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BrickWorld 2012! The dark underbelly... . . One does not simply walk into BrickWorld 2012. Ok, so that joke woulda' worked better last year I know but hey, work with me here people. Welcome to my recap of this year’s BrickWorld held in Wheeling, Il. And although Lee will tell you the highlight of the event was me shoving cash in his underwear (yes I totally did, just ask him. It was a $10 bill too. The man ain't cheap!), there's SO much going on that 4 days really is never enough and there's never one "single" highlight. But I did my best to cover everything as best I could. This is going to be a LONG post so let’s jump in with both feet! Come on in, the water’s fine! I was lucky enough for my BrickWorld week to start a few days early when the Jones family came over to Casa de Phipson for a bar-b-que on the Sunday before BrickWorld began. It was kinda like the teaser trailer for an awesome movie! Thanks Jones family and mark your calanders again for next year! I arrive at the hotel Thursday morning at about 8:30. I say hi to a few old friends like Nannan and Legohaulic and then at about 9:00, they open the doors to the rooms so we can start setting up. Here’s the VirtuaLUG tables before any setup. First things first, I realize that the plain white tablecloth will never do, so I run over to Wal-Mart and pick up some blue plastic table covers. Get those back to the convention and add them to the table. At about this time people start to show up. Here’s Heath Flor, Dave Kaleta, Tyler Halliwell and on my side of the table, Lee Jones. Tyler beginning his set up of the Red Queen’s Castle at the far end and on the left is Stacy Sterling. Lunch time, day one. We decided to go with Taco Bell (yes, I know the bags say KFC, it's one of those "combo" places with both) because none of us truly has any love for our bowels or common courtesy for those standing around us when it decides to vacate said bowels later. This group is Dave Sterling, Heath Flor, Amber Flor (Heath’s wife), Stacy Sterling, Danette Jones on her knees in front of Lee (insert own joke here) with Lee in the chair and their lovely daughter Maddie with her back to us on the floor. Here’s Lee with Adam Reed-Tucker. Lee’s mansion went through about the same story that Kevin’s Barad-Dur did last year. With two boxes being labeled “undeliverable” and the other two being basically boxes full of just tan brick… Needless to say Lee spent about 30 hours total rebuilding his part of the collaborative from scratch! And setup continues. There’s Stacy on the end next to Lee who is… still rebuilding his moc. Now here… pay close attention to the location of the two castles… we’ll get to those later. Mr. Bones was kind enough to build the Rabbit Hole for the layout and shipped it to me… this is what we pulled out of the box. Yeah, we’re pretty sure that the post office has my name on file and plays rugby with any box with my name on it. Remember those castles we talked about a minute ago… yeah, they’re switched. Once we started setting up we realized that according to the linear story, the castle’s were backwards so we switched them. Didn’t take too long and was fairly easy going… well, as easy going as moving two four foot square castles can be. Here’s Heath Flor’s Cathedral. This was nominated for best mega creation (and ROBBED of the title I might add). Excellent work Heath! The BlackTron layout. The Sterling’s personal layout. A nice Star Wars diorama. A close up of the Dio. A dio inspired by the mansion in Resident Evil. Nice work! A nice larger model of a Republic Cruiser. Dave Xandeger’s Black Knight from Monty Python. It’s only a flesh wound! Dave’s Penguins of Madagascar. Cute and cuddly boys... cute and cuddly. The BattleTech layout. Used to play this tabletop game in my youth and really wish I had the time to play here… at this scale… with freakin Lego mechs! Cool stuff! A close up of some of the mechs on the BattleTech layout. The NeoTron layout. This is the creation that beat out Heath’s cathedral for best mega creation. Don’t get me wrong, this thing is ALL kinds of cool (and built by a buddy of mine) but I still think Heath shoulda won. A nice ship… didn’t get the builder’s name. The trench run done in Microscale. This is not the mosaic you’re looking for… oh wait, yes it is. Here’s the first shot of the Eurobricks collaborative. They beat us out for best collab this year, and deservedly so. I’m not too upset about losing to this setup, it was AWESOME! More EB goodness. I took a few of these so stick with me… LOVE this part… and it gets better… (still EB’s layout) Stiiiiilll… EB layout… Three words for ya on this one… Monkey. Banana. Island. This waterfall off the edge was a real eye catcher! Yes… that’s an island drinking booze. This is the kind of place I’d like to visit. Some sort of sea monster… thingy. Even the builder wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Very cool lookin’ though. Tyler and Dennis Price checking out the EB collab during setup. Nannan and Legohaulic’s set up. A portion of Nathan I’s setup. Lunchtime at the RAM restaurant, day two, and our first official VirtuaLUG meeting. No one bothered to keep minutes of course but I think we covered a lot of stuff. Starting in the left corner here and going clockwise… Dennis Price, Adam Stasiek, Tyler Halliwell, Dave Kaleta, Stacy Sterling, Dave Sterling (at the head of the table), Danette Jones, Lee Jones, Dan and Maddie Jones, Josh “Ice Cream Clone” Morris, Amber Flor and last, the back of Heath’s head. And now, on to Wonderland! A couple of fun little facts about the collaborative before we begin. First, as we all know, we lost one of our community members a few months back. Our LUG’s way of honoring her memory was to have her minifig be Alice for our layout. So when you see an Alice, it’s Heather. Also, the ENTIRE layout is built to scale with Alice. So, when Alice is supposed to be 10 feet tall while visiting the Red Queen’s Castle, you’ll notice that the castle is built at about ¾ scale to be in scale with her. Also, at the Tea Party and Entrance to Wonderland, everything is built large scale to show that Alice is only about 12 inches tall during that scene. Also, thanks to the blue table coverings, we were able to label all the builds with large lettering so that everyone could see it easily without having to squint at the writting on the moc cards. Tyler was also kind enough to write the