• Kim Thomsen
    So it is time for a little update on the LEGO Ambassador Network (or LAN as it is commonly referred to).
    We've had a tremendous start to the year and we're currently onboarding around 60 new communities from all over the world (approved in the first and second review of 2018). We have a group of ambassadors who've dedicated themselves to welcome, assist and onboard new communities and their ambassadors (the BrickMates). This takes time - a lot of time - because we want it done properly - there's so many new things to learn and get on top of when entering the LAN and we do not want to leave anyone behind or feeling lost. 
    So we've taken the unpleasant decision of temporarily shutting down the application form to focus on getting the new communities integrated in the network before taking in more communities. We're terribly sorry but also overwhelmed by the current success and interest and for that we're grateful and humbled. 
    Any applications which were submitted prior to the termination of the application link will be reviewed in the beginning of June. The Application Form is expected to reopen mid summer 2018 These are the communities we've given recognition in our latest review (April 2018):
    BALUG  Brick Galaxy candidbricks ML-Mocer League  Normand'Bricks Perth Lego Users Group, PerthLUG SAFOLs TartanLUG TC - Titans Creations TRLUG Welcome to all of them - we're currently in the process of granting them access to the platform and once we do there will be more than 325 Recognized Communities on LAN split between Recognized LEGO User Group (RLUG), Recognized LEGO Online Community (RLOC) and Recognized LEGO Fan Media (RLFM).

    Jacky Chen
    If it wasn’t Sara calls me out, I wouldn’t realize that I haven’t been blogging for almost five months. Time really just went by when everything is on the fast lane.
    The plan was to blog about the HKLUG Factory Tour two weeks ago, but I believe words can never beat the happy faces on the photo. Also a quick reminder, there are still rooms for the Nov. tour, please contact your ambassador to sign up for it if you are interested.

    However, I decided to write up a little reflections of the past few months where a lot changes has occurred. It’s also because I happened to read our best friend Paul’s blog about Reflections exactly a year ago which turns the mood a bit nostalgia.
    It has not been an easy beginning in many ways for 2018, but things are starting to boil down and move into positive directions with a lot of effort from a lot of people. The new AE kicked off by an offsite summit in February, teams were getting together to pick up the scrolls of magic plans and sharpen the sword of confidence. A few weeks later, LAN embraced another 50 new communities, it created some challenges to the onboarding but thanks to the Brickmates and Support Engagers, we are making good progresses. Now, the result of the latest round of LAN NPS survey has just been presented to us, hot and fresh. We are ready to dive into your feedback, especially for the part about the local market interactions. It definitely sets a good baseline for the new Market Integration team and help us find the knot to crack. Talking about the new team, I’m super excited to have our new colleague Alyssa onboard next week which will definitely bring in stronger portfolio.
    At the same time, the AFOL events are happening all over the place. It’s so nice to read these guest blogs from many different ambassadors. I believe it is exactly the unstoppable passion and this life-long commitment from the AFOL community keeps us forward and motivated!
    Wish you and your fellow AFOLs have a nice weekend!

    John Schoeneveld
    It was a fantastic weekend with a great atmosphere, and a joy to experience all the support and delight of the local community, the local District Council, and, most of all, the local Lions Club who voluntarily helped with set up, pack up, and throughout the weekend, with a willing 'can do' attitude.
    With Oamaru being New Zealand's "Steam-punk Capital" we encouraged exhibitors to create something with a Steam-punk flavour, and had the local Steam-punk Society as guest judges, judging "Best Steam-punk Creation" and "Best in Show". Our local mayor, who officially opened the show for us, also gave a "Mayor's Choice" prize, and the exhibitors also voted for "Best of the Rest".

    We had a total of 1195 visitors through the door, which for a town of 14,000 people, we were very pleased with! Being Oamaru's first ever Brick Show the public had no idea what to expect, in either quality or quantity - many of them expressed a sense of amazement and awe when they came through the doors. And they loved that there were not only amazing exhibits to behold, but also bricks to get hold of and build their own creations with. 
    Our 13 exhibitors came from as far away as Dunedin (one and half hours south), and Christchurch (three and a half hours north) and also included some first-time local Oamrau exhibitors.
    For a show of only 13 contributors we had an amazing variety of displays, from trains and city to Great Ball Contraptions and Mindstorms, from Steam-punk to sewing machines, Star Wars to street scenes, from the mechanics of hefty Porsches to the magic of Harry Potter.

