Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Celebration Europe II: LEGO

With the fiasco and ill will generated from LEGO attending Comic Con, the company went down the opposite route with their presence at Star Wars Celebration Europe II, the greatest party in the galaxy held last week in Essen, Germany. There was an exclusive mini-figure available, some incredible fan built creations and LEGO sets available to buy.

The LEGO stand had much potential to “wow” – looking at the floor plan for the
event in advance, the LEGO area in the main hall was one of the largest from the Star Wars licensees. Unfortunately in practice it turned out to be predominantly a shop. All of the Star Wars products you would find in a LEGO store were available, including exclusives and licensed products such as the torches. With a spend of 55 euros or more customers received a free Han Solo Hoth (Brown Coat) mini-figure, previously given away as this year’s May 4th promo. All of the new sets were available to buy which was cool, but it was bizarre to see folk lugging the Millennium Falcon around at a convention all day – when they can just order it from the LEGO website and have it delivered. The only reason to make a purchase was to get the mini-figure if fans missed it before.

The rest of the floor space was given over to a building event, where attendees could add bricks to big mini-figures of Yoda and Darth Vader that were under construction. This was pretty much the same as what is run at LEGOLAND parks during themed Star Wars events. The space (it couldn’t even be described as a booth) was rounded out with screens playing the LEGO Star Wars shorts created by Killer Minnow.

Meanwhile in the Fan Hall, LEGO was a key part of the family area, having provided lots of bricks so that the little ones could let their imaginations run wild. 

Other exhibitors such as Hasbro were actually displaying new, unreleased product for fans to check out. LEGO had unveiled a new set the week before at Comic Con – rather naughty considering this was a specifically Star Wars event. It would be like having unveiled new Super Heroes sets at Star Wars Celebration! They had brought along some of the big mini-figures and UCS sets to display, but back in the main hall it was the fan displays that really saved LEGO from being a big let-down. The ingenuity of AFOL builders never ceases to amaze, and they didn’t let the side down for this event.

These are just a selection of my personal favourites. Size is always amazing, and the six foot Star Destroyer was absolutely mesmerizing. Great little details found their way into impressive dioramas such as Cloud City, with a certain infamous fellow in an orange jump suit making an appearance. Micro-figures were used impressively in this Emperor’s arrival scene, and a unique representation of Star Wars characters in brick form was fun too. 

A really special addition to the LEGO area was The LEGO Star Wars Organ from the Builders of Sound. Since its unveiling to coincide with the 3D release of The Phantom Menace it has visited various events in Germany, and now fans who had travelled to Celebration Europe II could see it in person. By cranking the handle at the side, the huge drum turned and was constructed in such a way that as the built environments hit the keys of the organ, it plays classic Star Wars music. This was so impressive to see in person, taking what a LEGO MOC can be to a whole other level. 

It is a shame that LEGO did not put more effort into what they had to share at Celebration Europe II. The Comic Con route of exclusives and raffles are not the way to go, but how about showing some new product releases, cool alternate builds or premiering a new LEGO Star Wars movie? The first Celebration Europe in 2007 had upcoming products on display and a huge screen playing various LEGO trailers. Thankfully the talented LEGO fan base meant that there was plenty to marvel at, no wonder LEGO were so happy to embrace their creations for the event. Thanks to all of the AFOL community who were involved!

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