Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's gift!

I have been packing for the Big Trip, and so have been focused on rounding up clothes and stuff that will be used, such as cameras and video. What used to be a small pile of things to take has become a large array of press stuff, and it's not light.

It was during this time of going back and forth getting ready that I got a package from the neighborhood postman. It wasn't something I was expecting - it was an box that came from...Japan? Well, that stopped my packing.

I opened the box with a little care, and found a red bag filled with...books. The red bag was interesting because it was red with a graphic of a LEGO cow on it and the title of "CATTLE" under it. The other side was black with brick outlines screened on it. Taped on the bag was as an envelope. "for Joe"was written on it in ink.

Inside the envelope was a Christmas card and a business card for a website: The card came from the head of the site, Nathan Kayo Bryan, and was actually a LEGO card. He congratulated me for launching BrickJournal and sent me the package as a gift! The books were copies of a LEGO book I know of in Japan by Saito Yoshikazo, Volume One and Volume Two - I only recently learned about Volume Two!

I also got a yellow bag  with the same pattern - it turns out that 2009 is the Year of the Cow in Japan and their LEGO stores (ClickBrick) have a range of products to celebrate, as well as sticker sheets. And last but not least, there was a keychain.

I was very surprised and delighted by the package, to say the least. Thank you, Nathan - this is all very much appreciated!

Right before the New Year...

and I am getting ready for a Big Trip. I'm off to do a story in the Middle East! I'll say more after it's over.

In the meantime, it's a good time to look back at things and see how much has changed. This was the Year that Things Changed for me. BrickJournal was launched as a print magazine, and things have not been quite the same. 

Now, deadlines are tighter and less forgiving, and having a lead time makes gathering news a little challenging - whatever comes in the mag is at least one month after it happened. The page count is smaller than the online versions before print because well, we have to pay for it. 

But the result of the printing has been nothing but positive. BrickJournal showed up in newsstands and comic book stores, and online orders for been steadily growing. In the current economic climate, the big surprise is that the mag has been steadily growing in sales. You can find issues in the LEGO stores in the US, and also at LEGOLAND California. 

Stories and articles are coming from all around too, from Hong Kong to Germany to the US. Conventions and events in Europe and US have been covered, from Brickworld to Frechen to the MINDSTORMS celebration at LEGO Headquarters!

It's been a great year, and many thanks to all those who have become part of BrickJournal. I wish the best for everyone in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all of my friends far and wide,

Happy Holidays - may they be filled with good cheer and the company of family and loved ones!

I wish the best for everyone on this holiday!

Friday, December 19, 2008


STX Europe invites everyone to build innovative ships – with LEGO bricks!

STX Europe will launch on 19 December a competition called the BlockDocker. The web based contest can be entered at

The competition consists of two series: Innovative and Oasis. The target is simple: In the Innovative series, the aim is to design a cruise ship of the future, keeping in mind the demands of tomorrow, i.e. eco-friendliness and entertainment innovations.

The Oasis series challenges the competitors to build a replica of the Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise vessel in the world, currently under construction in STX Europe's shipyard in Turku, Finland.

The catch is that you are supposed to design both of the models using an online design tool provided by LEGO.

The winner of the highly challenging Innovative series will fly to Miami, and supervise his/her model being constructed in the Miami Seatrade Cruise Shipping event March 16-19, 2009. The winner of the Oasis series will be rewarded with an Oasis of the Seas engraved Apple iPod music player, as well as three models of his/her own Oasis LEGO design in a gift pack. The winner model of the Oasis series will be used as a corporate gift by STX Europe.

The competition starts on 19 December 2008 and ends on 9 January 2009. The winners will be announced on 19 January 2009.

See for details.

Note: There is a budget constraint on both contests, so read the rules carefully!

Two places at once...

So I have been traveling for the past few weeks - mostly family things, nothing too terribly exciting.

I have been paying attenition to some things that are going on in the community, and it's been interesting.

The LEGO Group posted a survey for AFOLs a couple of weeks ago. I took the survey and was a little struck by some of the questions - under the "statements I agree with" there are comments about color quality, production quality, and of course, 9volt trains.

What's funny for me is that these are all things that have been brought up before, so why is there a survey to seemingly confirm this?

My position is pretty clear - LEGO is free to do what it wants, and I as a customer, have a right to buy or not buy it. If I support a product, I will buy it. If I don't support it, I don't buy it. This doesn't guarantee that what I want will always be available, as what I buy reflects my tastes and bias. But it does indicate what I want in a very direct way.

