CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and Kim Ellekjær Thomsen.
The first of which I refer to as, “the big three,” has come and gone. The adult fan of LEGO® (AFOL) Convention: Brickworld Chicago 2014 successfully entertained hundreds of LEGO fans and thousands of public visitors at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois; USA. Not only is this premiere AFOL event well established and impressively operated, it does well to attract an overwhelming number of AFOLs and teenage fans of LEGO (TFOLs) from all across North America and beyond! This year, my colleague Kim Thomsen, European Community Coordinator, was available to join me for not only his first visit to an American AFOL Convention but for his first time in the United States period!
Bender Bending Rodriguez as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
Kim and I arrived in the area Thursday afternoon to allow us an opportunity to take a quick drive downtown before the event’s opening ceremonies in the evening. As Kim had never visited the area, I felt it was my duty to take him to the top of the tallest building I could find! Before heading 1,000 feet (305 meters) into the sky, we had a quick check in with our colleagues at the local LEGO Brand Retail Store in Water Tower Place to discuss any pertinent questions or concerns regarding the local AFOL community and/or event. After a wonderful chat with the Store Manager and his team, we ascended into the sky. The view of Chicago was simply breathtaking as we sipped a few cups of coffee from the top of the John Hancock Center.
We pulled into the event venue with a couple hours free to settle into our hotel rooms and prep for the opening ceremonies. As with other AFOL Conventions operating in the North American market, I had been in close dialogue with the owners of this event for several months. These events are supported to various degrees by the LEGO Community Engagement & Events (CEE) department and as such it is my responsibility to manage both the relationship and logistical coordination on behalf of The LEGO Group. After so much planning behind the scenes, it’s great to take a seat and let everything take shape!
A European castle as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
Our keynote speaker was David Robertson, author of the book: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. He gave a great presentation speaking to some of the history of The LEGO Group and the reason why certain decisions were made. Although there were literally dozens of folks that were interested in speaking with Kim and I late into the evening, we wrapped up an exciting day to conserve energy for what was to come.
Friday the event was only open to registered attendees so Kim and I did our best to engage with as many AFOLs and TFOLs as possible throughout the day. While folks were still setting up My Own Creations (MOCs) and displays, we caught up with various contacts from all across both North America and Europe! Throughout the day, Kim and I conducted three presentations that were open to all who were interested. One of which was dedicated to the LEGO Ambassador Network. This provided some information into what the program is, what people can expect from it, and provide greater visibility to both the program itself and currently participating members.
CEE representatives Kevin Hinkle and Kim Ellekjær Thomsen speaking with the Beyond the Brick team.
This presentation in particular had several currently active LEGO Ambassadors in attendance: Jeffrey Viens who represents ChiLUG, Abner Finley from GMLTC, Chris Eyerly from KLUG, Chris Hettinger from IowaLUG, and Sam Wormuth from BroLUG to name a few. The other two presentations were actually one repeated in order to give more individuals the opportunity to participate. As tradition, I hosted a presentation in which I detailed the CEE department, and all the programs and support opportunities that are currently available to our AFOL community from the LEGO Group. As a special gift, those in attendance were given not only one of my elusive Minifigure business cards but Kim’s too! :)
Saturday the event was opened to the public and as expected, they came in droves. Kim and I split up and continued speaking with as many fans as possible. There were a great number of discussions taking place all across the venue and as usual it was extremely helpful for us to reaffirm a solid pulse on what the community is talking about at the moment. In the evening we were treated to an official screening of The LEGO Movie as coordinated with Warner Bros. Entertainment and the brickfilming website: The Set Bump! As if there weren’t enough amazing talks, seminars, presentations, and workshops taking place during the day- they crammed one more treat which was the annual tradition of the World of Lights. All the lights in the expo hall were turned so that every MOC with lights could truly shine. It was just a stunning experience and great atmosphere.
The public visitors at Brickworld Chicago 2014.
The Castle of Hope as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
Sunday after a rather quiet breakfast (I think our voices were gone…) Kim and I headed for the Chicago O’Hare airport. While I rested up on my flight back to Connecticut Kim embraced a long trip home to Denmark.
Kim and I were very grateful for the experience and had a pleasure speaking with everyone. I found it extremely difficult to recap everything that took place as there simply was so much going on throughout the entire weekend. Well done to all the volunteers for another fantastic Brickworld Chicago!
Gotta’ catch ‘em all! Ash Ketchum and Pikachu as built by a Brickworld Chicago attendee.
For those interested, I’ve uploaded all the photos I took while in attendance on my Flickr account.
Sound off in the comments if you were in attendance at this event! What were your thoughts?