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8 Brickfairs in Virginia



I have attended every single Brickfair in Virginia since it began in 2008. We started with a core little group of BZP staffies which I was quick to join, being promoted to staff while at Brickfair itself that first year. What a crazy ride it's been since then!


We're down to just two of those first handful of Brickfair folks these days, just Andrew and myself. This has sort of made me sad, and probably him a little too, but something about this year sort of turned that around for me.


For a long time after Brickfair became the de facto BIONICLE convention for BZPers and, let's be honest, our staff members, there was a silly/serious east coast conventions vs west coast conventions rivalry, and some weird cliquey things kind of happened. Not only in the different coastal cons, but also within the Brickfair group itself, as we hit critical mass of like thirty to forty members at Brickfair in 2011.


I mean, splinter groups are natural, and even now at Brickfair VA we seemingly have two distinct, yet intermingled, groups. The older group, and a group of younger members. We all intermingle at big BZP events, laser tag, dinner, etc, but let's not pretend here- they are two different levels of friendship, and that's okay. What wasn't okay was the exclusivity a lot of us openly yet secretly practiced at these conventions for a long time. It probably started with us just wanting to continue spending quality time with the friends we already had, as for many years Brickfair was our only reunion. And since you spend all year looking forward to seeing those friends, it becomes harder to let other folks into that circle. The fact that our circle was most of the BZP hierarchy was a sad coincidence, and that we were mostly only Brickfair attendees an unfortunate one.


First, I want to apologize for purposefully supporting some of this stuff. I really really like almost everyone I ever meet. I'm aware that sometimes my writing has a tendency to come across abrasive, rude, and hostile, not to mention smug and condescending. It's not (usually) on purpose- I'm a person of strong beliefs, strong opinions, but also one who really really likes getting to know people. I've had so many folks in the last seven years tell me they couldn't believe how different in person I was from what they expected after interacting or just watching my posts online. This is tragic to me, and something I've tried so hard for years to counteract. I think at times I'm just too sassy for my own good, and I'm sorry for that too.


But the thing is, us wanting to just spend time with our friends turned very quickly into a number of us (not Andrew, who I want to make a strong statement here is the best possible public face for BZP and our staff and our community you could ever imagine) purposefully excluding certain people simply because they had been a west coast con person, or because they were on the bad end of one of our group. I can't count the number of times I've had people in my friend circle over the years say "oh no, person x is coming, let's go avoid them, I don't like them".


I'm sorry for that, and I'm sorry for going along with that. I've tried really really hard not to do that the last few years, and I think this convention finally broke it down for me. There are, naturally, going to be people in your lives you don't enjoy being around, and there are still people at Brickfair, Brickcon, BricksCascade, etc, that I want to avoid at all costs, mostly because of events that have transpired in the past that aren't really BZP appropriate. But there are distinctions- those people did things morally incorrigible, things that border on the illegal or obscene. I'm not talking about that.


This year at both cons I've attended I got to break through some barriers and sit and talk with people I've known for years but never talked to. I regret the last part immensely, as some of them are quite possibly some of the best people I could ever want in my life. I mourn years of potential close relationships lost. I strive to make that a different experience in the future.


This was a weird convention for so many reasons, but this is the biggest takeaway for me. I didn't win any trophies, and honestly I don't care at all, as if I weren't a selfish human being who voted for my own MOCs, I would have easily voted for both that won, as both were higher quality than anything I brought with me. Congrats to both Jess and Trisha, your MOCs were the highlight of the BIONICLE section for me and so many others! There weren't a lot of high-profile system MOCs, and I don't think Brickfair has ever seen such low public attendance. But I got to spend time with so many good friends, in so so so so many good conversations, and I got to spend time with so many new good friends. I am especially glad for the deepening and solidifying of one friendship in particular, and I hope it is one that lasts long into the distance.


This is way more rambling than I intended and I'm not sure this is what I set out to write, which was going to be more of a retrospective on being at eight Brickfairs in VA, but this is what came out, so it's probably what needed to come out. I've been thinking about it a lot.


Anyway, basically, let's all be friends except for the small number of you who are actually bad bad people. Which is like three of you, ever, in the history of the site, probably.


TL;DR: Life is messed up, Brickfair is a good time, I'm old, yay friends.

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Can I confess my platonic love for you now, Pat?


But really, the whole West Coast vs. East Coast rivalry is something that I was a part of as well, and I'm sorry for that. I think it's great that there are now West Coasters who regularly attend East Coast conventions and vice versa.


Like you say, whenever a large group of people gets together, there will be disagreements and people who don't like each other. I'm glad we can acknowledge that reality, while still moving past the ridiculous feuds of previous years.



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Was good talking to you and being around you and some BZP people especially at the Organizer's Dinner. I've been to every BrickFair Virginia event except 2010, and this year was a lot different for me. I didn't spend much time around the convention center with people this year, but the people I did spend time with definitely were better interactions than past years. Looking forward to future years of BrickFair, and to be able to continue to interact with the BZP people I've known for a long time, and hopefully continue to meet new members/fans in years to come.

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I'll admit that, in previous years, it was a combination of being terrified of Staff/older members and social anxiety/introvertedness that led me to gravitate towards the younger members, while I let chances to interact and be better friends with some of the older members pass by.

I am glad, though, that it feels that (at least for me), the previous BrickFair saw me break out of my shell a bit more and I think this year was also good in that regard. I'm kinda sad that I haven't been able to be better friends (and a better person) with y'all in the older group, but I'm kinda also glad that it's this version of me that's integrating into the group rather than me from five years ago :P

Anywho, Pat, you and all the other BZPers are, like, tubular. Seriously, though, y'all are awesome people (hence why I was kinda terrified in years past :P ) and I hope that in BrickFairs to come (as well as interactions online) I can put myself out there more to get to know all of you better :)

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"Gentles, do not reprehend:

if you pardon, we will mend:

And, as he is an honest Pat,

If we have a nasty spat

Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,

We will make amends ere long;

Else the Deevs a liar call;

So, good night unto you all.

