Just got back a few days ago from JBF2018 Fan Weekend in Rokko Island, Kobe. Like last year, it was a splendid 2 day event with tons of great MOCs and builders and the whole thing was just a spectacular and fun LEGO event.
Being the only current LEGO Fan Weekend in Asia, Japan Brickfest provides a venue for builders all over APAC to gather, meet up, and display their works. Saw lots of old faces from HK and Japan who attended JBF 2017 (hello Silver Sprout MOC team, HKLUG guys, and Zizy-san! :D) and it was nice catching up with them after a year of just communicating online. It was also great seeing the JBF organizers again this year (shoutout to Edwin and Miki Knight for being such amazing organizers!) 😀
I also met a ton of new people, like my display neighbor Dr. Richard Jones (Mr. Rambling Brick himself!), the Beyond the Brick brothers Joshua and John, China’s LCP Prince Jiang, Mitsuru Nikaido-san who I missed last year, Kupi Bricks, Brickfinder, and a ton more builders from all over APAC and had such amazing MOCs showcased 😀
The great part this year was that I was able to go with members from my local LUG, PhLUG or the Philippine LEGO Users Group, who brought with them an amazing Star Wars Episode 8 diorama and some Marvel Brickheads for their display 😀 Hope the display team of PhLUG enjoyed their first JBF experience and hope to go with them again next year 😉
I’m apologizing in advance if I failed to mention some people in this post who I met over the amazing 2 day weekend of JBF. I will try my best to mention everyone I had come in contact with so do bear with me ^^
My Display and Selling Area
Similar to my display area last year, I had a 2 level mech display area showcasing mostly my newest V3 reFrame builds but this year, I had more space to work with so I spread out my mechs a little more. I also had 2 turntables to highlight 2 builds that I felt deserved a 360 degree treatment. Thankfully, my Tokyo trip back in March let me shop for turntables and I had luckily bought two of the MM-KOBO turntables that I found out to be of really good value. I brought with me a total of 14 builds and 1 frame to display along with a bunch of Daiso folding crates to for the elevated area.
Thankfully Richard got some pics of my mechs and he let me use it for my blog post 😀 thanks Richard! You can go check out his blog at https://ramblingbrick.com/ 🙂
Thinking about it, all my builds except the Bruiser Prime actually had a minifig cockpit in them and this includes the solo Titanfall V2 Vanguard build unlike last year where I brought with me V1 and V2 reFrame builds. I’m aiming to always bring new builds for JBF which means in the 1 year span between JBFs, I need to build 14 new builds 😛 Realistically, I hope I can do 10-12 new builds yearly so this isn’t far from my self-imposed annual goal.
This year I also decided to go with a selling / flea market table for my area (found in the middle area of my display plans). This was so I could sell some reFrame V3 kits and instruction manuals as I got inquiries about it from last year. I packed a total of 10 kits and 18 instruction manuals and at the end of day 2, I sold out so I was really happy with that 😀
I also had a guestbook for people visiting my booth to sign 😀
I was pretty pleased with my display area as I felt that it was good enough but there’s still a few things I’d want to improve on it and more on that in the last part of this post.
JBF2018 Display areas
Compared to last year, I wasn’t able to take a lot of pics going around the three display halls. I was manning my display booth more this year, and I also had a selling area for my reFrame kits and instruction manuals.
GYM 1 and the Black Box Theater
Gym 1 essentially has all of the foreign builders but also has some Japanese builders displaying. Some of the exhibitors were Sachiko Akinaga, Schneider Cheung, Silver Sprout MOC Team, HKLUG, PhLUG, my area, Richard Jones, Will Ho, Akiyuki’s HUGE Great Ball Contraption, a monorail and train town diorama, motorized builds, SeniorsBrick LUG, BrickMaster, and Kupi Brick from Korea plus a few other Korean builders, some Taiwanese builders, and some selling areas where I was lucky enough to buy a copy of BrickJournal that had our BMD mechs in it (I haven’t received my complimentary copies yet although they’re probably stuck in my post office >.>). There was also an activity area for LEGOLAND Japan somewhere near the back end of the gym.
The Black Box Theater was mostly for KLUG and was also used as an event area where the Master Builder competition took place and the talks from the special guests from The Lego Group.
The above video is a floor tour of Gym 1 and the Theater room so please do enjoy watching it 🙂
As mentioned above, Gym 2 is where most of the Japanese builders had their tables. Upon entering, there was a military diorama then a bunch of areas just dedicated to mecha builds. One observation with JBF and the Japanese LEGO build scene is that there’s a lot of Bionicle / Hero Factory based builders and that’s a refreshing theme to see. That and most of their builds are huge! You rarely see a small Bionicle build from these tables.
Key displays I’d like to highlight are the huge Sazabi System-based build by CNSM (looks like a PG Sazabi to be honest!), the Bignicle display area with VAIO, TAKT, Souji Gakari, Bregmanicle, COLASAWA, Hanku_Lego, and uruelabo, the BMA or Brick Mecha Avengers area and their nice diorama, and Zizy and Mitsuru Nakaido’s area at the far end from the entrance where they were selling their booklets and was kind enough to sign the copies I bought 😀
Aside from the Mecha tables, there were also mechanized /power-functioned Technic displays and I vividly remember a paper folding -AND LAUNCHING- motorized build (in the video), Town dioramas, Tohru Shioda’s alt build table, plane MOCs, more train MOCs, SakuraLUG, KLUG’s Mosaic area, a few car and bike builds, and a ton of other really amazing MOCs that you can all check out in the video above 🙂
WORKSHOP | Intro to Mecha Building: Working with Mech Frames
One new thing I did this year was to give a Mech building workshop on the 2nd day (Sunday) AM. Huge shoutout to Mike Dung for helping translate my workshop to Nihongo for the Japanese participants as my presentation didn’t have translations in the slide which is something I hope to improve on for next year (yup doing another workshop next year! :D)
I basically covered topics mostly about Mech frame building, mostly using the reFrame system as basis for explaining things like anatomy, balance, and sturdiness with frame assemblies. I also explained how other known builders worked with other frames and the advantages of different joint types as there’s too many ways to build LEGO mech frames. I honestly believe that no one frame is the perfect frame to build with. I felt that it was better to give the participants choices and ideas to build their own frame and the fundamental knowledge on connecting specific pieces to help them with that.
