Subject #23 Chrys B. of Heathcote

Australia, Victoria

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Chrys B. of Heathcote, Australia had an interest in LEGO in her early teens but endured a Dark Age that lasted a number of decades until she discovered the Star Wars LEGO range. It was after attending Brickvention 2012 that she decided she really was an AFOL. Chrys is currently a member of MUGs (Melbourne LEGO User Group) and BALD (Bendigo Area LEGO Designers). Her favourites themes are Space, Space and Space.

LEGO storage for Chrys is organized by colour and then by part. As an artist, this structure helps Chrys encourage creativity and allows for organic design and building. Common pieces have their own space and most are stored in zip lock plastic bags and others are in drawers. She likes to keep sets together and these are stored in boxes by theme.

Chrys loves the creativity that comes from building with LEGO and enjoys the sharing culture of the AFOL community where she can display her work and see the work of others. Her main block to creativity, as with many other AFOLs, is her lack of actual LEGO pieces with which to complete her MOCs. She has many fantastic ideas but lacks the resources to bring them to fruition.

Subject #22 Iain Scott of York, UK

United Kingdom

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Iain Scott of York (UK) was first exposed to LEGO as a young child when he received some older LEGO featuring the Homemaker people and some basic bricks. On his 5th birthday he was lucky enough to receive the Classic Space sets of 918 and 928 and he immediately fell in love with the sets and the minifigure spaceman. LEGO was part of Iain’s life up until the age of 16 when he left school, got a job, and real life took over. Despite abandoning LEGO as a teenager, he still has his childhood LEGO and delights in coming across the odd older piece in his collection. Iain rediscovered LEGO around ten years ago when an accident at work left him housebound for a while and he had to find a new hobby which wasn’t just about watching daytime television. He is currently the LEGO Ambassador for the Northern Brickworks and is a member of The Brickish Association. He is also part of the NerdHerd and his blogging can be found at The Brick Nerd and his LEGO creations can be found at Iainy73 on Flickr.

Perhaps due to his early exposure, Classic Space is still a favourite with Iain. He’s also a fan of Fabuland and reckons Belville and Mars Mission were rather underrated. Nexo Knights is his favourite modern theme.

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In Iain’s own words, his storage method is “haphazard”. He prefers to mostly store by colour but also has some bulky parts stored separately. He uses “Really Useful Boxes” as they are robust, stackable and come in a variety of sizes. He admits that storing by colour can be problematic when trying to locate a specific piece but it reflects his organic building style and enhances his creativity.

Being part of the LEGO fan community brings great joy to Iain – especially when he gets to see the original creations of other LEGO fans whether they be official LEGO releases, kids messing with bricks, MOC builders or professional builders who build with LEGO for a living. On the other hand, he’s not a fan of the politics that can surround the LUGs and he gets annoyed at the expectations of LEGO fans who believe LEGO should give people product for free. He also actively dislikes it when supposed fans share confidential photos and information on social media.

Subject #21 Deborah Higdon of Ottawa

Canada, Ottawa

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Deborah Higdon of Ottawa first discovered LEGO as a seven year old when visiting family friends. She never really had the opportunity to play with LEGO as a child as they only had a few sets as a family. As an adult, she regularly gifted LEGO sets to nieces and nephews (which she then helped build when she visited) but didn’t start buying for herself until she was 40 years old. Since then, Deborah has become an award-winning skilled builder and was featured in the book The LEGO Ideas Book. She is currently a member of ParLUGment, which is Ottawa’s adult LEGO fan group.

Unlike a lot of other AFOLs, Deborah doesn’t have a particular favourite LEGO theme. She doesn’t get excited when the “next big thing” is announced. For her, it’s all about the parts and colours and their potential in future builds. Deborah’s favourite building theme is architecture and design and she enjoys developing both interior and exterior details.

Deborah’s storage method is very organic and strongly reflects her building style and preferred techniques. She sorts by usage and her love of the different pieces, which, essentially, is by type of piece. For example, all of the tiles are in a tower of their own and a drawer for each colour where possible. Within each drawer they are then separated by size. The tile tower is the closest to the build table and then, the rest of the parts are ordered according to usage. Plates are the second closest but her favourite colours have their own drawer. The less she uses a piece or likes it, the less separated the pieces are. As her respect for Technic increases (as she acquires more parts) they are being separated out more than they were previously. Her minifigs are still thrown together in the one drawer but she is starting to separate the torsos from the legs. Minifig accessories, however, are well sorted and she has a few drawers for “small bits” – tiny things she looks through for fine detailing of MOCs. Trans pieces, mostly used for water, have their own tower as well. In terms of bulk brick, Deborah separates white, tan and old greys as she uses them more frequently and all green and brown plate and brick are kept in a separate tower because they’re used for detailing landscapes and gardens. She also has a special tower for “furniture details” which includes all the curves and smaller pieces she uses to create furniture.

