Krista Simpson, co-founder of the Mid Island Lego Users Group, poses with a Chinese festival scene, titled Dragon Dance, she created from Lego. The club meets once a month at White Sails Brewery, participates in community events and is looking to add members. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s Lego community creating, co-operating

Mid Island Lego Users Group is always looking for creative new members

Some of the building blocks of any community are clubs that spring up among people with common interests and a Nanaimo adults’ Lego club is attracting members with a craving to get creative.

The Mid Island Lego Users Group was formed in 2016 at the BrickCan convention in Richmond that Krista Simpson, Laura Hawley and Michael Thomas attended.

“We met these folks from other users groups and thought, wow, wouldn’t it be cool to do something locally and so we wouldn’t have to drive over the Malahat, so we decided to start the group and talked to some other folks at the convention and figured out what we had to do,” said Simpson.

Club membership has grown quickly with members from around the central Island who attend monthly meetings at White Sails Brewery to discuss Lego-related concepts and ideas, from build challenges, upcoming Lego conventions around the world, new products coming out, to which community events club members want to participate in.

“Last night we did kind of a show-and-tell, so people bring something they did, something they’re working on,” Simpson said. “So one fellow brought this massive [space] shuttle. It’s like four feet long. It’s beautiful.”

Simpson went on to explain that worldwide, adult Lego enthusiasts are called AFOLs – adult fans of Lego – who never build projects from Lego kits. AFOLs build MOCs (my own creation). A Lego users group is called a LUG and LUGs and their members never represent the Lego company, but might easily be in contact with LUG members in Denmark, where the Lego brick was invented and the company maintains its headquarters.

“I mean, you self-identify, but as soon as you become part of the larger Lego community and you get involved in one of these groups, you know, you understand there are other folks like you that love to build Lego,” Simpson said.

MOC complexity ranges widely with skill level and since anyone over 19 can join MILUG, skill level is quite broad among the club’s members.

Some LUGs even have engineers and architects in their member ranks, but Simpson said sophisticated creations aren’t exclusive to engineers and architects.

Nanaimo’s affordable housing strategy expo in April featured Lego representations of residential buildings created by a MILUG member.

“You’d be surprised … if you go to one of the conventions, it would be very difficult to tell who is an architect and who is not,” Simpson said. “There’s a lot of Lego that involves movement and electronics and all that stuff.”

One benefit of being a club member is sharing and trading unique Lego pieces with other AFOLs to help each other make the next MOC a reality. LUG members learn from more-experienced users and are in contact with AFOLs around the world, but also participate in local conventions and community events. MILUG was part of Curious Comicon in Country Club Centre on May 5 and is planning to take part in MCon in Nanaimo this fall. The club also helps out with the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s children’s Lego program in Nanaimo and maintains a display of its creations in VIRL’s Nanaimo Harbourfront branch.

Simpson said the club’s long-term goals include creating interactive events within the community, such as derby races, building Lego ornaments, children’s build challenges, and holding workshops on Lego building techniques.

To learn more, visit MILUG’s website at http://milug.ca/ or follow the LUG’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/midislandlug/.



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