This was my… I think 5th time at a LEGO Convention, but only my second time as a participant. It was lots of fun though different from last year.

A List of all my MOCs
All my photos at BrickShelf (when moderated)
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I had to work on Thursday and then I had a BookCrossing Convention Planning meeting until 9 or 10 after work, so I didn’t get to set up on Thursday. I did take off work on Friday though and I got to the Dulles Expo Center around 9:45 (check-in was at 10). After tracking down the proper sections on the floor, I found that there was pretty much no room for 9 out of 10 of my MOCs. The really sweet organizer of the Castle section let me put my Harry Potter MOCs on the side castle table, except there was so little space I had to double-up in some cases. I put my hockey MOC on a table someone told me was for “Other” but turned out to be for trains. Other was all filled so it was moved over to the town/city table. There was plenty of space on the music table for my WRock MOC.

After I set up, I poked around a bit. There was a session at noon I really wanted to go to but the volunteers pointed me to the wrong area and since no one was there, I figured it was canceled. Over by the mosaics I ran into some of the gang from BZPower, who were appropriately geeky like me and very welcoming. I also ran into some of the participants I’d met the year before, both from the local group and from the PA group. They’d all been working hard on the club display tables, both of which looked wonderful. I wanted to attend the session on landscaping, and I found the hidden side session rooms, but it turns out I was in the wrong place for a second time; Magnus was hosting the session over by the military table. So I missed the first 15 minutes or so but ended up hanging around afterward for more discussion. After that, I went to a session given by Jamie, a LEGO engineer from Denmark. Did I get the location right this time? You guessed it: no! I ended up watching the tail end of a Brickfilm development session along with some people who were supposed to be helping the guy set up and couldn’t figure out where. I finally found it back in the main area where I’d been directed at first that morning. So I was 0 for 3 at that point, but luckily I didn’t miss any of Jamie’s talk. And I got to be there in person for the brand new reveal about the Tower Bridge set… which I think I’m going to have to buy. It was fascinating to listen to him talk about the design and development process, including how they built things in white at first and then tested it with test groups in Germany and the US.

I stayed put for Bingo, which had some great prizes. I came damn close to winning a few times but didn’t win; same as last year *sigh* After that there was the welcome ceremony with Todd. This ended with door prizes–none of which I won; same as last year *sigh*. I walked around and took some more photos of MOCs. Then I went to meet melydia & her husband for dinner nearby at a pizza buffet. I picked up some available books from her and stopped by Target for a bottle of water (I had a freaking miserable time waiting in line last year for the Running of the Bulls without anything to drink, so I came prepared this time). I had a good feeling about my random color & piece assignment: Gray Slope. I should have known better; LEGO totally screwed us over on gray brick coloring a few years back. Naturally, gray was doomed and ended up being the last ones in line. Technically, pink was last, but not a single pink showed up. So I ended up waiting outside the Tysons LEGO Store until a little after 12:00am before I even got in the door. Unlike last year, people were only allowed to get one discounted (damaged) item on the first round. So by the time I got in, so much good stuff was gone but there was plenty of good stuff left. And, as always, it was great to get to know the other people in line with me. And as we were all doomed at the end of the line, we had a lot to commiserate together about. LOL Someone in my group snagged the last Castle marketplace set that I really wanted *sigh* but I got the second-to-last Grand Emporium, so that was awesome. Then I got back in line for the second round, hoping that there would be some AT-ATs left by the time I got back in the store. During the second round, people were allowed 2 damaged item and an item off the shelves. I got back into the store around 1:30 and there was still a huge pile of motorized AT-ATs. I wanted to get the over $100 10% discount so I grabbed another Star Wars set (aww, little Ani in a thick blue coat) and also the new Harry Potter board game that I have been wanting. They rang me up wrong, despite my handing them the items in the proper order as described to me outside. So they overcharged me by about $20. I didn’t realize it until I was in the car on the way home at 2am, though, and I was going to drive back at that point. This makes the second time the LEGO store has made a mistake in the checkout process. So far they owe me close to $50. It was an exhausting night, but I got some excellent sets out of it and it was SO much better than last year. Last year I was last in line and had to watch people buying something like 10 sets. There was nothing left that I wanted last year by the time I got in the door. This year the wait was just as bad but it was SO much fairer. I didn’t feel miserable or depressed or like bursting into tears with an awful headache at the end. I still think that they should have let us in based on the order we registered, but if you have to go totally random, this was the best way to do it. And I’m surprised Todd didn’t lose his voice sitting there at the door, reading off names for 3 hours straight.