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Like a lot of other LEGO fans, Deborah really enjoys meeting other LEGO Fans, sharing ideas, seeing their work and generally being blown away by the level of creativity that’s out there. She loves attending LEGO fan events and sharing the love of the brick or spending hours talking about the legoness of things, sharing techniques or inspiring those who have never thought to give LEGO a try. Part of this is stopping the shaming that goes with the love of a children’s toy – proving to others that creativity takes all forms and no one should be embarrassed by what they build.

Deborah has some concerns regarding how our very symbiotic relationship with this toy company can be distorted and turned ugly by a few people who have developed unrealistic expectations. As much as she would love the system to expand so the 1×1 round tiles are available in almost every colour, she knows that the fact that they are not should be spawning creativity and we should be working with this rather than getting annoyed. Added to this, the sense of entitlement that has developed as LEGO supports AFOLs more and more is really disheartening to Deborah. She really hates that those who work for the LEGO Community Team often see nothing more than a hand out to grab more of what the company does to support us. Sometimes it must seem like a very thankless job.

Subject #20 Warren Elsmore of the UK

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Warren Elsmore’s early days with LEGO are mostly lost in history. Neither Warren nor his parents can remember what his first set was other than it wasn’t Duplo. Showing signs of his future building talent, he does know he went straight to LEGO System and would have been around 3 years old at the time. As an adult, Warren emerged from his Dark Ages as the result of purchasing the Statue of Liberty LEGO set as a gift. Since then, he’s gone on to become an active member of the AFOL community, a professional LEGO model builder and an author of many books on LEGO building. Warren is a member of Brickish and occasionally posts on Brickset and Eurobricks.

His greatest love is the City theme and this is reflected in his books. One day, he’d like to build a large (10m x 10m) city layout but it may some years before it comes into fruition unless someone commissions him to create his dream.

Now that Warren works in LEGO professionally, time spent looking for parts is time wasted so his LEGO storage is very well organised. Consequently, he has spent a lot of money on his storage set up. Warren and his wife Teresa categorise parts into one of around 10 top headings. Earlier this year, they re-categorised everything int o a new storage system and it’s halved the time taken to pick parts for a model. They use a hybrid of the TLG and Bricklink divisions to categorise their parts – Slopes, Clips, Bars, SNOT elements etc are their ‘top level’ categories. They then break those down, so slopes would have 25/30/33/65/70 degree slopes etc.  Every element is design and colour separated, unless they have very few of a single design. Each part/colour combo is stored in a small square plastic tub, the same as you can buy sets of screws in (Warren contacted the supplier of these in the UK and made a big order!) Those tubs then go into school trays, which are racked around the walls of their studio. This way, they can (theoretically) go to any point in the studio, open one drawer and pick out the right part in the right colour. On top of this, they have the ‘bulk store’, where they keep elements for which they have a large quantity. This section is stored by colour, as they tend to need ‘green plate’ rather than any particular size of green plate. All in, Warren believes they have about 4 million elements in stock at any one point of time.

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Being part of the fan community is probably the best part of being a LEGO fan for Warren. With his wife, he has been lucky enough to spend time at events throughout Europe, the US and Australia. Everyone they have met has been friendly and they all share the common language of “LEGO”. It’s even more impressive in Europe where they have ended up hanging out with people from 6 different countries, speaking 6 different languages and having a great time because of their shared love of the brick.

Conversely, Warren sometimes finds the “entitled” attitude of a very, very small minority of fans ruins his love of the community. These are the people who believe The LEGO Group owes them something just because they buy a lot of LEGO. As much as he loves LEGO and makes a living from working with it, it’s still just a children’s toy. The LEGO Group is already one of the biggest toy companies out there, what more would they need from us fans?

It’s Warren’s belief that however popular AFOLdom becomes, we’ll always be an edge case and he thinks we should remember that. Besides, if we could have any element in any colour, then where would the fun be?

Subject #19 Paco from Aussie Brickster

Australia, Melbourne

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Paco from Aussie Brickster arrived in Melbourne from Mexico at the age of 19. Like a lot of Adult Fans of LEGO, Paco stopped building with LEGO for a while but returned to it as an adult once he had his own children. Since becoming an AFOL, he has become a member of MUGs (Melbourne LEGO User Group) and runs a popular Bricklink store.

