BrickFair Virginia 2017 was the last of the big AFOL convention I was planing to attend this year. Taking place last weekend, August 2nd to 6th, it was an awesome event filled with trains and fun. Though BrickFair may sometimes seem a little less prestigious compared to Brickworld when it comes to LEGO trains, BrickFair can no doubt draw a wonderful and diverse train presence with no less than seven clubs displaying train and monorail layouts, as well as numerous models from individual builders. BrickFair was also host to a Train Olympics competition, run by Adny Mollmann and Nick O’Donell from OKILUG. And there were a few fan voted trains awards given out too. So let’s recap the fun.
The Train Layouts
WamaLTC is the local LUG to BrickFair Virginia and the brought the largest layout to display, and the largest group of members. With such a large group the WamaLTC layout is as diverse as they come, with everything from detailed, scale train modeling, to a giant city with towering skyscrapers, beachfront, and rural countryside, and even a little fantasy thrown in too. WamaLTC has something for everyone. And what’s probably most amazing is that they can take all these differing styles, and builds of different skill levels, and tie them together into a layout that works very well visualy. Wama’s train layout is proof that all you really need for a good train layout is to have fun, the rest will fall into place.
OKILUG returned to BrickFair this year with some serious train layout in tow. They had four running loops of track, some awesome railroad buildings, a yard stuffed with great train models, and some of the prettiest, most colorful diesels at the event. If you wanted to see some great trains running, you could find all you needed here.
You want trains in space? Well DelVaLUG had space trains, space monorail, moonrise, and the occasion space Christmas train. One of my favorite bits of DelVaLUG’s space displays is always the awesome underhung monorail designed by Nate Brill.
Charm City LUG
Coming from the Baltimore Maryland area, Charm City LUGs is one of the newer LUGs to Brickfair.
HARDLUG returned again to Brickfair this year. Their display featured a wide variety of things to see, including Japanese and Western themed sections, a small town , a huge airport, and a beachfront.
RVALUG brought the old school with the classic LEGO monorail system wrapped in some of the great LEGO space themes of the past. It’s great to see the old monorail system taken up a level.
And now we turn to my own club, PennLUG. We’re one of the BrickFair veterans, having taken part in every BF Virginia event since it started in 2008. This year we decided to do something a little different We were running trains, but not using a continuous loop. Our running plan consisted of two parts.
The first was the return of running trolleys to our city. Our old trolley car barn came back for one last show, and we had the trolleys running under automatic, mindstorms control on a back and forth run through the city.
The second part was street running of freight trains. With the rail yard at one end, and Red Lion and it’s yard at the other, we had two rail yards joined by a big stretch of street trackage in-between. So we were able to make up a train in one yard, run it through the city to the opposite yard, drop off cars, and pick others up, then run back to the original yard and swap cars again. This required running smaller locomotives, but it also gave us some more interesting running.
This year for BrickFair, Andy Mollmann and Nick O’Donell from OKILUG hosted some train games Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was the Train Pull, Train Tug-O-War, and Train Races. The Train Pull consisted of locomotives taking turns to see which one could pull the heaviest weight. The Tug-O-War pitted two locomotives against each other in a battle to see who could pull the other across the line. The train race set two locomotive against each other in a 3 lap race around the OKILUG train layout.
But the craziest event came Saturday with the Train Demolition Derby. Two locomotives faced of on a single track, each speeding toward each other, meeting in a glorious crash. The winner being the locomotive with the most spectacular crash. And after the event, latter that night, a few of us staged some more impromptu train crashes, with my Neighborhood Trolley exploding in a shower of parts against WamaLTC’s club trolley.
BrickFair Train and Town Awards
Every year at BF Virginia, three awards are voted on in the Train and Town category. They are, Best Locomotive, Best Train Car, and Best Train and Town Building.
For Best Locomotive and Best Train Car, I was the winner in both categories. My newest engine, a Pennsylvania RR 0-4-0 switcher won the locomotive category by only 2 votes, beating Andy Mollmann’s Union Pacific “Katy” heritage diesel. My Blue Comet train won for Best Train Car.
For best Train and Town Building, Erin Toepfner’s “Granny’s Bed and Breakfast” won, beating her significant other Doug Forman and his Vincent Hills Medical Center. Both could be found on the WamaLTC train layout.
Pullman PS-1 Boxcar Premium Instructions
Brick Model Railroader had 10 of our Pullman PS-1 Premium Instruction Kits on hand to sell at the BrickFair Yard Sale Thursday and Saturday Nights. And we were caught by surprise a little when all ten kits sold out before the end of the sale Thursday. We can’t thank every one enough who bought a kit at BF. You’re helping to support BMR and helping us produce more kits like this in the future.
For those of you who still have not got a PS-1 kit but would like one, we will be producing another batch of 30 kits to go on sale alongside the release of our USRA 55 ton Hopper Instruction Kits. We hope to have these both ready for sale beginning in September.
It’s all over until next year.
You can find all my BrickFair Virginia 2017 photos on my Flickr. And look for BMR videos from Brickfair coming soon.
So that’s it. BrickFair 2017 is now in the books. The last of the 3 big AFOL events that Brick Model Railroader had planed to attend in 2017 is behind us. We still have a few local events planed with my club PennLUG this year though. You’ll be hearing about them in the coming weeks. And for Next year we hope to attend Philly Brick Fest, Brickworld, and BrickFair Virginia, and maybe even add a few more big events to our travel plans. Thank you to every one who came out to these events to see and meet us. We love sharing the LEGO train hobby with you all. Now we need to get back to work. There are articles to write, and more train goodness to create.