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  • Jordan Paxton
    Dear AFOL Community,
    Another year is coming to an end and as usual we're making adjustments to our Support Programs. Through 2018 we, the Community Team, have been looking for pain points within the current programs and opportunities to streamline the future support offerings all while staying compliant with different legal requirements around the world.
    This year we've made some drastic changes which should reduce the stress and workload on the Ambassadors representing the Recognized Communities. We're merging a few programs for simplicity and we're strengthening our offerings for the Online Communities and Fan Media compared to the support offered in 2018.
    After much work, the programs for 2019 have been finalized and announced to the Ambassadors of the Recognized Communities. 
    Since the announcement on November 19th, we have had more than 200 comments, questions and answers on the new Support Programs. So Your Ambassador is more than ready for the questions you may have. Check in with your Community and your Ambassador to learn exactly what this means for you and your Community for 2019.
    Your Ambassador can bring back any comments and questions to the LEGO Ambassador Network as feedback or to get an answer.
    On behalf of AFOL Engagement

    Joe Kirsten
    Lekker bou! (Afrikaans for “enjoy building”)
    Written by Linda Lier
    Photography courtesy of Clark Battison
    The annual Brickfair in South Africa is a remarkable event – not only is it the biggest LEGO event in the country, it is also the biggest LEGO event on the African continent. AFOLS and fans eagerly look forward to this event every year.
    The increasing popularity of the LEGO brand in the country is evident in the incredible growth Brickfair has experienced over the past 8 years.  The first event had just 25 tables, and the latest one had over 300 tables of LEGO goodness. In 2017, the event had to be moved to a bigger venue and is now held in the basement parking lot of a shopping mall in Pretoria. 
    As this is such a big event in an AFOLS calendar, they pull out all the stops. This year’s event, held on the 27th and 28th of October, was no different.  Arriving on the Friday afternoon; AFOLS from near and far (some over 1300km far) started setting up. The public were invited to come experience the brick creations from Saturday morning until Sunday Afternoon.
    This was the first year that LEGO SA was officially involved. South Africa has 2 RLUGs and 1 RLOC and all were represented at the event; displaying a variety of MOCs and set collections. Some highlights this year included a working Great Ball Contraption, the Classic space set 928 built at 4 x the size, a massive Star Wars set collection and a large medieval display collaboration. There was also a modular competition that AFOLS could participate in and the public were invited to vote for their favorite displays. 
    The first RLUG on the continent was formed only 2 years ago, so in many ways, South Africa is still in its beginning stages of LEGO fandom. However, with Brickfair and the numerous other exhibitions held each year, the love for this great hobby will certainly increase. We foresee a bright future for the LEGO community in this country!

    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.

    Jordan Paxton

    10 Years of LEGO Ideas

    By Jordan Paxton, in LAN Blog,

    We can all remember a child who dreamed of working for the LEGO Group and building all day. What could possibly be better than being a LEGO designer? While some of these kids do fulfill their life long dream, others find their calling in other professional fields. This doesn't mean that these kids have lost their way as the joy of building is not limited to LEGO employees.

