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Tips for winning a LEGO contest!

by admin on October 11, 2011

in Useful Resources

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! 😉

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph October 12, 2011 at 1:08 AM

One thing I’ve noticed through looking at online building contests… very often, the entries that win (those that are judged by public vote) not only have a great build– but an element of humor as well. Obviously this isn’t true for all contests, but when minifigs are included, including a few funny elements or jokes definitely helps!

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admin October 12, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Steph, that is actually a really good point! Adding humor or something unique or surprizing can really nail it! I will add that to the list! Thanks for your insight! 😉

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Quad October 12, 2011 at 4:21 PM

The biggest thing I like about your blog is that it is updated with new posts very frequently. 🙂
Good tips on the contests, it sure seems like there are alot of them going on around this time.

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admin October 12, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Thanks, Quad, we are trying to keep our readers updated. Oh, and if you would ever like to post let us know! We can always use good LEGO writers! 😉

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Quad October 14, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Wow. …Okay, if I have any ideas for a post I’ll let you know. 🙂

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www.smallplasticbricks.com October 13, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Great ideas! I’d love to see how an article here about taking photos and how to make a lightbox.

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admin October 13, 2011 at 12:21 PM

I hear ya! It will come! 😉

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david June 16, 2012 at 3:35 PM

i have great ideas i will enter to the contest

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K October 5, 2013 at 12:16 AM

So cool. Thanks for the tips =)

On a related note: It is so weird, because I always get sort of depressed when I see those amazing MOCs, I have bought almost every SUper Heroes set, and, half are assembles sort-of as they should…but I don’t feel I have “enough parts” or such a range of options….at what point should I jump to “stop” or at least reduce the expense in sets and concentrate on BLinking?

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admin October 5, 2013 at 9:28 AM

K, I know what you mean. One thing you can do is that even when you do buy sets you take into consideration the usefulness of the elements for your own MOCs. In otherwords, but sets that would help you build better MOCs. And you can beef that up with a couple of BrickLink orders with bulk parts.

What I do is buy sets that I really-really like (usually the LEGO exclusives). I rarely buy just generic sets meant for the younger audience. And I BrickLink everything else. Even for BrickLink I have a strategy; I buy light gray bricks and other elements in bulk. The reason I do that is because they are cheap, and you can pretty much build anything from light-gray. It allows me to work on a MOC and see how it would look in one color (kind of like the first scetch on paper. Then when I’m satisified with the design I will get the elements in the correct color on BrickLink (if I don’t have them already). This allows me to fully build most MOCs I can think about, and then color it as necessary.

I also supplement buildilng with LEGO Digital Designer. If you don’t have enough elements to finish your MOC, you can finish it in LDD, rotate it in any way you want to get a good 3D view, pick the elements, colors, etc. And once you are done, print out the parts lists and buy the missing parts on BrickLink. This will save you money from buying random parts that you end up not using. Although there is no such thing as a useless LEGO element. 😉

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Dean April 24, 2014 at 8:37 PM

I just entered an online lego contest but after several days my entry is still listed as Pending. How long does it take to get approved? If I did something wrong will I be told why my entry did not qualify?

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admin April 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Dean, what contest did you enter? It totally depends on the organizers how they run their LEGO contest, so best would be to ask them.

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Linda Moffitt January 12, 2015 at 4:54 PM

I printed off a contest application form from Lego club but I cannot find an end date? Does anyone have anymore info about this contest? Also is there a link for any of these other contests that everyone is talking about?

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admin January 12, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Linda, LEGO Club magazine contests are usually from one issue of the magazine to the next. For children those contests are excellent. Contests run by LEGO fan communities are usually geared towards teen and adult LEGO fans. Almost every LEGO fan community runs them on a regular basis, including contests we run here. If you let me know what kind of contests you are looking for and how old/young are the contestants I can give you more specific advice on which contests would be a good match. 🙂

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Clumsybumsy July 28, 2015 at 6:04 AM

I just found this post whilst searching for LEGO contest building tips for a contest I am going to enter on august 22, sadly it is an onsite contest mainly aimed at children but with a small AFOl/TFOL category so I’ll have
to see what bricks I can use but with this I am quite capable of putting down a nice MOC.

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admin July 28, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Even with onsite contests you can use presentation to your advantage. Positioning, background, adding something dynamic or funny, these can all sway the judges to your favor. Wishing you the best in the contest! 😀

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Clumsybumsy July 28, 2015 at 10:13 AM

With onsite I mean you actually build onsite but I understand the confusion. This means that you only have 5 hours to build. As was the fact the past 4 times I entered this contest the build can only b 32x32xA studs, due to this presentating it nicely will be quite hard especially as the white 2×4’s will most likely be used by a lot of people. Guess I will be working on a different way to presentate the set.

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admin July 28, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Yes, that’s what I meant too; a live event. Just use whatever you can to your advantage. Be creative, do something unique. This doesn’t have to be much – a bit of humor or dynamic positioning can be enough. 😉

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Clumsybumsy July 28, 2015 at 5:14 PM

I’m scouring the building techniques section of this site for tips right now and I’m trying them out. In the past years I mainly focused on speed building which has netted me two prizes so far, which is great if you note hte fact I only entered two of those contests. However now that I am focusing on technique more and more I can already see it improve every time I build.

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admin July 28, 2015 at 8:06 PM

That is actually the best way to learn; once you learn something new, immediately implement it. This way it really gets ingrained. Good for your for challenging yourself with those contests! 🙂

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daniel April 21, 2016 at 1:16 AM

i like lego very much
mostly i play lego at my home

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daniel April 21, 2016 at 1:21 AM

i like very much. mostly i play lego at home. it is fun to play lego. every single day i used to go to lego.com i will play fun games watch vedios and complete misions.

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