver have a unique ID/address?  E.g. can anyone with a controller set to 'blue' take control of a receiver on that channel, or is it limited to the controller that has been paired with it?  If I have multiple receivers set to 'blue', will the 'blue' controller activate them all?
    The actual network you make is running with unique addresses, so you can have multiple “blue” networks running simultaneously.
    Why can't we stack multiple motors/lights to one slot?
    The new plug is not stackable like the Power Functions plug. Sensors cannot be stacked and in most cases you want to control one output function at the time. This was done to enable more intelligent interactions through the wire.
    Is there any way you can add programmed behaviour into the hub to respond to sensor inputs, etc? Will the smartphone app allow to trigger pre-programmed sequences?
    Currently the Hubs can only run input and output actions when they are connected.
    Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.
    Can the behaviour of the outputs (bang-bang, increase/decrease, or something in-between) be configured in the app?
    The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).
    Note: Most Powered UP Hubs have updatable firmware so new functionality will be added in the future.
    Will it be possible to pair a controller with two receivers for multi-engine trains?
    See below.
    How can one single BT remote be used to control multiple receivers or switch among them? Will this be possible in the app?
    You can link up to 5 devices (Smart Hubs or Smart Controllers) together.
    To create a network you first need to connect a Samrt Hub and a Smart Controller.
    First Hub connection
    Turn Hub and Controller ON by pressing their green buttons and they will link. The LED will blink white and then shift to same channel color e.g. blue. You can now change the channel color by pressing the green button on the hub and toggle through the 5 channel colors. When turning OFF the Hub or Controller the last connection is remembered and re-established when turning both ON.
    Adding Hub to network
    With the first Hub and the Controller ON and connected you can add extra Hubs to the network by turning the new Hub ON and then press both green buttons simultaneously on the new Hub and one of the components in the network (Hub or Controller). The new Hub is now added to the network with the same channel color as the currently selected channel. Again toggle to another channel by pressing the green button on the Hub. When more Hubs on different channels are added to the network you toggle between the different channels by pressing the green button on the Controller.
    Note: The current Powered UP app supports control of a single train.
    Is the system bidirectional? That is, can information be sent back to the controller?
    The network communication is bidirectional. The Controller send information about button actions.
     
    Compatibility
    Is there any kind of backward compatibility with Power Functions?
    The plugs in Power Functions and Powered UP are not compatible.
    Note: The 2 power control wires of the 9V system, Power Functions and Powered UP have the same function across the 3 platforms.
    Will it be compatible with the 9V system?
    See above.
    If not, why? What happened to "all LEGO bricks fit together" paradigm?
    With the Powered UP platform our aim is to reach broader possibilities including integration with mobile smart devices.
    Will all different Powered Up components (Boost, WeDo, Train, etc) be able to communicate and control each other, e.g. running a Boost program sequence using a Powered Up hub or using sensors with Powered Up hubs?
    ·         Can I use the Powered Up remote with the WeDo hub?
    ·         Can I use the Powered Up remote with the Boost hub?
    ·         Can I use Boost/WeDo sensors with the Powered Up hub?
    ·         Can I use the Boost/WeDo/Powered Up app to control (any of) the other platforms?
    It is the aim that the Powered UP platform will work together across both with the wired and wireless connection.
    Some of these connections are not implemented yet and will come through firmware and app updates.
    Is Powered Up compatible with MINDSTORMS?
    The plugs in MINDSTORMS NXT/EV3 and Powered UP are not compatible.
    Note: Some cross over can be made through modifications.
    Is it possible to control MINDSTORMS motors with new system?
    See above.
    Will Powered Up be rolled out in other themes (e.g. Technic)?
    Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.
    Is it possible to upgrade older sets with powered up or is a lot of rework to be done?
    This will very much depend on the product in question. For trains it should be very easy since the Powered UP hub has the same shape as the Power Functions battery box and the train motors are also same shape.
     
