Thus far in my building as an AFOL, a lot of the time it’s seemed like I’m over here doing my thing more or less independently, while somewhere over there there’s a network or actual community of other AFOLs with whom I have little to no contact.
You know. The recognised names. The ones that all seem to know (or at least, know of) each other. And I’m over here, in a box virtually by myself. This blog has a following, but it’s a very limited one, and I’m too recently on Flickr and Pinterest to have acquired anything like a following or the connections I’ve found I crave.
This separation isn’t really by design, but if it’s anyone’s fault it’s mine. Natural introversion and a whole string of personal hangups mean that I’ve never felt any good at the whole meeting people and making friends thing, and it doesn’t seem to make much difference if that’s online or in person. And long job hours and limited online time mean I don’t have that much time to devote to it anyway. I don’t get to practice much.
Needing more in the way of connections, though, this seems to be the year I go in search of community. Yes, I would like to connect to the network.
Yesterday I discovered a Neoclassic Space Group on Flickr. “Yay! Cool!” I thought. “This is exactly the group for me!” And I clicked on the link.
And quickly became dismayed by the snobby, snooty tone of the group intro and all of their elitist building guidelines: Like the grudging “Bley is acceptable if you really can’t do old grey” – I mean, who can do old grey in any reasonable amount these days, unless you inherited a load of bricks from the ’80s? And no-one calls it “bley” unless they are being dismissive of the newer LEGO colour.
That and the fact that the last group message seems to have been more than a month ago put me off. Not exactly the wellspring of community I’m looking for.
Now, I’m prepared to believe that I’m reading more into their rules and building guidelines than is warranted, but any time anyone starts laying down the law in microscopic detail about what does or does not constitute NCS, I start to get a bit hostile.
I know what Classic and Neoclassic Space creations are supposed to look like. I cut my teeth as a builder on the originals; they were what taught me to build and made me love LEGO. And yes, I know that old grey and what gets dismissively referred to as “bley” look absolute crap when mixed. I know that if it has too much dark grey (old or new) or a wrong-coloured (like trans clear or smoke) windscreen element it’s not going to look fully authentic.
But I’m not into snobbery. If you’re going to tell me that because I use new grey throughout rather than old grey that I’m some kind of second-class builder, then “this is not the community you are looking for”, to paraphrase Obi-Wan.
LEGO fandom is supposed to be about having fun and spurring one another on to new heights of building, not farking snobbery over which type of grey you use in your NCS builds. Loosen up, people!
Now, I’m new to the Flickr LEGO community. They may legitimately need to institute guidelines over what does and doesn’t constitute Neoclassic Space so that they don’t get swamped by people who truly don’t have a clue and don’t care to get one. They may be nice, friendly people who have had to word their guidelines like that to stop random posts of not-NCS Star Wars ships. But I’m not interested in joining a snobby, elitist group just so half of them can look down their noses at me because I use the new version of one of the primary theme colours, and that’s what’s coming across in the Group introduction.
The Neoclassic Space group on Flickr isn’t my only iron in the fire on this new quest for network, though.
At the start of this past week I discovered DFWLUG.
For the uninitiate, this is my local LEGO User Group, or LUG; apparently a community of other AFOLs in my local area. Their webpage is little more than just a vague introduction and a calendar of events, but they say that anyone is welcome to join so long as they do so in person at one of their regular meetups.
The first one of these this year is on Saturday. And I’m going.
I’m very excited at the prospect of meeting other adult builders, but I’m quite nervous at the same time. They say you’re encouraged to bring something you’ve made or are working on, so I’ve been thinking all this week about what to take.
I might have taken Toothless if I hadn’t broken up the house part of the build to make my black neo-Ice Planet interior flooring.
I thought about taking my rocket, Rocket, ROCKET!!!, but my wife’s comment was that “it’s cool, but it’s not your best spaceship. Why don’t you build something new? Something like that spacewhale, or a really good dragon?”
Normally that’s a good idea. I’m always happy to build something new. But of course, it was at that point that all building inspiration left.
So the first model I’m taking to show other builders is my slightly edgy, very mildly risqué Ice Babe 2.0 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside“.
To a builders’ meet in Texas, spiritual home of religiously-motivated prudery. And topless bars.
The Ice Babe model is neither of those, so I hope it goes over well! I also hope it’s not embarrassingly small or simplistic, and that I can make a decent enough showing not to feel completely intimidated by everyone.
I hope these are the communities I’m looking for, because it’s what I miss most about the LEGO Message Boards even though it was mostly a load of kids on them.
We shall see.
Since making the decision to take “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” I’ve got inspired for a new large-ish NCS space freighter, but I’ve made too little progress so far for it to be worth bringing along, and I know already that I’m going to need at least some of the blue slopes from the outer wall of “Baby” in building it. And now I can’t break up the model yet to get at them.
I will report back on how it goes, my friends. Hopefully with pictures, but I’m not sure of the etiquette of these things. I’m coming in nearly clueless as well as being a complete unknown to them, whoever they are, but I can’t even find any way on the site to say “I’ll be there!”
I may be going in blind, but I am going in. We’ll just have to see how it goes…