Saturday, May 12, 2012

Milwaukee LEGO Store - Grand Opening report

The building area.
Since I have talked so much about my experience leading up to the opening of the Milwaukee (Wauwatosa) LEGO Store, it only feels right that I give a little report on today. The morning started out hitching a ride over with some fellow WisLUG members, leaving Madison about 6:30 (ugh). We arrived at the mall about 8am and were thrilled to hear we would be able to reserve our store mini model sets so that we would be able to jump in on the volunteer work right away. This was a blessing and a curse though, as it pretty much meant we started working right away.

Part of the grand opening celebration is having kids help build an eight foot tall model of Spongebob Squarepants. To accomplish this goal, each kid (and some adults) would use a bunch of smaller bricks to make what are basically large 2x4 bricks. I believe the model was at 1:4 scale to the prototype. One large brick was equal to a regular sized brick in the prototype. Of course, this means tens of thousands of bricks are required to make the big guy. We started out the morning setting up bins at eight work tables and making sure there was enough brick on the floor to get us started.

The line at about 9:45am Saturday
I did pop back upstairs just before the store opened. What had been a small line of a few dozen people when we arrived at 8am had grown into a massive crowd stretching all the way back to the end of that wing of the mall. Most people I talked to in the building area said it was about a three hour wait. I love that so many people are dedicated to LEGO and wanted to be a part of the celebration. Granted, the freebies for today probably also played a major role in their decision to wait. I know some people just can't pass up such an awesome little set as the mini store.

Dan and his awesome LEGO coat.
I was thrilled to find out the master model builder for our event was Dan Steinenger. Not only is he an excellent builder, he really is a super nice guy and seemed to love interacting with kids all day as he toiled along on the build. I was happy to have the chance to work with him for the majority of my five hour shift. He even let me make a few of the specialty pieces he needed for sections of Spongebob, such as one of the arms. My job was mainly about taking finished bricks from those taking part in the event, checking them to make sure they were built properly, and helping Dan get them set in place. All the kids seemed to be having a great time and were putting the big bricks together faster than we could take them at some points.

Our progress when I left.
The whole day just kind of flew buy. The only down times were really when Dan would stop to do some trivia with the crowd and to give away prizes. I was very surprised when, at just after 2:30, my ride came over to let me know our shift was done. Honestly, I probably could have worked the rest of the day, even though my feet were aching and I had permanent stud indentations in my hands. It was great seeing so many kids having fun and proudly handing over their finished bricks to us.

Of course, the other reward for our day of work was doing a little shopping in the store. After going a little crazy after the ribbon build, this was supposed to be a bit more laid back trip for me. My goal was to just pick up a few of the lingering Super Heroes sets on my list, namely the Quinjet and Helicarrier Escape. But then, I was offered a chance to get a UCS R2-D2...which I could not pass up. We walked out of the store at about 3pm, just as they ran out of the mini store model for the day. I was kind of shocked they lasted that long, which makes me thinks the claims of only 300 sets per store is being shorted a little.

So that was my day. It was a ton of fun and I really hope that if you ever have the opportunity to volunteer for something like this you jump on the chance. It was great to watch all day as so many fans of LEGO, both young and old, came out to take part in the event. If you were among them, I hope you had as much fun as I did!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Hope you are good. Please please share some new updates about this Lego store.


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