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LEGO Bricks-by-the-Bay Convention – Part Two

(Written by Sarah)

In part one of this post, I talked about the LEGO MOC displays, LEGO vendors, ceremonies and awards at the Bricks-by-the-Bay (BBTB) LEGO convention, which happened on March 16th through the 18th in Santa Clara, California. In this post I’ll cover games & activities, seminars, and goodie-bags & LEGO convention exclusives.

My goal with this post is to introduce the concept of LEGO-fan conventions to those who may not be familiar with them, and give an overview of BBTB to help LEGO-fans who may be considering going in the next year or so. 


There were a lot of games and activities scheduled throughout the three days of this LEGO convention. I participated in the LEGO board-game tournament and individual LEGO speed-build, while Will (my husband) did 101-bricks. We both really enjoyed ourselves – though an overall comment I have for improvement is that whoever is running the games should be very clear on the rules before starting the game and not switching their mind as the game progresses.

Relay LEGO Speed Build at BBTB (photo by Bill Ward)

I heard from a friend that this was quite an issue during the LEGO blind-build as the person running it did not know the exact rules and chose a winner that likely should not have won, but my friend wasn’t sure since the decision was made in secrecy and was never explained. Hopefully these issues will decrease as they get more organized in future events.

I also participated in dirty brikster, which is a LEGO version of a white elephant gift-exchange where you wrap a LEGO gift of a certain amount and randomly pick a gift with the possibility of stealing a gift from someone else. I walked away with some Europe-exclusive LEGO polybags, which made me very happy. 🙂

Then we did the small LEGO parts draft, which was the LEGO Friends Olivia’s Tree House. Oh boy, was this a mess! They didn’t schedule enough time, they didn’t split the group of 22 people into at least 2 groups and they didn’t pre-determine lots. So nothing was sorted fairly and the first 6 people to go got the most pieces. Just makes me glad we bought our LEGO Friends sets at 30% off and didn’t participate in the larger parts draft.

LEGO Parts Draft at BBTB (photo by Bill Ward)

I suggest for the future that the organizers allow more time, do signups and be firm about those, have people drop off their LEGO sets ahead of time so that the organizers can pre-sort the lots to make them equal in value and more fair. Just an idea, but I’m sure the organizers will continue to improve as they do more conventions.


Sadly, we missed all of the seminars except the Expectations from LEGO discussion with Kevin Hinkle. We had actually made an itinerary of what we wanted to do when, but we were always busy enjoying ourselves doing something else when it came time for a seminar. Mostly it came down to me not wanting to sit down yet. I have heard from friends that some of the seminars were worth going to and some not. Seminars depend greatly on the people presenting, and not everyone is a good spreaker/presenter.

LEGO Seminar at BBTB (photo by Bill Ward)

But I am very glad we made it to the discussion with Kevin Hinkle. For those who don’t know, he’s the North American Community Coordinator with LEGO. He works with all the LUGs in North America on various things including helping with and attending conventions. It was great to talk with him as he wanted to know what we expected from LEGO in regards to support and information. I’m so glad Will and I was able to get to know him and start a relationship to hopefully help our local LUG. (See Will’s post on Kevin Hinkle here: Your Bridge to LEGO: Kevin Hinkle – Part One)

Kevin Hinkle at BBTB (photo by Bill Ward)


Last, but certainly not least is the LEGO goodie-bag we got when we first got to the event, plus the LEGO convention exclusives we had pre-purchased. The goodie-bag itself was a black & green cloth-bag with the convention info and logo. Inside was a bunch of free stuff, some from the various vendors.

The content of our BBTB goodie-bag

We got some printed LEGO wood tiles, a LEGO zombie head, a cape with the convention logo, and the new LEGO brick-separator in green, with the convention info printed on the sides. There were also two LEGO polybag sets, a LEGO Education keychain and pen, the LEGO Education catalog and the convention booklet. The LEGO Education booklet has some nice drawer-organizers that we may get someday.

Some of the freebies we received...

Also in there were our LEGO brick-badges. The brick-badges had some decorative bricks including the new masonry-bricks and engraved bricks with our names, city, club, Bricks-by-the Bay-2012 and some tradable LEGO bricks. The tradable LEGO bricks were a new concept for me.

We each started with 4 random words. I had Sore Facet Mime and Droid. The point was to meet people and trade for words that you wanted. I managed to get Sore White Jedi Chick by the end of the event, though I really wanted Ninja rather than Jedi, but the young man who had Ninja wanted to keep it.

Will was a bit more random on his and ended up with Claw Road 5 Blues. At one point he had Road 5 7 Blues, which I thought was very cool, but he was nice to a guy at the end who really wanted 7 and so Will ended up with Claw.

