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  1. So I guess that I am back for another round of this! I promise that next Friday it won't be me doing this - last week I ended up doing it as we agreed the Community Manager Weekly the day before or so and someone had to step in and that was me.And even though I made the schedule/calendar I, conveniently, forgot that I was already scheduled for this Friday. No worries, I got plenty on my mind to share with you. The past week has been about e-mails, as any week, but also about some very interesting topics. We've managed to get a good start on the new and upcoming LAN platform and it has been very exiting. Sadly I cannot share details with you just yet, but rest assured that it will be, as I see it, a massive improvement with several of the functions that you've all been very vocal about the past couple of years on this platform. I've also compiled the LBR Fan Pick survey data and shipped it all to Kevin so he can sort and continue the dialogue with LBR. A big thank you to those of you who took the time to collect feedback from your community and pass it on to us through the survey link. Can't wait to see how much and which parts will end up on LBR Pick A Brick Walls around NA and hopefully the rest of the world as well. Also several shipments of various LEGO items have arrived at my desk. We've secured a (small) shipment of various LEGO Batman the Movie items - the Kiss Kiss Tuxedo Batman keychain and Batman + Bat Signal are among them as well as some supersweet Star Wars droids. Can't wait to put them good use towards the community. It's nice that we are sometimes included on the orderlists of these things, though it is more difficult than you'd imagine to get our hands on such "merchandise". It is normally forecasted, produced and shipped directly to the markets. Also I've been trying to keep up with the massive load of Review Reports from the Recognized LEGO Fan Media coming in. It is amazing how many superawesome reviews and articles that get produced and published every week - we clearly need a spot in the new LAN where they can be shared from the Recognized LEGO Fan Media towards the rest of the ambassadors so they can bring it back to their members and miss out on as little as possible. I try to share through my "official profile" on Facebook, but there is soo much to keep track of and only a fixed amount of hours in a day, so I have to prioritize and that often means "no time for sharing". So everyone out there, make sure you bookmark and subscribe to all the amazing Recognized LEGO Fan Media sites - they are FANTASTIC! It's Friday the 20th which means a weekend is coming fast and I look forward to being with my family since I missed out on that with last weekend's hike in the Danish "outback" - which was great, but still not the same as being with your wife and children. Also today is the launch date for Aether Revolt and I really really "need" to get me a display box that I can spend the evening sorting and enjoying. First thing on my calendar for next week is to get the "Review Report Overview" out to the Recognized LEGO Fan Media (RLFM) as promised. There is now a lot of data and to ease the process of keeping track of what's been reported and not, I promised the RLFM that I would be sending out reports with overviews of the reviews they've reported. So a list will go out for each RLFM showing which they have reported and which they have not reported yet. Next up is the update of your customer id with our department. So hopefully end of next week, I will have an new and updated version of the Customer ID suvery ready for you to fill out. If you do have a customer id already, make sure to check the data you have and prepare new information if you need to change the person responsible for making payments on behalf of your community. If you do not have a customer id at this point, then the survey will provide you with an option to create on by giving us the needed information - name, address, phone number, e-mail, VAT number (if applicable) and preferred currency (EUR, DKK or USD are available). Have a great weekend, happy building and see you all next week. /kim
  2. Dear AFOL Community. We are back from the X-Mas Holidays and we are feeling good. As something new, we've decided to kickstart the following initiative - "The Community Manager Weekly". We plan on doing weekly posts here on the LAN Blog and we take turns doing it, so each week will feature a post from either Jacky, Jan, Paul or me. The content is not fixed, so we might talk about our areas of responsibility, the recent and future work we do, new plans for future initiatives or perhaps the most recent we were visiting - I am for example taking the opportunity in my (this first) Community Manager Weekly, to introduce the concept and dive into an upcoming deadline and getting to a preview of LEGO Batman the Movie. Review of RLFM and RLUG applications.The last day of January marks the final day to submit applications to gain recognition either as an RLUG (Recognized LEGO User Group) or as an RLFM (Recognized LEGO Fan Media).Come early February we will start the reviews and carefully evaluate each application. Once the review process is complete which may take a few weeks - depending on the number of applications, we will be sending out responses to all applicants letting them know whether they have been recognized or not. This is to be completed no later than end of February. If You have submitted an application and have not heard from us by March 1st - do let us know by sending me an e-mail at KimT@LEGO.com and I will investigate further. LEGO Batman the MovieYesterday all of the Billund LEGO Employees were invited to see LEGO Batman the Movie at the LEGO Studios in LEGOLAND Billund.There were 2 sessions with up to 400 seats in each session. I personally submitted my "yes please" less than 60 seconds after the invitation landed in my inbox last week and I was NOT disappointed. I encourage everyone to see it - the humor is spot on and it carries a lot of the hidden messages and nerdy comments that I loved from LEGO The Movie. I am already planning to see it again once it goes public in February. I am looking forward to a weekend with old friends, hiking in the Danish "outback". I'll see you all again Monday. And remember - Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then be Batman!
