Exactly 1 week ago, I was on my way to Kobe from Osaka with 12 of my LEGO mecha builds, 3 mecha frames, a stomach full of authentic Yoshinoya gyudon, and just pure excitement as I was about to finally participate in the biggest LEGO convention in the Asia region.
The Japan Brickfest Fan Weekend has apparently been going on since 2015. I believe it’s organized by Kansai LUG (K-LUG) and from what I heard, 2017’s the biggest one they’ve done so far with 2 gyms and 1 hall full of exhibitors (2016 had only 2 gyms). It was held in the Canadian Academy in Rokko Island, Kobe.
I was fortunate enough to learn of JBF 2017 a few months back and although initially hesitant due to some things happening in my personal life, I decided it would make for a great experience to meet builders from Japan and all around Asia to see what’s the LEGO AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) scene like in other countries.
I got in touch with Edwin Knight, the key organizer especially for foreign participants and over the latter months of 2016 up to just a few weeks ago, finalized all my plans. My girlfriend and her mom accompanied me while also making their own sightseeing plans while I was at JBF 😛
Actually, 2 weeks prior to JBF 2017 was PhLUG’s ABRICKADABRA 2017 and it was sort of a test-run for the display setup I’d be doing for Japan Brickfest. Part of my display was explaining the evolution of the reFrame brick skeletal structure I had designed from 2014 and evolved all the way to its current version 3 form this 2017.
I also had labels per build made to give more info to whoever would be looking at the models. One thing I added for JBF were pictures more about Mech Wars and the upcoming book I’m writing as well as more personal branding pictures for this blog and my social media sites.
The last thing to do was pack up all my mechs to put in the luggage. Thankfully, I had already done 1 international exhibit last year in Macau for ITGE 2015 and had a good idea how to go about transporting my builds 😛 I basically dismantled my builds by their limbs and packed them as compact as possible (felt like playing LEGO mecha tetris).
This was all sandwiched by a layer of thick foam to make sure they move as little as possible during transport. I’m already contemplating on getting custom casing for my builds so when I travel, they just fit snugly into a case but that’s a long time from now.
At JBF Ingress
Wasn’t much to setting up as most of my builds just had to be reassembled by simple limb attachment. I must note that the elevation I used for the exhibit was just these amazing foldable plastic crates I was able to get in Daiso Dotonbori just the morning before heading to Kobe! They measure at 29cm x 20cm and come in this really nice dark green with some industrial looking cutouts which was just perfect for my display.
During this setup day, I got to meet the amazing guys from Mocer League (ML) 😀 which I’m actually a member of over at Facebook. I’ve included a bunch of pics of their table over at the event pics below 🙂
With the setup done, we grabbed some authentic Japanese food and rested for JBF Day 1.
Japan Brickfest Coverage
Day 1 started with a quick exhibitors / participants briefing at 9:30AM and formally opened at 10:00AM to the public. We were still making small adjustments here and there and had some chit chat between fellow AFOLs 🙂
There were also tons of activities throughout the day like a Great Ball Contraption workshop (I wanted to attend this but had to man my booth >.< maybe next year haha) and a talk from Mr. Junya Suzuki himself, the person responsible for the Chima, Ninjago, and Nexo Knights lines 😀 I was fortunate enough to attend his talk (it was mostly in Japanese but was able to pick up context clues).
I actually remember telling Mr. Junya Suzuki that I loooooved the Nexo Knights line and thanked him for the Nexo Knights Battle Suit cockpit piece. He brought over some test models from Nexo Knights that had limited color pieces like the gold and black Battle Suits and the Trans Clear Nexo windshield piece. I honestly wish I brought over a box of the Battle Suit and have him to an autograph or sign ANYTHING but I was too starstruck.
I also went around Gym 2 where most of the Japanese builders were located and got my mind blown. There was just SO MUCH WIN here, seeing a ton of Japanese builders I follow over at Twitter and meeting them in person. I might have embarrassed myself a bit here and there with my rough Nihongo and just being so amazed with everything haha!
I was actually in touch with Zizy-san from months back when I decided to go to JBF and had messaged him about getting his books. It totalled at 10,000 Yen for all his books (Vertical Machine Chronicle 1-3, Zizy 2016, and 6 LEGO robo books). This was pretty much the highlight of my Japan trip as I’ve been wanting to get his books as early as 2014 but just found it too hard to order from Amazon Japan (and some were sold out). Displayed were also the works of Kwi-chang who I also follow at Flickr and Twitter and just seeing his builds in person, you get your mind blown over and over again. Also in Zizy and Kwi-chang’s booth were books by PPOINANIKA and he had instruction manuals for all sorts of mecha (Logicoma and Metal Gear Sahelanthropus to name a few). Bought them all too just because I’d never be able to get them outside Japan.
I had returned to my booth after a quick Takoyaki snack. At 5:00PM, the participating exhibitors were called for a presentation by Tanja Friberg and Jacky Chen from The LEGO Company.
I had removed the video as I was made aware that this content would be purely for participants of JBF so if you’d like to hear it, attend JBF 2018 next year (if they redo the talk :p)
After this, we were ushered to the cafeteria where we had a dinner party, had some games, and got our JBF Bricky souvenir 😀 I had the pleasure of sitting and meeting with Brian Yu (Brickmaster) from Korea and two of his members in our table for dinner along with Benjamin, his brother, David Ang and his brother (also from the Philippines) and we had a small rebrick contest of the JBF mascot.
We ended Day 1 by seeing a live feed of a simultaneous LEGO convention (in Europe but exactly where I can’t recall).
I actually have no coverage of Day 2 as I went with my girlfriend and her mom to Arashiyama for the day and came back around 4:00PM and had barely any time left to go around before we had to start packing up.
Conclusion and post-JBF insights
Attending JBF 2017 was definitely a great experience and there’s just so much to take away from a huge fan event like this that I can’t express in words. It was amazing being able to meet so many great builders from all over Asia, some I’ve followed from months and years back and most I’ve only met now and will be sure to follow.
Having people also come up to my booth and just have this expression on them then ask about my builds was something that I’ll forever keep with me. Just seeing people enjoy my works made the trip so much more worth it.
I’m already preparing plans to return next year and have a better display and be more prepared with more giveaways (I ran out of calling cards lol).
Japan Brickfest 2017, どもありがとうございます。
Check out the image gallery below for the builds themselves and I have to apologize as I was not able to take pictures of all the builds (definitely going to go around more next year! and try not to be so dazed by all the awesome people and builds).
Moving forward from here, I’ll be at ToyCon 2017 this June 30 – July 2 over at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex 🙂 I’ll have a small display and reFrame kits for sale over at Booth 67 with ThreeA Manila so do drop by if you’ll be going 😀
Great coverage from JBF Lu Sim
Your work is amazing and inspiring as well
Maybe you can try Europe / America in the future? 🙂
I’d love to attend a LEGO convention outside Asia 😀 would definitely explore the option in the next few years 😀