The Oregon Convention Center Hall A is starting to fill in. It's a huge, open space, with fairly empty tables organized into different themes. I have an entire carload of boxes strewn about me. Set-up is always a stressful time, as I enjoy entering multiple builds. This year I have 8 registered items, including a few pictures in the photography department. My Star Destroyer Bridge, built for the RebelLUG Collab “Thrawn Grand Admiral Rising,” is the largest individual build I brought. However, this year’s major project is collaboration with 7 other builders based off of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time books.
After a year of planning, I propose a Wheel of Time build to a group of friends, only one of which had read the Epic Fantasy series. RebelLUG member count: 0
Wheel of Time is slowly underway, planned for BrickCon 2018 in Seattle. Grant Davis joins RebelLUG.
Summer schedules have made progress extremely slow. Timothy Shortell and I are voted into RebelLUG.
After a conversation with SeaLUG member Doug Hughes, I decide to postpone The Wheel of Time Project to Brick Cascade 2019. This allows me to participate in the Thrawn collab and to iron out a few more details for the Wheel of Time.
BrickCon is over, and I move full swing into the Wheel of Time. I draw maps, design the layout, and start dividing the sections up for people to work on. Final build size is purposed at 18 of the 48x48 baseplates. I will do 8 of them, with five other builders doing the remaining 10. Discord chats, calls, and WiP pictures start going back and forth.
James is voted into RebelLUG, giving us 4 out of 8 builders as RebelLUG members. The project is coming together, and I’m getting more and more excited. A two-year plan is becoming a reality, and it is lining up with Amazon announcing their TV adaption of the books. Despite The Wheel of Time’s huge popularity, I'm getting nervous about how recognizable the build will be. Immensely popular books can still be relatively unheard by the general public.
I am unpacking my portion of The Wheel of Time build. I unbox a life size, brick built sword, and from 15 feet away, I hear someone call out, “Hey, is that your Heron Marked Blade?” Jake Sadovich (Lego Ship in a Bottle fan designer) is walking towards me, and a rather lengthy Wheel of Time conversation breaks out. My concern that the build will not be recognizable melts away. Setup takes forever as there are a lot of details to figure out, and I keep getting interrupted by fans of the series. A last minute decision to expand the water by another 5 inches, coupled with a few sections that weren’t finished, make for some last minute building.
Setup day two: lots more adjustments and details being worked on. Also, the games start today. I try out a new one, Pair Build. Two people co-build one set--one person with the instructions and the other with the pieces, a visual barrier between them. I really enjoy it. Eli and I finish 2nd, and I would definitely like to do it again in the future.
That evening, we listen to the keynote speaker. We are privileged to have 3 LEGO employees at Bricks Cascade--Jan Beyer (Manager AFOL Network Events), Stuart Harris (LEGO House), and Nico Vas (Senior Designer.) They have a great Q and A session, which features a lot of, “We cannot comment on upcoming products.” It's a great privilege to have them there, and talking with Nico afterwards is a highlight of the weekend.
Grant Davis finally goes to bed after finishing building for The Wheel of Time. Thirty minutes later, I wake up and drive to the convention center. The hall opens to the public at 10 AM, and about 5 minutes after that, the final part of the Wheel of Time is put together.
The build shows the end of the second book, “The Great Hunt,” where an army of ancient Heroes charges into the city of Falme and pushes the invading Seanchen army into the ocean. Magic explosions and lightning are used as weapons, and Rand al'Thor battles Ba’alzamon in the sky.
Late morning sees the start of Team Speed build. This is my favorite of the competitions. This year, we build the Downtown Dinner Modular. The timer starts, and the boxes are ripped open. The instructions get shredded, divided into the different bag numbers. It is a high adrenaline game of speed and accuracy. Any mistake will dock you time, and seconds are the difference between winning and losing. About 45 minutes in, tragedy strikes. Someone drops the third floor of our build, and it shatters against the cement. Little over 10 minutes later, we finish just seconds behind first. The two builds are judged for errors. We need just one fewer error than first, and we’d win. Both builds have 0 errors, and we get second place by just a sliver.
The Wheel of Time builders and a few others do our own set draft, parting out the Bastion set. A lot of great parts in that set, and a fun draft. Just after the hall closes, we do our Beyond the Brick interview for the Wheel of Time and move on to the Awards Ceremony.
RebelLUG wins for the evening were:
Mecha, Honorable Mention – James (Ksoi Bot)
Star Wars, Honorable Mention – Kevin (Star Destroyer Bridge)
Photography, Best Photograph – Kevin (ISD Chimaera)
Castle, The Chronicler – Collab (The Wheel of Time)
Castle, The Castellan – Timothy (Awakening)
Like the previous day, the crowd is very receptive to our collaborative project. Many people are not familiar with the books, but a surprisingly large number are excited to see a Wheel of Time build. One of my favorite moments is when a kid about 10-12 years old stands there, pointing out 5 or 6 different characters based off of the figures I made. He was outdone by the guy in his 30s who spotted and named 15-20 characters. Someone asks me where the build will be stored. I watch his face melt into disbelief as I explain that after years of planning and months of building, this is going to last about 30 hours before being torn apart. Over 8,000 members of the public came over two days and enjoyed all of the different builds. As the hall closes at 4, teardown begins right away. Wheel of Time is divided back to the 8 people who built it and shoved into boxes.
Closing Ceremonies saw another Award for Wheel of Time: “Runner-up for Best in Show.”
Caleb, Grant (RebelLUG), Doug, Jake, myself (RebelLUG), Eli, James (RebelLUG), and Timothy (RebelLUG)
Over all, it was a great convention filled with lots of fun and exciting times. Bricks Cascade is always a highlight of my year, and 2019 did not disappoint. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a convention to attend.
Cole with Vader’s Lightsaber, Thomas with Ice, and myself with Rand al’Thor’s sword.
Still boxes of LEGO left to sort, but The Wheel of Time collaboration has one more “win” in it. Rafe Judkins (Show runner of Amazon’s Wheel of Time show) and Wheel of Time consultant, Sarah Nakamura, comment on their “Awe” over our build.