  3. Jan Beyer

    Happy New Year 2017

    Posted by Jan Beyer on December 31st 2016 I wish you all a healthy start in the New Year 2017! May all your wishes come true and will it become a safe and prosperous year for us all! Thank you so much for a great cooperation! It is very much appreciated!
  4. Dear all amazing AFOLs out there, Today we had the final team meeting of the year in Operations & Community Engagement, rounding of with reflections on the past year, a busy year with many challenges but also in so many ways another fantastic year, not least thanks to all of you for enjoying the LEGO hobby to the fullest, making sure that we are always amazed by what you can do with the brick! We treasure the great things you do, inspirering som many people all over the world and we enjoy the conversations and relations we have, be it online on LAN, Ideas or Rebrick or at the Fan events or your visits to Billund. We all look forward to the new year, eager to see what it might bring! On behalf of the O&CE team I would like to wish you and your families Happy Holidays and may the new year be no less fantastic than the one we are now leaving behind:) In the picture is our entire team, Paul and Sara are in the US so they are on Skype and Ana is vacationing in Costa Rica so we had to be a bit creative to get everyone in the picture;) All the best, Tanja
  5. Posted by Jacky Chen on December 20th 2016 Dear RLUG Ambassadors, Today, with an exciting mood, I would like to announce on behalf of LCE that the HUB event application from Japan Brickfest is officially approved! The event will be hosted in Kobe, Japan at the 1st weekend of June (10th & 11th), with some additional activities arranged in the days before and after. Some of you might notice that the Japan Brickfest is on the exact same weekend as the Paredes de Coura Fan Weekend. We are fully aware of the fact that AFOLs wish to visit both (me as well), thus we are working with the event committee for the future dates. However the last thing we want to do is to ruin a great event by forcing them to make changes to the dates if it simply is not right, and we also believe the world and the AFOL community is big enough to have two great HUB events in the same weekend for now. We are very happy to have the first HUB event located in Asia where it will play a significant role of connecting AFOLs in this region. As told by the event committee, the 1st round of registration has already attracted 150+ AFOLs and the 2nd round will be open shortly. Stay tuned! As for the other two HUB events, the event is driven and owned by an AFOL steering group – Kansai LUG in this case. Please feel free to reach out to their ambassador Edwin Knight if you have any questions or inquiries. There we go! Japan Brickfest – Kobe Fan Weekend!
  6. Posted by Jan Beyer on December 18th 2016 Today I enjoy my day at home with my family and later on visit my grandma and a traditional German Christmas Market in my hometown. So the outfit is already set! ;-) I hope you all are really into Christmas mood now and will enjoy the happy days with family and friends! Perhaps some LEGO gift or some LEGO building is also involved. :-) Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
  7. Jan Beyer

    London skyline

    Posted by Jan Beyer on December 16th 2016 Another build of an upcoming set. And what a great set! We as AFOL Relation Managers build as many LEGO sets as possible that might be interesting for the AFOL Community so we can stay updated on what is available, how the building experience is, see and use new elements and keep our fingers busy and trained building with LEGO elements.
