How to Pack Your LEGO Creations
by Lenny Hoffman 26 January 2004
Whether you're planning on going to BrickFest, or want to send a model to BrickFest, knowing how to pack your LEGO creations is always a good thing to know.
Basics to Keep in Mind
The first thing to keep in mind is that shipping LEGO creations is the art of putting something back together. What is important is the overall structural integrity - small detailed bits that come off easily should be taken off pre-emptively. All details bits and pieces should be kept seperately in little baggies (I use ziplocks, but whatever serves the same purpose).
Once that is done, the next good thing to do is put your creation into a bag of its own. This way, when things fall apart (and they will), you know where the pieces are and can easily put them back together. Be sure to give yourself ample time to re-construct your creations when you arrive.
Shipping or Checking Baggage on an Airplane
If you are shipping a creation or flying and plan on checking your baggage, you'll pack the same. First, get a box that is more than big enough to fit all the creations you want to bring. Individual creations should not be touching eachother too much. The more creations touch eachother, the more stress they can put on eachother and the more they will fall apart. Several times I've transported creation that fell apart as one creation hit another one.
Begin by filling you box with something soft and plentiful. I've had great luck using old pillows, as they are both soft and will conform to the shape of your creation, and firm to keep things from moving too much. I've heard of success with piece of foam, blankets, etc. But the key here is to make sure you adequate cover both the bottom and sides of your box.
Put your creations into the box and be sure to keep them somewhat distant from eachother and covered with pillow/blanket/foam. Make sure your box is full and tight. This will keep your creations from moving, and thus make them survive any trauma they may recieve during the trip.
Shipping works best with smaller creations always. However, if there is enough padding, any sized creation should be able to survive mostly intact. I spoke with Anthony Sava who transported his dragon Formeathan to BrickFest 2003 via checking a box on the airplane. He followed the basic strategy mentioned above, and only had significant rebuilding of the shoulder joints. Obviously these are the weak points of the model, and were bound to deconstruct somewhat anyway. After a few hours of re-building, Formeathan was standing big and tall for the BrickFest crowd to be awed at.
Another good thing to do, when trying to figure how to ship a creation, is to contact any admin here at Classic-Castle (as we've all transported something one time or another) or go to the BrickFest Website to find a list of people who have attended a BrickFest. People like Eric Sophie and Adrian Drake are good, friendly guys, who've transported their large creations long distances and lived to tell the tale.
Something else to keep in mind when shipping a creation is shipping cost. This is something that can climb fairly quickly, and when shipping a creation, you'll probably have to pay both there and back. And the less it is handled (ie, Overnight vs. Priority vs. Airmail), the better.
Packaging for a Car Ride
Transporting creations by car is probably the easiest way to do it. Because it is only you handling the creations, you know they will be handled with car. But some of the same rules apply. First, always use baggies. Bopping along in a car, things are bound to fall off - and you want them to be someplace logical. Second, always give yourself time to re-build when you arrive.
Large creations are especially easy. Castle Julian has traveled all over Florida (while showing it off to my family during Christmas break) in the back seat of my car. I made sure not to turn sharply or slam on the breaks, but I try to do that anyway. The castle always arrived in great condition.
Making the Creation Fit
When going to BrickFest 2003, I brought along my spaceship the Kalashnikov and tried to fit it in a suitcase. However, the Kal, being almost three feet long (almost a meter), couldn't quite fit. I tried my best, and ended up kinda smooshing the tip so it would fit, thinking I would rebuild when I get there.
When I arrived (after fifteen hours of driving), the smooshed front had lead to a general break down of structural integrity. The entire front half of the ship had disintegrated. I almost cried, and spent two hours putting it back together. On the trip home I wanted to make sure it wouldn't happen again.
By looking closely at the ship, I noticed one major weak point of the design:
Where the escape pods attached to the main body of the ship, the ship itself was fairly weak. I had especially re-enforced during the construction of the Kal. Because this was the weak point, I disconnected the front of the ship here and packaged it next to the back part. Arriving at home, the Kal was in pristine condition, and rebuilt in a fraction of the time.
The Lesson? By pre-emptively taking the ship apart at weak points, I was able to ensure the ship as a whole would survive much better.
Obviously these are the only ways to package a creation for shipment or traveling. If you have ideas of your own, I suggest writing your own article talking about your experiences, successes, and failures. Any errors or questions may be directed towards myself at glencaer at classic-castle dot com.
Thanks for reading.