    Control
    The Boost motor only stays on as long as I press a + or - button on the remote (bang-bang remote). This makes sense as it is a servo motor. However, the M motor (WeDo) might need either graded control (if used on a train) or bang-bang controls (if used in a car). Will we be able to define the behaviour of motors depending on our needs?
    The default function of the direct link between Controller and Hub will depend on the component controlled. The Train motor will be speed controlled with the “+” and “-“ buttons and stopped with the red button. A Medium motor (used in the Batmobile) and the Tacho motor (used in Boost) will be “bang-bang” controlled with “+” and “-“ buttons. When releasing these buttons the motor will coast and pressing the red button will brake it.
    Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).
    Will it be possible to "sync" two or train motors together so that one or more locomotive can pull a long train?  This occurs inherently with 9V track powered designs but has been tricky since then.
    If you add 2 train motors to the same Hub on port A and B then you can control both from the same Controller, but you need to press the 2 buttons together to sync.
    If you build 2 or more Hubs into the same train and give them all the same channel color then you can drive up to 5 train motors in sync by connecting them to the same output on each Hub.
    How can I use two motors at the same time from the same controller where one motor needs its polarity reversed? (Old PF: putting two motors on the IR receiver was no problem and we have a polarity switch available)
    “Polarity reversing” on the Powered UP controller is done by turning the button interface to the direction of control needed.
    Note: This is also very handy for controlling vehicles where you want vertical control for fwd/bwd drive and horizontal for steering.
    Can outputs be "mirrored"? (one controller, multiple hubs on the same channel, each linked to the same throttle)
    See above.
    Are there any limitations of the physical controller versus the app (apart from the sound effects)?
    The current Powered UP app has a limited set of control directed to the trains. Look for future updates.
    Note: The Smart Controller can also be connected to a mobile smart device and then you can make the buttons do other functions through an app (not available from LEGO by now).
    Is it possible to program the physical controller, e.g. to assign outputs/hubs to the different buttons?
    See above.
    Will we be able to program the train to stop at the station for a certain time and then let it run again or get it to go forward, stop and a specific point, wait and then reverse?
    See above.
     
    Documentation
    Will LEGO handle the protocols openly (Both the BT protocol and whatever is happening on the cable)?
    (When) will we get an SDK?
    Is the pin-out for the connector available?
    What is the purpose of the extra 2 wires?
    Can we get the source code of the firmware?
    More technical specification will follow later this year
     
    Miscellaneous
    In designing the new system, did the team consult any LEGO train fans? If not, why not?
    In the change from Power Functions to Powered UP we have had to balance many needs across all LEGO areas including LEGO Education. In the development of the Power Functions components also used for the LEGO trains we had a range of workshops with LEGO Train fans to ensure the best solutions. With the Powered UP platform the extra IR Receiver needing line of sight integration in the train is removed, we get better range, more channels and a link without need of line of sight. Moving ahead we will have dialogues with the LEGO Train fan community to see how we can improve and expand the possibilities even further.
    Will the Power Function 1.0 line be discontinued and if so, when? / Are any product lines, such as PF, being phased out and if so, which ones?
    Over time the Power Functions platform will be phased out as the Powered UP platform is further developed.
    Will we have warning to stock up on specific components? Or will they simply disappear suddenly?
    The Power Functions platform will not disappear from one day to the other and components will be available through shop@home in an overlapping period.
    Can you use the battery box/receiver without the bottom cover? Or does it need to be screwed together to function?
    Without the bottom cover screwed on the battery holder might fall out.
    Is the socket and plug something cooked up and patented by LEGO, or are these parts actually available on the market?
    The Powered UP plug is designed and patented by LEGO to best deliver to the needs across the platform. This has among other things given us a male and female plug that fits very well inside the LEGO building grid.
    Will you help AFOLs with train MOCs and layouts converting to the new system, i.e. with a (limited) discount or offer of a special bulk order on motors or adapters, controllers, and receivers?
    TBD
    What will be the retail price for the individual elements?
    Most Powered UP elements will be available through shop@home from beginning of 2019. Prices will be balanced across and will change over time.
    What lessons from past "traumatic events" (to use Tormod's term) were incorporated into the development and release of the new system?
    We are always striving towards delivering LEGO technology solutions that will support our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and innovate LEGO system in play.
     