  8. Posted by Paul Striefler on December 14th 2016 LEGO KidsFest is a giant LEGO event held over three days and filled with fun interactive, creative, and educational activities for the whole family. Since 2009, LEGO KidsFest has made over 35 tour stops, visiting more than two dozen cities across America. Sadly, it’s the end of era and this fun filled event that started in Hartford, CT has come to an end. With that being said, what better way than to go with a bang by having its final journey be in Hartford, CT on December 2nd-4th and to an almost sold out show. There was a total of 25,574 happy attendees walking the show floor Friday thru Sunday out of a possible 27,500! This was a very bitter sweet moment for me as the mobile Brand Retail store has been very close to my heart, as I managed the store over the past 4 years before becoming a Community Manager. Over the course of the weekend, many guests were asking what’s next for LEGO events. This curiosity further supports the demand for the new era in events going forward. While we didn’t offer specific details about 2017 and beyond plans, we did offer a comforting “more to come” answer. In addition to all the LEGO activities and booths, a few members of our LCE team were in attendance as well and joined in on all the fun! Mike and Johnny assisted their DCE counterparts in LEGO Life with UX testing of the new LEGO Life functionality during this year’s KidsFest in Hartford, CT. They set up shop in the LEGO Club booth where testing focused on new account creation and physical building capabilities. Testers worked with children ranging from 6 to 11 to gather feedback on their experience while using the new functionality. Overall children responded positively to the new features. Overall, it was a truly amazing and inspiring event and a great way to kick off the holiday spirit!
  9. Posted by Jan Beyer on December 11th 2016 Dear all, I wish you a very happy 3rd Sunday in Advent. Christmas is slowly getting closer and I hope you have a great time and getting in Christmas mood! There are still 9 days of work left before my colleagues and I go on Christmas vacation. I am spending quite some time on the LEGO House AFOL interaction and there will be quite exciting news early next year! Stay tuned!
  10. Jan Beyer

    LEGO World 2017/2018

    Posted by Jan Beyer on December 9th 2016 Today I had a meeting with the LEGO World Copenhagen Fan Zone Steering Group (Jan, Knud, Morten - Stefan is missing) and the responsible Event Manager Line. We discussed the 2017 event planning details and already touched 2018 plans a little. Great meeting - if you are interested in knowing more please check out the websites. https://legoworld.lego.com/da-dk http://www.byggepladen.dk/lw2017_about.asp
  11. Posted by Jacky Chen on December 6th 2016 Hey everyone, Greetings from Taipei! Here I am with almost 80 Pockyland members gathering together in a basement party room where full of comic books (er…sounds familiar?) for their year-end RLUG party. MOCs, contests, raffles, nothing missed! To begin with, a small ceremony was held for Rack Huang, the ex-ambassador of Pockyland to hand over the role to his successor Mr. Legao Dai, a guy who loves the brand by even officially changed his name into “LEGO” in Chinese. Thank you Rack for the contributions and all the best to the new ambassador. (Photo credit to Chris Visnjic) I would dare to say, everyone had a great time! If you are interested to see more of the party, here is the photographer's flickr album (URL) and feel free to check out!
  12. Posted by Jan Beyer on December 4th 2016 Dear all, today my greetings come from Terassa, a city close to Barcelona in Spain. I visit the great Hispabrick Magazine Event to see awesome MOCs and meet with many RLUG (HispaLUG) and RLFM (Hispabrick Magazine) members including so prominent AFOLs as the Arvo Brothers! It is a truly inspiring event with many thousands of happy visirers in the Technical Museum of Catalunya - an old but very well restored textile mill - great location! Have an awesome Sunday and check out the pictures!
  13. Posted by Jan Beyer on December 3rd 2016 Today the new Hispabrick Magazine Logo was unveiled. Fully in line with the RLUG IP guideline! It looks awesome!
  14. Posted by Jacky Chen on November 28th 2016 Last Friday (November 25th), it was a day of celebration at Jiaxing with festivities to commemorate the grand opening of the LEGO Group’s fifth factory. We are lucky enough to secure 8 spots for local AFOLs to join this great moment. (Photo Credit to Mr. Jin Xiangming of LELEZHEN) To show the love to the LEGO brand, the ambassador of Heroes Club, Prince Jiang called for a signed bricks from global ambassadors on LAN to build a gift for LEGO Jiaxing factory. Thanks to all your contribution, we ended up to receive more than 50 signed bricks from different corners of the world. And it has been put up into a fantastic brick built Great Wall by Heroes Club members. Here are a few photos, try to find your signatures if you can. After the speeches of a few leaderships, the general manager of Jiaxing factory revealed the gift with four representatives of local AFOLs on the stage. He is extremely amazed by the model and as well as the great story behind it. Apparently, everybody loves it! After that, the AFOLs had their very first guided factory tour and it was really fun! (Of course, AFOLs will never miss the best moment for taking photos and signatures with Mr. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen) If you wanted to know more about the LEGO Jiaxing Factory, please visit LEGO.com (URL)
  15. Posted by Jan Beyer on November 27th 2016 Hi all, I wish you a very Happy 1st Sunday in Advent! Off to the Christmas market to get a sausage and a hot drink, get in Christmas mood and buy some gifts! Have a great day and a very Happy Christmas time with your family and friends!
