NELUG Hits Central Vermont!
Wednesday, July 26 2006 @ 12:57 AM EDT
Contributed by: Elroy Davis
Brick Blast 2006 gave the club a chance to totally let loose, with an expanded train layout, a moonbase layout, MOCs of all shapes and sizes, as well as a work-in-progress automated model of a working quarry.
MOCs on display by NELUG ranged from the well-detailed Jabberwocky by Jason Wolfson, to the club's beautifully done giant mosaic of the Boston skyline.
As usual, the train layout was a big hit, with a nicely done residential area at one end, leading up to the towering buildings of the city on the other end. In between the two was a newly added river section, with several types of bridges spanning the water, allowing both rail and automotive traffic to cross. Adjacent to the city was a busy, work-filled rail yard, with trains of many shapes, sizes, and eras filling the sidings. Running the length of the layout, with the city in the background, was NELUG's famous carnival section, filled with spinning, twirling, and tilting rides that lit up the eyes of visitors young and old. Traffic between the carnival and the city was handled by monorail, which in addition to the layout's four independent train loops, provided transportation to minifigs far and wide.
Several super-heroes were in residence on the layout, including Spiderman, Batman, and a train-hopping Superman. Visitors to the layout were encouraged to count the number of Spiderman and Batman minifigs, as well as the number of small, green dragons that inhabited the various areas. Those who had the correct number of each had their names entered into a drawing to win a prize at the end of the show.
Since Brick Blast 2006 was not limited to trains only, NELUG was able to display a good-sized moonbase, based on the moonbase standard, as well. Teddy Welsh did a wonderful job manning the area, sharing the secrets of moonbase construction with the kids so that they could participate in future events. The highlight of the moonbase was Teddy's own Big Red Rocket module, with several other modules being supplied by other NELUG members.
NELUG's third major display was an interesting work-in-progress project. First displayed at the Boston Road Show in 2003, NELUG's automated quarry took on a life of its own at Vermont Brick Blast, allowing visitors to see first-hand how NELUG members work and play. While building on site at the show, NELUG members were able to share ideas on vision, planning, and construction, as well as basic techniques for storage of building elements. Visitors left the area with a new appreciation for what can be done with Lego bricks, as well as many ideas that they could take home and employ with their own brick collections.
While all of this was going on inside the gymnasium, Bill Bourn kicked off the interactive portion of Brick Blast with robotics demonstrations in the entryway. His "Dot Bots" allowed visitors to see and take part in the basics of robot building and programming. His introduction to robotics carried throughout the event, with many visitors taking their new found knowledge with them to the train and quarry layouts, where they actively sought out the inner workings of the various carnival rides and quarry elements.
Back in the gym, crowd interaction continued with periodic games of BrikWars. Dave Eaton did a wonderful job teaching the rules to new players, as well as keeping the games running smoothly. More than a few people found a new interest in Lego as a result of his efforts.
If all of this wasn't enough, visitors of all ages were encouraged to enter building contests, sponsored by the Middlebury Chamber of Commerce. Contest creations were displayed around the gymnasium, with the crowd picking the winner by popular vote. In addition to this contest, live, on-site building contests were held for visitors throughout the weekend, with NELUG members actively participating as judges.
Vermont Brick Blast 2006 was a wonderful, fun-filled family event. NELUG greatly enjoyed its first visit to Vermont. The crowd and our hosts were wonderful, and we hope to do more events of this type in the future.