    A list of wishes towards the Powered Up system was also compiled and this is the comment we received from the Powered Up Team:
    Thanks a lot for all your ideas and wishes. This is really valuable input for further development of the Powered UP platform. We are always striving towards delivering LEGO technology solutions that will support our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow and innovate LEGO system in play. Moving ahead we will have dialogues with the LEGO Train fan community to see how we can improve and expand the possibilities even further.
    Without disclosing how we are going to develop and launch the Powered UP platform we can say that it is the future LEGO electronic building platform to cover products across both DUPLO, LEGO and TECHNIC building areas.
     
     

    (click icon for LEGO.com Customer Service page on Powered Up).

    Francesco Spreafico
    On July 7-8 ItLUG had one of it main events in Italy: ItLUG Borgoricco 2018 - BorgoBrick, in the small town of Borgoricco, near Padua and Venice, in northern-east Italy.
    This event has been going on for five years now, and this year we were back to its alternative locations, the Civic Center and the Museum of Roman Centuriation, because its "usual" location, the nearby school, is currently closed for renovation. This also meant we had to add two big tents outside to be able to display all the MOCs that had been registered.



    The event took place during the local town fair, and it being summer and set in a very hot area, on Saturday we opened late in the afternoon and remained open all the evening; this proved to be a smart decision, since we had a lot of people visiting during the whole time we were open to the public. On Sunday we had more "classic" 9-to-6 opening times, but since it was Sunday, that worked great too.

    42578068734_1080p.mp4 Complete Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/itlug/albums/72157693061687250

    Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles.

    Jacky Chen
    Let's not be surprised by the title. It's not a mysterious announcement about the new power function or anything. Just want to make sure of that first. 😜 
    Okay, now we are good to go.
    Starting from today, fans in China are able to experience this super-duper LEGO Technic campaign delivered by LEGO China marketing in Beijing Indigo Mall (北京颐堤港). The event has a super authentic Technic by its garage-like setting. With all different components incl. history wall, design sketch, crush test (pull-back), parking lot challenge (remote control) and etc, it does make people feel like hearing the tinkering in dad's garage. 
    Despite the obvious awesomeness already, that's still not the reason of me blogging about it on LAN. Yes, you are right. The best part of this event in my eyes is absolutely 10 AFOLs from Heroes LUG are invited to bring their GBC creations and facilitate this 7 meters long GBC project for publics. Moreover, their ambassador Kelvin Guo has surprised everyone on the site by presenting us a 1:3 size w16 engine! And it is power functioned!
    The event will last until 12th of August, while the AFOLs will only be there for the 1st weekend to demonstrate the GBC and interact with the public visitors. Hope you will have the chance to check that out!

    Kelvin Guo (aka: G_phy's w16 engine next to the LEGO Technic Bugatti)

    The group of Heroes LUG with their GBC modules

    Design Sketch

    Overview of the event from 2nd floor

    Hasan Jensen
    Last week I had the big pleasure of attending San Diego Comic Con 2018 together with a big contingent of other LEGO colleagues, although I was at SDCC for Voltron and content that we would produce around it. The LEGO Ideas team present at SDCC 2018 consisted of Darryl Kelley (Marketing Manager), Sam Johnson (Design Lead), Niek van Slagmaat (LEGO Designer) and we worked closely with Billy Trotta and Steve Marucci from the LEGO FanTube channel who were on hand to film and edit lots of great content! 
    It was my very first San Diego Comic Con (or Comic Con for that matter), so it was very exciting to be a part of it. And I can guarantee it won't be the last time I go either - despite the crazy crowds.
     
    ^ There was fortunately still time to have a bit of fun and check out all aspects of the LEGO booth and the rest of the convention floor 🙂
     
    The LEGO Group had a large centrally located booth consisting of a store on one side and an experience zone on the other, in addition to a small upper floor where we held interviews and filmed content. The experience zone had a couple of large LEGO sculptures including a mighty Thanos, Aquaman and Ultrakatty, which drew a lot of impressed eyes and selfies, but also had scaled up versions of the Deadpool and Black Lightning exclusives packaging for fun photo-ops (I got in on the Deadpool action as can be seen above). Besides this, the booth also included a mosaic building experience for each day, where fans could build small sections of larger LEGO Movie 2 mosaics, as well as glass cabinets showcasing new/upcoming sets. 