    Our local businesses gave wonderful sponsorship support, perhaps something one sees more often in small-town communities. Support included free poster printing and the free provision of pedestrian traffic barriers to protect our displays. We were also able to supply our VIP guests (children with disabilities) with goody bags containing movie vouchers from our local cinema Cinema, lolly bags from the local lolly factory, burger vouchers from Subway, and free LEGO polybags from our local 'The Warehouse' chainstore.
    Profits from our door sales went to Oamaru Recreation Centre's "Active Kids" Holiday Programme, making their great holiday activities accessible to struggling families.
    At this stage, we hope to run BRICKTOPIA every second year. Meanwhile keep an eye out for NZ's Southland Brick Show (April 28-29), Christchurch Brick Show (14-15 July), and Dunedin Brick Show (Oct 6-7).

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

    Sara Skahill
    Employees at the Enfield office were encouraged to take a quick break from work today to celebrate the recently announced Sustainable Packaging goal and the new recyclable paper-pulp trays for Advent Calendars. The Local Community Engagement team helped us to turn these trays into planters, supplying basil, kale (ew), and spinach seeds with fresh soil and water. Also, cupcakes. 
    I'm the opposite of a green thumb, so here's hoping something will grow!

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    Francesco Spreafico
    April 14-15th ItLUG held not one but two important events in Italy: "Mattoncini in Villa", in the town of Villa di Serio (near Bergamo) and "Mattoncini in città", in the town of Udine, in north-eastern Italy.
    "Mattoncini in Villa" was at its third edition, and to the two classic gyms we used in the past for the exhibition, a third one was added this year, and it really helped with the children play area and with the flow of visitors. At the event we displayed our two community projects built last year, the reproduction of the "Centro Piacentiniano" of Bergamo (for the first time so close to its "hometown", Bergamo), and the "Pirellone", the reproduction, almost 2 meters tall, of the historical Milan skyscraper, that is generally in display inside the actual building (it's back there now, if you happen to pass by, right at the entrance). Besides these big projects we also had dozens of other MOCs and activities for the public and for AFOLs (like a LEGO® Serious Play course).

    "Centro Piacentiniano" of Bergamo

    "Pirellone", the historical Milan skyscrape
    Complete Flickr album for Mattoncini in Villa.
    The other event of the week-end was "Mattoncini in città" in Udine, also at its third edition. We had many great creations there too (some of which recently seen in the Kockice event in Croatia), just let me point out the amazing 1960s train display, with a huge brick-built LEGO Gnome/Mascot and all its little "brothers". 

    1960s train display

    LEGO Gnome/Mascot
    Complete Flickr album for Mattoncini in città.

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    Jan Beyer
    This weekend I visited BrickCan in Vancouver, BC, Canada. It was a fantastic experience being back to North America after around 10 years and feeling so welcome.
    The event is stunning and very cozy -     around 250 great and super friendly AFOLs - I felt after the first day that I have made 250 new friends!
    I had the opportunity to meet with all 5 West Coast Convention Owners to discuss programs and future plans as well as meeting with 7 Ambassadors.
    This was truely inspiring.
    The event has a lot of very exciting and funny game and socializing activies, very interesting speeches and presentations as well as great MOCs on display.
    I enjoyed my trip very very much and I cannot give enough thanks to the organizing Crew around John Langrish, Allan Corbeil and Robin Sather and all participants for this awesome and wonderful experience and great time!
    I can strongly recommend to visit BrickCan - I will be back for sure!!!

    Kevin Thomas | SEALUG
    The Seattle Lego Users Group (SEALUG) was invited to Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) to display for the seventh year! ECCC is the third largest comic convention in the USA and draws 100,000+ people over a 4 day period to the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle, WA. ECCC is about comics as well as everything related to science-fiction (sci-fi), fantasy, TV, movies, animation, artists, actors, and pop culture. The MOC’s that we created reflect that diversity!
    We were provided with 8000 square feet of display space and we had several local LEGO vendors (secondary market) set up nearby selling minifigures, collectible sets, and other LEGO items. This year we had a Kid’s Build Zone where families had access to loose brick to build anything to their hearts desire!
    SEALUG partnered with other LEGO User Groups in the area, such as Architecture Lego Users Group (ARCHLUG) and South Puget Sound Lego User Group (SPSLUG) to provide a wide display of LEGO MOC’s and mosaics. We had close to 70 participants across all the LUG’s with SEALUG providing the majority at over 50!
    Each year the displays change due to what’s “hot” in sci-fi/fantasy, movies, TV, and comic books and that’s the beauty of coming to our event year over year as you never know what you’ll see or find! Some noteworthy displays are highlighted below!

    Mark Andaya’s mosaic from the Disney movie “Coco!” The mosaic be on display later this year at the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet, a Disney Fan Event!