    10 years ago, everything changed and anyone could become a LEGO designer through, what is now called, LEGO Ideas. Before long, adults around the world had dumped out their LEGO bricks and began building what could possibly be the next LEGO set. Since then over 1,000,000 adults have participated in building and voting on what LEGO sets they would like to see next. While this has helped bring the dream of being a LEGO designer to fan designers, it has also helped reignite the imagination of adults around the world who discovered that building with LEGO bricks is not just for kids.  
    At LEGO offices around the world, we took a moment to celebrate our adult fans and the fan designers who have had the honor of successfully creating a project that achieved 10,000 votes and became an official LEGO set. This celebration was special because it was not focused around any achievement from the LEGO Group, but the achievements of our growing adult fan community.
    Up till now our fan designers have come from a variety of professional backgrounds including video game designers, a spacecraft engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, an aerospace engineer, the head of a national research laboratory, an editor at MIT, a PIXAR animator and director, an architect, and several software developers. So, if you have a great idea for the next LEGO set or perhaps you want to vote on what the next LEGO set should be, make sure you check out Ideas.LEGO.com and have your voice heard. Perhaps you will be the next fan designer!
    The LEGO Ideas team hosted a challenge where employees could win the LEGO Pop-Up Book. If you would like the opportunity to win the most recent LEGO Ideas set, 21315 Pop-Up Book, you can take the same 5 question survey below that LEGO employees took. Post your answers in the comments section below and one winner will be chosen at random from all entries received. All entries must be received by 12:00pm EST on November 19, 2018.
    1. How many registered users are on LEGO Ideas?
    2. Name one LEGO Ideas set that became a recurring LEGO theme?
    3. Which fan designer also served as the IP approver?
    4. Science editor and writer Maia Weinstock designed and submitted which LEGO Ideas set?
    5. LEGO Ideas was formerly known as what?
    CLOSED. Thank you for your participation and the winner will be determined using a random number generator and contacted. Once the winner has been contacted, if agreed, we will share the winner in the comments! (closed at 12pm EST 11/19/2018)
    Be sure to pick up the latest LEGO Ideas sets at your local LEGO Store and shop.LEGO.com.

    Jan Beyer
    Past Friday we had again a very nice Fan Evening in the LEGO House. The theme this time was the 40 years anniversary of the LEGO Minifigure and 4 interview sessions were held around this theme with the experienced @Are J. Heiseldal as interviewer and Kristian Reimer (LEGO Idea House), Jakob Nielsen (Design Manager Specialist), Tara Wike (Senior Design Manager) and Matthew Ashton ( Vice President Design) as very knowledgable and entertaining interview partners.
    Included in the evening was as usual a little but very nice building activity this time of course around the LEGO Minifigure led by Senior Designer Nicolaas Vás, dinner as well as good talks and great company.
    45 AFOLs from 8 different countries joined and enjoyed this evening together with us.
    If you also like to join a cozy evening at the LEGO House with fellow AFOLs please check out the upcoming AFOL Christmas Party on December 8th. https://www.legohouse.com/en-gb/whats-on/afol-xmas-lunch

    Jordan Paxton
    Working at the best toy company in the world has its perks. Not only do we create and play with bricks in meetings and at our desks but we also find any opportunity to celebrate with food and dressing up!
    There might have been some awkward Skype meetings, job interviews or serious meetings with HR but "play" is in our culture in all aspects!
    Perhaps you can spot a few famous LEGO Designers and members the AFOL Engagement Team
    Different locations and departments around the world celebrated the occasion differently including brick built pumpkin patches, costume contests, crafts and character parades.
    Did conduct interviews today but sadly out of costume  
    The Series 18 Minifigures


    VID_72210213_113358_971.mp4 For the past few years our LEGO designers have treated us to seasonal LEGO sets. The 2018 seasonal sets are in the style of Brickheadz and include a Valentine's Day Bee, Easter Bunny, Halloween Witch, Thanksgiving Turkey and Mr and Mrs Claus. Get these before they are gone at your local LEGO Stores and LEGO.com.
    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.

    Jordan Paxton
    Children and adults dream of working for the LEGO Group, building 20 foot tall dinosaurs and giant minifigures. Around the world the LEGO Group has teams of model builders who do just that! Statues are being built every day for a variety of occasions such as comic-cons, LEGO Store openings and brand campaigns.
    Once the campaign or event is over these statues often make their way to a warehouse where they are stored till the next time they are called upon. Some of these creations will be hidden for decades, others continue to make appearances, and some are moved to a "permanent" residence such as LEGOLAND®. These statues can hold an emotional connection with some LEGO fans just like building a LEGO set.
    I found a couple models that are located in storage at the Enfield, Connecticut warehouse. I am not certain of the story behind these models but hopefully you will recognize a few from different events, magazine articles or brand campaigns. Please share any information you have. Maybe you even have a picture or a story about your experience with these or other LEGO models that had an impact on you.

    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.

