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This weekend at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall BrickCon 2012 will bring LEGO nerds (read: hobbyists) from around the world to the Emerald City, proving - as the convention has for the past decade-plus - that LEGOs aren't just for kids.
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Described by Director Wayne Hussey as an "adult convention put on by adults for adults," BrickCon is made up of two parts: an exhibition - where LEGO fans of all ages can come and gander at the magic of plastic building blocks; and a more formal convention, where the hardcore adult LEGO enthusiasts gather to mingle, swap stories, and learn tricks of the LEGO trade.
The exhibition portion of BrickCon is open to everyone, spanning Saturday and Sunday at the Seattle Center Exhibition Center. The convention is described as a four-day extravaganza that requires paid registration and caters specifically to adults (though the under-18 crowd is allowed to attend, provided they are accompanied by a paying adult who also registers).
Striking a celebratory tone, this year's event marks the 10th anniversary of Seattle's BrickCon. But the event's origins date back even further than that - something Hussey takes no small amount of pride in.
"A dozen (plus) years ago, the Internet assisted the opening of doors allowing individual adult builders to communicate with each other and to learn there are others out there, building with this 'toy,'" writes Hussey via e-mail to Seattle Weekly. "That grew into localized clubs and organizations, which led to larger communities of builders getting together. Ten years ago, our local clubs - SEALUG Seattle Area LEGO Users Group, PNLTC (Pacific Northwest LEGO Train Club), SMART (Seattle Mindstorms And Robotics Techies), VLC (Vancouver LEGO Club) and VicLUG (Victoria LEGO Users Group) - came together for a weekend and called it Northwest BrickCon."
While there's no doubt many of have enjoyed LEGOs over the years - predominantly in childhood - people may be left to wonder what kind of person grows up to become a hardcore LEGO "builder," as they're known. Apparently, it's a bigger demographic than one might imagine, and many of these "builders" will converge on Seattle this weekend for one of the premiere LEGO events in the world.
Describing a builder as simply "one who builds," Hussey says these devoted LEGO fanatics will come from everywhere for BrickCon 2012 - quite literally.
"This year we have builders from Sweden, the UK, Brazil and a large contingent of Canadians. There are a few 'pros'; those who now earn a living with their building skills, and a few who now work, or in the past have worked, for The LEGO Group," says Hussey. "Predominantly, though, our builders are just hobbyists."
The BrickCon convention may be the highlight for these hardcore types, but the exhibition will be the best chance for the outside world to see what all the fuss is about. If you've ever wondered what kind of stuff a grown man or woman obsessed with LEGOs can put together, the convention will be a prime opportunity to answer that pressing question.
"[The exhibition] is the place where everyone is welcome (as compared to the Convention, which is limited)," says Hussey. "The exhibition is a display that the adult builders put together from their own collections and built using their passions, skills, sense of style and humor to show the versatility of the LEGO medium."
Whoa. Did he just use the term "LEGO medium."
You're damn right he did - because this LEGO stuff is serious.
"[During the exhibition] builders bring their best examples to share with everyone," continues Hussey. "All of us, public and private, come away from BrickCon with inspiration, ideas and innovations that none of us alone could develop."