Last weekend, over 30 intrepid LEGO photographers descended upon Melbourne CBD for the second Brickstameet. It was a typically chilly Melbourne morning, but the 30 LEGO, photography and Instagram enthusiasts braved the cold for a day full of urban exploration and minifigure photography.
I almost missed the Brickstameet as my flight into Melbourne from Sydney on Friday night got turned around (back to Sydney) at the very last minute, which meant that I was stranded in Sydney for an extra day. Thankfully, I managed to get on an early replacement flight back to Melbourne and only just barely made it to the Brickstameet. I came directly from the airport, which meant that I wasn’t able to bring most of my LEGO minifigures that I had intended to.
I also wasn’t able to wear my red jumper as I had originally planned, so some people had trouble identifying me! Sorry!
This Brickstameet was a Melbourne-themed Instagram meetup. Everyone had LEGO minifigures on them and we were all taken on a mini-walking tour of the Melbourne CBD by our hosts, @cheepjokes, @TheShortNews, @LLWorld and @Brett_Wilson – four huge LEGO Instagrammers. It was a very star-studded affair as you may have imagined!
I had a fabulous time. On the side, I do enjoy taking photos of LEGO when I’m out and about (follow me on Instagram @jayong28!) but there’s something radically different about doing it in a group. The social aspect of the Brickstameet is what sets it apart. Meeting fellow LEGO-loving Melburnians, catching up with old friends and just watching a bunch of LEGO fans whose ages ranged from young to old.
LEGO is a really fun hobby but it’s almost always indulged in isolation or in the comfort of your own home. Events like this Brickstameet are excellent opportunities to bond and hang out with like-minded individuals.
We started out in Federation Square, where we were given a quick tour of the insides before heading to the Pop Up Patch, an urban garden housed at the top of the carparks. Greenery, plants, flowers and fruits make for an excellent backdrop for LEGO photography.
We then headed for Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane. It’s one of Melbourne’s defining laneways, covered in urban graffiti and street-art which loudly proclaimed Melbourne’s unique cultural identity as the city that’s just effing cool.
Bit of a confession – this was actually the first time that I’ve spent a significant amount of time at Hosier Lane and it was really fun. I’ve walked through it many times, but I’ve never really stopped to appreciate the street art.
One of the most memorable parts of the Brickstameet was getting to meet Chiara, an 11 year old LEGO fan who reads my blog! She passed me a very thoughtful letter, and also a small little gift – a LEGO accessory blind bag that she made herself. She runs a Youtube channel called Brick Bash and made a short VLOG about the Brickstameet!
I totally didn’t expect getting a physical letter and a small gift – that was a really lovely gesture!
During a quick lunch break, I had the chance to chat with Isaac (14) and his sister Audrey (17) who were attending their first Brickstameet. Isaac is on Instagram @lmi_bricks and also makes videos on Youtube under the same name.
Isaac takes photos of minifigures in his room or out in the city. Audrey feels that “LEGO is so creative, you can pretty much do anything with it.”.
Jay: Whats your favourite thing about LEGO
Isaac: I love the community. I like the Melbourne community. Before I got Instagram for LEGO, I thought I was the only one.
Jay: Who’s your favourite minifigure of all time?
Audrey: Han Solo (without a moment’s hesitation).
Isaac: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say, I like a lot of figures. At the moment I really like Stay Puft cause his mould is really cool.
Our next and final destination was Presgrave Place, a small alleyway tucked in between Little Collins Street and Swanston Street. This nondescript alleyway puzzled me at first because I didn’t really understand why we were here.
It wasn’t till I wandered down the alleyway till it all clicked. It was filled it all sorts of wonderful little art installations, most of them incorporated toys of some sort. It was the perfect LEGO Instagram spot and I could immediately see why the organisers chose to end here.
This was my favourite picture of the day. A tiny Mona Lisa portrait! Just brilliant, unexpected and wonderful.
At Presgrave Place, I got to chat with Mason, an 11 year old LEGO Instagrammer. You can follow him on @_lego__mas_. On Instagram, he takes DC Comics-themed photos and stop-motion videos.
Jay: What do you think of your first Brickstameet?
Mason: It’s really fun, interesting and I’m learning a lot of things about LEGO and photography.
Jay: What’s your favourite LEGO set or theme?
Mason: DC Comics and Creator, especially Modulars. I don’t really have a favourite set. I really like Darkseid Invasion. My favourite DC minifig is Batman from Batman v Superman- the one without the armour.
Jay: How did you find out about this Brickstameet?
Mason: Andrew from Cheepjokes posted a photo of it and I asked my parents if I could go and I was able to go. My dad brought me here. I’m pretty thankful for that.
Jay: Will you attend future Brickstameets?
Mason: I’ll try my best and I’ll bring better things next time.
After speaking with two KFOLs (Kid Fans of LEGO), I was keen on hearing about the event from the perspective of a TFOL (Teenage Fan of LEGO). Enter Kalani who does his thing at @cityinpieces on Instagram. He’s also a veteran Brickstameet-er, having attended the one last December at Fed Square.
Jay: What’s your Instagram about?
Kalani: My whole theme is that I take my sigfig and LEGO out into the streets of Melbourne, around the CBD and take cool little photos.
Jay: This is your second Brickstameet, what do you think of this one so far?
Kalani: I’m having a lot of fun so far. The first one was fun, but I was kinda getting to know everybody then. With this one, I now know lot of people so it’s more socialising and hanging out with them and taking a lot of LEGO photos at the same time.
