All right, here is my really long journal of the Con!
NWBrickCon 2006 was an awesome experience. It was my first real time Lego event, so I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I had read about Brickfests, previous Cons, and other Lego events, but nothing prepared me for the real thing. The following is a journal of my Con experience.
Early in the morning, my cousin Jeremy (aka Kinux) and I piled our stuff into my Honda and drove down to Seattle. We were both a bit nervous and were wondering if we were going to be surrounded by a bunch of freaks all weekend! Fortunately, nothing could have been farther from the truth.
After getting checked in to the Con by Sealug member, Thomas Garrison, we began hauling in my MOCs and setting them up. At the castle tables, the first person I met was Tedward, followed soon after by Merlin and Thomas Rafert, the castle area coordinator. I couldn’t believe it! Real live members of Classic-Castle! Thomas already had his layout mostly setup and Darkie had been there the night before to set up her layout as well. But there was still tons of work to do, so we all dove in with a will. Soon our ranks were swelled by the additions of The Blue Knight, Breadman, Dunechaser, and Frank Filz. Thus began the frantic process of finishing the 2006 NWBC Castle layout.
After lunch, Dunechaser, Kinux, and myself abandoned the others and attended a presentation on custom pieces. Presented by Will Chapman of Brickarms.com, the presentation was very informative and well executed. Will is a very knowledgeable person and excellent speaker, as well as a really nice guy, who made us feel like we too could mold custom Lego weapons. Dunechaser even bought some of his weapons, so he must have been persuasive! I outfitted my figs with Brickarms weapons too. Just so you know, a Viking berserk with double AK-47s looks pretty darn cool.
Following a roundtable discussion of storage techniques, led by Gary McIntire, we headed back to the exposition hall. With the addition of John Langrish and others, the layout was complete. You should have been there, it was beautiful!
At seven that evening, Steve Witt gave an excellent keynote address, but fended off any questions about future products (he was a good boy). It was a great talk and he is a cool guy to get to know. After Steve’s address, Dan Harper talked about the Lego Certified Professional Program. This was quite interesting, as I had no idea that the program even existed. Once the addresses were over, I headed back to crash in my hotel room, but I hear there was a rowdy Dirty Brickster that ran until eleven or so that night. I’ll definitely have to stick around for that next year!
The morning dawned with wild, giddy excitement! Today was the day of the AFOL breakfast at the Bellevue Square Lego Store! Not trusting Lego’s food, Kinux and I met Tedward and his friend Rod for an early breakfast in our hotel. Then the four of us jumped in Ted’s van and headed out for Bellevue through a blinding sunrise. When we arrived the Lego store was a sight! It was packed with people grappling over the pick-a-brick, examining new sets, eating doughnuts, building figs at the fig bar, swapping stories, and buying everything in sight. The first thing I did was dig into the fig bar, where Dunechaser was already burrowing happily. After grabbing as much Lego as marital accord would allow, we loaded it all into Ted’s van and headed back to the Con. Upon our arrival, we discovered that Dan Harper had brought huge bins of unsorted used Lego and was selling it in the Brick Bazaar! He was calling it ‘Used Pick-a-Brick’ and you could get a one-gallon Ziploc bag for twelve dollars. It almost caused a riot. After lots of shoving, pushing, and blocking, I got away with 13 horses, a ninja barding, a ton of foliage, log wall pieces, a pile of castle/pirate doors and a number of other odds and ends. Sweet! There were many other vendors there as well, selling everything you could imagine. Storage bins, loose figs, old sets, custom weapons, new sets, T-shirts, custom sets, and more. You name it, it was probably there in some form or other. The Brick Bazaar was a huge hit for vendors, attendees, and the public alike.
Dealing with the public on Saturday was a lot of fun. It was a blast to watch the faces of the kids and adults as they took in the myriad of details in all the MOCs. It was quite a thrill to watch the kids recognize Rapunzal in Blue Knight’s tower, or as they recognized a piece that they owned as well. The adults were just as much fun, as everyone was a budding AFOL. I talked with one man for half an hour about the older stuff in our layout. He was very excited to see many figs that he had owned as a kid. He was so enthralled by our layout that he talked about how he wanted to do something similar. He asked me for directions to the Lego store and finally pulled himself away.
In the evening, we had the Castle Landscaping roundtable, led by our very own BreadMan. Very well thought out and informative, he did an excellent job of presenting his new standard. It was intriguing to see the number of Townies and Spacers who came and they were very interested in the BPB Base 8 Standard. Many of them also asked how to get ahold of NWMap, the tool BreadMan used to plan our layout. They were very excited about the possibilities of maping their layouts as well. The roundtable was followed by a playtest of a new game by Big Ben Bricks, which was called ‘Imenhotep: a pyramid building game’. I wasn’t involved but it seemed to be going well.
The evening addresses consisted of a fun Q&A session with Steve Witt and a very cool talk on Freelance Building by Bill Vollbrecht, a former Master Builder at Legoland California. Following Bill, Steve Barile gave a talk on the Ultimate Train Box project, in which he was very involved. Once again, after the evening addresses, I headed back to my room to play with my newly acquired Lego. However, I heard the Master Build and Draft were awesome and I should have stayed, dang it!
Sunday morning was a whirlwind of crazyness and fun. I arrived soon after the doors opened and found that Castle had been invaded! A large bulldozer, built by Justin Major, had started work on one of our castle walls. So, naturally, my Vikings had to attack. It turned out that Train/Town was also invaded by a large MOC of the battleship Missouri. Later on, the Spacers attacked Castle with troops set on retaking the bulldozer, overrunning John’s Stoneguard Keep, and mechs attacking our sheep. However, Castle eventually prevailed. The sheep conquered the mechs and John’s Falcons ran the cowardly Spacers off a cliff. On a side note, Darkie and I continued the violence with a private war in a small courtyard on her layout. Unfortunately, it ended badly for my Rogue Knights. Darkie was able to defeat them with some black kittens and a stray monkey. It was sad, really it was.
Sunday morning we also had the Wacky Races. For those who don’t know, Wacky Races entail building some kind of gravity-powered vehicle on wheels and sending it down an eight-foot ramp. Points are awarded for distance traveled as well as distance traveled by ejected pilots. Hurrahs are given for spectacular crashes. My own racer was the first to eject its pilot, but only a meager foot and half. By comparison, the winning racer flung its pilot nearly forty feet, via an onboard catapult! Entries of note included Dunechaser’s Steampunk canoe, a trike the traveled 90+ feet (but no pilot ejection) and a Ferrari Spyder that went off the ramp three feet in the air and landed on its head. Now that was a great crash!
The Con’s greatest tragedy occurred near the end of the Wacky Races. Two great crashes were heard over by the Mech table and we all ran over to see what had happened. The two largest Mecha had both gone over backwards off the table and were reduced to rubble. How did it happen? No one could say for sure. It could have been a gust of wind, a slight tremor caused by crashing racers, or the Mecha may have decided to shoot it out. I think it was a shootout. In any case, their builder, Mark Neuman was able to rebuild one of them in time for the public hours. But the other mech was gone for good.
Sunday’s public hours were just as good as the previous day. All told we had over 3200 members of the public visit over the two days. Wayne Hussey, the Con coordinator later told us that the Con was finally self-supporting.
When the public hours were over, we began the long teardown process. At the closing ceremonies, thanks were given to all those who worked so hard and prizes were awarded to the best MOCs in each category. “Best Castle” went to John for his Stoneguard Keep. Congratulations to John for an excellent example of SNOT work!
With the ceremonies over, teardown complete, and all good-byes said, NWBrickCon 2006 was over. It was truly a memorable experience!