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My trip to Lego Headquarters

Sariel at Billund

Photos, video and description of the Billund Fan Media Days 2016 in which I’ve had the pleasure of participating.

Between 1st and 4th of June 2016 I’ve had the pleasure of attending Fan Media Days at Billund with a group of my esteemed colleagues from various media. It was officially called Fan Media Day, because in Denmark 4=1. What follows is my personal account, which is deeply biased, potentially offensive and up to 20% serious.

This is going to be a somewhat long story, and you are advised not to read it while drinking. All images are clickable and link to high-res versions. There’s also a video at the bottom.

Some people just can’t behave

First thing I saw at Billund airport. How can one not like Denmark?

Long story short, thanks to the awesome Kim and lovely Ana from TLG I was one of the lucky few to get invited to interview Lego designers and to visit the Lego factory and the famous vault AKA Memory Lane, and finally to enjoy the famous Danish summer which usually lasts up to 48 hours but this time lasted throughout the entire duration of the event. I know that because I was the last one to fly home (I was testing a theory that staying at Denmark for 90+ hours automatically makes you a Lego employee. It doesn’t). I actually got a third case of sunburn in Denmark’s recorded history and the first two were made up. I’m kidding if course, but we’ve enjoyed a spectacular weather for pretty much the whole trip, which accounted for some incredible sights. When flying over Germany, everything looked so clear that you could almost see the umlauts!

Seen from above, Denmark looks very much like cotton

My plane to Billund was missing 13th row of seats. That’s just sloppy plane building.

Being a lazy person I have arrived later than most of the group, landing just past 10 PM. I was very excited and very relieved after having just 20 minutes to catch my connecting flight at Brussels, which was made slightly difficult by the fact that I’ve disembarked at gate #6 and had to go to gate #70. If anyone asks what Brussels looks like, it looks like a blur. I was also deeply impressed with Danish sunsets which happen well after 10 PM at this time of year, but that’s because I come from a country which has yet to invent sunlight. While at the airport, I’ve intercepted one of Eurobrick’s moderators (no names cough*Ezra*cough) who just flew in from US and was too confused by the metric system to be left on his own. We were driven to a Lego Holiday Village by a very friendly taxi driver, then to a Legoland Hotel, then to a Lego Holiday Village again. The blame is all mine – as a Facebook addict, I wanted an opportunity to pretend I was staying at the Legoland Hotel even though I wasn’t. All ended well with help of Fernando from TechnicBRICKs because Portugese people are the best and they totally don’t mind when you call them from an unknown number very late at the evening and start talking without telling them who the hell you are. We have found ourselves in a lovely, if a little stuffy, LEGO Pirates-themed room which made me wish I was 11 again. But since I was a little older, and the only Pole in the group, I have introduced my esteemed roommates to vodka. They only looked slightly terrified and Fernando was up when I was falling asleep and up when I woke up, which leads me to believe that they were taking turns keeping watch for the whole night.

We were a group of 30+ males and Kim knew perfectly what kind of ID cards would look best on us

Me with certain EB moderator. He let us put a fake clerical collar on him, but he wouldn’t let me add “reverend” to his nameplate

Next day we were welcomed at Lego headquarters by Kim, who was very friendly and dedicated, and also well experienced with AFOLs, which he proved by starting with gift bags. Each of us was given a nice Ghostbusters set, a lovely selection of polybags, a Lego notepad and some writing utensils which we used to make nameplates for ourselves. This was very helpful in establishing who is who and in making us easy to find should we attempt to blend in among the Lego employees. Kim was very efficient in keeping us happy, fed, and subsequently docile, and for most of the time we actually acted like responsible adults. After a brief introductory session we proceeded to the place were dreams are made, also known as the Lego factory.

The introductory session with Kim. Aeden is giving me the “is there more free vodka?” look

At this point I should mention cards. You see, it occurred to me before the trip that it might be useful to have a card to exchange with others, but since I’m basically just one guy, I’ve eventually decided that it would be presumptuous of me. Then I came to Billund and everyone had cards. Literally everyone. I’m a moron.

