Event reports from previous TNVLC shows.

Summer Show, June 29-30, 2013

posted Jul 3, 2013, 5:52 PM by TNVLC Admin   [ updated Jul 3, 2013, 5:52 PM ]

The Tennessee Valley LEGO Club enjoyed its biggest and most exciting display yet at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library over the weekend of June 29-30, 2013. More than 1100 visitors attended the show, and hundreds of prizes donated by the LEGO Company and club members were given away during bingo and door prize drawings. 

The club's collaborative display featured five working LEGO trains, a huge monorail, a rail yard, a variety of town areas, and several motorized features. A new MOC display included custom Bionicle creations, a LEGO logo puzzle, and a Minecraft tribute. Other items on display were a World War II layout and a LEGO robot that solves a Rubik's Cube in just minutes.

Vice President Chris Bolton provided hours of entertainment for guests with rounds of bingo, and President Jennifer Garlen oversaw three door prize drawings. Charles Naumann ran trains and demonstrated the Rubik's Cube robot to many visitors, while Caleb Ellett helped guests solve his challenging LEGO logo puzzle. Other members on hand for the show included Le Pitts, the Bissell family, Will Ellett, Jared Hill, Franklin and Tim Atkins, Alex Calahan, and James and Anissa Graham. Everyone worked hard to make sure that our visitors had a great time!

The Riverchase Galleria LEGO Store in Birmingham donated LEGO Club Magazines, store calendars, and bags for visitors. The LEGO Company provided new Hero Factory play brick for children to enjoy, and No Starch Press donated several of their LEGO technique books for display and for door prizes. No Starch also provided visitors with a coupon for discounts on their purchases at the publisher's website.

The staff at the library mounted a tremendous publicity campaign for the show as the closing event of their Discover Tech exhibit. TNVLC appeared on local blogs, broadcast news, and in a variety of online media both before and during the show. The Friends of the Library volunteered their time to work the ticket desk for the event, as well. The members of TNVLC want to thank everyone who helped to make this our most successful summer show yet, particularly Sophie Young from the library staff and the popular local blog, Rocket City Mom.

BrickFair, AL January 17 - 20, 2013

posted Jan 23, 2013, 7:08 AM by TNVLC Admin   [ updated Jan 28, 2013, 6:29 AM ]

The Tennessee Valley LEGO Club returned to Birmingham over MLK weekend for the second annual BrickFair, AL. This was a great event which saw record participation from the club and our largest layout to date (not to mention the largest single display at BrickFair). In addition to the town & train layout, the club also presented several MOCs which covered a variety of themes. Charles returned with his Cube Solver, Matt & Lisa brought a large campground and the much anticipated Mindstorms version of "Johnny #5" and Caleb showed off his Ninjago Fire Beacon, to name a few.

Charles demonstrating the Cube Solver

The newest member of the Calahan family

Matt & Lisa's campground

Caleb's Ninjago Fire Beacon

In addition to the layouts and MOCs that the public gets to see and enjoy, exhibitors may partake in a variety of activities throughout the weekend. As a result, there are a lot of support and organizational roles that need to be filled and our club took on many of those responsibilities. Chris returned as Bingo Caller with Jared assisting, Lisa hosted the parts draft, Will coordinated the "Dirty Buildster" game, Matt hosted the "Dirty Brickster" exchange, Pete served as the Train & Town theme coordinator and Jennifer prepared a seminar. 

Jared & Chris (seated): AKA the "Bingo Duo"

Dr. Garland starts class, or perhaps this is simply Jennifer talking LEGO...

Jennifer's seminar on "Engaging the Audience" was well received and Todd would probably have her present it every year if he had his way. Everyone also enjoyed hearing from Kevin Hinkle, LEGO's North America Community Coordinator, on the specific initiatives LEGO is using this year to support the adult fan community and he also gave those in the audience a real treat by revealing for the first time in the United States the next model in the modular building series, the Palace Cinema!

Nearly everyone from the club also participated in a competition or giveaway at some point and the club as a whole received an unbelievable amount of stuff. To top it all off, during closing ceremonies, Chris won the Palace Cinema model that Kevin had revealed just a few days earlier!

