Tuesday, February 12, 2008

LEGOPalooza background

This is some background info on how I got involved with NCLUG. It's intended for friends and family members who aren't familiar with LEGOPalooza, LUGNET, etc.

I first became aware of the online LEGO hobbyist community in late 1996. Browsing through detailed models (or MOC's, which stands for My Own Creation) was one of the first things I learned to do online. Before long, I was also using the early online databases to look up sets (today's databases are much better though, and now we have access to set reviews and set inventories and such too).

I did not join NELUG (New England LEGO Users Group) because they do not allow kids in and because I was worried about the travel time to get to most of the things they were doing. That was before they started doing more events and such in NH. Things were starting to pick up for the LUG out in Seattle when I was in the area, but with my age and such, it still didn't make much sense to get involved right away (also, every event of theirs that I found out about had bad timing that kept me from getting to it).

When I first moved to North Carolina, I decided to check online to see if I could find a LEGO Users Group or LEGO Train Club. LUGNET claimed that both existed, but had dead links for both groups. I assumed that both were defunct until Mum came across a NCLTC display in December 2006. By then, Mike Walsh had fixed the NCLUG and NCLTC websites, and I started to follow them. I had been planning on going to LEGOPalooza 2007 as an attendee, but the timing did not work out for me. I found out that fall that I could join the group by joining a Yahoo! Group (Yahoo! Groups are essentially glorified online mailing lists) and then showing up to some meetings.

The first NCLUG meeting I went to was Carin's NCLUG Christmas party. This went really well. We did a parts-swapping activity called a "draft", which I'll probably explain here next time it comes up. There was already a good deal of excitement about LEGOPalooza 2008, and it seemed like people were asking me what I wanted to bring to Palooza almost as soon as they caught my name. We had a guest from a LUG in Taiwan with us that week too, and she showed us a DVD of the last major event the Taiwan LEGO Users Group had done. There were a lot of great models and ideas in there, but one that stuck with me was the outer wall that they used to explain the history of their group and of the LEGO Company.

After the major ideas had been thrown around online, I settled on trying to get most of my "Aquazone" sets back together in time to contribute to Team Joe's underwater display. I also settled on running a LEGO history display myself - featuring a poster with brief background and a variety of sets and models I had built over the years.

Mum didn't let me take any of her old LEGO sets out of the house, so my vintage 50s/60s/70s parts and models are all based on various yard sale finds I've had over the years. One more recent yard sale trip also got me quite a few more Aquazone sets, including the remainder of the Aquashark line (I am missing a few people though, and a part here or there, but it looks pretty nice set up on a shelf anyway). I also sorted through some other recent yard sale finds to gather up some sets to contribute to other displays and find enough parts to build a few new original models (I'll write more about those later).

We finished most of the major planning at a NCLUG meeting at Brier Creek in January 2008. From there through Palooza, things are fairly well documented on this blog.

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