  16. Posted by Jan Beyer on November 26th 2016 Hi all, check out this very cool TV report around the LEGO Fanwelt 2016. It was show on the second biggest nation wide TV channel ZDF - sorry only in German but very nice pictures. https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/hallo-deutschland/videos/blond-nachgefragt-l...
  17. It is, again, that time of the year. We've gone through all our support offerings and update and revised as needed. Please check the attached document for more information. Thanks LCE_and_Support_Programs_Overview_2017.pdf
  18. Jan Beyer

    LEGO Fanwelt 2016

    Posted by Jan Beyer on November 22nd 2016 The past weekend I visited the LEGO Fanwelt 2016 in Cologne, Germany. The event happens every 2nd year in connection to a very big Model Railroad Fair on Cologne Fairground. The LEGO Fanwelt consists of the MOC exhibition driven by the MBFR RLUG and the LEGO Kidsfest organized by LEGO Central Europe. The MOC displays were supported by several RLUGs - mainly MBFR, Imperium der Steine, SwissLUG, EduLUG, Schwabenstein 2x4, BFRM and 1000steine.de as well as the RLFM Promobricks. The event attracted around 70.000 public visitors and 160 AFOLs. In the evenings we had some great discussions as well as a great AFOLs evening which had a train theme. All had a great time - even though it is quite exhausting to run an event with so many public visitors and which last 3 full days.
  19. Posted by Jacky Chen on November 22nd 2016 When the weather is getting cold on this planet, our dearest friends in Malaysia are still enjoying the nice sunshine and warm temperature by shorts and sandals. From 9-20 of November 2016, more than 80 AFOLs from local RLUGs join the effort with LEGO Malaysia for the largest LEGO event in town named as “Build Your LEGO Christmas” at 1Utama Shopping Centre. Two giant layouts featured LEGO City (8m x 2.6m) and LEGO Friends (6.5m x 2.6m) made by LOM, ABLUG, Synergy LUG and three special guests from Taiwan (Mocer League) successfully attracted more than 100,000 visitors over 10 days exhibition. (Above photo credit to Bruce Lee from LOM) Lucky enough, we even have our best friend John Ho from Creator 3in1 team flying all the way from Billund to visit and bring more fun to the event. On Friday (Nov 19th), John and I together did a workshop for 60 local AFOLs to share his journey as a LEGO designer and some interesting behind the scene stories. Special thanks to LOM (LUG of Malaysia), ABLUG (Asia Bricks), Synergy LUG, Mocer League, as well as John and LEGO Malaysia for presenting such a great event in Southeast Asia. If you wish to see more about this event, welcome to the Flickr album (URL) with all photos uploaded. Cheers!