Upon arriving to the molding factory, we were first given some suspicious looks and audio sets that would let each of us hear Kim clearly. It was a great idea and it greatly helped Kim to keep us in check. We were also shown a roughly current Lego color palette and samples of various types of plastic, of which Lego is using approximately 25 at the moment.

We have then proceeded to a storage facility where boxes of ABS granulate and presumably other things were carried around by robots, conveyor belts, and a nice lady in a forklift. We have seen a granulate being unloaded from a truck, and then Kim took us to a molds warehouse.

The storage facility. I’m a silly person and shiny objects distract me.

No, really.

I have no idea what this place was but everyone was taking pictures so of course I did, too

Judging from this person’s expression, delivering granulate is the world’s most boring job. On a side note, Lego is using over a dozen granulate suppliers to make sure the stuff keeps coming. We were told that without deliveries, the factory would run out of material in 4 days.

The molds warehouse was one large room full of complex metal cubes which according to Kim were so heavy, industrial equipment was necessary to move them around. Or he just teased us, because none of us looked exactly like a bodybuilder. We have also been shown sprues that are created while molding, and had a long discussion on whether that makes them legitimate Lego pieces and how we could use them.

Next stop was the actual molding factory, where Lego pieces are cast, collected and stored. A mesmerizing place, as you can imagine. There were rows of machines making new pieces and dropping them into trays, then two robots looking like blue wardrobes would come around and collect the full trays and leave empty ones instead. Some of us immediately started crawling in front of our future robot overlords, but I’m not naming names. The robots would then drop off the full trays on a conveyor belt that took them completely not where we wanted them to go. There was also a huge bin with waste, composed of sprues and bad batches of pieces (we were told touching a single piece may spoil the entire batch because of sweat stains and such). Lego recycles all of that stuff. Personally, I was impressed that long, thin pieces such as beams or plates can be cast and then retrieved without being warped even a bit.

The waste bin

Yellow axles are not going away any time soon, sorry

A close look at the mold. You can see sprue between the Lego bricks, which is normally separated after casting. We were told that molds for 2×4 bricks are among the most expensive ones.

From there, we went to a robotic storage warehouse, which is that famous place where incredibly tall racks of boxes are managed by robots alone, in a complete darkness. I’m not going to lie, it was a scary place. All these robots work in complete darkness, with no humans in sight, and for some reason they are locked behind bars. What I’m saying is, nobody knows what they’re up to when there’s nobody around. Do they confer in robotish and plan their inevitable rise to power?

For the most skilled builders Lego is considering a “cast it yourself” set

I wish my workshop was this organized

When a robot acts suspiciously, it’s interrogated with the use of these tools

Everything is controlled by a software. “Stocklin” is Danish for “Skynet”.

Some facts

Lego museum AKA Idea House was the next on our list. No surprises here – we’ve seen early Lego sets, latest Lego sets, a Lego dog peeing and a Lego car famous for a well-working gearbox. There was also a Star Wars room with THE Millenium Falcon put behind thick bars for some reason (experience, I guess), and I had to be dragged away from the Super Star Destroyer.

One day, sweetie, you will be mine

Never met anyone who would admit to liking these in public

THE Falcon, safely fenced off from AFOLs’ greedy hands

Apparently there is a Lego set representing human intestines

It’s worth noting that Idea House has a special room showing Lego sets next to their knock-off copies. We were told a set can be copied from start to finish inside 12 weeks from its release – something to consider for anyone who asks why is Lego protecting its future plans. Just don’t ask me which set is real and which is a copy 😉

From there we went to the famous vault, which Lego calls Memory Lane. Fallout lore aside, the vault is where Lego stores every single set ever released. And the best part is, you can totally touch the boxes because, as we were told, this is actually just one of many vaults and the only one with public access.

There are things you expect to see in your life. A Lego mouse with an earring is not one of them.

How to make a Technic guy happy? Just give them the oldest gears you can find.

More plastic goodness

Some funny people put Technic sanctities next to Belville sets. I hope they were arrested.

That’s what happiness looks like

To my sincere disappointment I was unable to find set 666

This device, also found in the vault, measures relativ fugtighed

I’m almost sure this was my first Lego set ever. I still have that front slope with a lot of tooth marks on it.

