Reflections on Brickworld

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Reflections on Brickworld

Postby the enigma that is badger » Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:07 pm

I had the chance to spend a few hours at the Brickworld event yesterday and figured I'd post a few musings about it:

- Friendly Folk

I've been to my fair share of various fan conventions over the years (Star Trek, Horror, Collectibles), and I have to say that the crowd at the event was the nicest I've ever experienced. Everyone was polite, kind, and eager to share their enjoyment of the hobby. I didn't notice a single case of anyone being dismissive of someone else's work, and even the more crowded displays and vendors weren't marred by any pushing or other jostling for an immediate better view. There was one small issue towards the end (see below) but I don't think the individual in question was an AFOL. All in all, I think what I enjoyed most was being able to interact with AFOLs face to face for a change. As fun as it is to post on a site like this, being able to attend this event really deepened my sense of being part of a community. I spent alot of time chatting up Armothe and had a great time talking about what the hobby means to us and how we balance it with the rest of our lives.

- Cool Models

While there were many, many great works on disply here's a few that really caught my eye:

Several large scale (10-15' high) versions of skyscrapers, including an interesting version of the Jin Mao Tower of Shanghai, the Sears Tower, the John Hancock building, the Empire State building, and this one really interesting (and tall!) tower whose name escapes me at the moment. Many nice train set-ups were on display as well, although my favorite component of the largest work was a Gov. William J. LePetomaine Memorial Toll Plaza and a Spaceballs scene with ACE combs, Space Winnebago, and hairdryer vignette. My favorite MOC of the show - the Blacktron Intelligence Agency headquarters. Beautiful use of the line's colors and elements with some great building designs. I also really dug a few of the more humerous "extras" sprinkled around the display.

- Custom Figs and Accessories

Looking around, I saw more than a few figs that used Kam's decals. A few of the participants had applied the decals themselves, but most I asked about it had purchased the fig as a "custom" online from a variety of difference sources (Bricklink, eBay, some other site, another AFOL). Sith35 was there with a small selection of Little Armory wears, and two different sellers had Brickarms weapons for sale. The largest "custom" presence at the show was Brick Forge, who had several new colors of older pieces for sale, including chromed weapons and armor.

- Interesting News

As I only attended Sunday, I wasn't present for the TLC Q&A, but Armothe gave me the skinny on their response to the biggest question we've all had as of late: how will they handle German figs in the new Indy sets? Answer: they're not. No soldier figs at all, and no elements associated with them. It's a decision I agree with for a few reasons. While it's somewhat of a cheat, it avoids what would have undoubtedly become a controversial issue ("The figs aren't accurate!" "This fug is offensive and not in keeping with company policy!") and keeps the focus on the adventure aspect of the character rather than the surrounding historical context the films.

- How NOT to Meet and Impress Women

While I was yakking Armothe's ear off at his booth, my gal was wandering the floor taking some pictures. Apparently an older gentleman on several occassions tried to start conversation with her, starting with the ever-popular "Haven't we met somewhere before?" He then proceeded to follow her around from display to display, and even tailerd her when she left the room for a minute. This was creepy in and of itself, but the fact he was there with his wife and son and they came by to check-in with him every once in a while didn't make the situation any more comfortable. My girl can more than handle the usual amount of unwanted attention a young woman gets, but this shook her up enough for her to come and find me and say she wanted to leave. It was the time for us to go anyway, but it was still not the way I would have prefered to end the day.

Lecherous middle-aged men aside, we both had a really great time. I'm really inspired to use the next year to put together a great display of my figs.

I'll see what I can do to get some pictures posted.
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Postby jp-30 » Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:24 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the Nazi issue - I also figured this would be the case. They're just background goons in the movies anyway, for the most part.
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Postby Kaminoan » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:42 pm


Haven't had a chance, but will take one now, thanks for the Brickworld stories. Really wanted to go, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. Interesting on the historical figs, doesn't surprise me too much.

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Postby the enigma that is badger » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:40 am

jp-30 wrote:Thanks for the heads up on the Nazi issue - I also figured this would be the case. They're just background goons in the movies anyway, for the most part.

While I'd agree that LEGO can make some excellent sets without Nazi or vaguely German-looking soliders, I dont believe Spielberg's choice of villains for Indy to knock around was entirely coincidental. As Roger Ebert says in his essay on Raiders in his "Great Films" series:

The Saturday serial aspects of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" have been much commented on, and relished. But I haven't seen much discussion of the movie's other driving theme, Spielberg's feelings about the Nazis. "Impersonal," critic Pauline Kael called the film, and indeed it is primarily a technical exercise, with personalities so shallow they're like a dew that has settled on the characters. But Spielberg is not trying here for human insights and emotional complexity; he finds those in other films, but in "Raiders" he wants to do two things: make a great entertainment, and stick it to the Nazis.

We know how deeply he feels about the Holocaust. We have seen "Schindler's List" and we know about his Shoah Project. Those are works of a thoughtful adult. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the work of Spielberg's recaptured adolescence, I think; it contains the kind of stuff teenage boys like, and it also perhaps contains the daydreams of a young Jewish kid who imagines blowing up Nazis real good. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by Philip Kaufman, George Lucas and an uncredited Spielberg, whose movie is great fun on the surface -- one of the classic entertainments -- and then has a buried level.

Consider. The plot hinges on Hitler's desire to recapture the long-lost ark. "Hitler's a nut on the subject," Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is told by a government recruiter. "Crazy. He's obsessed with the occult." But not just anything occult. The ark, if found, would be the most precious Jewish artifact imaginable -- the chest that held the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the mountain top. "An army which carries the ark before it is invincible," Indy says; Hitler wants to steal the heritage of the Jews and use it for his own victory.

Throughout the film, there is a parade of anti-Nazi symbolism and sly religious satire, as when a desperate Indy grabs the hood ornament of a Mercedes truck, and it snaps off. And when a Nazi torturer grabs a sacred relic and it burns a stigmata into his hand. When the ark is being transported in the hold of a Nazi ship, inside a stout lumber crate, the swastika and other Nazi markings spontaneously catch fire and are obliterated. A Nazi officer, uneasy about opening the ark, says: "I am uncomfortable with the thought of this Jewish ritual." And of course when the spirit of the ark manifests itself, it's as a writhing column of fire that skewers the Nazis. ("Keep your eyes closed," Indy desperately tells his sidekick, although one assumes the holy fire would know friend from foe.) There is even a quiet in-joke in the character of Belloq (Paul Freeman), the Frenchman who tries to play both sides against the middle, just as Occupied France did.

Nazis were favorite villains of Saturday serials, prized more for their costumes and accents than for their evil beliefs. Spielberg here makes manifest their values, and then destroys them: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" has all the qualities of an exuberant serial, plus a religious and political agenda. That Spielberg places his message in the crevices of the action makes it all the more effective. "Raiders" may have an impersonal superstructure, but its foundations are personal, and passionate.

I make these points to place it more firmly in the mainstream of Spielberg's work, since "Raiders" is widely enjoyed but just as widely dismissed as something Spielberg tossed off between more important films. It comes between "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," films Kael compared to "a boy soprano singing with joy." That voice couldn't be heard in "Raiders," she felt. I think I can hear it: not singing, but laughing, sometimes with glee, sometimes in triumph.

As Dr. Jones himself says, "Nazis. I hate these guys"

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