  20. Over the past couple of months we've been working closely with Norton&Co in the UK and D2C in Münich to arrange a special pre-opening event at the Leicester Square LEGO Brand Retail Store in London. The store officially opened on November 17th at 12 o'clock, so being able to invite and run a pre-opening event requires some planning and handshakes to happen. But since it was something that everyone wanted, it wasn't difficult at all - it only took some planning to get an idea of who to invite and how to get everyone to sign the Declaration of Secrecy. Working with the Recognized LEGO Fan Media and Recognized LEGO User Groups invited has been amazing and smooth. You should be proud of your ambassadors and the time and effort they put into distributing the scarce amount of tickets that were made available to them. I know it is not easy when you have 50 AFOLs that want to come but only 5 tickets. Someone is bound to be disappointed and I am truly sorry that we couldn't invite everyone - but there is a limit to the store size and the number of invites possible while still keeping the event intimate and special. So "hat's off" to the ambassadors for agreeing to that responsibility and having those difficult discussions with their members. When the store opened the doors and the let AFOLs in (some of them had been waiting in line for quite a while by then), everyone got a big applause as they entered the store - which was a pretty fun gesture and nice way to welcome the AFOLs into the store. Once everyone was in, Glenn Abell, Vice President D2C (direct to consumer) EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) gave a warm welcome to the community, followed by a welcome by me and then a quick mention of the day's offers - should anyone want to make a purchase. The new LEGO Architecture set, the 21304 London Skyline was available at the store ahead of it's global launch January 1st. Buying one would also land the opportunity to get it signed by the designer Rok and also present was LEGO Architecture's design manager Jamie Berard. Thank you to all the super cool AFOLs that came and made the day a blast. You took the day (or days) off to come and celebrate with us and that did not go unnoticed. You're awesome and all the LEGO employees agreed that you were The Best. You all kept the embargo and that is quite an achievement given the amount of pictures taken and video shot inside the store - thank you! And Thank You for sharing everything as soon as you were allowed to. My Facebook notification counter has been busy since the store opened with all the fantastic pictures you took. Congratulations to those of you that won the Lester minifig and/or the Mosaic Maker set. I didn't, but I still won the best prize of all which was to spend a couple of hours with you in the Leicester Square LEGO Brand Retail Store the day before it officially opened. I really enjoyed myself and I am certain you did too. I've already mentioned that we're ready the next time they want to create a special AFOL pre-opening event anywhere in the world! The participating RLUGs and RLFMs were: Blocks Magazine Brick Fanatics Brick.Ie Bricks / Bricks Culture Brickset.com Brickshire Eurobricks Fairy Bricks Jedinews UK London AFOLs The New Elementary Northern Brickworkd Promobricks SLTC The Brickish Association The Brothers Brick The Tartan LUG Others: Mark Campbell, Bright Bricks, Warren and Teresa Elsmore (who were also there for the DFDS ship being on Trafalgar Square on the same day as the opening - what an opportunity! To see the new LEGO store and the world's biggest LEGO ship).
  21. Dear AFOL Community! 2016 came fast and we've been trying to keep up and getting prepared. We're proud to announce that we've finalized the annual revisions of our support offerings and also a trimming of the LEGO Ambassador Network. A description of the LEGO Ambassador Network and an overview of our team is attached to this blog post. We've also shuffled some of our responsibilities and in order to get in touch with each of us, you can use the following e-mails: (but you will have to read the overview to figure out who to talk to) Jan Beyer - Jan.Beyer@LEGO.com Paul Striefler- Paul.Striefler@LEGO.com Jacky Chen - Jacky.Chen@LEGO.com Kim Ellekjær Thomsen - KimT@LEGO.com Merry X-Mas and Happy New Year to all of you!
  22. During 2015, I took the opportunity to reach out and work more closely with a cross-department counterpart of mine. LEGO Education has been evolving very quickly during the last several months and one such evolution was an emphasis on “community.” I was put in touch with Caleb Smith from LEGO Education who had been tasked with managing the relationship between the LEGO Education Brand and Educators community in the geographic area of the Unites States. The obvious similarities between our roles was a kick start into a more routine dialog and even opportunity for us to shadow one another at our respective business trips. In April, I was privileged to join Caleb and a number of individuals from the LEGO Education team, at ISTE in Philadelphia. It was fascinating to see that area of the business’s focus and approach to supporting educators and events. As a tradeoff of sorts, Caleb arranged to attend three AFOL conventions in the US! I asked if he would be willing to share his thoughts here on the LAN and he agreed- although it took some time due to his busy schedule. ****** This year, I had the privilege of traveling with Kevin Hinkle to BrickFair in Chantilly, VA and BrickCon in Seattle, WA, as well as solo attend Brick Fiesta in Austin, TX. Let