Friday, 4 October 2013

Full STEAM Ahead

So here we go again - as I write this it's less than 48 hours until Saturday 5th October when the Great Western LEGO Show, better known to LEGO afficionados as STEAM, opens its doors and gets underway. STEAM, which is arguably the highlight of the UK AFOL calendar, is far and away the UK's biggest LEGO show, and this'll be the fourth consecutive year that I've attended.

For the uninitiated, STEAM is an annual event which is hosted by the Museum of the Great Western Railway in Swindon, and which showcases some of the best LEGO models built by Brickish Association members. The show has a reputation for the spectacular, and standout creations featured in previous shows have included Ed Diment's stupendous 7-metre long model of USS Intrepid (picture below - click to enlarge),  a beautiful model of Westminster Abbey built to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton and containing 180,000 bricks, and more recently a massive, minifig-populated reproduction of London's 2012 Olympic Stadium. I'm delighted to report that there's going to be another amazing showpiece model this year; my lips are sealed, but trust me that it's a worthy successor to the spectacular creations of past years, and I personally can't wait to see it up close and personal.

USS Intrepid at STEAM 2010
STEAM consistently stands out for the sheer diversity of its displays; confirmed exhibits rather bear this out and include a minifig-scale model of the space shuttle Endeavour, Burf's latest crazy Mindstorms contraption, Ralph Savelsberg's B-52 Stratofortress, and a huge collaborative display featuring the medieval town of Tigelfáh; you can get a sneak peek at some of the exhibits here to further whet your appetite, and rest assured that these examples are really just the tip of a rather large iceberg - the venue will be overflowing with cool stuff to see. Although the wealth of LEGO creations are the main draw, there'll be a lot of other things going on as well. Show attendees will be able to participate in the construction of a huge LEGO mosaic; there'll also be a series of talks and building workshops from LEGO experts, plus a huge selection of sets, minifigures and merchandise to buy from the on-site pop-up LEGO brand store and independent LEGO traders.

My first visit to STEAM in 2010 sucked me deeper into the AFOL community, so much so that for the last couple of years I've been an exhibitor as well as an attendee, and that'll be the case this year as well. Early on during my well-documented quest to reproduce Cavegod's massive UCS AT-AT I decided that once I'd completed the monster I'd really need to give it a public airing. It'll therefore be coming to STEAM, but it won't be alone.... I won't spoil the surprise, but let's just say that I'll be joining forces with Pete (Cavegod) and Sam Pearce to put together a collaborative display which should hopefully put a smile on the faces of any Star Wars fans out there....

Although I've really been looking forward to STEAM, I certainly wasn't relishing taking my completed AT-AT (picture above - click to enlarge) apart and boxing it up for the trip to Swindon; given the stress I experienced trying to assemble the blasted thing the first time round, I'm looking forward to reassembling it all over again even less.... Hopefully I'll at least have Pete to help me rebuild it, however, so fingers crossed that it'll be back in one piece and on display when the show opens on Saturday morning.... You can see my AT-AT reduced to its constituent sections below (click to enlarge) prior to being packed into a couple of crates along with about a mile of bubble wrap and shoehorned into my car's pitifully inadequate boot and back seat.

STEAM really is a special event, and even if you only have a passing interest in LEGO you owe it to yourself to come along and check it out - you won't regret it. You can find more details about the show, including directions to the venue, on the official Great Western LEGO Show website.

If you do make it down to Swindon then please come and say "hi"; assuming I've managed to reassemble the AT-AT it'll be pretty hard to miss so I shouldn't be too hard to find.....


  1. I wish I was in the UK to see this. Please take and post lots of pictures!