Jay: Favourite stop on this Brickstameet?
Kalani: I quite liked Hosier Lane. I love that whole laneway and there’s a lot of funny little ideas that you can sorta do in terms of weird abstract LEGO photos. Presgrave Place was actually a lot of fun as well.
Jay: Do you buy a lot of LEGO?
Kalani: Not as much as I used to, but I still buy a lot. I used to collect all the Super Heroes when I was really little. Ever since I started my Instagram account, I’ve started looking at themes and sets that have good opportunities for photos. I now go for a lot of City stuff.
Jay: Excited about the next Brickstameet?
Kalani: I’ll always be there. A good idea [for the next Brickstameet] would be instead of bringing some LEGO to take some photos with, maybe you bring a specific themed piece and you’ll have to incorporate that into all your photos. Like a hotdog piece. That could be a good idea!
Last but not least, I spoke to the organisers of the event.
Jay: In your opinion, how did the Brickstameet go?
@cheepjokes: Very successful! Not even ‘for our first time very successful’, just straight up, very successful! We had an amazing attendance with some familiar faces, and were very excited about seeing some fresh faces! We had around thirty attendee’s, ranging from about 2 years old, to however old Brett Wilson is.
@llworld: I think our first Brickstameet went really well, Cheepjokes did an amazing job scouting the locations. Turn out was better than what I expected, honestly I thought that it was just going to be us four. I had a joke written down just in case it was just the four of us. “Two meat eaters and two vegetarians walk into a lane way” … Actually I didn’t write a joke I just lied, I’m still funnier than Andrew tho!
@TheShortNews: This Brickstameet was a raging success! I mean, AFOLs, TFOLs, KFOLs and even a BFOL (Baby Fan of Lego) braved the chilly Melbourne weather to have some fun, learn from one another and explore this amazing city! The turnout far exceeded any of our expectations. We all joked that we’d have a plan B if nobody else turned up (the pub was a popular option), but I don’t think we were truly joking. So many people turned up that it was hard to keep track of them all. It was probably 30+, but could easily have been 300, with all the chatter and energy around.
Jay: What was your favourite part of this Brickstameet?
@llworld: I really loved how everyone got into the spirit of it all and felt the confidence to be able to take out their Minifigures and take some amazing photos. However the best part is the fact parents came along for their kids, I can’t imagine the list of things that they would’ve preferred to do on that day, yet there they where smiling and having fun watching their kids getting creative in the lane ways of Melbourne.
@TheShortNews: My favourite part was that adults and kids were learning from and supporting one another with such enthusiasm that we drew crowds of onlookers, all curious to know what we were doing and how to get involved. Even Woody (the youngest attendee) was busting to get out of his pram and take photos. There was that twinkle in his eye.
@cheepjokes: Watching how creative people were! I’ve been to those places a bunch of times, with a variety of minifigs, and never saw some the photo opportunities that these guys created!
Jay: Any plans for the next one? When will it be?
@cheepjokes: We would like to do them quarterly, and mix up the locations and themes. This one felt very urban, so possibly something a little more with nature next time!
@TheShortNews: We are planning another Brickstameet very soon. There are 4 seasons (all occurring each day in Melbourne), so perhaps the next one will be Spring, which will hopefully bring some warmer weather. As for the specifics, we’re thinking big! Expect something different, mystery and no doubt a greater crowd of passionate, happy people!
Lastly, here’s what @Brett_Wilson had to say about the Brickstameet.
It was amongst the graffiti covered walls that I experienced my first highlight of the day; a KFOL proudly flying the flag for Lego photography when asked by a passer-by what he was doing? Upon seeing the kid being questioned I instinctively felt, as a co-host of the #brickstameet and an adult(?), that I needed to swoop in to help the kid out. But, I needn’t have worried. The kid confidently and proudly explained who we were and what we were doing. It was a real highlight to witness these kids proudly publicise who, what and why, especially as I’d struggled to find that secure voice up until recently.
Shortly after this exchange as I made my way up Hosier Lane towards the meeting point to head to the next location, highlight number two happened. Possibly the youngest attendee, and undoubtedly a future Lego photography star, was deftly positioning Lego against brightly coloured walls enveloping a metal grate and chain. I watched this kid, maybe 5 or 6 years of age, set up and shoot photos, as his Dad proudly looked on. It was the parents’ willingness to, not only give up their Saturday, but also be dragged around the city on a rather brisk day by their Lego loving kids that was highlight for me.
And that leads to highlight three nicely. Amongst the art adorned walls of Presgrave Place, Jay interviewed one of the KFOLs in attendance about his thoughts of the day as his Dad captured the interview on his phone. The sheer excitement of the kid and the absolute pride of his Dad were tangible. Some knucklehead might’ve even called him a ‘rock star’ as he walked past him post interview!
It was this encounter that made me realise these parents weren’t giving up their Saturdays. They weren’t begrudgingly being hauled around the city to satisfy their kids’ hobbies and passions. They were there because they wanted to be. They were there because they were proud of their kids. Best. Highlight. Ever.
Read more of Brett’s reflections on his Stuck in Plastic blog piece.
So yeah, all in all, I had a terrific time. LEGO is so much better when enjoyed with other people and it is always a huge pleasure chatting with like-minded fans. Taking awesome photos of LEGO in the streets of Melbourne was also a nice bonus.
If you want to see more photos of the Brickstameet, you can check out the #brickstameet hashtag on Instagram. To find out when the next one is, be sure to follow Brickstameet on Facebook or Instagram.
I hope to see you at the next Brickstameet!