me sum it up in just a few words… It was awesome! BrickFiesta My first trip led me to Austin, TX, where I attended my first AFOL Convention, Brick Fiesta. Unlike my two later trips (which I will talk about soon), I came to Brick Fiesta with the sole purpose of introducing AFOLs and convention visitors to LEGO Education. Isn’t that just a wonderful booth? I brought our LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set and Expansion Set to the convention hall and had quite a blast. Many people were incredibly excited to talk to someone from LEGO Education and to actually see some of what we have, especially in comparison to what MINDSTORMS sets you can find in a LEGO Brand Retail Store. One of the best parts of Brick Fiesta was working with a small group of children who decided to program our robot to move based on colors – almost like a remote control with the color sensor. The second best part was meeting this guy – the LEGO Movie characters watching the LEGO Movie – How cool is that?? BrickFair VA My next trip led me to the great city of Chantilly, VA, to attend Brick Fair VA with Kevin. This was by far the most intimidating convention I went to – Look at all of those awesome people! The next few days were pretty great and inspiring. As someone from LEGO Education, it’s not too often we interact with AFOLs and see what awesome builds have been made. The coolest project I had seen was the Great Ball Contraption – all of the modules that fans have built were just incredible. The highlight of the trip was participating in a Q&A with my fellow LEGO Colleagues – LEGO Designer, LEGOLAND Master Builder, Kevin and myself. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? The questions were pretty funny at times and really made BrickFair VA 2015 an event that I will remember for many years to come. If I had to choose a favorite event I had visited, it would have been this one. The AFOL activities were brilliant and fascinating. The builds were also more fascinating based on my interests – It’s hard to beat those giant city builds with sweet looking trains. BrickCon The last trip of the year led me to BrickCon in Seattle, WA. As a longtime fan of Seattle, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the city and visit the longest running AFOL convention in North America. This is one of those events that I wish I had taken more pictures of every detail of every build – they were just astonishing! I spent several days here with some more of my LEGO colleagues, including a colleague from LEGO Ideas and Tanja Friberg from the LEGO Community team (Kevin’s immediate Manager). It was quite the adventure! Did you know that Seattle has a lot of pizza restaurants within walking distance of the convention center? Pretty sure I was able to visit at least a quarter of them! The LEGO Group has some very passionate fans of our products. I can safely say that I learned more about MINDSTORMS robotics during these events than I had during my two years working for LEGO Education. Everyone was passionate about what they built and that was very motivating to me. When asked about how these events differ from the events I attend- It’s almost an unfair question. There is quite a big difference between trade fairs and fan conventions! The biggest difference was engaging with people who know more about the LEGO Brand than myself, or any of my colleagues. I felt like I was constantly learning about the LEGO Brand through the AFOL community, instead of educating others on our brand as they came to visit us. However, I did notice there was also a lack of robotics – we do love our robotics at LEGO Education! The year 2015 is finally coming to a close – but I am looking forward to seeing what conventions I will be able to attend in 2016! I hope to see you at one of them! ****** I’d like to offer another sincere thanks to Caleb for taking time out of his schedule to engage with our AFOL community and experience some of the amazing events we get to attend. We’ve been able to share some learnings between the two of us and take advantage of the opportunity to bounce ideas and questions from across the table. I’d also like to thank the owners of Brick Fiesta, BrickFair Virginia and BrickCon for their assistance in speaking with Caleb about their events and to the countless members of the community that welcomed him. Our colleagues are consistently inspired by our amazing community. If you'd like to learn a bit more about Caleb and his role at LEGO Education. Beyond the Brick shot a quick interview while we were at BrickFair Virginia earlier in the year. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/embed/GLmQxEv1c5o
  23. Hello & Good Afternoon All, It is my pleasure to announce that we have granted recognition to our first LEGO® User Group in the country of Colombia! Although LUG Colombia was granted recognition recently, they've put forth a tremendous amount of effort in organizing and growing their club over the past twelve months. As Colombia falls within South America, they will be working closely with me as their regional LEGO Community Team representative. I hope you will join me in welcoming our new RLUG Ambassador Barry and adding another country to our incredible network of LEGO enthusiasts across the globe! Sincerely, Kevin Hinkle Community Manager AFOL Relations & Program LEGO Community Engagement