Thematically, Paco prefers themes that don’t contain many sets – such as Paradisa, Monster fighters and themed City Sets. It makes it a lot easier to use them to create a great looking diorama without having to spend 1000s of dollars to buy the necessary sets. He tries to build large dioramas so he can encourage other LEGO fans to try to do the same thing. His belief is that if he shows that he can produce something large then other LEGO fans will try to do the same thing. He usually starts with the regular sets and then builds on the details to enhance the series and produce a decent diorama.

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Storage options for Paco are all about consistency and efficiency. His preference is for matching storage solutions and he will regularly change his set up if he can’t locate an adequate number of a particular system. His parts are organized by type with labels to allow for easy location. Since these photos were taken, Paco has redesigned and rearranged his LEGO storage.

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Being a LEGO fan is very relaxing for Paco. He loves sorting, fixing, building and creating. It all helps him deal with some of his personal issues. Sourcing parts can be frustrating though. Despite having his own personal 24/7 Bricklink store he finds it rather annoying to have an idea and to not have immediate access to the correct pieces in order to bring his creation to life.

Subject # 18 David C. of Melbourne

Australia, Melbourne

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David C. of Melbourne believes he began his love of LEGO with Duplo when he was toddler. He then received his first regular LEGO set around the age of 5 or 6. He was an avid fan and builder for many years until he discovered computers as a 12 year old. David finally emerged from his Dark Age around the age of 20 and hasn’t stopped building with LEGO ever since.

Although currently a member of MUGs (Melbourne LEGO User Group), David hasn’t always lived in Melbourne. He grew up in South Australia and moved to Melbourne as an adult. He also spent a few years living in Glasgow but was not involved in the LEGO Fan community whilst there.

His favourite theme is Space but he also has a love of castle. He’s a bit intimidated by the “modern’” castle building style which he believes looks very fiddly and detailed and doesn’t look much like castles (or even ruins) that he has visited.

The parts in David’s collection are mostly stored by type. Some parts get their own container (1×1, 1×2, 2×4 etc), some get grouped with similar parts (“curved things”), and others just get dumped together because they’re parts he doesn’t use much (“those fiddly technic bits”). In general, he says, colours are mixed together for each type of part. Sometimes he does a colour split on a part type because the some parts have gotten too big for a single container – such as the 2×4 bricks.

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David loves building with LEGO bricks but doesn’t get nearly enough time as he has two young children in the house. When he does get a chance to build, he likes to head to his LEGO Room, put on some music and get completely engrossed for a few hours. Lack of time and lack of money have held back his building plans over the years. He has some fantastic ideas and half-started projects that he’d love to complete one day.

Subject # 17 Jörg R. of Germany

Germany

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Jörg R. from Kassel in Germany began his love of LEGO in a much simpler time in terms of LEGO set design. Being born in the mid-1960s means that a lot of his childhood LEGO would now be considered “vintage” by today’s modern enthusiasts. His Dark Age lasted around 11 years and covered an era that included the introduction of the minifig and popular themes like Castle and Classic Space. During his Dark Age, Jörg sold all of his LEGO sets and pieces, his other toys and all of his comics. He returned to LEGO after the birth of his first son and seeing an old 802 Gear Supplementary set at a flea market inspired him to attempt to buy all the sets he had as a child.

Jörg likes to collect old sets and has quite a good storage system for old bricks. His newer LEGO bricks are sorted by their colour or part type. Many of these are then stored in big boxes, which means it’s not that easy to find some parts. As a reflection of his need to improve his storage system, Jörg tells the story of seeing the 10194 Emerald Night on eBay and thinking about how he’d like to own the set. A few days later he was reorganizing a shelf and discovered that he already owned a copy of the set!

Meeting other AFOLs is important to Jörg. He doesn’t build many of his own creations but he does like attending AFOL events and meeting new people – especially ones from other countries. One of Jörg’s favourite things is to rebuild rare sets that he wouldn’t normally be able to buy. He finds it frustrating when it’s not possible to purchase the correct pieces or if they are very expensive

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Finally, Jörg spearheaded the LEGO-Fans help refugee-kids charity drive where LEGO sets and parts were donated to refugee kids. This fantastic initiative has brought much joy and happiness to children escaping horrible situations in their home countries.