Alex & Will's speed build team

Kate participating in the "Dirty Buildster" contest

Chris and his Palace Cinema prototype

We also remembered to bring a town & train display. This year it spanned 22 tables covering an area 17.5' wide by 22.5' long with 275 square feet of LEGO surface area. Putting that in perspective, it takes nearly 400 standard LEGO baseplates to cover that much space and our main train loop was over 130 feet in length!

Snowing in Birmingham

To manage the logistics of such a large display, Pete secured a 6'x12' trailer to transport tables and MOCs. Unfortunately, the Sunday before BrickFair, Pete fractured his right kneecap, knocking him out of the convention. After a brief period of uncertainty, the club rallied and made arrangements to get the trailer to and from Birmingham and also got Pete's display packed up.

Setting up tables. All 22 of them!

Assisted by other club members who took breaks assembling their sections to help, Brian and Will spent the majority of Thursday on the tedious and time consuming task of setting up Pete's display... without Pete. Fortunately, it had been thoroughly labeled, documented and photographed the night prior to his accident. By late Friday night, the layout was complete and ready for the public to arrive at 11 on Saturday.

Photostream on the iPad, setting up a section at a time

Will (L) and Brian (R) assembling Pete's section

For this show, we had 9 distinct modules provided by Jared, Charles, Caleb, Le, Jennifer, Chris, Pete & Brian, David & Tammy and Stefan from the Birmingham Club. Other members contributed trains and parts to support the layout. Scott made his controllers available and fashioned some extensions for the long main loop on short notice. Alex and Trey added some engines and cars. Alan Bernstein also displayed a couple of nice GP-40PH-2s on our layout, one of which sported New Jersey Transit Colors along with two passenger cars. Overall, it was really nice being able to collaborate with people outside of the club. Hopefully, in the future we'll be able to expand this aspect of the layout even further.




Jared presented a superb WW2 display adjacent to Charles's tribute to nostalgia, otherwise known as his monorail and 12V train display. Caleb then introduced the traditional town theme which persisted through the remainder of the layout. Caleb's module featured a brick built road and several extremely creative buildings featuring many unique and advanced building techniques.



Le and Jennifer brought their beach scene back from Southerland Station and Jennifer even won an award, or "Brickee", for having the "Most Tragically Overlooked MOC." This was a great honor as it showed her peers felt she deserved recognition for her efforts even though the subject she chose to model may not have been as flashy or popular as some of the crowd favorites.

Jennifer & her Brickee


Chris made significant upgrades to his module over Christmas break, including a fantastic Hess service station. Chris is now easily covering 2 tables and somehow finds ways to keep improving things despite a crazy home/work/school schedule. He even scored an interview on Beyond the Brick where he discuses his module and BrickFair.

Pete's module: as far as the eye can see (except for Stefan's buildings back left)

Chris's section lead into Pete's most ambitious module to date. In an attempt to use all of his 9V track (and then some) Pete featured the club's largest and most complex rail yard to date which spanned over 6 tables and included Matt's engine shed. Not content to provide only track, Pete also included Huntsville's Regions Center, Municipal Building and Big Spring Park. One of our Nashville friends, Jenni Joy, also provided a beautiful custom library modeled to be compatible with LEGO's modular series of buildings.

Pete & Jenni's buildings foreground, Stefan's just behind including tall tan skyscraper

Stefan adding the final touches to his module

On the far side of Pete's module, Stefan presented his outstanding skyscraper module which really drew visitor's eyes in our direction as soon as they entered the convention center.

Tammy, David, Michelle & Parker

Our newest members, David & Tammy, continued to demonstrate their commitment to the club in addition to their skill and speed, by covering two tables with a highly detailed recreation of Huntsville's Davidson Center located on the grounds of the Space & Rocket Center.

In every respect, the club was well received. We enjoyed positive comments from the LEGO Group, BrickFair organizers, fellow exhibitors and the visiting public. We were able to support this fantastic event in our home state not only with our creations but with our service as well. The convention was noticeably improved compared to last year with more exhibitors, over twice as many registered MOCs and record attendance. Last year, some 6600 visitors attended. This year, the 8000 mark was exceeded and there was, at times, a 20 minute wait which stretched the line of visitors all the way outside the building! As a result, Todd has already committed to hosting BrickFair, AL 2014.