  24. EVENT RECAP: ELUAL 2015 | SANTIAGO, CHILE This year I had the privilege of attending the Encuentro Latinoamericano de Usuarios Adultos de LEGO® 2015 or ELUAL hosted in Santiago, Chile. The event’s name, ELUAL, translates into English as the Latin American AFOL (adult fan of LEGO) Meeting. As well as being my only business trip to South America of 2015; this was also my last trip of the year. After about 15 hours’ worth of traveling, I arrived in Santiago on the morning of Friday November 13th. Christian Breinbauer, current LAN Work Group Leader and member of ChileLUG, had agreed to give me a lift from the airport and was waiting for me upon my arrival. As the event’s set-up was not scheduled until Saturday afternoon we opted to spend some time catching up over lunch and then do a little sightseeing. As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, their weather is exactly opposite of the northern hemisphere. So I was delighted by the wonderfully warm weather that was quite different from the chilly temps back home in Enfield, Connecticut. As we drove about the city, I snapped dozens of pictures capturing the beautiful greenery and surrounding mountains. One of our stops presented me with the opportunity to see where ChileLUG holds a majority of their group meetings. It was a nice cozy spot in a shopping mall near a rather large hobby shop. There were a number of tables and chairs about so I could certainly see why such a spot would be an ideal meeting place for AFOLs! After chatting a bit we browsed the shop, which carried a number of different LEGO products and many additional fun and unique items to occupy one’s time. Afterwards, we visited one of the five local LEGO Certified Stores in the city of Santiago. It was here that I learned that the country of Chile currently has 10 LEGO Certified Stores, which is quite remarkable! The layout and selection of these stores is nearly identical to what you would find at a LEGO Brand Retail store in Europe or the United States. Walking around in the store provided me with a sense of both familiarity and uniqueness. The staff was very friendly and I was able to chat with them a bit before departing. After leaving the store I headed over to check into my hotel. After taking a few hours to rest and settle in a bit, I again met up with Christian to go to dinner at a lovely local restaurant. As other members of the AFOL community began to arrive in the area, we had the opportunity to join up with a member of LUG Brasil and another from LUG Perú. The restaurant had served us some delicious Chilean cuisine and even featured wandering musicians who entertained everyone with song and dance. During dinner, we all discussed a number of topics and overall had a great time. My first day was over and I already felt that I had gotten a nice bit of exposure to both the culture and the city. Christian picked me up from my hotel Saturday around noon so that we could grab lunch before heading to the event for set-up at the venue. We once again met up with our friends from last night and even snagged another member from LUG Brasil, Daniel. It was great seeing Daniel again as we had just bumped into each other a couple months prior in Skærbæk, Denmark for another AFOL event, Fan Weekend! The event took place at the Centro Cultural de España, or rather the Cultural Center of Spain located in Santiago. This venue took great use of the beautiful weather by allowing areas of the event to take place outside, under a few tents, as well as inside in a few open areas. There were a handful of AFOLs on hand to help with set-up which included the building of tents, construction of tables, laying out of table cloths, and set up of MOCs. As the afternoon carried on, more and more fans showed up with boxes, bins and enthusiasm! Although the bulk of set-up wrapped up in the early evening there were still a few activities planned by Christian and Miguel, ChileLUG’s RLUG Ambassador. Some familiar games kicked off in which AFOL was pitted against AFOL in friendly competition. The first game had two teams of two compete to build a small LEGO City set the fastest. What made this challenging was that in each team, one participant’s hand was tied to one hand of their teammate. This created a very entertaining arrangement and coordination became critical! Following this up was a traditional blind build activity in which four AFOLs competed against one another to build their LEGO Creator set the first without being able to see the LEGO elements nor their build. The final game focused on the accurate identification of LEGO Collectible Minifigures from their sealed pouches. I was pleasantly surprised to hear my name called during a particular round and upon handing over my camera, I swiftly began squeezing the small pouch in my hand. My opponent and I both called out what we believed to be the figure held within, at exactly the same moment. We decided to open and pour out the contents together. The verdict was a tie. The evening concluded with some pizza and beverages before everyone headed back to their hotels or homes to rest up. For AFOL events in North America there has long been a focus on AFOL to AFOL interaction through the hosting of various games and activities during the event. However I noticed that this concept is still quite new in South America. Typically, the primary focus of an AFOL event in South America is to share your MOCs with a public audience and not necessarily to compete or participate in games, activities, workshops, etc with other AFOLs. So while the activities that Christian and Miguel hosted at this event were quite familiar to me, it came as somewhat of a surprise to the attendees. Seeing ideas from LEGO fans on one part of the world transfer to others is is truly amazing and really drives home the notion