Dammit, how did three weeks get away from me like that? I was going to post in the immediate aftermath of my Lego-based trek southward, then I looked up and it’s almost Halloween!

Agh, well. It’s been a hella Lego-y month, as well: first I received a sneak copy of the new and enormous Lego Ideas set 21330 Home Alone to build and review for the Perth Lego Users Group website (and you’ll get a head-up when the review is posted), then there was the opening of Perth’s new official Lego store, which… you know… I missed because I’m all the way over here in Twohourflightawayland. And before all that, there was Bricktober.

So, in the spirit of it never being too late except for tomorrow when it will all be too late, let me tell you about Bricktober.

It’s been five years since I actually exhibited at Perth’s annual Lego exhibition. In the first couple of years after moving to Karratha it simply seemed impossible to work out: the trip would be expensive, the returns minimal, and really, it just seemed too much of a fuss when we were concentrating on building a new life up here and I had so much to keep me busy.

But, then, wheels slowly but surely started to fall off. My writing career fell into the toilet and forgot to climb back out. The relief teaching I took to supplement Luscious’ starter-teacher wage became a part-time job, then a bigger one, then a bigger one again, until it is now, essentially, a full-time job with a couple of extra lessons off here and there. All the other things we came up here to achieve were burned away in the aftermath of our son’s death, as we struggled to maintain even the simplest connections to life, the daily necessities, and our ability to give a damn. The Lego was packed away, and that’s where it stayed.

Then COVID came along, and as the idea of staging a large-scale event where people packed themselves shoulder-to-shoulder to gawk at bits of prettily-arranged plastic seemed like an absolute non-starter, I thought I’d check in with my old Lego pals and see what they were doing. Late last September, I sent an innocuous post to the PLUG Facebook page, saying I’d miss the Bricktober photos this year, never mind chaps, hope for better next year, pip pip, into the wild blue yonder, that sort of thing.

About an hour later, I got a message from Bricktober head honcho and all-round mensch Stephen Kendall that said “You know it’s online this year. You’ve got time…”

A week later I’d finished a small build, photographed it, uploaded it, filled out the paperwork, and was a part of the Bricktober 2020 online exhibition. I’m not saying I was thirsty, I’m just saying…… it was what I needed. And then I won a prize, and Luscious saw what it had done for me and arbitrarily decided to vacate her office and gift it to me as a Lego room, and tell me that next year, come what may, I was going to drive down and exhibit in the flesh, and I had the first bricks into place for my 2021 sculpture in place before the end of the conversation…

‘The Hunting Lodge’. Built in a week, and winner of the President’s Choice runner-up prize at Bricktober 2020.

Ten months of building later, and we’ve just moved into a new house. Our son’s girlfriend is living with us, I’m down to a Lego… bit of the dining room table and everything back in the storeroom, and now everyone’s talking about moving back to Perth a year early, so we’re not even unpacking half the boxes we’ve moved over, because what’s the point when we’re convinced we’ve only going to pack them back up again in a couple of months. BUT: my display was finished, and thanks to the packing boxes we have unpacked, I’ve got me some way to move the twelve 48×48 stud baseplates worth of display plus all the other extra bits on the sixteen hour drive down to Perth.

All boxed up and ready to go.

I even had time to whip together another small vignette to match last year’s effort. I created ‘The Summoning’ after the main build, just to fill out some time, and liked it so much I plonked it on a box in front of my main display. I didn’t even think to enter it as an official build: judging by the number of comments it received, this may have been a mistake…

‘The Summoning’. Because nothing says “cheerful children’s toy” more than an exploding fist of Satanism...

And was it worth it? Good Gods, yes. I had forgotten just how much I missed it all. Not just the building, although you have no idea how much I love that, but the camaraderie of a group of like-minded individuals all gathered together for a single, joyful purpose. The screaming and hyper-excitement of the little kids running from exhibit to exhibit, yelling “Oh. My GOODNESS!” at each new sight. The nudging and pointing by people as they spot something familiar, or amusing, or just downright gobsmacking. The artistry on display. The sense that, well, everything is just plain awesome. The Lego-building community in Karratha is… well, you’re reading him. The Lego-building community in Perth is a community. I’ve missed them.

And all unboxed, and in situ. ‘Alien Archaeological Expedition’, 15,000 pieces of My-Own-Creation, ready for the stream of middle-aged Dads to tell me they remember having that set when they were kids…

And to top it off, I won again: this time, the award for ‘Best Space-themed Display’. So it appears that, as well as enjoying myself, I must be doing something approximately right. I even had a celebrity encounter, bumping into Gerhard (or ‘G’, as he prefers) from the first season of Lego Masters, while he and several of the other Perth-based winners were doing the rounds. Of course, in this case, bumping was the operative word…

In Neo-Classic Space, everybody can hear you hit the carpet.

He’s a big unit, is G, and it was hilarious to see him instantly become a shy, apologetic, nervous fellow when he came over to tell me. Dude, it’s Lego. Five minutes and it was back in place. Equally funny was the choice of person to present me with my award… it’s a pity Lego Masters made a running gag out of his stoic manner, because G’s laugh is huge.

Bricktober is a delight, and this year was a much-needed reminder of just what a delight it is. This isn’t a science fiction convention. There’s no sniping, no backstabbing, no gathering in cliques of superiority in the bar to sneer about who isn’t all that and is or isn’t a hype job or big-noting yourself ludicrously on panels, or the whole toxic, unwelcoming, fen-swamp atmosphere (and I’ve done all of the above, and been done to, and I’ve got no superior bone to point at anyone: I was as bad as anyone, and it’s one of the reasons I stopped). This is just a bunch of folk getting together to show off their clever things, and to point, and admire, and take photos, and openly joke about how we’re all going to pinch that technique, and that part use, and that colour palette from each other next year, all comfortable in the knowledge that a) we’re probably going to do exactly that, and b) it won’t matter a bit because we’ll all have some new cool stuff to show off, and c) we’ll be rinsing and repeating next year, as well.

I love it to the bottom of my weaselly black heart. I’d forgotten just how much, and how much I need it, and how good is was to see some familiar faces who were actually glad to see me back, and yes, I’ll be back next year, and yes I’ve already started my build for 2022.

And now, who cares what I have to say? Here are the pictures.

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