     
    As part of LEGO Ideas' presence at Comic Con from Wednesday (Preview Night) until Sunday, we were selling a limited quantity of LEGO Ideas Voltron sets each day and we must say we were positively surprised by the very large turnout and number of inquiries for the this set. It was very rewarding to see, hear and experience all the positive reactions, comments and questions from fans. It's always great to chat with LEGO fans!
    To make these sets a little extra special we had Sam Johnson and Niek van Slagmaat sign the hundreds of boxes we had brought along, with some fans requesting additional personalisation when they spotted Sam and Niek next to the store front. For background, Sam Johnson initiated the process of building Voltron to determine the feasibility of Lendy Tayag's original submission after which Niek took over and worked endlessly on perfecting the design.
     

     
    Throughout the days we had at Comic Con, we had planned a series of videos in collaboration with LEGO FanTube (subscribe if you haven't already), one of which is published already (see below) and is an interview with the Executive Producers of the Voltron: Legendary Defender show, Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, who also happen to be LEGO fans. Besides this I had the chance to host a session together with Sam, Niek and Darryl and a separate one with just Niek and Sam.
    We also had visits from Let's Voltron, the official podcast of Voltron, who spent time talking to Niek, which you can hear more about here, as well as Norman Chan from Tested.com, who also interviewed Niek (some people - deservedly - get all the attention 😉).
     

     
    During the event we had decided that we would give away the built version of Voltron that we had been using during our interviews and show-and-tells and were determined to find a random, passionate LEGO Voltron fan (who had not managed to get a hold of one of the signed boxes) to give it away to on the last day of SDCC. To leave our SDCC 2018 mark on this particular Voltron we signed the different lions as well. 
    We enlisted the help of some of the staff at the LEGO booth who had seen some fans come and go each day without any luck and found the unlucky, but lucky today, Francis - a 15 year veteran of San Diego Comic Con. We invited him, and his family, to join us upstairs where, to his big surprise, we presented him with the signed Voltron model and a few other LEGO treats. It was wonderful to have a chat about Voltron, LEGO and LEGO Ideas with him and as it turns out he was an early supporter of the project on LEGO Ideas. We know that this Voltron has found a good new home!

     
    Darryl, Niek and myself fortunately also had time to sneak away from the LEGO booth to attend the panel held by members of the Voltron: Legendary Defender show (which you may have seen on Netflix). This included Executive Producers Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, story editor Josh Hamilton, and several of the voice actors. It was incredibly interesting to hear their perspectives on as well as their vision for the show, characters and their development and, unfortunately, to hear that there will only be 26 episodes left!! We were also very happy to see that part of the panel included a presentation showing a slide about the new LEGO Voltron set!

     
    I did manage to spend a number of hours walking the isles of the convention floor spotting beautiful artwork (unfortunately I didn't have the luggage space or space at home to buy some) as well as wildly impressive cosplays everywhere that I looked. Below are some of those cosplays that I spotted (sorry...totally LEGO unrelated)!

     
    Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles. 
     

    Signe Lønholdt
    Two weeks ago I got the opportunity to visit Bricks by the Bay (BTTB) - an incredibly inspiring and fun event organised by the AFOL community. It's one out of 20 "Recognised AFOL Networking Events" and what's special about this type of event is that there's a lot of AFOLs participating (networking, workshops or exhibit models) and that these events have an international focus. 
    I find it super fun, inspiring and energising to participate in this type of event - to meet people in real life that I've engaged with online and to make new relations. I get a lot of feedback I can take back to the team and I also get to promote LAN to the attendants and talk about the opportunities for community members on the site (like this blog, workgroups and our community and event locator!) I also get a chance to touch base with community ambassadors and get their verbal feedback and in general have a great, informal chat about the LEGO hobby.
    Back to Bricks By the Bay! This year’s theme was “Animation” and what a great idea for a physical event to bridge between the screen and physical world! Because it's super difficult for me to limit my enthusiasm about everything I saw I'm going to only highlight some of the line-ups at the event that refers to the theme of Animation.
    Mike Powell (image below) had a fun idea: during the event, he filmed a stopmotion video by using the LEGO NINJAGO® Movie Making Kit (853702) plus an army of LEGO Dimensions Ninjago Sensei Wu Fun Packs (71234) (was it 60? It was a lot!) each individual Flying White Dragon was built in a slightly different pose. What I found fun an innovative about Mike’s idea was that the visitors could get a behind-the-scenes look into how to make a stop-motion movie and hopefully they got inspired to try stop motion out at home.