that the LEGO fan community is a global one. The event was free of charge to public visitors and opened on Sunday at 10:00 AM. I had arranged a lift over to the event approximately an hour before the public were scheduled to arrive. Daniel, a member of LUG Perú, (not to be confused with Daniel from Brasil) met me at my hotel and we headed over. With another beautiful day upon us, the doors opened and families began flowing in. As typical at any AFOL event, fans were scattered about touching up their builds and attending to any last minute details. I took this as an opportunity to wander around the venue and snap pictures of the amazing original builds on show. It was also at this time that I was able to get an accurate overview of all the RLUGs present. This was an amazingly diverse group which included ChileLUG, ConceLUG, SupraBricks, LUG Brasil and LUG Perú. I also took note that there were two food vendors who had opened for business at the venue. One providing snow cones, which was certainly a nice treat when the sun was high during the afternoon, and the other fries and canned soda. Each AFOL participant was provided with vouchers to receive one item from each vendor at no costs, a nice touch by the organizers. The atmosphere and spirit was pleasant and festive as children and adults alike enjoyed their confections while wandering about the venue looking onto the amazing works on display. The ELUAL aims to bring together the entire Latin American AFOL community at one central location each year. I’m very supportive of this initiative and could not be more proud of the local community for putting emphasis on this with coordination and sharing of responsibilities each year. The goal is to both continue growing the event each year as well as allow different RLUGs in the region to host it. This event really does have the potential to become an AFOL hub in the region for not only South America but also Central and even North America. Although the exact dates are still to be confirmed, I am pleased to share that ELUAL 2016 will be hosted by LUG Perú in Lima, Perú. I sincerely hope that any AFOLs in the area consider attending the event next year, and I would be ecstatic to see participation from other RLUGs in Central or North America. As my flight home on Monday wasn’t scheduled until late in the evening, I had another beautiful day to sneak in some sightseeing. Christian was again to the rescue as his schedule allowed him the opportunity to meet up with me once again. I left our itinerary for the day up to my native guide, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. We made a number of amazing stops! One of these stops was the Gran Torre Santiago, which is the tallest building in Latin America. The view from atop was simply breathtaking. From there we could see all of Santiago and even our next stop on the tour, the statue of Virgin Mary on San Cristóbal Hill. The large beautifully sculpted statue sat upon a large green hill within the city. We took a short train up the side and walked right up to the top. I took the opportunity to fill my camera with dozens more amazing photographs. Christian also took me for a stroll through a serine artist community where skilled and talented artisans were crafting and selling some amazing souvenirs! There were a myriad of things to browse such as clothing, bags, statuettes, jewelry and so much more. I took the opportunity to bring home with me a small, hand-carved, wooden Moai after learning that Easter Island is a part of Chile. This piece is now safely resting on my office desk as a wonderful memento of my experience. Lastly, we took the opportunity to visit a second LEGO Certified Store. This location was much smaller in footprint but had some unique design features such as large sculpted LEGO elements on the front entrance and transparent tiling that housed thousands of multi-colored LEGO elements. After my final day of exploration in Santiago, Christian kindly dropped me off at the airport and I began my long journey home. I’d like to thank Christian for taking so much of his personal time to host me in Santiago. I felt very welcomed and truly enjoyed my entire experience. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to do much sightseeing while traveling for business. The duration of my stay in Santiago wasn’t much longer than my typical trip business trip; however I feel like I had an absolutely wonderful experience and got some great insight into the culture, landscape and challenges the local AFOL community faces. Many thanks for allowing me to end 2015 on such a positive note! For those interested, I’ve uploaded all the photographs taken during my trip to my photostream on Flickr. A few have been highlighted here but there are hundreds more to enjoy! Thank you for taking the time to read this post and please do let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns by dropping a note in the comments below. Sincerely, Kevin Hinkle Community Manager AFOL Relations & Programs LEGO Community Engagement
  25. The term AFOL, or Adult Fan of LEGO, was first used in August 1995 by an adult LEGO user online. Today there are hundreds of thousands of self-proclaimed AFOLs! A warm and heartfelt congratulations from the entire Community Engagement & Events (CEE) department as well as our colleagues from all across the global organization (as indicated via our social media channels!) Thank you for your continued support of the LEGO brand and hobby! Photo credit to AFOL Chris McVeigh of Nova Scotia, Canada.
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