The next morning I took more photos of MOCs and got ready for the public to invade. There was already a huge line outside at 10am for the opening at 11am! Attendance nearly doubled this year! So many members of the public stopped by to see my MOCs. Mine were hardly the most impressive, and Jenn, the other Harry Potter LEGO person on the east coast, didn’t come to BrickFair this year *sad*. Sometimes I feel like I’m looked down at for making Harry Potter MOCs, but I’m a fangirl at heart and just try to stop me! Maybe I’m not as “professional” a builder as most people there, but being able to talk about my creations with other Harry Potter fans MORE than makes up for it. I had so much fun turning on my spinning Christmas tree and watching kids’ eyes widen and adults’ faces light up at the sight. Some people weren’t impressed, but most got a kick out of it (especially when I asked the kids to say “Lumos!” to make the tree go on). Lots asked to see the hidden rooms upstairs/behind, that were easy to show off because of my modular building method and the lazy susan I put the MOC on. The three biggest hits were easily the Room of Requirement, Christmas at Grimmauld Place, and Take a Bath. Kids especially got a kick out of the scene with Harry in the bubble bath; they would laugh and point. Many also loved seeing Lupin in the Full Moon scene from book three. He was identified as Professor Lupin, the werewolf teacher, and the wolf man. heehee Not everyone had read the books, so some of the fair-goers didn’t understand my Seven Potters display. A few people, however, excitedly tried to identify which Harry was the real Harry in the group. There were tons of fangirls and boys, and I ended up running out of DADA cards on the second day. One girl took a card and then came back 10 minutes later to ask how old she had to be to join; I told her we had mostly adults at the discussions but lots of events like concerts and parties and games that are all-ages. There was one boy who saw the Seven Potters (if I’d have known people would walk right-to-left I wouldn’t have set my display up left-to-right) and he totally freaked out. He gasped and his eyes went so wide as he cupped his hands to his mouth. He looked from one MOC to the other and then pretended to faint against his Mom. LOL Then he started pointing out all the things he could identify “That’s the cupboard where Harry lived! And that’s when he broke his arm!” There were also a fair number of people who noticed the TARDIS and lightsaber hidden in the Room of Requirements. Seriously, there is nothing this fangirl likes more than talking about Harry Potter and LEGO with a bunch of people, and that’s what I got to do for hours each day. So much fun!

The BZPower crew were sweet enough to invite me to lunch with them. We went to Wendy’s (yay, because there’s stuff there I can eat!) and talked fannish stuff for a while. When I got back to my display, there was still a few hours left. I knew I should go play Bingo again but I was having too much fun showing off my creations. And I’m glad I stayed because Cindi & Mike from the DADA stopped by! It was so awesome to see them, especially as I didn’t know they would be coming to see my stuff.

After the public hours, I talked with a couple participants and had some great conversations that went on for more than an hour. I took some more photos of MOCs and finally got to see the Pandorica over at the WAMALUG display. I ate the lunch I’d brought along for dinner and then went to the LEGO Yard Sale, where people sell their sets and bricks they don’t want any more. I bought an old forest man set, a few bags and containers of red bricks for a MOC I’m planning, and some minifigs. But the best part was a kid who had a HUGE container of LEGO and you could fill up a bag for $8 or $15 (depending on the size of the bag). I spent almost an hour there, picking out LEGO bricks and have a HUGE bag of really interesting and useful pieces now. When I went by an hour later, people were still rooting through the bin, though the level was about a fifth the height it had been when I was there. It was fun bonding with all the people searching along with me, too.

I watched some of the games scheduled that night, but didn’t participate in any of them (most you had to sign up for way ahead of time and I was too tired to bother trying). There was a team assembling the brand new Tower Bridge set (2 hours, 18 minutes) and so it was really neat to watch it come together. I was also really impressed by the creativity in the contest where people all get the same set and have to build a MOC out of the pieces. I had some fantastic discussions with some fanboys as well, one of whom knew more about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter than I did, and I spent 3.5 days there and he had never been! Ha! After most of the games, there was a poker tournament or two and drunken speed building. I only stayed long enough to see who won that competition. Then I filled up my gas tank and drove home for a few hours of sleep.

I was woken up Sunday morning with the news that my mother had to be taken to the hospital emergency room; my little sister took her. They were both supposed to come see my MOCs, so I was sad about that, but mostly I was worried because, hello, my mom was going to the hospital! *worry* So I took care of the dog and then went to BrickFair, spending the whole morning worrying constantly and not having any fun and trying to get my sister on the phone. Mom was discharged before 11 and ended up coming with my sister to see me (I’d bought them a pre-paid ticket to go along with the free ticket we got in our goody bags). It was good to see them, to say the least. I also saw some other DADA members who seemed much more interested in going to see the BrickFilms than my MOCs, though they stopped by my MOCs before they left (good boys!). I was also recognized by an old college friend, a girl who had been in the Association of Women in Computing with me! It was neat to see her again. And as soon as my family left to go see the Apocalego display, a woman from the neighborhood where I grew up (lived there for about 20 years) recognized me and we caught up a little. It’s a small world at BrickFair!

After the public left, we all started taking down our MOCs. It took me about an hour to pack up, and then I had an hour of downtime before closing ceremonies, during which I helped fold tablecloths, take down poles, and pull up floor pads. I didn’t want my LEGO to sit out in the hot car for hours during the ceremonies, so I waited to take them outside (only took me 3 trips, though). The closing ceremony was great, but I didn’t win any door prizes; same as last year *sigh*. There were a bunch of extra ExoForce sets left over from the games, though, so I actually got something this year! Oh, and we raised about $22,700 for the SladeChild charity.

On a whole, I had a fun time. The venue would have been better if there had been more space for everyone’s MOCs. But I met a lot of great people, got to see friends I hadn’t seen since last year, made hundreds of people smile, and spent about $300 on new LEGO. Oh, and my TARDIS count for the weekend was 8. Gotta love ’em!

All my loot