    James Banks
    LEGO fans young and old were thrilled to try out there favorite carnival games in brick form at a recent event hosted by HollywoodLUG. Local toy store Tom’s Toys helped host the event, held during the weekend farmers market in downtown Montrose, California. Attendees were able to try their skills at classic carnival games like Skee-ball, Ring Toss, Pachinko, a Shooting Gallery, and a minifigure guessing game. 

    The games brought out children and their parents to play favorites such as Ring Toss and Skee-ball. Paul Hollingsworth, a HollywoodLUG member who built both games noted that “it was really fun to see how challenging the games were to both children and parents alike.” For the Ring Toss, attendees tossed large LEGO tires over the giant-sized LEGO figures built upon a pile of gray BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece) bricks.
    The idea for brick built games started several years ago, when HollywoodLUG Ambassador James Banks built a large board for the popular game known as Pachinko or Plinko. “That gave us the idea that these could be fun to make more of. We sat down and brainstormed a bunch of games and started building them. The results have been so impressive from everyone.” The LUG members spent the spring and summer designing multiple games to be featured at this event.

    One of the most impressive brick built games was the shooting gallery designed by Brian Heins. Using a LEGO robotics brain, the defender can be manually programmed to defend the goal net as the user wishes. The user then has to shoot past the defender and make it into the net. “It’s a really challenging game,” remarked Heins. “It’s a lot harder to miss the defender than to shoot past him!” The advanced programming of the shooting gallery demonstrated that even the most sophisticated games can be built into functional brick games.

    The last carnival game was a test of counting skills as participants tried to correctly guess the amount of minifigures inside a clear jar. HollywoodLUG member Xenia Arriola helped run the contest and noted that “the kids and parents would disagree about the amount in the jar by a lot. And the kids were always closer!” Three winners won LEGO sets by all being within 8 minifigures from the correct amount!

    The inaugural Brick Carnival Games was a massive success for all involved. All attendees were rewarded with a free bag of LEGO brick to continue building with at home. HollywoodLUG and Tom’s Toys are already planning a follow up event in 2019. LUG members are planning away at new and more challenging carnival games than ever before!

    Many thanks to LEGO for support brick and Tom’s Toys of Montrose, CA for hosting. 

    Keep on building!
    James Banks 
    HollywoodLUG Ambassador
    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.

    Russell Clark
    October 10, 1998: The day that started it all. During the weekend of October 9-11, the LEGO 25th Anniversary Traveling Truck Tour made a stop in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Myself, Erik, and Ray organized a LEGO fan get-together on the old rec.toys.lego usenet group to coincide with the truck's stop. We met first in the meeting room of the police station at KEZAR Stadium in the park. I think up to 20 or so fans showed up. We shared stories, showed off MOCs, and just hung out. After that, we all walked over to visit the truck tour. Afterwards, most of us then went to Ray's church to do some LEGO trading. On the way back to our cars, Zonker and I talked about forming a LUG. We wanted to start a train specific LUG (or LTC), but there weren't enough train fans yet so we started a general LUG. Our website went live in March 1999 and our first official meeting was held in May. Later in 2000, the train club (BayLTC) was officially established.

    On Saturday, October 6, 2018, BayLUG had it's 20th Anniversary Party. Over 60 past and current members gathered at a Johannes' church to celebrate. Even some of our friends from a local LEGO Store came by to join us. There were several great MOCs on display, a history presentation, a custom anniversary cake made by our Vice President and former professional cake decorator Flynn, and a huge raffle of exclusive sets, some dating back six or so years. All the current Officers and founding members present took a group photo, which even included our special guest Tim Courtney of LEGO Ideas!

    Here is what a couple members had to say:
    "When I first came out of my dark age and started building things with LEGO, the discovery of a local club of other adults who do the same really kick-started me to build more and better things. Seeing what other members build always inspires me to do more, and when we get together and put on a group display, combining our creations to exhibit far more than any of us could do on our own, it feels great!"
    – Bill

    “I became an AFOL in my 40s. I never played with LEGO as a child, but I've always been creative - music, jewelry and metal-working, fabric and fashion, scrapbooking and paper arts, photography, etc., etc. Via these various media I've also been involved with a wide range of social and professional groups .... but with most of these groups I also encountered competitiveness, jealousy, and other less than friendly interactions.

