Brick by Brick

I guess it’s a question for the AFOL community. How long are you happy to be separated from your bricks?

The question seemed a good one. It came during the first of several presentations at a Well-LUG meeting of AFOLs. My 9 year-old’s membership is controversial. Not all LUGs welcome non-adults. AFOLs are adult fans of Lego but the Wellington LUG (unlike other Lego User Groups) let her join.

How do I get more Lego into my life?

The presenter proposed the LUG made models of civic redevelopments bringing computer visualisations to life (via Lego). Each member would contribute a section to a larger model to be displayed to the public.




Is it going to be insured? You know, after what happened in that mall in Queensland?…. (General muttering). Ah yes, the helicopter thing. (Shaking of heads). Look, worst case scenario it gets tipped over and all the bricks get mixed up.

It was a freezing Saturday in the Hutt. Canterbury and Otago had declared States of Emergency but thirty adults, four teens and three kids were at the meeting to consider Lego. In an adult way.

How do you best photograph your models? SLR or smartphone? Lightbox or in the field?

What is GBC? (The Great Ball Contraption. Engineered models that deliver balls to other contraptions in inventive ways).




LDD vs (virtual Lego building programs).

Who still uses LDD?

A show of hands indicated most still used the former.

(Sharp intake of breath).

It won’t be long lads, it won’t be long…



How do you get the most out of brinklink? (The online trading community akin to eBay or TradeMe). Apparently, the hardest part is describing the brick you want.

Keep it simple. Think like a store man…  Describe it backwards. And don’t order over a glass of wine. Unless cost isn’t an issue.




But it wasn’t all talk. New members introduced themselves, and their passions.

Russell, my 2nd time. I do vehicles. Mustangs, Chevys. But like kids’ cartoons, with over-sized engines.

 A woman speaks for a retired couple with ‘sudden time’ on their hands.

Terry does The Excavator… with added motors (impressed murmur). I do Dr. Who.

 My name’s Brian. I am obsessed with building spaceships.

 Solenne. I think building furniture is what I’m good at.

 Yeah, I do vintage space-ships. 1978-1990.


It felt like an AA meeting, but with fizzy drink. Lots of fizzy drink. I awkwardly talked to the fans (who were almost as socially awkward as me) while my girl necked a Fanta and admired the models, especially the baby figure. (Very rare, according to those around me).

Look at this figure, Dad. What’s she holding? …Gosh, it’s a bit Baywatch… Yes, (says the proud man) it’s Pamela Anderson. I got her second-hand. (He lets me hold tiny Pam).



And then it was on to the bit that my daughter came for. The competitive group build. Teams of four were given a huge box of blue and green eight-stud blocks and allowed thirty minutes to build four animals (turtle, goat, elephant and duck). Everyone lay on the floor, chatting and building. It looked fun. The models were amazing and varied. When the five minute call came my daughter burst into tears. The pressure, the fizz, the realization that her elephant didn’t have tusks? Maybe that’s why kids aren’t encouraged to join.



So, the question remains. Am I an AFOL? I’m certainly a fan of Well-LUG. If I had a passion, it would be building overlooked historical events. Like when the Amazon Queen Thalestris turned up to have Alexander the Great’s baby. Or when senior government ministers let down Piggy Muldoon’s tyres so he couldn’t drive drunk. Or when Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe took Laurence Olivier to see Look Back in Anger and he decided he liked the play after all.


For me, the best fun was watching the AFOLs. Noticing that their passion was for building models as opposed to the imaginative play (with silly voices) my daughter uses when she ‘plays Lego’ with her sisters.

But most of all I loved, loved, loved the bit the AFOLs openly dislike. When, at the end of the meeting, we pulled all the bricks (and models) apart.



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