Lifelong Brisbane resident, Anita Eenink is subject #24 in our LEGO storage journey. Like so many AFOLs, Anita loved LEGO as a child but fell into her dark ages until she found herself in the toy aisle purchasing LEGO for her son. Her passion for LEGO centres around her childhood loves of Fabuland, Forestmen and minifig accessories as they remind her of the joy she felt as a child and they will always be her favourites. These days, Anita is an avid MOC builder and her husband is a set builder. Upstairs at their house is devoted to sets and they currently have 6 cabinets filled with their favourite builds. Downstairs is the domain of MOC creation and you’ll find all of the parts organised and accessible. Anita’s MOCs are full of colour and often reflect her interests in fairy tales, books, movies and pop culture.
Anita’s storage philosophy has evolved as she herself has evolved as a MOC builder. When she first started out her collection was organised in ziplock bags by part type. As her collection grew she progressed from ziplock bags to tackle boxes and plastic tubs. Sorting by colour eventually reigned supreme for Anita as she prefers to build out of as few boxes as possible at any one time. Generally, when she builds, it will be based on particular colours rather than type and this lead to her changing her overall sorting philosophy. Having said that, she still has things like plants, car parts and minifig accessories sorted by type as this still follows her preference for having as few boxes out as possible when building.
Community is important to Anita and she has fond memories of her first forays into building with LEGO as an adult, discovering eBay, and being directed to Bricklink where she met a group of hilarious, creative and interesting people in the Forum. This is when she realised being an AFOL was more than just building with bricks, it was a community.
Currently a member of Rainbow Bricks and BrisBricks, Anita was also a member of BUGs (the original Brisbane LEGO User Group) but has only ever really been on the periphery of the groups and considers herself a “flakey member” at best. Even though she finds public LEGO Fan displays a source of anxiety, she loves sharing her creations with other people and some of her past efforts can be found on flickr at tikitikitembo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Travis M. of Melbourne prefers to go by the name Space Commander Travis. Space Commander Travis spent the first part of his life in country Victoria but moved to Melbourne in 2003. He has been a member of the Melbourne LEGO User Group (MUGs) since around 2002 and is the current LUG Ambassador for the group. Unlike a lot of AFOLs, Travis did not really have a true Dark Age. His mother started purchasing LEGO for him in 1976 before he was even born and, consequently, he’s been a fan of it all of his life. He does admit that he did have a “can’t really afford this” age but he still tried to buy LEGO whenever he could.
Despite being a lifelong LEGO fan, Travis doesn’t really have a well-organized storage system. In his own words, he describes it as “chaotic”. Ideally, he says, it should be in tubs by type of brick (2x brick, 1x brick, plate etc) with ziplock bags for specific parts (1×1, 2×1, 3×1, 2×4 etc) but, as you can see from the pictures, Travis’ setup is not perfect. A lot of that comes from being an avid builder so his parts are all over the place as he designs and develops his latest creation.
Travis loves having LEGO as his creative outlet. He likes that it appeals to those who like “art” as well as anyone who had LEGO as children. They can appreciate the effort involved in the creation of the design. However, it is somewhat frustrating when people ask if the model he has spent months working on is “just a set”. On a side note, Travis hates sorting bricks and would love someone to sort all of his for him.
Tony B. of Queensland is a long term resident of that state and only became interested in LEGO around 4 years ago. He doesn’t really remember having many LEGO bricks as a child as they moved around a lot. It was his grandchildren, and their love of LEGO, that sparked his interest in the hobby. He says he was looking for a hobby at the time and he definitely found one he really liked. To date, he has mainly built in the medieval, fantasy, Arabian and ninja themes.
For his LEGO storage, Tony divides first in to the main colours and then into the type of part such as plates or bricks. He also separates the specialist pieces like LURPs and BURPs as he has large number of these. His preference is for clear tubs so he can easily see what is inside each one.
His favourite thing about being a LEGO fan is spending hours and hours just tinkering and building, and then rebuilding until he is happy with his creation. His least favourite part is not having enough space to sort, store and work with his LEGO bricks. He hopes one day to have a dedicated LEGO room.