My LEGO badge at BBTB

As for LEGO convention exclusives, we got t-shirts with the recycling logo on it plus images of the three LEGO models that could be made with the event-kit. We got the event-kit, a metal pin with a LEGO brick four-leaf clover printed on it, and a minifigure printed with logo and info. While I know different conventions will have different items, I’m sure that some of the above is pretty standard for LEGO-fan conventions. I know the LEGO brick-badges are a big thing and a lot of people had very long badges because they brought their engraved LEGO bricks from previous conventions.

LEGO T-shirt at Bricks-by-the-Bay

One other thing to mention is the discount we got at the local LEGO store. There were 3 LEGO stores close to the convention site and you could go and get a discount based on how much you spent.  I believe this is going to be the standard for future LEGO-fan conventions.


In the end, we had a blast! It was somehow long yet short at the same time. While it will probably be a couple of years before we go to another LEGO convention, I would go back to Bricks-by-the-Bay. I’d like to see how they grow and change as time goes on. Here is a fun video to summarize it all:

So now, my dear readers, what do you think about LEGO-fan conventions? If you went to Bricks-by-the-Bay, please let me know what you think. If you’ve never gone to a convention, what do you think about the concept? Would you go to one? Post your comments below. I’d love to hear about people’s experiences and thoughts. 🙂

And if you are interested to see more pictures from the convention, search flickr.com for BBTB or BBTB2012. Here is an extensive gallery from BP Ryan with lots of pictures: Brick-by-the-Bay 2012.

Also, you may like to read the following posts:

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • nicolas-n. April 11, 2012, 10:34 AM

    wow that looks like fun-wish i was there

    • Sarah April 11, 2012, 7:56 PM

      Conventions are fun! This was my first one and I can’t wait to go to another one. Hopefully you’ll be able to go to one sometime too. 🙂

  • Luca April 11, 2012, 6:59 PM

    Gosh, I know right!

    • Sarah April 11, 2012, 8:04 PM

      I hope you’ll get to go to one too sometime. 🙂

  • Jennifer April 12, 2012, 12:05 AM

    Thanks for the info, esp regarding the games (blind build) I had no idea it went badly 🙁 That will change next year.
    As for the parts draft, the second one went much smoother. Suggestions are always welcome!
    It was great to get to meet you at BBtB!

    • Sarah April 13, 2012, 2:10 PM

      I didn’t mean to make it sound like all the games were bad. I didn’t participate in all of them. I know it’s hard to run a convention so I’m really not trying to knock you all – you did a great job. I just hope that my comments will help you improve for the future.

      I’m glad the larger draft went more smoothly. 🙂

      It was great to meet you too! I hope Will and I can come again in the future, though it will probably be several years.

  • Kevinhink April 13, 2012, 4:20 PM

    I thought it was great, I will definately plan to go again next year. 😉

    Great articles Sarah, very nice recap and prospective you were able to provide for others. I hope we see more folks out in 2013!

    • Sarah April 13, 2012, 4:33 PM

      Thanks for posting Kevin!

      I also hope more people go next year and the convention continues to grow. 😀

  • Loren Merrell April 20, 2012, 7:41 AM

    Thank you for the review. Your comments will be evaluated and integrated within our reviews of past events in order for BbtB to assess the the future planning and coordination of our events.



    • Sarah April 21, 2012, 11:16 AM

      Great! Glad I could be of assistance. 🙂

  • Loren Merrell April 20, 2012, 7:47 AM

    As a general question, what was your feeling and/or evaluation regarding the SWAG given to the convention attendees in comparison to other conventions that you have attended?


    • Sarah April 21, 2012, 11:27 AM

      I’ve never been to another convention, so I can’t compare. However, I did really like all the swag that was given out. I enjoyed getting the samples from the various vendors. While I didn’t end up buying any, it did show me what was possible our in the world of customization.

      Oh, well, Will did buy some capes and bought more when we got home since we’re doing a Superhero layout for the Railroad Museum in November. If we hadn’t gotten the cape in the swag, we may not have take a closer look at his booth.

      Oh, and I loved the new brick separator in green. The LEGO-made ones are so brightly colored, it’s nice to have one in a more “normal” color.

      The two polybags were a nice touch. It’s always fun to get more of those. And the LEGO education catalog was great, especially since we’re considering getting some stuff from them.

      The bag is very useful and I use it to carry all the club paperwork to meetings. The trade-able word bricks were a very cool idea! Don’t know if that’s standard at other conventions, but I love it!

      Can’t think of anything else to say other than I did like the goodies very much. I can’t think of anything else that would be better to include.

      Although I do have an idea for a scavenger hunt, but it would take some setting up. What you’d do is hide certain LEGO things around the convention, probably like in the ballroom, give people a list of what to look for and the first person to correctly identify where everything is wins something. You’d probably just want to run it on the closed days so start it Friday and have the prize given out on Saturday. Or just run it Saturday morning to Saturday before the ceremony. Just an idea. 🙂

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