My purchases are through the LEGO Store and then Target and then TRU. TRU overprices their sets, so while they have the largest selection, I tend to wait until I go to a LEGO store. From time to time, I will buy through Bricklink parts, usually of quantity.

For those who think I get free sets because of BrickJournal, you're wrong. For the most part, I buy my sets - there are review sets that are sent to me and other staffers I assign, but they are few and far between. And I am happy with that.

So what does that make me? I'm a person that buys sets at retail when they strike my fancy. If asked, I will point out what I would want if the opportunity was available. But I also respect the LEGO Group for what they have done.

What would I want?

1. Reworked monorail system. Make it such that it can use 1x bricks with tiles on the top for track, so anyone can make a loop with parts on hand. Power functions would be great for this!

This goes into another request from the LEGO Group - they asked the Ambassadors about new themes for kids - (10-14, I think) and for the community's input.

Best theme idea I have seen so far is Lego Zoo. Minifig scale zoo. I would buy sets in a heartbeat.

But that's me.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where's Joe?

BrickJournal was completed about a week ago, so it's being looked at and proofed by the publisher right now, which is good because I have been doing some things since last post.

Orlando, Florida was the place to go in early November to go see the Festival of the Masters. I was there to display some Disney-related models andd also to hang around Walt Disney World. I have been a Disney fan since before my Dark Ages and so this is one of the must-do things on my annual calendar. It's also a good time to meet the Greater Florida LEGO Users Group and relax for a bit. The members are a great group, and this is their big event.

This year they also started a new thing: boat races. LEGO boat races, of course. There is a standard that was decuded, and they all met at a pool and competed. I acutally wasn't atthis event because I was at Epcot, but I kinda wished I was there, as there were some great stories and boats!

After that, I had a week, then I got 'the invite'... for a celebration at LEGO  Headquarters. And that's where I have been for the past few days. I'll post a story at soon about this - it was really neat!

Now it's back to the airport.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Seen on the Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles:

The model was built by a couple of AFOLs who were recently in BrickJournal!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Doing more than building...

Kudos to LEGO's Enfield Office and Heidi Bailey!

BrickJournal will have an article on this.

You can find MOCs at the most unusual places...

2008-10-14 08:46:07 -0400, originally uploaded by jmenomeno.

One thing I do in my off time once a year is judge the LEGO models at the North Carolina State Fair. Most of the time, there are a variety of MOCs built by kids (there are two age categories and no adult category) and the ever-present entry of a set that is being submitted as a MOC.

This year, there was a MOC that was outstanding. Built by a teenager, this has a lot of nice work - the flowers are dogwood, and the butterfly is a swallowtail.

progress reports....

I'm working on quite a bit now, but it's always nice to add some real information to such a vague statement, so here's what I am doing...

BrickJournal Compendium 2 - Am in production on it, and am about 1/3 done. I compiled issues 4 and 5 and am repaginating (changing page numbers - easy - revising contents - not so easy). Tasks left: cover layout, composing the introduction, getting a foreward from someone. Possible ideas: Index for book. Currently, this is the priority project.

BrickJournal 4 (printed) - Am rounding up articles and editing/proofreading...about 20% done. Waiting for a couple of articles and need to write some too. 

BrickJournal 5 (printed) - Created cover design. 

BrickJournal 6 (printed) - Cover design pending.

Big goal for 2010: Bimonthly publication. This could be earlier, but all the compendiums need to be completed. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

They actually DON'T have knees!

Jason Freeny of Moist created this rather detailed anatomic diagram of the typical LEGO minifigure.

Monday, October 13, 2008


got way too much to do, but I'm posting on the blog....

One of the great things about working on BrickJournal is that I never know what to expect for articles. Over the years (really) I have gotten articles from many people and places, and it's always been a fun process of discovery and construction to make an issue of BrickJournal.

There's other things going on too - BrickJournal is helping to spread the word of the community by assisting in promoting events and being part of a community event calendar. I had one by myself, but that became a real chore to the calendar has been made available as a community effort, and BrickJournal is helping.

Working the LEGO Group has been an ever-evolving process, and one that is becoming more exciting as each issue is released. We have had some exclusive things presented, and will continue to do fact there's a surprise for next issue!

so the question is:

What do you want in BrickJournal?

Edible minifigs?

Check this out.

LI II by Bryce McGlone

DSC00521.jpg, originally uploaded by jmenomeno.

This sculpture is the cover to Issue 3 of BrickJournal and was at Brickcon, where it won an award. thanks to some bright lighting and a little overexposure to the camera, the detail is a little easier to see. This sculpture stands about 4 foot tall..