Jennifer greets a visitor

David answering questions

For more photos, visit Will's Flickr account: BrickFair 2013, Le's Google+ Gallery: BrickFair 2013 and Chris's Flickr account: BrickFair 2013

Photographs courtesy of Chris Bolton, Will Ellett, Jennifer Garlen & Le Pitts

Southerland Station Open House, December 1 & 2, 2012

posted Dec 4, 2012, 8:43 AM by TNVLC Admin   [ updated Dec 4, 2012, 8:52 AM ]

The Tennessee Valley LEGO Club returned to Southerland Station for our 5th annual show as a club! Did you know the beginning of the club can be traced even further back? This was the 9th year at Southerland's for the Drensek's, who are some of our charter members. Speaking of members, this show saw perhaps our highest level of participation ever with 13 members either participating or contributing. That's an encouraging sign of support from within and it puts us on good footing heading into 2013, which has some really exciting and ambitious events planned!

Coming off the momentum of our summer show, this show continued the theme of diversity. While we featured our largest Southerland Station town & train layout ever, coving 200 square feet, we also filled an entire wall with MOCs which included the ever popular technic section featuring the growing Great Ball Contraption and Rubik's Cube Solver which entertained the 1000+ visitors we had over the weekend.

These photos are a bit limited, but Chris has an extensive collection on his Flickr account. Please check them out too.

    Jared continued his WWII theme with a recreation of the "Crossing of the Rhine."

    In addition to the fantastic Ninjago MOC seen above, Caleb debuted in the town & train layout with this great module including brick built sidewalk and street.

    Our newest member, David Bissell contributed a table to the train layout which fit right in to the town theme.

    We also welcomed Scott back with his excellent town displays.

    Participation was so high, Pete scaled back quite a bit but still found room for the Regions Center and brought some of his trees featuring fall foliage from altbricks.

    Le outdid himself with a full table that the whole family worked on. Anchoring his display was an impressive hospital plus parking garage.

    Jennifer's section was a huge hit, with an amazing beach scene that sadly reflected the weather we've had this December...

    After relaxing on the beach, Santa found his way into Chris' growing town which covered 2 tables this time and featured an impressive harbor.

NormalPalooza - November 10, 2012

posted Nov 11, 2012, 1:07 PM by TNVLC Admin   [ updated Nov 13, 2012, 8:55 AM ]

We were treated to a perfect autumn day in Chattanooga for the 10th annual NormalPalooza outdoor arts and music festival. The organizers contacted us earlier in the fall looking for some way to add a LEGO element to this year's event. Fortunately, we were able to drum up the necessary interest within the club to make this happen. Thanks to the popularity of this event and the ideal conditions, I imagine attendance was easily in the thousands.

Our exhibit was very well received and the "Stay and Play" area was a definite hit. Some energetic kids (and weary parents) stayed nearly the entire day! In addition to having fun with kids and adults alike, the entire staff, from organizers to volunteers, were very gracious and appreciative of our attendance. We even received mention in some pre event advertising!

With support from Jennifer, Matt, Charles, Scott and Brian, Pete, Chris & families hit the road early Saturday morning. We displayed a relatively small, but detailed, 5'x15' town & train layout sporting something of a Halloween/Monster Fighter's theme. Police were deployed en mass in a futile attempt to prevent a full scale Zombiepocalypse. In hindsight, this perhaps was not the best day to plan a jailbreak...

Next door to the layout, we also spread out two tables worth of play bricks and enjoyed watching what became a huge kid magnet over the course of the day. We experienced a steady stream of young engineers and architects seeking our approval of their creations. This was definitely one of our most interactive events ever!

Chris' Spooky Hollow turned out to be the nexus of the local population's problems for the day:

The police converged on the edge of town to take control of the situation...

with little success.

Despite all the commotion keeping our town's finest occupied, the local fire department still had time to address the little emergencies.

