As a LEGO fan you are probably aware that there are many online and offline LEGO contest you can participate in. LEGO contests are a great way to challenge your creativity, boost your LEGO building skills, have fun, make friends, and win some seriously great prizes. 🙂
In this guide I will introduce you to the world of LEGO contests, and also share with you some techniques to give your contest-entry the best chance to make it to the winners’ zone.
INTRODUCTION TO LEGO CONTESTS: Let me start out by stating the obvious; LEGO contests can be held anywhere by anyone. In fact, you can easily run a fun building competition amongst your family and friends. Here however we are focusing on larger LEGO building contests and tournaments against competitors from your city, state, country or even from around the world. You will need to stretch your mental skills, building skills, presentation skills and social skills all at once, as you are likely competing against very accomplished LEGO builders. But in return for your hard work you get the feeling of accomplishment, as well as the camaraderie of other LEGO fans, and of course great prizes if you win! 😀
TYPES OF LEGO CONTESTS: The two main types of LEGO contests are online and offline. Offline contests are usually held by LEGO clubs, LEGO stores, schools, libraries, museums, and other organizations. In general they are geared towards children, although if there is an AFOL club in your area, you will likely find LEGO contests for adults as well. Best is to contact your local LEGO club or LEGO store for details.
Online contests are held by The LEGO Group itself, LEGO fan-sites, forums, social networks, blogs and other online groups. The largest, most prestigious ones are regular events (usually yearly), featuring incredible talents and accomplishments. Even just following them and seeing the entries is great fun! Other contests are more random, so you have to keep your eyes and ears open. I regularly list the ones I know about in the Community News section.
LEGO CONTEST PRIZES: Prizes at LEGO contests are usually LEGO sets, custom LEGO trophies, gift-certificates to a LEGO store, or perhaps a trip to a LEGOLAND Park. 😛
LEGO CONTEST JUDGES: At offline contests evaluating contest-entries may be done by a panel of judges. At online contests judging is often done by other members of the community according to a set of rules and guidelines.
TIPS ON WINNING A LEGO CONTEST: Below you will find some tips I have personally used to win LEGO contests. (You can check out one of my winning entries here: LEGO Mini Taj Mahal.) Please note that my main focus here is online LEGO building contests, but several of the tips are also relevant to local contests. Hope these pointers will also help in your competition!
➡ CHOOSE YOUR CONTEST WISELY! There are plenty of LEGO contests throughout the year, so you want to choose the ones that best suit your interest, size of LEGO collection, budget, and time. For example you may not have enough LEGO to enter a contest that requires you to build a large LEGO model, but you could enter a micro-building tournament. You may also consider how much you are interested in the prizes and other perks that comes with participating.
➡ FOLLOW THE RULES! Is there a specific size you need to build in? Is there a limit on the number of parts you can use? Or do you need to use specific elements? Are custom items allowed (BrickForge, BrickArms, custom stickers, etc.)? It would be very disappointing to go through all the work and enter something that will be disqualified due to not following the rules – so pay attention to them. If something is not clear, ask.
➡ KNOW THE DEADLINE! Make sure you are clear on the date and time by which entries must be received. It makes a big difference if the deadline is a month away or a few days away, especially if you have to get extra parts for your entry. Also don’t forget that with online contests you will need to take pictures to submit your entry.
➡ STUDY THE MASTERS! If you are in doubt about your contest entry or presentation, study previous winning contest entries! You can even ask for advice if you are not sure about something. LEGO fans are friendly folks!
➡ BUILD TO WIN! What your LEGO model will look like will depend a lot on what the contest is about, but in general try to make your entry as close to your vision as possible with the parts that you have. For example, use parts in the right colors as much as possible and include some interesting building techniques or unusual use of LEGO elements. (If you need to get extra parts, be clear on what is your budget so that you don’t overspend.) Also, adding some humor or surprising twist to your entry will surely delight the judges!
➡ PRESENT LIKE A PRO! If you are participating in a local contest, present your entry on a clean background and at a comfortable height for viewing, and under good lighting. For online contests taking good photos is just as important as building an awesome LEGO model. Remember that judges are looking at your entry only through your pictures. No matter how awesome your LEGO model is, if the images are fuzzy, blurry, dark, and with a busy and unrelated background (like stuff in your bedroom or on your desk), they will significantly diminish the effect of your entry. Best is to use a clean, solid color background (poster-boards work really well), or if the model is very large, a wrinkle-free bed sheet. You can also make or buy a light-box for taking pictures. Take good, sharp photos at the best possible light, from the best angles to highlight the unique features of your contest entry. Edit your photos by cropping, sharpening, adjusting colors, etc.
➡ MAKE IT PERSONAL! Although this is usually not a specific requirement at LEGO contest, adding a back-story to your creation can significantly improve your chances. This could be a background story for the model you built, or it could be about the building process itself (where you got your inspiration from, challenges you ran into, realizations you got through the designing and building process, etc.). Wrapping your model into a fun, interesting and personal story can highly increase your chances.
➡ OVER DELIVER! The contest rules may not spell out in detail how you should make your presentation. Technically, they may not require a clean background, or clear photos, or a back-story. However taking the time to make your presentation as nice and professional as possible, even if your LEGO entry itself is not that unique, will put you ahead in the game.
➡ DO NOT MAKE THE FIRST MOVE! If you are entering an online LEGO contest with the objective of winning, I would suggest that you wait until the last day to submit your contest entry. A lot of contestants will rush in at the end to beat the deadline, and this way you have a chance to size up your competition and make any necessary adjustments to your entry.
➡ PULL IT ALL TOGETHER! When you submit your contest entry, make sure everything is just right. For an online entry all pictures and picture links should be working and spelling should be correct. Also, double check the contest rules. In general, do everything possible to give your LEGO contest entry the best possible chance, and to wow the judges with your LEGO creation, your style of presentation, and your professionalism!
Hope you find these tips helpful for your next LEGO contest! And if you are ready to compete you may head over to the Community News section to check out any currently running LEGO contests. Good luck and have fun! 😉