    David Pickett was keynote speaker at the event and took the audience on a journey of his career as a Youtuber. The very awesome animator David Pagano was at the event too and hosted a meetup for LEGO Entrepreneurs, where they could share knowledge - for the ones that knows me I'm very focus on leveraging knowledge-sharing and there's so much of this going on at events - I got very inspired to even further improve this area on LAN.

    video.mov And then something absolutely magical was happening that created such a buzz within the AFOL attendants as well as with visitors (won the “best in show award” + more). Flynn De Marco and Richard Boards “Treasure of the Snake Queen”. Was it a MOC? Was it an animation? No, it was a unique storytelling experience with LEGO bricks as creative medium. The story, the model, the music, the lights made this model into a show that was applauded over and over again by the audience. Check out the video!

    Did you see the event kit “Zoetrope” created by Davin White (who also took this photo - thank you for allowing me to share, Davin)? Pretty awesome! On his Flickr you can see some videos of the zoetrope in action plus more images from BTTB.
    On Saturday, I met up with the LAN Ambassadors that was present at BTTB, @Russell Clark @Thomas Garrison, @Suzy Lentchner and @Jennifer Nogle - Bricks By The Bay - the LAN Ambassador for Bricks by the Bay. We had a great conversation and I appreciate all the input and I already shared it with the team who saw opportunities.

    Thank you to the event committee at Bricks by the Bay for a great event – it was great to get to meet you all and thank you for planning such a fun and inspiring event. Also thank you to the people who came up to me and had feedback or questions – I had so many inspirational conversations at this event. I came home with a lot of input to the Community Team and have shared challenges and opportunities with my colleagues. 
    Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles.

    Magnus Hindsberger, BrisBricks (Austr.)
    The empire is strong in Queensland, Australia! No less than 9 times have Stormtroopers invaded Dreamworld, a theme-park on Australia's Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane.   Once a year since 2010, Australian members of the 501st Legion, LucasFilm's preferred global fan-based costume group entirely devoted to the Star Wars universe, have gathered there to raise funds for charities, give visitors a great experience, and not least have a great time doing it all.   BrisBricks, a recognised LEGO User Group based in and around Brisbane, have attended since 2014. We have supplemented the dressed-up Star Wars characters with Star Wars themed LEGO displays.   On June 23-24 it was the 9th time the event ran. As usual the event attracted thousands of visitors in the otherwise quiet Southern hemisphere winter season.     The event originally coincided with the international Star Wars day “May the fourth (be with you)". However, as it  rarely coincided with weekends, the reference to May the fourth has been increasingly inaccurate: firstly being moved to a weekend near that date, then a weekend later in May, and this year it was the end of June. Hence, it has recently simply been known as the Stormtrooper Weekend.   For visitors, this is two days of Star Wars fun, with heaps of Star Wars characters roaming the theme-park, and a huge parade every day. There is also the opportunity for kids to join the Jedi academy to learn some cool lightsabre moves and use these against the Sith.   BrisBricks had it largest presence ever with 10 tables of displays. These covered Ultimate Collector Series sets, a huge Star Wars minifig collection, smaller dioramas and larger displays covering the Battle of Endor and Watto’s junk yard at Tatooine.   The newly released rollercoaster also featured in a theme-park display, appropriately converted to the Star Wars theme. Overall, there was something for all ages and interests. There was also a play area next to the displays.   For BrisBricks it has been a great way to engage with LEGO fans across South East Queensland.   Since its start in 2010, the event has continued to grow. For years, it has been the largest annual gathering of 501st members in the Southern hemisphere. This year 350 members attended from across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Some years have had attendees from US and Europe too.   Steven Kocsis, a long term member of both 501st and BrisBricks, says “For 501st, the Stormtrooper Weekend is by far the event most members have been looking forward to. It is great catching up with members from local to around the world and have some fun together, as when the Scout troopers go on the Motorcoaster rollercoaster together in full outfits. Saturday night we have our “Mixer” social night and Sunday after the event, a trade night for everything related to 501st and Star Wars in general.”     This year 501st were raising money for TLC for Kids, an Australia charity supporting sick kids and their families. After the event, 501st deposited $10,593.40. BrisBricks is proud to be part of events like this.   Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers may be part of the dark side in the Star Wars universe, but the fascination it brings to kids and adults around the world means that these bad guys are excellent for fundraising; hence the motto often used by 501st: “Bad Guys Doing Good”.   All good things will eventually come to an end. It may be the case for the Stormtrooper days too. For 501st to facilitate the arrangement between Dreamworld and Disney, it has lately been increasingly difficult. Alternatives are  being considered so we might hopefully see another gathering of Stromtroopers in the region in 2019.   Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles.

