An introduction to Northern Brickworks

This is an introduction to being an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) and also about Northern Brickworks, which is a recognised LEGO User Group (LUG).

Many of us are introduced to LEGO as a child; it is, after all, a building toy. There are many other building toys available, but LEGO surpasses them all due its better quality, the wide range of elements and sets available and its ability to empower the juices of creativity. Oh, and not forgetting it is fun!

Some AFOLS have not played (well, we prefer ‘been constructive’) with LEGO since they were children, some have never stopped. It is inevitable that following childhood our interests and thoughts turn away from LEGO to other things (i.e. ‘a life’). This period is called the ‘Dark Ages’ and typically involves getting an education, getting a job, getting a family and getting a home (not necessarily in that order).

Many adults return having discovered the great range of sets and themes (Star Wars, the Modular Series and LEGO Trains comes to mind) and are more likely to have the necessary funds to support this somewhat expensive hobby. Additionally, the time to concentrate, the motivation to buy and build sets and the satisfaction of being creative is a big draw.

AFOLs come in all sizes, shapes, genders and backgrounds; it is a misnomer to think we are all the same. Some AFOLs collect new sets and some old sets (and NEVER open them), some stick to themes like space or city, or new licensed themes like Star Wars or Super Heroes. some collect trains and have giant railway layouts, some collect the modular buildings, some build robots, some AFOLs collect lots of parts and make an eclectic range of their own creations (mocs) and models. Others prefer to sell and trade sets and Minifigures to provide an income (usually to buy more sets for selling).

Many AFOLs will be more enthusiastic and adventurous when making their own creations. They can develop a set they have bought and made into something more personal, adding extra features, changing the colour style, for example. Making something entirely different from a ‘a set’ becomes more challenging but, if it works, is more fulfilling and exciting. Some either keep these on a shelf at home, post pictures on t’interweb, make an animated film for You Tube, or proudly display their moc at events and exhibitions. Regrettably some AFOLs are embarrassed at their hobby and dare not disclose it to family, friends and (worst of all) work colleagues. Others are not so hesitant and are keen to share what draws them to build detailed and diverse models. Others are known to appear in local newspapers, on TV or event write a book or two about their love of LEGO.

Northern Brickworks (sometimes abbreviated to ‘NB’) is a club that focuses on displaying LEGO creations and warmly welcomes and support members who propose ideas for mocs and seek advice or opinions as to their construction.

Members can arrange their own events as well as respond to invitation to exhibit at events put on by others. We also cooperate closely with other LEGO User Groups, exhibiting alongside of other AFOLs.  A few of us are also members of these other LUGs.

We have responded to requests for small exhibitions and we have arranged after-school LEGO clubs where LEGO can be used as a medium for education and fun. And we usually take the opportunity to sell raffle tickets and give away LEGO prizes to support our favoured charity: ‘Fairy Bricks’ (www.fairybricks.org).

NB has members across the North of England, from all sides of the Pennines. We formed in August 2012 so that we could arrange events and displays of our own LEGO creations. Due to requirements imposed by child protection regulations, we are an adults only club and cannot accept members under 18 years of age.

NB is run by its Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Communications Secretary. We have a Constitution which acts as some rules for running the club and an Annual General Meeting (AGM) once a year, usually in November. We are recognised as a LUG, a club for AFOLs by The LEGO Group (TLG). We have a ‘LUG Ambassador’ who acts as a link between the LEGO company and our LUG.

This is our website (nblug.org.uk) and we add photos, event reports, snippets of news and articles of interest. You can contact us by email at: admin@nblug.org.uk or use our ‘Contact Us’ form.  We’re also on Facebook – search for ‘Northern Brickworks’.  Our home page also has links to our Twitter and Instagram pages.

Note that this is our hobby and we are not employees of TLG nor are we sponsored, endorsed or authorised by LEGO to do what we do. They occasionally provide free and discounted LEGO sets and we like to use them to thank those who have organised, exhibited and assisted such displays.

The LEGO Brand Retail Shops (LBRS) are spread about the UK, but those more local to us include Liverpool, Manchester, Gateshead/Newcastle, Leeds and Sheffield. There are opportunities to display one of your own creations in a store. As a member, you will receive information about this.

Often when members first got into joining a LEGO club there was a lot they do not know or understand. Such as the terminology, acronyms, where to get discounted LEGO, the opportunity to meet other adult fans of LEGO, etc. We aim to make Northern Brickworks accessible and friendly to all and we value most the comments and experiences new members get. After all, a few of us will have met and got to know each over the years and take certain things for granted now. This is not always the case for a newbie and we wouldn’t want them to feel ‘on the fringes’ or left out. So, if you have a question or query, get in touch.