 

Subject #16 Steve R. of Melbourne

Australia, Melbourne, Victoria

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Steve R. of Melbourne, as with so many AFOLs, was unable to keep his childhood LEGO as it was donated to cousins during his Dark Age. He fondly remembers a yellow tow-truck type vehicle from his childhood but also recalls his family having a number of castle sets. He’s not sure when he was first given LEGO sets but does recall having some when he was around 10 years old. Steve emerged from his Dark Ages in his twenties when he started buying random sets. At the time he told his then girlfriend (now wife) that he was buying for the nephews and nieces or for their future children. Moving forward some years, he is now an avid LEGO collector and builder and regularly attends meetings of the Melbourne LEGO User Group (MUGs). Now that his kids are into LEGO, he has to fight to keep them away from his LEGO collection.

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“Semi-organised” is how Steve describes his storage method. Steve prefers to sort by colour and has his most common colours loose in a box with other colours bagged and stored in the same box. The bulk of Steve’s LEGO is on display so he doesn’t have to worry too much about organizing his spare parts.

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Being part of the local LUG community has been a fantastic opportunity for Steve. He’s met some awesome people who wouldn’t be part of his life if it weren’t for being a member of the LEGO community. For Steve, sharing his passion for LEGO with his kids is an important part of being a LEGO Fan. He wants them to love LEGO just as much as he does. The downside is knowing that he will probably never have the opportunity to own any of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive superhero figures and sets. Sadly, they are outside of his budget. In the meantime, he’ll continue to modify sets and build his own superhero creations.

 

 

Subject #15 Tim Johnson of London

London, United Kingdom

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Although living most of his adult life in London, Tim was originally from Melbourne, Australia. With four older sisters, LEGO was an ever-present toy in his household; Tim and his closest sister were obsessive about retaining boxes and instructions so much so that he still has many of these from his childhood. Despite this early obsession, Tim, like many AFOLs, entered his Dark Age and did not emerge from it until 2010. He was drawn back into the hobby via the Architecture range, specifically Fallingwater, but he didn’t start interacting with the LEGO Fan community until 2012. Since then, he has contributed a chapter of models to the DK’s LEGO Play Book and, more recently, he built models for Friends Build Your Own Adventure and LEGO Awesome Ideas. He considers himself both a ‘builder’ and a ‘collector’ but believes it is more akin to random hoarding than any form of organized collecting. Two years ago he started his blog, The New Elementary, which has become a popular resource for many LEGO fans around the world. In 2015, he was appointed editor of Bricks Culture magazine and this, along with being assistant editor of Bricks magazine, is now his full-time job. As an AFOL, Tim is a member of a number of LUGs including Brickish, Fairy Bricks, London AFOLs and, of course, Bricks and New Elementary which are considered to be virtual LUGs.

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Tim’s storage system was featured in an article in Bricks magazine and can be considered quite a deviation from the style mostly featured in The Brick Room Blog to date. His preference is for thin craft storage trays/boxes that make it easy to locate a particular colour or type of part. Tim lives in a one-bedroom apartment so his bedroom is also his LEGO room. When building, he lays all of the part trays out on the bed and builds whilst standing between the bed and the shelves. Once he has finished building for the day, he packs it away again as space is a premium. He finds the trays make cleanup quite quick. For the most recent of his DK books, he forced himself to set aside time at the end of every day to sort unused parts from that day back into the trays. In his own words “..there is no point having more parts than you can actually manage. Not just space, but also time. If you can’t find the time to sort then you can’t find what you need”.

Lack of time is a major issue for Tim. The open-ended nature of LEGO means there are many things he would like to try but he just hasn’t got the time to try them out. On the other hand, he loves seeing the way in which the hobby is evolving to encompass so many new expressions of creativity.

Subject #14 The LEGO Library of SE Melbourne

Australia, Melbourne, Victoria

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The “LEGO Library” of SE Melbourne was originally from Sydney but moved to Melbourne in 1979. Although a serious collector of LEGO for around 20 years, she developed an even greater love for the plastic brick when her then young son also became an enthusiast.

“LEGO Library” prefers to store her LEGO bricks by part type so all similar parts are stored together. The rare colours, like the greens and purples, are stored together by colour as there are not many of them. The sorted parts are in drawers, the partially sorted are in plastic crates and the unsorted remainder are in plastic tubs with lids. She’s hoping to eventually move everything into drawers and crates.

As an AFOL, “LEGO Library” loves having an excuse to play and build with LEGO. She really loves showing her builds and talking to other AFOLs and the public about LEGO. Despite loving to display her creations, her least favourite thing about being an AFOL is time and effort required to set up and pack up the displays.