Almost minifig scale Seattle Space Needle

DSC00421.jpg, originally uploaded by jmenomeno.

Seen at Brickcon - this is 8-9 feet tall, and has a lighting system and working elevators!

New digs...

Well, AOL Journals is going away at the end of October, so the blog had to be migrated. Everything has been imported here, so this will continue BrickJournal's adventures for a while:-)

Since I'm here, here's some quick updates on BrickJournal stuff:

I'm workng on the second compenduim, which will have Issue 4 and 5. This will be another a big book, like the first compendium. these are theonline issues, so Issue 4 is about LDraw and Issue 5 is the BIG issue. So what does this entail? Well, it's amatter of checking all the photos to see they are print ready, dropping all pages on one file (InDesign doesn't merge files), renumbering, and reworking the contents. then there's writing an intro and finding a person to write a foreward....

Issue 4 is being worked on too - stories are coming in and production is getting online. It's a frantic but fun time for me (haven't done a compendium and a mag at the same time, so I will have some all-niters...more than usual).

Before this, I was at Brickcon - a fun, but exhausting time! Exhausting because I talked all night with some great people. Every convention is a chance to meet up with new friends and old, so it's long hours....

Brickcon is the most relaxed convention out of the US conventions - even with all the public attendees this year. Over 7000 people came to see the displays over the two public hours. For the attendees, the keynote was a peek at how sets are designed at the LEGO Group, which was really informative.

Pics coming....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

After Brickworld....

After Brickworld, the next event that I went to was the NMRA National Train Show.

The NTS is an annual event that changes location every year. This year the show was held in Anaheim, California. This show is the largest model railroading show in the country, and the International LEGO Train Club Organization has been a part of the show for a few years. In that short time, the LEGO trains have become a major draw for theshow, especially for public.

I went to this show as a reporter. There was a side incentive too - Anaheim is home to Disneyland, a place I have wanted to visit for years. And over the same weekend, there was a Disney Fan Convention.

One thing I need to point out: While I was in my Dark Age, my main interest was in Disney.  I worked at the Disney Store for four years, and then moved to Walt Disney World, where I also worked at the LEGO Imagination Center. So in a manner of speaking, Disney led me back to LEGO building.

So this became a really nice set of events to go to. I could see NMRA, go to the Disney con and also go to Disneyland. With some scheduling, I and the group I went with planned to go to LEGOLand, Disneyland, and then NMRA.

It all looked really good....until I was informed about San Diego Comic Con. My publisher, Twomorrows, goes there to promote their books and do presentations. Last year, they did a panel discussion with the original people behind Image Comics, which was a pretty big deal.  This year had a few new things, including BrickJournal.

The publisher suggested that we do a presentation at the convention, and after some new planning and logistics reworking, a one week trip to California became a two week major promotional effort. Trips to LEGOland, Disneyland, California Adventure, NMRA, Disneyana, and  Comic-Con all became part of the trip.

Busy? You bet.

But it was fun too!

Friday, August 1, 2008


In the time that I last posted, I went to Chicago, another place, then Anaheim and finally San Diego. For most of the places, I was a reporter for events, but for a couple of places I did a litlle playing....

Chicago was Brickworld, which was a great event to attend. This was the second year of the event, and it has matured - the convention moved smoothly and for the most part, I had a really good time chatting with old friends and new AFOLs. And I was determined to show that I could still build so I brought along my Wall-E model. Some issues of BrickJournal were sent with me to sell, and Tommy Armstrong stepped in to be the sales person, freeing me to take pics.

As with each event, there were always fun surprises - I got a copy of HISPABRICKS from one of the editors who attended Brickworld - and I gave him a copy of BrickJournal. I also met one of the guys behind BrickArms, and had a great talk with him. And I got to talk to Brian Davis, a MINDSTORMS builder that you may know from the HALE project - I know him as a really cool guy who often shows me what can be done with an NXT.

There are others too - the staff to Brickworld, who have become part of the extended family that I have in the community, from Adam, the guy in charge, to the new person onthe block, Esther Walner - she was a coordinator and contest host - and she did really well. She also did a panel about female LEGO builders that was fascinating.

There were other discussions too - the LEGO Group brought Yun Mi Antorini, a former LEGO employee and now PhD doctor, to talk about the community and how it has progressed. Another fascinating talk that was much different than the usual subjects that I go to.

That was just scratching the surface  - there was a lot that went on, but for me it was just an attempt to catch up with old friends and make new ones. In some respects, I was successful, but in others,I wasn't - my roommates, Duane Colicott and son, I didn't get to spend much time at all,and that was disappointing.

