There comes a time in everyone’s life where toys are abandoned. For most, this transition is called “growing up.” But for those who consider themselves AFOLs, or Adult Fans of Lego, it’s a period known simply as the “dark ages.”
“You discover girls and you put Lego by the side,” says Chris Magno, self-described AFOL and co-founder of Brickfête, this weekend’s AFOL convention. “You start to live your life.”
But then Lego, a Dutch system of interlocking bricks, is no regular toy. The smiling mini-figures might entice children to play in their plastic world, but imagination, something that you never grow out of, helps create that world.
Magno, who has a Lego tattoo on his arm, rediscovered “the brick” while in university after a girlfriend gave him a set. “It was a way to be creative and use my hands.” By the mid-’90s he had found like-minded types online.
“I thought I was the only adult asking for Lego for birthdays and Christmas.”
His partner, Janey Gunning, started attending AFOL events in the States, but there were no Canadian equivalents. So the pair launched Brickfête last year as a way to get other AFOLs into one room to show off their creations, and talk Lego.
“It’s an opportunity to leave the basement,” jokes Magno. “Everywhere you turn there will be Lego.”
Brick is often substituted for the Lego brand name at these events for legal reasons, but like most subcultures (Trekkies come to mind) it’s just one of many pieces of nomenclature that make up the AFOL lexicon; LUG refers to Lego User
Groups, the Ontario Brick Builders is an umbrella organization for Ontario-based LUGs and partners who don’t fall into the AFOL category are called non-Lego significant others.
“Everyone has a hobby,” says Magno. “Ours just happens to be LEGO.”
Brickfête runs Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 at the Hilton Toronto Airport, 5875 Airport Rd. $5 to $10.
Computer-assisted Lego designs
For those people too cheap or too fearful of the social stigma to build their own collection of plastic bricks, there are now Lego-based computer-assisted design programs that allow you to simulate projects on your computer. Some, like LDraw, are open source, while Lego has released its own Digital Designer version. Both versions are free. Those looking to recapture the creative glory of their youth would be best served by bricklink.com, a one-stop eBay-esque shop for all things
Lego, where AFOLs both new and experienced can pick up their favourite sets or that one missing piece.