    Sara Skahill
    Last week we learned about friendship and teamwork in the Enfield office by taking a break to watch the first couple episodes of Voltron Legendary Defender (can you believe some of us hadn't seen it?) and build the new LEGO Ideas set 21311 Voltron.
    One of the many wonderful things about this set is that each of the five lions comes with its own instructions booklet, allowing the four of us to each build a lion. I took on the blue lion, while Darryl did the yellow, Tim did the green, and Alyssa did the red. Tim finished first and had the honor of building the black lion – who is much bigger than the others, while Darryl got to do the sword and shield.
    Then, in the spirit of teamwork and coming together and other wholesome themes from the show, we assembled Voltron. It was kind of a big deal.


    Sara Skahill
    LEGO.com is hosting a new LEGO Movie 2 Building Contest for builders of all ages. 
    Do you and your best building buddy want to see your awesome design in the end of The LEGO® MOVIE 2™?
    Emmet and his brick friends are back in the most awesome movie sequel in Bricksburg history! And they need YOUR help to make THE LEGO® MOVIE 2™ even more awesome - to the end and beyond!
    [TMN1] How to enter
    1.      Team up with your best building buddy - a friend, parent, brother or sister, pen pal, pet – you get the picture!
    2.      Build a LEGO creation that combines your two most favorite things in the world. Broccoli and cookies? A dragon and a butterfly? What will it be?
    3.      Take a picture of yourselves with your awesome creation.
    4.      Go to LEGO.com/the-lego-movie-2/competition and have a parent for each building buddy download, print and sign the submission form – then send the form along with your picture to the e-mail found on the page.
    Make sure you send your entry before July 31st. You could make the end credits of the movie come to life with your awesomely creative design!
     

    Sara Skahill
    For June’s celebration breakfast on the AFOL Engagement Team, all team members were tasked with building the Creative Storybook Gift with Purchase and customizing it as we saw fit. This was a really fun experience, as at least on the US team, we don’t always have the same access to Gift with Purchase sets as other sets, and this was a really cute one, which is similar in concept to the next LEGO Ideas set.
    Here are some of the customizations we created:



    In the US, we faced a challenge in getting the set quickly. Luckily Darryl had the right contacts in LEGO Shop at Home, so a couple of our builds were Darryl themed.
    Alyssa found herself missing a bag of bricks - but was able to build Darryl "Danger Zone" Kelley riding into battle on his trusty swan sidekick while dual wielding his unsalted pretzel-chucks.

    In Tim's model, you see our esteemed colleague, dressed up as Sam Flynn, dribbling a basketball while holding a pretzel (with no salt, who does that?). He even has his own cheer squad!

    And of course, Darryl built his own Darryl themed model, complete with Scooby Doo.
     
    To those in the US, we wish you a fun a safe 4th of July!

    Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles.