Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Lurks in the Longbox? #25

Lego KidsFest 2012 – A Builder’s Paradise 

My wife's contribution to the Lego "Art Gallery"
Many of the toys our parents and grandparents enjoyed during their childhood have long since faded into obscurity, or are no longer even in production.  Perhaps the most significant exception to this rule is Lego, the company that manufacturers the well-known interlocking “bricks” that can be used to build almost anything, given the proper combination of creativity and talent.  Based on the wooden toy designs of a Denmark carpenter in the 1930’s, and then gradually transforming into the modern-day brick a quarter century later, Lego may be at its most successful stage yet. 
The popular building toys are now more closely aligned with the comic book industry than ever before, especially given the partnerships with Marvel and DC that were secured this past year.  The release of The Avengers in theatres this past summer helped to cement that relationship even further.  With the recently announced licensing agreement to produce building sets featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, collectors are finding Lego to be as much of an “ally” with comic books as video games and movies are. 
The 2012 nation-wide tour of the Lego KidsFest Expo landed in Detroit during the weekend of October 12th-14th, 2012.  KidsFest was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, which is also home to The Motor City Comic Convention each year.  The unique expo was perhaps the most interactive event ever held at this venue.  Several different building areas were available throughout the building: The Lego Art Gallery, where parents and kids alike could contribute to a huge wall of brick displays; Creation Nation, where anyone could add a building or landmark to a continually growing Lego map of the United States; and the Monochromatic building areas, for those fans that like building everything with just one color (several color selections were available).    
The Ninjago tournament area was one of the most popular spots at the KidsFest!
Lego “Master Builders” provided live demonstrations, and explained to the audience how they hold the enviable position of being “paid to play.”  Staff and workers were well informed and very helpful with providing information or pointing the way to one of the events.  Perhaps the most popular attraction of KidsFest was the Big Brick Pile, which could best be described as a gigantic mosh pit of Lego bricks.  Kids (and adults) could get on the floor with thousands of brick pieces and either build to their heart’s content, or literally bury themselves under the bricks, which some did in the same way that people bury each other in the sand on the beach. 

If you lost one of your friends, there's a good chance they were buried in here.

Unlike traditional conventions and expos, the event was divided into “sessions,” in which ticket holders were allowed at the expo for a specific number of hours only, and then closed until customers came in for the next session.  There were two sessions on each day of the expo, one starting at 9:00 a.m. and one starting at 2:00 p.m.  The reason for the limitation on ticket sales quickly became apparent, as the Showplace was packed almost to capacity throughout the day. 
DK Publishing was also in attendance, with a wide variety of Lego-related story and sticker books for sale, with all their popular licensed product, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and Ninjago.  The Lego Marketplace had an huge selection of Lego sets for sale, including some hard to find items not often found in standard venues, such as Walmart and Target.  However, the marketplace (or “gift shop,” as my son called it) was tucked into a sequestered area, which was appreciated by parents who didn’t need product shoved into their faces, after spending money on tickets and concessions.

The expo also provided areas for taking a break, with large video screens showing Lego-related movies and website episodes.  Extra credit goes to the convention organizers for making sure there were plenty of chairs available for weary parents to sit down while the kids practiced their building skills. 
Best friends enjoy a quick break before getting back to the action!

Lego KidsFest was serious fun, and an announcement is expected before the end of the year for the tour dates in 2013.  If you missed it this year, stay tuned to for updates on tour visits to your city! 

The ninjas of Ninjago helped with security detail during the KidsFest. 



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