It also didn't take long for a theme to be exploited in our play brick bin:

Huntsville's Municipal building and Region's Center made the trip and were recognized by several adults in attendance.

We had several trains on display including the current Maersk kit along with vintage BNSF and Santa Fe's as well as the recently retired Emerald Night. Here, some engines receive maintenance in Matt's newly acquired engine shed.

A thrilled foreman finally receives the missing part he's been looking for...

and Jennifer's fantastic row buildings anchor the far end of town.

Chris also has some fantastic pictures on flickr.

Huntsville Depot - July 14, 2012

posted Jul 16, 2012, 3:11 PM by TNVLC Admin   [ updated Jan 31, 2013, 1:26 PM ]

The Tennessee Valley LEGO Club celebrated their 5th anniversary at the Huntsville Depot in style! If there was a theme, it was variety. In addition to the town and train layout everyone has come to associate with our club, this year also saw an explosion of MOCs including some impressive ones from the Rocket City Jr. LEGO Club, the debut of a Great Ball Contraption and a LEGO themed stop motion animation room and workshop. Special thanks as well to Stefan from the Birmingham LBR store for representing the LEGO Group all day!

To compliment the impressive display, we also drew a record crowd thanks in no small part to Jennifer's hard work promoting the event. The unofficial count when we left was 545, blowing out our previous best of around 360 in 2010!

The Huntsville Times was on site to cover the event. Click here for their story. Annisa Graham with also produced a great write-up.

Pete debuts a section of downtown Huntsville

Not to be outdone, Jennifer responds with an urban explosion of her own!

Chris, and his rapidly expanding presence

Adam and Samantha presented their first full table!

It wouldn't be a show without Charles' table of monorail insanity. He anchored the MOC section this time and even dusted off some vintage 12V trains.

Speaking of MOCs, our newest junior member, Jared, presented this amazing WWII scene called "The Battle for St Lo."

Alex from the Rocket City Jr. LEGO Club presented this impressive Ninjago display.

Nathan, also from the Rocket City Jr. LEGO club, displayed a LEGO version of "The Hunger Games."

Our resident train master, Trey, setting up the expanded train yard.

A couple of views down into the Big Spring park.

A closer look at the gorgeous high rise buildings Jennifer created, with detailed interiors!

Huntsville's Municipal building in LEGO form.

Jennifer also has some excellent photos on her Flickr account.
Here's a time-lapse of the day's activities from setup to teardown.

Curt also took some video of setup and teardown:

If you've got any pictures of the other MOCs, Great Ball Contraption or the Stop Motion Animation workshop, please send them our way!

Nashville LBR Store Grand Opening, April 27 - 29, 2012

posted Apr 30, 2012, 11:57 AM by Tennessee Valley LEGO Club   [ updated Jun 25, 2012, 1:05 PM by TNVLC Admin ]

The Nashville Store's Grand Opening took place over the weekend and to mark the occasion, The LEGO Group brought in Master Builder Dan Steinenger to erect an 8' SpongeBob SquarePants. With the help of thousands of kids (and adults), SpongeBob was finished on time Sunday evening.

TVLTC and TennLUG were able to provide some support for the event. Carl attended Friday and on Saturday, Pete and Brian from TVLTC were on hand for the majority of the day. We also got to meet several others from Nashville. Hopefully, Carl will have TennLUG up and running again very soon.

As we've come to experience this year, the Nashville staff and LEGO in general were very appreciative of our support. If you get a chance to visit, please drop by the store and let them know where you're from.

Nashville LBR Store Opening, March 29, 2012

posted Apr 26, 2012, 3:02 PM by Tennessee Valley LEGO Train Club   [ updated Apr 26, 2012, 3:04 PM by TNVLC Admin ]

This may not fit in the normal club event category, but it was certainly exciting news and generated a lot of fun work for the club. We were contacted early in the year to help construct the brand ribbon models for display in the new store located within Opry Mills. These are not available for sale to the general public and are designed by LEGO Master Builders. We received 40 kits in 2 large boxes. It was the first time I ever received a pallet of LEGOs!