The models shown ranged from buildings that were over 15 feet tall to customized minifigs and everything inbetween. One outstanding display was a layout dedicated to Indiana Jones - it included settings and of various scenes from all the movies and the TV show - and there were models of the cars trains and the Flying Wing!

Unfortunately, I had to leave early to get my flight, but not before attending the awards ceremony...and my Wall-E won for Best Mechanical Model! That was a major surprise!

I was able to attend the awards and help out with tear down a little, thendo a quick photo shoot  for Adam, then off it was back to NC...

then I was off to another place I can't talk about...

If you want to see pics from Brickworld, click here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

building and building and a favor...

Brickworld is less than a week away, and I am actually building...maybe for the event. I don't know yet.

The problem is that I am flying this year, so I have very little cargo space for anything. Also, anything packed in my bags needs to be be TSA proof, so most models are pretty much doomed in the luggage. I mightship to the event, but that means I need to finish soon, and I may not make it.

So what am I building? Well....I am using teh Power Functions parts and controller to make a model.

What? you think I'm going to tell you HERE? Nah, that's too easy. And my Flickr account doesn't have any pics yet either. I'm building a little too fast to take pics. It's been a challenging build, to say the least. But the result is looking good...excpet the last part I am working on now. I need to learn gearing.

There's another thing that I need a little help from as many people as I can find...

I need BrickJournal testimonials. A place selling the mag wants some cpmments from people who like the mag, so if you want to talk about the mag,  drop me a line at my BrickJournal address or here. Thanks!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

So many magazines....

HISPABRICKS now has a mag, to join RailBricks on the scene of LEGO fan publications. It's been pretty interesting to see new mags come up and see the differences they all have.

It's a pretty good sign to see this expansion happen  - it's an indicator that the desire is there to make a mag that addresses specific audiences. And this isn't unique - there has been a magazine done by the Brickish Association (in the United Kingdom) and FREELUG (France) used to have one, I think. The Dutch LEGO club has been working on one also.

I'll be meeting with one of the editors to HISPABRICKS mag at Brickworld to discuss possible sharing of info and articles - and am looking forward to it. I'm interested in working with other publications, and see it as a win-win for everyone. Just gotta step forward:-)

Congrats to the new Ambassadors!

Many congratulations to the new LEGO Ambassadors! May their term be fun and fruitful!

yep, it's been a while....

Sorry for the lapse in communication. There's been a lot that's been going on that has kept me from wandering over here to drop a note. BrickJournal's change from online to print has been a challenge, but a fun and exciting challenge, to be sure.

I've been very happy with the state of things with the mag for some time - I still expect a call from the publisher cancelling the mag, but the calls I get are mostly positive. The only negative calls are those about bad proofs, which I fix and send off.

I should take some time out to talk about the publisher. John Morrow owns TwoMorrows, the publishing company that my mag is under. The other Morrow is his wife, Pam. I have known them for over ten years, when we met as volunteers for a political party. It was fun times then. At that time, TwoMorros was an advertising agency and I checked about freelancing then - they really didn't need extra help at that time.

Fast forward to about two years ago. I happened to notice on a visit to a comic store  that TwoMorrows produced some books, so I call up to get some advice from John about possibly printing BrickJournal. It turns out that TwoMorrows became a publisher when John decided to start publishing a fan magazine he started up called The Jack Kirby Collector.

His story is much like mine - he started a small mag that was copied and mailed out and for there built up the foundation to go to print. Since then, he has gotten more magazines started (Back Issue, Draw!, and Write Now) and has branched out to books about comic artists and writers. I showed him the first and second issue of the Journal, and he was impressed and interested in printing the mag immediately. However, it took me a year to go forward.

Why? His deal did not sound all that impressive to me, and it took that long before I got hit with a 2x4 of common sense that told me that his proposal was actually VERY good. My business sense sucks. But papers were shuffled, notes were passed, and BrickJournal was set to go to print.

One of things I have learned is to make sure each step that is taken in a project opens up new possibilities. That usually means looking and playing with not only the project, but looking at the consequences of that. Going with TwoMorrows has proven to be a very good decision, because the consequences have been far-reaching and  very positive.

could not have made it without John's business guidance - he was able to get the mag in newsstands, and also in comic stores. He is also willing to take some of the risk in getting the mag off the ground. And he is willing to promote it where he promotes his other mags.

Which includes comic conventions. BrickJournal was sold at New York Comic-Con. John brought along 25 copies to this event, and while there were no sales during the convention only time, the public bought almost all of them - as in 2 or 3 left. There's a nice indicator there. And both of us are happy.