My first Technic set. I could be a proper functional adult if it weren’t for this little box.

This concluded day one, not including a nice supper and a friendly evening meeting, most of which I’ve spent being distracted by seeing sunlight at 10:30 PM.

In case you wonder what the gates to the paradise look like

Some people see this every day to the point of boredom

As soon as you enter, the first challenge is resisting the urge to dive straight into this container

Place of many awkward conversations starting with “daddy, what is rum?”

This squirrel has a better job than I ever will

At some point during the first day we have also been given the opportunity to plunder, ahem, I mean visit the Lego employee store. We were kindly asked not to take photos inside and not to discuss the prices. Nobody said anything about taking photos of the group leaving the shop, though.

I took a photo of this building assuming it was some important place. It wasn’t.

Danish people, putting Lego wherever possible

Billund has an average of 3 monuments per citizen, and most of them feature Lego pieces

Denmark, a cyclist’s paradise

Day two was the day of interviews with designers. I have worked closely with Fernando to interview Lego Technic, Worlds, Rebrick, House and Ideas staff. A video will be coming later, but it was very informative, everyone was very friendly, and I got to meet my idols.

The interviews took place here. See, I can take photos of important buildings after all!

Pre-interviews briefing. I’m awesome at taking pics of people’s backs.

Fernando, Milan AKA Grohl and me, proving that the longer you deal with the Lego business, the more alike you look

The Lego House being built. Imagine the building instructions.

The interviews went smoothly as everyone was very nice and professional. The highlight of the day was Jan dropping by with a box of the German football team minifigures for us. What followed was brutal, uncivilized, and highly entertaining.

The only photo I managed to get. The box was completely empty some 2 seconds later.

This building was called Tech House. I imagine this is where Technic designers bask in awesomeness and look down with smiles upon lesser mortals

We were given the opportunity to play with the new Technic sets and share our photos. The rest of the day was unimportant.

The interviews were followed by a lunch and another nice supper, and then it was time to wrap things up. Some of us flew home this very evening, including one EB moderator who could handle the metric system no more, and some of us stayed for another day, including me. In fact, my flight departed at 2:30 PM, so I have spent quite a while as the last member of the group, considering a visit to Legoland, getting terrified by the amount of people by the Legoland entrance (it was Saturday), and generally strongly wishing to stay in Denmark forever. Unfortunately I’ve ended up on a plane, then on another, and in between I’ve faced the challenge of catching my connecting flight at Frankfurt in 15 minutes. If you’ve ever been to Frankfurt, you know the problem: it’s not a city with an airport as much as an airport with a city. Somehow I managed to catch the plane, but my luggage didn’t and I’m still waiting for it as I’m writing this. Wish me luck and kudos to you, Lufthansa.

To sum it up, I’m very grateful to the TLG, the Technic team and to Kim especially for making this incredible experience possible. Everyone is very nice and friendly at Denmark, and Lego staff doubly so. We also had this incredible summer weather which I suspect Fernando has brought with him from Portugal. All in all, I hope to repeat this experience in the future, provided my esteemed colleagues can bear with me once more 😉

Some of the awesome gifts I got from awesome people in front of a Lego hamster


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  1. Sariel
    June 11th, 2016 at 19:40 | #1

    Thanks Ralph, it was nice to meet you too and even nicer to see you drop by here, but still, a card is a card 😉

  2. June 9th, 2016 at 23:30 | #2

    It was nice to meet you. Not everyone else had a card. I don’t normally go anywhere I’d need one for TBB, so all I had were cards I use for work and those have nothing whatsoever to do with LEGO.

  3. Felix
    June 9th, 2016 at 14:40 | #3

    The last two sentences of the bold introduction are repeated immediately after. Might wanna fix that. Also, do you not have Ümläüts on your keyboard? ; )

  4. Sariel
    June 8th, 2016 at 15:31 | #4

    Thanks for the tip, fixed that.

  5. sylca
    June 8th, 2016 at 14:47 | #5

    Hi Sariel,
    Just one thing: getting error 404 when clicking on pictures. Normal?

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