ENTIRE jabberwocky poem throughout the layout in snippets. Yes, he memorized the entire thing. It’s the little details that your mind would kinda notice but now that I’ve pointed it out you’ll be like “Oh yeah, I totally see that!” That’s just how detail oriented our Virtualuggers are! And now, on with the layout! First up is Dr. Lee Jones’ redition of Hamish’s Mansion from the beginning of the film before Alice falls down the rabbit hole. As mentioned above, the man spent the next 30 odd hours (with some help from other V-Luggers) rebuilding the entire mansion from scratch! The reward I guess was that the mansion won best large building at the convention so… Awesome work Doc! The Door Room that Alice finds herself in after falling down the rabbit hole (shown later). This was built by El Barto. Thanks Bart! The entrance to Wonderland built by Dave Sterling. As per usual, Dave loves leaving things to the last minute and was assigned all his (and his wife’s) building duties late in the game. However, as we learned with Minas Morgul last year… just because they start late doesn’t mean they’re not some of THE best builders in our community, hands down! I really hope he posts pics of this thing because the detail work was just… wow. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party built by the lovely Stacy Sterling. Again you’ll notice that the Mad Hatter and all the characters are built large scale to show Alice’s small size during this scene. The Cheshire Cat built by Maddie Jones. She may be young but the girl can build! And thanks for playing with my daughter so much Maddie. She really loves ya! The Red Queen’s Castle by Tyler Halliwell. He’s done a full post on this so I won’t waste time talking. Great work Tyler! The Chess board Battle by Hans. Tyler and I had to do a little rebuilding on this when we took it out of the box but man… that staircase was a royal pain in the… Hans, do you realize just how close your build was to being hurled across the room? My White Queen’s Castle. There’s a whole post on this so… moving on. The White Rabbit’s house by Stacy Sterling. Nominated for best small building and in my opinion, shoulda won! Just look at how she did that roof! I call genius on that one! Tyler’s Bandersnatch. This won best creature at the event and was well deserving of the title. It was also purchased by Lee Jones after the event and is now sitting comfortably on one of Lee’s display shelves. The Rabbit hole, built by Mr. Bones… did I mention above what state that thing arrived in? Thanks to Dave Kaleta for rebuilding it! The Hatter’s top hat built by Dennis Price. Some V-luggers hanging out with the EB guys… and a cross over too I guess since Josh was an EB collaborator this year but is a member of V-Lug as well. Public day and the Wonderland collab is getting some attention. Tyler stood up to talk to a dad and his daughter about the collab and I just thought this pic was hilarious! Yes Tyler “stretch” Halliwell REALLY is that tall. Lunch time on public day one. We headed up to the presidential suite (courtesy of the event coordinators (Sterlings)) to get out of the crowds for a bit. Here’s Dennis with Lee and Danette Jones who are scarfing on some Jimmy John’s. The rest of us were treated to lunch by Mitzi Price, Dennis’ wife. She wasn’t there but made sure her husband brought enough Chicken Salad and other sandwich stuff to feed all of us. Thanks Mitzi! We love ya and missed ya this year. If there’s a choice between you and Dennis coming up next year… leave Dennis at home, we’ll take you! Also in the background of this picture are Heath and Tyler’s dad. After lunch, we went out on the balcony for a group photo. Here we have most of Virtualug… and George Kemper joined us for lunch as well. Adam Stasiek. Lego employee, Eurobricks moderator and Virtualug member. The questions we got the most of during this week were “What is Virtualug? How can I become a member? And… where did you guys get those awesome shirts?” The answers are “It’s a lug… and it’s virtual. You have to be invited, asking to be in is only met with giggles. And the shirts were found and delivered by Stacy Sterling.” Microscale city master Paul Wellington of MOCpages. Here’s a shot of the chess board on the last day. Hans included parts to decapitate the Jabberwocky so he was standing for the entire event until the last day when Alice said “Off with your head!” Just another one of those little details that unless it’s pointed out, most wouldn’t notice. Nick Jensen about to go “postal” on us. Paul Vermeesh, Max Pointer and Ian Spacek. Good guys and it was great meeting you all! Also… I was able to meet Grant W. at the event and his setup was right next to ours BUT… I never got a pic with him! ARGH! I coulda SWORN I did… I’m really sorry about that Grant. But rest assured, it was GREAT meeting you and I hope you guys come back again next year! Your mom was really nice too! And all too soon, it was time to tear down… You see all those people standing around with cameras? Watch… And there she goes! The destruction of the castle will be on the BrickWorld DVD. Always a fun part of the event and it actually gathers a crowd when we destroy my builds. After some clean up, my entire castle fit in this tub with just a little spill over into another box. Lee on the other hand was considerably more careful with his tear down. He’s going to enter the mansion in a contest back in Canada. Good luck Lee! Not only with the contest but also with the delivery… Closing ceremonies… *sniff* But congrats to Nick Jensen on winning the raffle prize! And to finish off the awesome week, a final dinner with the Jones’ and Sterlings. Going around clockwise, Lee, who… looks like he’s about to shove my camera somewhere uncomfortable, Danette, Dan (Jones’ boy), My daughter, Maddie Jones, My wife, Then Stacy and Dave Sterling. Fourth Wall Commentary: Since the whole post is fourth wall, I’ll keep this short. It was beyond awesome to see all my family again! And I really mean that, you’ve all become so much more than just friends over the years and I really can NOT wait a whole year to see you all again. To all the new people I’ve met, you guys are great and I hope you all continue to join us for this event every year. Now, there’s been enough slacking outta me already. It’s time to get working on next year’s collaborative! Go VirtuaLUG! Till next time true believers… ~Chris.

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