Photos courtesy of Tony B.
The Bionicle range in 2003 was the impetus for Tim B. of Adelaide to revisit the hobby of LEGO building. He then ventured into the Creator theme with the 4954 Town House and the Ferrari racers series. From there it spread far and wide until he decided, while boxed sets are good, building MOCs and mosaics are much more fun.
Tim describes his LEGO storage system as being very “loose”. In his words, “it’s either there or over there or maybe in that box”. Most of what he calls “standard parts”, such as plate and brick, are sorted via colour and size into Fischer brand boxes. Once the quantities exceed these containers, he moves onto 5 litre storage tubs and then 60 litre tubs for things like 2×4 bricks. Smaller parts, of varying descriptions, sometimes become sorted into small non-colour specific trays, but usually they are tossed into the “to be sorted” pile, almost never to see the light of day again. He says that while this can be infuriating at times when he is hunting for that one specific piece, it does create a fun treasure hunt scenario where he find pieces that bring back memories of when he was looking for it 6 months earlier.
Tim’s favourite part of being an AFOL is being able to share his creations and passions for the culture that surrounds LEGO with others who are yet to experience it. Whether that person is 9 or 99, being able to show them that LEGO is so much more than a box tucked away on a shelf gathering dust is really important to him. There is nothing sadder, for Tim, than seeing a set unopened, gathering dust, just because it might increase in value and be worth more than the original purchase price. LEGO sets should be built! Buy, Build and Enjoy! To counter this, Tim’s other great frustration is not having enough parts to build the epic creations he has in his head. He always has to scale something back from where he wants it to be in order to keep it within his LEGO resources and budget.
Photos courtesy of Tim B.
Lee B. of Perth received his first LEGO set in the late 1970s when he was around eight years old. He was an avid collector of Classic Space (or Space as it was then) until the age of fourteen when he entered his Dark Ages. An act of generosity made him give away his entire collection to a single mother colleague when he was in his early twenties. He’s pretty sure he felt noble at the time but the thought of rebuilding his collection via Bricklink brings tears to his eyes.
Although now a re sident of Perth, Western Australia, Lee was originally born in Nottingham, UK and emigrated with his family when he was five years old. Despite some early career temptations to move to Melbourne, he is firmly established in Perth with his kids and grandchildren. It was watching his children, four years ago, build a maze for a remote control T-Rex out of Duplo that finally delivered Lee out of his Dark Ages and on the path to becoming an AFOL.
Lee’s storage philosophy centres on whatever cheap tubs will fit the parts he is trying to store, as well as divided trays and small tool trays from the local hardware store. In Lee’s own words, “it’s rather unwieldy and dispa rate”. He believes this is possibly a physical manifestation of his building method – “a bit of a part-rummaging frenzy.” His preference is to store by part rather than colour and he has a giant tub for all of the weird and/or enormous parts that won’t fit in tiny tubs.
As an author, Lee believes his regular creative outlet is intensely textual and, as he can’t paint, building with LEGO bricks gives him the opportunity to be visually creative and this is one of his favourite things about being a LEGO fan. Another of his favourite things is being able to build his own creations and he’s still, after all these years, obsessed with space fighters and swooshable ships. Coming into the hobby and discovering Vic Vipers, Starfighters and GARCs is like being a kid in a candy shop.
The isolation of being an AFOL in Perth (the most isolated capital city in the world) is Lee’s least favourite thing about being an AFOL. Lee says “there are lots of us in Perth but I’ve found opportunities to be in a face-to-face LUG and to get into displaying have been severely limited, and it seems like the social aspects of the hobby are highly rewarding for really organized LUGs like MUGs”. He believes it’s changing slowly thanks mostly to the Perth LEGO User Group (the Facebook LUG) who have semi-regular meetings. Lee recently had the opportunity to exhibit for the first time at the Bricktober display in Perth and he’s now really excited about displaying at Brickvention in Melbourne in January – a chance to meet other AFOLs and to share his MOCs which he rarely shares, as his photographic skills are not good enough to upload his work to Flickr or MOC Pages.
Photos courtesy of Lee B.