Sunday, 7 November 2010

The perfect job

My rediscovery of the Brick after emerging from my LEGO Dark Ages a few years back has lead to a lot of enjoyment, but it has been a pretty solitary experience. Sure, I quickly stumbled upon some fantastic online resources such as Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink and Eurobricks and have interacted on various online forums (or should that be fora ?), but despite making some welcome and worthy 'virtual' contacts, I failed to meet a single other AFOL in the flesh in over 3 years.

My antisocial AFOL existence recently ended, however, when I decided to attend my first ever LEGO event - the Great Western LEGO Show at STEAM - during which I was finally able to put a face to some of the personalities that I had previously only encountered online. Significantly, I was also persuaded to join the Brickish Association (BA) while at STEAM. BA are a UK-based community of AFOLs, and in the short time I've been a member, my LEGO obsession has been transformed from a solitary pursuit into something more sociable. As well as the revelation that I am most certainly not alone in loving the Brick despite my advancing years, membership has already opened the doors to some activities and opportunities that I would otherwise most likely never have experienced

This weekend has provided a great example for this. As some of you may know, the LEGO company is shortly to open 2 more brand stores in the UK - Westfield in London, and Cardiff - in addition to the 3 existing stores in Milton Keynes, Bluewater and Brighton. These two new LEGO stores will be internally decorated with LEGO models, and BA members were invited to construct these decorative models for the Westfield store. To sweeten the deal, incentives including a discount at the Milton Keynes brand store were on offer for the builders. I jumped at the chance of being involved, and so it was that I met with 10 or so fellow BA members in Milton Keynes on the Saturday morning ready for a day of communal LEGO building.

The sets we were there to build were not retail sets, but specially designed sets shipped from LEGO HQ in Billund in plain brown cardboard boxes. They came with rudimentary instructions that were, at times, really not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced builder..... I found that the building experience ranged from incredibly simplistic and straightforward to surprisingly challenging. My first building task involved building an extremely rudimentary, but surprisingly endearing, LEGO Zoo (picture below, courtesy of Huw). I have to admit that it was incredibly refreshing to be building with 'real' bricks for a change rather than the increasingly specialised parts contained in many modern retail sets.

LEGO Zoo - gotta love that elephant !
The zoo was pretty straightforward, but things got rather more challenging when I opened the box entitled "Pool Party". This was a significantly larger, more complex set, with instructions that were at times a real mare to follow. To give you an example of this, I had to construct a baseplate out of 150-200 green plates of different sizes, a task which was illustrated by just 2 steps in the building instructions..... This model kept me occupied for the rest of the day, and even then I needed my fellow BA builders to pitch in as time started to run out (thanks guys and gals !). You can see the completed model below - certainly a cruder, chunkier model than today's sleek retail offerings, but it employed some neat building techniques, and contained loads of humorous touches such as a paparazzo shooting pics over the fence, a shark in the pool, and a dog squeezing through a hole in the fence (click on the pic to enlarge).

Pool party, with a few humerous touches....
We probably built anywhere from 15 to 20 models over the course of the day, with the remainder to be assembled by some of our BA colleagues the following day. The completed sets included some real crackers, and more than one of us remarked that we'd gladly shell out our hard-earned cash for some of the models if they ever appeared at retail. The plan is for the completed models to be carefully boxed up and shipped to the London Westfield brand store in time for the grand opening later this month; I'll try and get down there at some point and snap some pics of the models in situ, so watch this space if you're interested to see pics of a few more of the models in their final resting place.

Building the models was an excellent crack, fuelled by some great banter and cooperation between the builders, and if the day was typical of the kind of activities on offer to BA members then I really wish I'd joined a lot sooner. I'm certainly not here to act as a recruiting agent for BA, but if you're a UK-based AFOL and looking to add an extra dimension to your LEGO obsession then you should really consider joining. Next up is a Christmas party at Legoland Windsor - I can't wait !

So there you have it - my first (and unfortunately also probably my last) day as a model builder for the LEGO company.... As well as enjoying the day itself and getting to hang out with some fellow AFOLs, I also picked up a number of sets that I was planning on buying anyway at a discount as part of my 'reward', so I was effectively paid to build LEGO this weekend.... It really doesn't get much better than that !

No comments:

Post a Comment