Wednesday 5 October 2011

One Year On....

Almost exactly one year ago, I attended my first ever LEGO show - the 2010 Great Western LEGO Show (GWLS) at the STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway. I saw some amazing LEGO creations that day, met a number of people who I'd previously only ever encountered online, and had my eyes opened to a whole world of LEGO-related activity that I'd previously never been aware even existed. The whole experience made such an impression on me that I joined the Brickish Association there and then, and have since attended a number of other shows. Perhaps most importantly, a number of the people I met that day at STEAM I now consider to be my friends, rather than just usernames on a forum.

Anyway, GWLS 2011 took place last weekend. One year on, however, and I was attending as an exhibitor as well as an enthusiastic observer, so the event started on the Friday for me this year, with the majority of exhibitors arriving in Swindon a day early in order to set up. Having taken a car full of Star Wars UCS models (both official sets, including the then-unreleased Super Star Destroyer, and some homebrew models) to Leicester for the National Space Centre 'Spaciversary' in July, I got to travel lighter for GWLS as the focus is mainly on MOCs - only the UCS Venator and UCS TIE Fighter came with me this time round.

Proceedings starting in earnest on the Saturday morning with a reveal of Set 10223 Royal Joust, which was reported on these very pages. Doing the honours was none other than Jamie Berard (below), a LEGO designer famed for his work on the Modular Buildings and sets such as Tower Bridge. Jamie had travelled over from LEGO HQ in Denmark with fellow designer Morten Graff-Wang who's a designer on Creator sets such as Sonic Boom. The Royal Joust set was subsequently put out on display for show attendees to see, along with recently announced Set 10230 Mini Modulars (photos below - click to enlarge and see the detail) :

Jamie Berard (above) reveals Set 10223 Royal Joust (below)

Set 10230 Mini Modulars - due January 2012

At 10 a.m. the doors opened, and the people who'd been queuing patiently outside poured in. As well as the huge main hall, which was the venue for the displays last year, a large collection of Harry Potter-related creations and a Rhineland diorama were sited in a smaller secondary hall. In addition, this year the organisers had opened up a third hall where all the traders were located, plus a sizeable marquee area was set aside for catering. The end result was a significantly increased overall show area.

My original intention was to pick a few of my favourite creations from the show and feature them here. I have to say, however, that the sheer quality and variety of exhibits blew me away and it's been really hard to try and narrow them down to just a few highlights. I failed, basically, so apologies in advance for the length of this posting..... Apologies also to those exhibitors whose work isn't featured here, but with hundreds of creations on display, trying to show them all would just have been silly....

It's impossible to pick a favourite, but Steve Price's "LEGORENA" (below - click pics to enlarge) was certainly one of the highlights for me. It's got to be one of the most humorous MOCs I've ever seen, with literally hundreds of amusing little touches (a crowd-surfing Boba Fett, anyone ?) and clever details. You're still finding new things to admire and laugh about when you come back and look at it for the twentieth time.... As I understand it, this was Steve's first display. Good luck trying to beat this next year, fella....

Awesome - someone needs to send this pic to Lars....

Another highlight for me was Carl Greatrix's (Bricktrix) train display. His Mallard (below) is already on my list of Flickr favourites, and it was fantastic to see it for real and watch it hurtling around his stunning layout, hauling beautifully detailed rolling stock. His cattle truck is another Flickr favourite of mine, and this also made an appearance  as part of his display. Amazing.

Mallard by Bricktrix
Bricktrix's Cattle Truck
Next up is some of James Sutton's stuff. He was already in my good books for offering up his huge Yoda model with the light-up lightsaber for the Star Wars UCS MOC display, and in addition to that he brought some other fantastic Star Wars-related stuff which you can see below. His 6x scale minifigs were some of my favourite creations of the whole show, and his rendition of Han in carbonite is just genius ! Pleasure to meet you, James and if you're reading this then please shoot me a link to your Flickr stream and I'll add it here.

Moving on, I really have to mention the Harry Potter display. This was a collaboration between Eleanor Thorn (Skegga), Kevin Matthews (Dragon), Andrew Danielli, Robert Clarkson and Irene McMahon, and consisted of various locations from the Harry Potter universe which were recreated in loving detail.

Above and below : Hogwarts Great Hall by Skegga

Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom by Andrew Danielli

Quidditch Pitch and Owlery by Robert Clarkson

Hogwarts East Wing by Robert Clarkson
I've featured it before, but since it's one of my favourite MOCs ever, there's no harm in mentioning it again.... Pete Brookdale's (cavegod) AT-AT has had rave reviews everywhere it's been featured, and along with his enormous UCS Sandcrawler it was the centerpiece of the Star Wars UCS MOC display at GWLS. A total of 14 MOCs were on show, plus the official UCS Yoda set and Set 10212 Imperial Shuttle which Pete and I built live at the show.

A round up of some of my other favourites from the show can be found below. Special mention goes to Gary Davis (Bricks for Brains) for his amazing bust of Yuri Gagarin, and to Pete Reid (Legoloverman) and Yvonne Doyle ({YVD}) for their exquisite Sherlock Holmes-based creation - mmmmm, sand red !

Gary Davis' Yuri Gagarin Bust

Holmes and W.A.T.S.O.N. by Peter Reid and Yvonne Doyle

Hawk jet, made out of 2 x 4 bricks by Gary Davis

Eyrietown by Rod Gillies
Haradford Castle by James Pegrum and Barney Main
Westminter Abbey by Warren Elsmore, Stuart Crawshaw,
 Ed Diment and Naomi Farr
Also a mention for Peter Salter (Ickelpete), who in addition to his R2-D2 which I featured in July also brought a black Dalek which I didn't get a decent pic of but which was utterly awesome. Not only did it look amazing, but it moved, rotated its head, and even uttered "Exterminate !" on demand.... Hopefully it'll appear on his Flickr stream in due course. And video, Robert - we need video with sound as well as lots of pics please !

In addition to viewing all the MOCs and shopping 'til they dropped, show participants could also help to construct a huge LEGO mosaic section by section over the 2 days of the show. The finished mosaic can be seen below.

Anyway, guess I'd better wrap up..... Apologies for the Oscars-style ending to this post, but enormous credit and thanks has to go to Martin Long and his team of helpers for organising and running the show. Big thanks also to LEGO designers Jamie Berard and Morten Graff-Wang who were in attendance for the whole duration, chatted for hours to exhibitors and the public alike, and attended the Brickish Association social event on Saturday night where they were subjected to a non-stop barrage of questions and (unsuccessful) attempts to find out about future sets - cheers guys, you were great sports! Thanks to STEAM for being excellent hosts, and to Jan Beyer from LEGO for his great support of the event. And most of all, respect and kudos to all the exhibitors for bringing the most amazing collection of models to the show, and to almost 6,500 people for visiting on perhaps the hottest October weekend since records began.

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