BrickJournal's impact has been pretty positive all around. Orders from the distributors have been steady, so that is good - there has been no reason to warrant a change in orders yet. That will most likely happen with Issue 3. The US LEGO stores did pretty well with their mags, so they increased their order, and LEGOLAND California joined.

The first Brickjournal Compendium (Issues 1-3 of the online version) will be coming out in July (it was supposed to be earlier, but I sent a trainwreck of a file to the printer) and work will be going on Issue 3.

So where's Issue 2? Good question. According to my schedule, it should be on its way out - it's not. I approved proofs earlier today, so that's a good sign:-). What happened was a combination of two things - I turned in the files later than expected, and we switched printers, so that slowed things down. I apologize for that, but the good news is that Issue 2 will be out pretty soon. They just got to print the books now...

There's more really neat news. One challenge has been to get exposure to BrickJournal. The subject matter is a a little tough to sell to a 'mainstream' audience, so different ideas are being looked at and considered. Some of you might have seen the BrickJournal ad in the LEGO Magazine. That was done thanks to the help of Tormod Askildsen at the LEGO Group.

But the neatest thing so far is that BrickJournal will be doing a presentation at San Diego Comic-Con! Just got confirmation a couple of days ago, so I am happy and a little nervous. The exposure here will be really high, not just for the presentation (which will be in a room that seats 280 - that's pretty much a LEGO fan convention right there!) but at the TwoMorrows booth. And total attendance including public is - get this - 127,000. Yes, 127 thousand.

Yep, I got a presentation because of TwoMorrows. They have done some great panels at the con, so we got in. Like I said before, I try to pay attention to the possibilities, and so does John. The LEGO Group will also be there with some neat statues (and exclusive stuff!!!) so I'll be wandering...

And I'll be at Brickworld in Chicago in a couple of weeks - taking pics and doing a presentation. It'll be fun and exhausting...but isn't it always?

Saturday, March 8, 2008


It's been over a week since the magazines got shipped out to our distributor, and I already know that Diamond Comics shipped out, as I got some e-mails about issues coming in last week.

So I have been looking at the local bookstores for the Journal, and there were none to be seen...

until tonight, when I found two issues of BrickJournal at the Barnes and Noble in Cary, NC! I bought one (well, why not?) and also bought an NXT book - was I happy. Also, the magazines showed up in the LEGO store in Atlanta and are selling!

So now I am one happy camper, although the mag may be pretty hard to find, as Ingram Distribution ordered over 1000 issues, and they have 800 B&N stores to distribute to. This doesn't take into account the other stores Ingram handles that sell books, which is why it took me a while to find the mag. And I found the Journal in the Craft/Hobbies section of the magazines (in the front!) -it was sorta staring at me when I found it.

To those European readers who ordered online through 1001 bricks, you got your issues before anyone else - which  is pretty cool! Turns out international shipping had to be done through a shipper faster than the domestic shipper, so y'all beat us:-)

So if you are in the US, start looking at your local B&N, or check out the local comics shop - some have extras from orders.

And if you happen to be close to a LEGO store, go there!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

whoa, has it been that long?

I'm on LAML!

You can listen to (and laugh at) me here.

There's been a bunch more stuff going on too.

One of the things that has happened with me since the Journal went t o print is that my deadlines are now about two months earlier than they were before. Which means that my news isn't necessarily current by the time it reaches print. Which annoys me to no end, but I getting over. I have to be looking toward the horizon for issues now and keep track of what is going on.

But things are much more exciting now - the idea of the mag hitting newsstands is starting to sink in, and it's a pretty giddy feeling. Sorta like rehearsing for a play for a LONG time and getting ready for the first show. Or trying to hatch an egg.

BrickJournal will be in the US LEGO stores, so there's another way to get one - it should be in newsstands (at least in the major cities, as they seem to be testing it) and we do have a European Bricklink salesperson at 1001bricks - he can save internationals some money on shipping!

We will be offering a way for clubs to save money or maybe earn money too.

And if you haven't gone to the BrickJournal webpage, you haven't seen the  chat with Jørgen Vig Knudstorp that I was fortunate  to have - it was a fun video! Very nerve-wracking initially, but it quickly become a lot of fun!

And yes, I have been roadtripping - went to Frechen, and also did business meetings in Billund. Some neat things are happening as a result. BrickJournal is going to get some neat info in the coming months.

But for now, I gotta get back to work - working on the first BrickJournal compendium - Issue 1-3 in a book!

More later!