    After I discovered LEGO, joined BayLUG and began attending meetings, I soon realized that everybody was ... well, Nice. Supportive. Creative. Sharing of both ideas and parts. Building on each other's ideas rather than competing with them. And all the while maintaining a childlike enthusiasm and outlook. I absolutely love that BayLUG accepts and supports children as members and participants. I've become great friends with people I probably wouldn't have met outside BayLUG, and these friendships extend beyond our LEGO involvement. BayLUG provides many opportunities for socialization, friendly competition, support, encouragement, and education, and I'm proud to be a member.”
    – Kara

    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page.

    Jordan Paxton
    Blizzard Entertainment is offering Overwatch fans around the world early access to the Blizzard-exclusive LEGO Overwatch Omnic Bastion set directly from their Blizzard Gear Store!
    The Blizzard-exclusive set was designed by LEGO Designers Woon Tze and Raphaël who took inspiration directly from the art and designs of Arnold Tsang, the assistant art director for Overwatch and concept artist behind Bastion. Tsang even joined the LEGO Design Team in Denmark to assist with packaging design and model approval.
    LEGO Designers Woon Tze and Raphaël
    Bastion is a fan-favorite hero with a rich storyline, including its friendship with a bird named Ganymede. Through their friendship Bastion was able to break its original programming and set out to explore its surroundings to discover its new purpose.
    This set delivers Bastion and Ganymede (in the Cardinal skin) in an exclusive Omnic skin. This also lays the groundwork for numerous challenges for the LEGO fan community to create additional variations of these characters. Whether you get this exclusive from the Blizzard Gear Store—or at BlizzCon 2018—be sure to share any variants of Bastion and Ganymede that you or members of your community create!
    UPDATE from one of the designers:
    "As huge Overwatch fans we are excited to be working on the theme, even more so working on the BlizzCon Exclusive set. I made a Bastion model earlier in the project as an exploration of ideas and possibilities for the project. Eventually as we started developing the 2019 sets, a dialogue between our team and Blizzard came up about making a BlizzCon exclusive set to commemorate the launch. As we really liked this model, we proposed it to Blizzard and fortunately they liked it too. To make it special, we based the color on the Omnic Crisis Bastion E54 units and it was great to have Casper Glahder, our Graphic designer to work on an exclusive sticker for it. 
    As this was an urgent model that we needed to make it in time for BlizzCon 2018, I got Raphael to help me out as he is a very experienced Design Master. It was an extremely enjoyable process as we did what I call a “relay” style design, which doesn’t usually happen with a regular model. I would work on the model until I hit a challenge, Raph would then pick it up and work on it further. After he would put it down I would pick it back up and make other refinements. When other designers who are also fans of Overwatch heard about this, they too came by and contributed ideas that we included in the model. This process continued until we ended up with a model that we are both satisfied with. The collaboration was amazing, we accomplished so much working together.
    Working with Blizzard Team 4 was really inspiring, not only did we get to work with the creators of the Overwatch universe, they are also LEGO fans themselves, so they are excited whenever we talked about ideas for the models and provided very timely feedbacks."
    – Woon Tze
    For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page.

    Jan Beyer
    It is over!
    The past weekend the Skærbæk Fan Weekend 2018 took place in Denmark with more AFOLs than ever.
    865 AFOLs and TFOLs representing 75 recognized communities from 27 different countries participated and almost 500 MOCs were on display - this is a record and it was so much fun and mind blowing to meet you all, talk to you, see your fantastic creations and get all the input from you - short - it was an awesome but as always way too short weekend.
    A huge thank you to the SFW steering group and all their helpers - you did so well to welcome all and make everything happen and of course a huge thank you to all of you who displayed MOCs and participated - it could not be done without you.
    We had an awesome Saturday evening AFOL dinner as well as a great Ambassador meeting with very good discussion and very valued feedback.
    So if you like to join a weekend full of great fun, networking and great company from all over the world mark you calendar September 27 - 30 2019.
    See you there!

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