After spending a month and a half on those, we were finished with 2 weeks to spare. Then, somewhat unexpectedly we received 40 retail kits as well! These ranged in size from the very small to the very large. The whole club came together again to get these assembled in record time.

Installation went well and the entire staff was very appreciative of our hard work and commitment to detail.

BrickFair, January 12 - 15, 2012

posted Jan 17, 2012, 1:30 PM by Tennessee Valley LEGO Train Club   [ updated Jan 27, 2012, 2:04 PM by TNVLC Admin ]

TVLTC participated in the south's first ever BrickFair, held in Birmingham, Alabama over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. If you missed it, you should definitely make plans to attend the next one! Chris, Jennifer, Trey, Pete and Charles displayed a slightly scaled down version of the Southerland Station layout design and had a blast in the process. Leading up to the show, Jennifer gave a nice interview to the Anniston Star which you can find here. Also, during the course of the weekend, our own Curt Werline took the "Best Tiny Little Thing" award with his functional trebuchet!

If you're not familiar with BrickFair, it is a very well run event for both the exhibitors and the public. About 150 exhibitors were on hand displaying their MOCs which spanned all themes, though particularly well represented were town, castle, technic and Mindstorms. Initial estimates are that somewhere around 7000 public visitors attended the show and despite being in the spacious BJCC, it was packed. Exhibitors got to enjoy discounts at the Birmingham LEGO store, goodie bags, giveaways, games and seminars. In addition to seeing all the LEGOs and talking to the exhibitors, the public also got in on the giveaway action with games and door prizes.

Our layout:

Some more of the show. Minifig anyone?

Also check out Chris' photos from the event at flickr

Southerland Station Open House, December 3 - 4, 2011

posted Dec 5, 2011, 6:13 AM by Tennessee Valley LEGO Train Club   [ updated Dec 5, 2011, 6:41 AM by TNVLC Admin ]

The Tennessee Valley LEGO Train Club returned to Southerland Station for another enjoyable weekend this year. This event sports something of a convention atmosphere with multiple displays including traditional model railroads, vintage erector sets and a couple of rooms for LEGO creations. Like the gracious hosts they are, Mr. Metzger and the entire Southerland Station staff always make us feel like an integral part of their success and we always have a good time.

This year's display was a little bittersweet as it was TVLTC's first public show since the departure of our former president and founders Jordan and Kristina. I think we rallied well though with a solid town display anchored on one end by Charles' always impressive and now famous monorail tower. The theme reflected the season of Christmas with light snow on the ground, a parade and a brief visit by a certain VIMF (Very Important MiniFig) sporting a red suit and white beard at the local airport.

Special thanks to Charles, Chris, Franklin, Jennifer, Le, Samantha, Scott, Trey, the whole Southerland Station crew and everyone that stopped by to visit for making this display a success!

Railfest, September 3 - 5, 2011

posted Nov 14, 2011, 11:35 AM by Tennessee Valley LEGO Train Club   [ updated Nov 16, 2011, 11:44 AM by TNVLC Admin ]

Over Labor Day weekend, TVLTC was invited to participate in the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's 50th anniversary celebration, "Railfest", in Chattanooga. We took a subset of our normal layout on the road for the occasion and it handled the long trip pretty well, with the exception of Charles' monorail which was reduced to a pile of plastic rubble by the time it arrived. Amazingly, the module was restored in record time and he attracted a small fan club in the process as reconstruction wrapped up slightly after the doors opened. If you ever need to win a speed-build competition, ask Charles for help!

We were there for three days along with several other model railroad clubs displaying everything from Z to garden scale. Amid the record heat on Saturday and torrential downpours on Monday we were able to steal away some time here and there to enjoy the impressive collection of full scale locomotives on display and catch a few train rides.

Our layout seemed to be well received, with comments ranging from the usual, "I had no idea LEGO made trains," to the not so common, "how much for the whole thing?" We passed on the later offer before we could find out if it was serious. The layout even made the local news, airing on Chattanooga's News Channel 12. Check it out here!
Overall, Railfest was a neat experience and will hopefully serve as a good warmup for our trip to Birmingham in January for BrickFair!

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