    Right next to Mark’s mosaic was Steve Oakes display of “Cap’n Crunch”

    Next to Steve’s display was Anu Pehrson’s rice plantation inspired by the LEGO Ninjago movie!

    Carlyle Livingston and Caleb Watson’s “Empire Strikes Back” scene was definitely a crowd pleaser!

    The Brothers Brick sponsored at new collaborative city build based upon the LEGO Ninjago movie as well. We expect a larger display in October at BrickCon 2018!

    Here’s David Frank standing behind his “Starcraft II” MOC!

    Finally, Bre Burn’s Technic pinball machine was another huge hit of the show.

    Lastly, “it takes a village” to put on this event like this each year. I would like to personally thank the following people:
    ·         RJ Coughlin who has been our ECCC coordinator for the last seven years. He does a great job of coordinating with ECCC, the builders, and the LUG’s!
    ·         Geoff Vleck of Geoff Vlcek Photography who was our official photographer for ECCC this year. Here’s the link to where you can find more pictures from ECCC by Geoff Vlcek.
    Last and not least, THANKS to the entire team for this year’s ECCC!
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    Tim Howell
    For the last few years, TexLUG-Houston has done several activities with a local children’s hospital.  These include displays of built models, and sessions where we build and play with patients and their families.
    We were contacted by a representative from the hospital in late 2015 and asked if we would be interested in doing activities with patients.   The hospital had recently received a large donation of LEGO® sets and the staff were looking for “experts” to help out.  TexLUG-Houston immediately agreed.
    About once a month a few members of our LUG will go to the hospital for a two-hour session.  The parts are put out on a countertop in the recreation room; patients and their families can come in, then build and play however they want.  We don’t force anything – we just let the kids play at their own pace, help find parts, give encouragement, and make suggestions when asked.  Parents usually say they don’t want to build anything ... but after a few minutes it’s just too tempting and they start sticking pieces together.
    Hospital privacy rules prevent us from taking pictures of the patients and families, but you can see a few photos of things they have built in this Flickr album.

    In addition to the play sessions, about twice a year we do a display at the hospital.  We set up on a wide pedestrian bridge connecting two parts of the facility.  For 5-6 hours during the day patients, family, and staff walk by and see all the models.  We may have a few stock sets, but most of the display consists of original MOCs. 

    Staff members bring patients out of their rooms just to see the display.  Families take their time, stopping at each table to look at every model.  Doctors, nurses, and technicians slow down and look as they walk by.  We are told that on these days there is an extra “buzz” throughout the hospital: “The LEGO® masters are here!  You need to go see them!”  By our estimate, at least 2,500 people see the display each time.  Photos of these displays can be found in Flickr albums here and here.  You can also check out our website at http://www.texlughouston.com.

    Time in a hospital can be difficult for anyone, especially children.  TexLUG-Houston is proud of the little bit we can do to help alleviate the boredom and discomfort.  We plan on continuing these activities for a long time into the future.
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    Dana Knudson
    For the last 6 years, DixieLUG has been invited to display at The Model Train Show held every Spring in Atlanta. The show is primarily a display of HO scale model electric trains and vendors. While not your typical LEGO destination event, our display is always a big hit and stands out among the train displays. Our display covers 18 tables, (each table is roughly 102 cm x 102 cm), with the majority dedicated to the town and trains. This year we also included a Moonbase section with a Monorail. 
    The display was contributed to by 13 of our LUG members. The great thing about this kind of display is the variety of builds and that each time we display, it always has a new look to it. While we do have some official sets in the display, the majority of the display is filled up with MOCs. The big centerpiece this year was the addition of a suspension bridge and a multi-highway interchange, which is modeled after Atlanta's own Spaghetti Junction. The highway is massive! Our setup time was only 4 hours on Friday night. The roadway was barely  assembled in that time. Luckily, we had some extra time before the show opened in the morning to add the cars and details. While the display as a whole is impressive to walk up to, it is the details that people walk away talking about. There are lots of nods to pop culture and a few special effects in the mix. Our house on fire has a water vaporizer inside to give the effect of smoke coming out of the top. 

    While not as massive as our Town display, our Moonbase gets lots of attention from fans, too. Who doesn't love a Monorail? The Modular Moonbase Standard has been around for a while, but you don't see it displayed many places. Our LUG has plenty of space nuts that we can throw together a pretty impressive Moonbase display. This Moonbase display was done by only 3 of our members. I am pretty sure when we have full participation we could almost rival our Town display. I'm hoping we can do that sometime this fall. *fingers crossed*

    Funny thing about the Monorail . . . most of the kids viewing the display had never seen a LEGO Monorail before. It's great to see that even a new generation loves the appeal of the Monorail. 
    More photos from the event can be found on Flickr.
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