Sadly I cannot share publicly the presentation I used for the workshop (will defeat the purpose of holding a workshop) 😛 so if you’d like to see the contents, I encourage you to try and physically attend one of my workshops 😀
Like last year, a ton of builders had their calling cards and/or postcards with them to distribute around. In my case, I had both calling cards and my special 2018 Mech Wars postcard with my 7 latest builds on it.
I actually had a short discussion with Rambling Brick’s Richard about this and he mentioned this wasn’t a norm with LEGO conventions in Australia where he’s from. I’d actually like to think this post card trading isn’t really a norm outside JBF 😛
I do believe it’s a great thing to do with conventions like these as it allows other builders to take home something from you for a small production price. It also serves as a token you exchange with one another out of respect for your fellow builders 😀
Next year I’ll probably bring a new design (for 2019 builds) and maybe one more for the reFrame V3 system.
Aside from the calling cards and postcard giveaways, also bought some artbooks by various individuals and build groups. My must buy on the list was definitely Zizy’s new publications as I bought out his full collection from the first book up to the 2017 Zizy Block book last year. I was also fortunate enough to buy a copy of Mitsuru’s MOC collection booklet which was A4 sized and features his signature white, greys, and hint of pearl gold mecha/mechanized builds for 700 Yen. Also picked up a copy of Bignicle’s booklet featuring their Bionicle builds, and a Brick Mecha Avengers short booklet focusing on their small mech frame. I was also able to get from the Blocks booth 3 issues of BrickJournal including the Mecha issue that my fellow admins Kelvin and Benjamin from BMD were featured in a few months back (I have yet to receive my copies from Mr. Joe Meno but I’m sure it’s just stuck in my local -inefficient- post office >.>)
The exhibitor registration had a Ninjago polybag, JBF Poster (with Mitsuru’s Dinosaur and Gorilla MOC in it), JBF’s flyer with John Cheng’s samurai brickheadz, a JBF Booklet with various articles and featured images from different exhibitors, the special 1×8 JBF event brick, and a sticker of Bricky the JBF mascot. Sometime during the 2 day event, I also got Rambling Brick’s minifig calling card and a custom 2×2 tile from Brian Yu, the LUG Ambassador of BrickMaster from Korea. Masao Hidaka, who built the brick built monorail train exhibit, also distributed some handheld fans (called an Uchiwa) with the JBF logo on it and it was perfect for the times when it got too hot inside gym 1 😛 I was also able to get my hands on the Japan Brickfest Small Towel that is now hanging inside my workroom bathroom (they gave me a free sticker too!).
From the AFOL party, we got a free small LEGO Classic set in mostly orange hues, a copy of Blocks magazine, and the JBF Mascot set along with a special JBF samurai minifig. I traded my Mascot build which I made into an alt-build mecha for Jacky Chen‘s character alt-build 😛 There was also a raffle with some great sets but I have the worst luck with free things so nothing for me there 😛
Adding it here that after the AFOL party at the end of Day 1, there was a quiz game that was super fun to watch. Will Galbraith did a wonderful job as always with the questions and the hosting / fun with Ben Knight made me tear up in laughter a few times. After this was the auction of rare sets and the key thing for the auction was a special set of 3 Brickheadz designed and built by Prince Jiang and they were super cool looking. If memory serves me properly, it was a geisha, and 2 samurai BrickHeadz in their own acrylic cases. I believe Javier from Spain (I wasn’t able to get his last name T_T) was able to win that auction so a huge congratulations to him for 😀
Conclusion and Realizations
I’d have to say that JBF 2018 was even better than the last. There were definitely more attendees going around this year on both days and all the exhibitors definitely brought really good MOCs for everyone to enjoy. On the part of the organizers (KLUG), there were improvements made for everyone so I’m glad that while JBF is getting bigger, they’re still diligently improving everything and learning from the previous years.
It was also great to finally have some folks from my local LUG (PhLUG) come with me and attend JBF for themselves. I hope that by attending an international LEGO event, they’ll have bigger things planned for the local scene. Personally, I believe the standard of the Japan Brickfest is a really good benchmark for anyone hosting a LEGO event thanks to the amazing display of creativity by all the exhibitors attending. The event is definitely an eye opener to a lot of the younger attendees as to what they can do with such a flexible construction toy and there is no limit to what they can build 🙂
I look forward as always to next year’s JBF! Hopefully I can bring more to the event with newer builds, better booth setups, and more stuff to give/sell during the event 😀 That and I’m coordinating with Miki-san to conduct another and better mech building workshop. Until next time! Leg Godt!
You can also read about Japan Brickfest from my 2017 post 🙂
Credits to my girlfriend, Eds, who was kind enough to do event coverage during JBF 😀 <3