Give him your hands, if ye be friends,

And DeeVee shall restore amends"



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This is a very good entry, and I'm glad you've written it! I guess I just want to add my own thoughts as Pablo has above. I don't know; I found myself thinking a lot about BrickFair this weekend. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit to feeling a little bit envious of all those attending - which does not exclude the fact that I was happy to read about everyone's (especially the newcomers'!) experiences here in the Blogs!


I wasn't in too good a place the first year that I attended (2012, I think) - I had been out of school for a couple years; I was dealing with gender issues, depression, and anxiety which, all taken together, led to my shutting down nearly completely around most people I was with there. That wasn't fair to anyone, and especially not to myself. Still, part of me was thinking about the level of friendships everyone seemed to have attained - maybe 'cliquey' isn't the right word for it, and I recognize that time was an important variable in the equation (8 years is a long time), but whatever it was, it was intimidating.


Again, it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently, and kinda wanted to get off my chest. I too found myself having an easier time hanging around the younger BZPower members three years ago. But a lot has changed since then; I'm in a much better place, and I've kinda been thinking about trying again? Maybe I'll work my way up (BFair NJ is calling), but anyway. Again, I'm glad you've written this entry; it's really honest. And by writing this comment, I certainly don't mean to sound accusatory or to put blame on anyone in particular! I was simply dealing with many things at the time. And I too just want to say that I hope I can put myself out there more as well. It's a goal!

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I love you all! I have every intention of continuing to go to these events for as long as I'm able, and trying to get to as many different ones as I can to meet new members and make new friends. This year I added Raleigh, Toronto, and Dallas to that list. I'd love to make it back out to the West Coast at some point- Vancouver is calling - but we'll have to see how it goes.


(And Wind - you definitely need to make it to BrickFair New Jersey!)

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(And Wind - you definitely need to make it to BrickFair New Jersey!)


Especially since one of the Bionicle designers (Christian Vonsild) will be there this year!


I probably ought to attend more conventions, but it's hard for me to motivate myself. I tend to think of conventions as "treating myself", kind of like a vacation, and I already feel like I'm treating myself more than I should be seeing as I don't have an actual job.


It'd be fun to attend BrickFair New Jersey this year, but I dunno. :notsure: I already got to hang out with Christian on the LEGO Inside Tour, after all.

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I'll admit that, in previous years, it was a combination of being terrified of Staff/older members and social anxiety/introvertedness that led me to gravitate towards the younger members, while I let chances to interact and be better friends with some of the older members pass by.

This definitely happened to me when I attended in 2012 (well, less being afraid of older members and a lot more from introvertedness). And, let's be honest, it's not like I talked tremendously with the younger members either. The fact that I was bothered by a leg injury I had just inflicted on myself didn't help. I sure regret not talking more to people now, since I don't know if I'll be able to attend Brickfair again for a while. At least if I go again I should be marginally more sociable. Hopefully.


I really wish there were a convention in LA...



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You've hit the nail on the head in so many ways.
When I first attended BrickFair in 2011, I was ... overwhelmed. It was the first time I'd really interacted with the members behind the screen names. I wasn't so much "afraid" of the older staff as much as I didn't know how to really interact beyond introducing myself. That group has been together for so long that I thought it'd be rude to butt in and try and be a part of it, especially for a kid who'd just turned fifteen. Also, it was my first con, and I didn't know how to pace myself; it wasn't until '13 that I felt I had the kind of stamina to keep my energy up for the entire time.
On top of all this, that was the beginning of what has since come to be known as Team Farm Animals; the "group of younger members" to which Pat referred. And since that time, we've grown as our own group to the point that we're our own thing as much as the initial group was at 'Fairs before '11. It's inevitable with groups that large; even within the sub-groups, the levels of friendship vary. I know that Team Farm Animals has its roots among those who didn't want to intrude on an existing group, and it has now extended beyond the mere outsiders into its own little subculture.

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I was going to write a similar blog, but you put it so perfectly.

I think that the entirety of how we have changed as a group can be summed up into a single example: It was Sunday during the public hours, and most of us were around as well as some members that came via public entry. For several hours straight, bubbles of discussion and friend groups would amass here and there, but they kept moving. Gleaning off each other. People walking from one group into another and joining the conversation without a single hiccup or change of tone. Everyone had their preferred circle, but we were all welcome in any of them.


I don't think there's a single convention in the past I've attended that worked that well... between friend groups, between coasts, or even between staff and non-staff. I used to try getting to the bottom of what caused rifts between these, but soon gave up because it seemed everyone was determined to continue acting that way. It's nice to see the fruits of.... well, all of us growing up, really. Learning to not just accept people, but welcome and respect them no matter who they are or how well you know them.


I'm really glad that I got to go, and that I got to make and strengthen relationships with both new and old acquaintances. I really think this convention changed the face of the whole 'Bionicle fan experience' for me - I've liked seeing friends from time to time, but now I can honestly say... I love you guys. I cherish this Brickfair so much, and I can't wait for the next chance to hang out.


Pat, you know I respect you for a lot of things, but I really respect how well you've been able to reflect on this. I think we all have, but it's wonderful to see and read. You're a good one. ^^

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Sounds like I missed a good one this year!


I'm so glad everyone had a great time and I'm sorry I missed it. I think much of this is just part of growing up. This type of cohesion isn't something I think happens without introspection and experience.


Can't wait to meet up again next year (hopefully in Vancouver?)

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