zaLUG at Sandton City, April 2024

Great news for LEGO™ fans in Gauteng as zaLUG (the South African LEGO User Group) headed back to the Sandton City Shopping Centre to exhibit a vast and varied display of LEGO sets and MOCs (my own creations) from 27 to 28 April 2024.

Now an annual event on the calendar, members of zaLUG showcased a number of individual displays along with several very exciting collaborative displays by some of their special interest groups or SIGs.

Visitors to the event enjoyed the Micropolis SIG display which will shine a light on the creativity and ingenuity of 18 zaLUG members who have come together to create a whopping 63 city blocks for Studdington. (A micropolis is a cityscape built on a miniature scale using LEGO elements in new and exciting ways.) From skyscrapers and bustling streets, every city block tells a story of imagination and skill.

In a world first, zaLUG’s Team Mosaic will unveil a new LEGO mosaic technique that was developed right here in Mzansi. Come and see the king of the big five portrayed in a truly massive mosaic of 2 metres by 1.5 metres built with nearly 50 000 parts!

For all the train fans out there, the zaLUG’s train SIG will take their collaborative build to the next level. Twenty train-mad members have banded together to build a once-in-a-lifetime train display consisting of thousands of LEGO blocks. The display will feature two full U-turns (roughly covering a full table each), a five-lane train yard (covering one and a half tables) and a track that uses around 90 16×32 (12.7cm by 25.4cm) base plates. You definitely don’t want to miss the unforgettable sight of numerous trains and train carriages trundling around this huge display.

Even if you don’t thing you’re a LEGO fan, you will certainly be impressed by the sheer scale, ingenuity and inventiveness of all the displays.

Mosaic Special Project

The zaLUG Sandton display ran from Saturday to Sunday.  But that’s not when set up started for the mosaic SIG.  We produced a huge (2mx1.5m) lion mosaic that still had to get to the venue.

When we designed it, we designed a backboard system consisting of 2 rectangular frames on which to present the top and bottom halves of the mosaic.  Each of these was 1.6mx1m and weighed around 35kg.  To transport, we connected the two halves via boards so that they sat one on top of the other with a fixed gap.  Then, came transport.

They only just fitted on the back of a bakkie with lots of padding to dampen the vibrations of the road.  The 6km trip was done just after a heavy rain and a hailstorm that came out of nowhere. The roads were wet and covered with debris.  We had to drive at 40km/h in convoy to avoid shaking the pieces out of the mosaic, as putting them back in the right place was a tedious task that required spreadsheets and meticulous lookups and placement.

Finally, we arrived, got some help from fellow zaLUGgers, offloaded and were able to set up the lion for display.

What a magnificent sight!  The world was not used to seeing a mosaic made of tiny lego parts, that made such a striking 3-dimensional picture.  Nearly 50000 parts shimmered in the light as you moved around it.  The surface texture lent a dimensionality not previously seen.  Even the black tones carried the texture allowing a distinction in their depths.  It was alive!

From the minute the display opened, the lion became a magnet for awe and selfies – so many selfies.  I had the pleasure of manning the stand almost every minute of the two day display.  The looks of delight, the countless jaw-drops.  Our labour, creativity and ingenuity were acknowledged and appreciated.

13 people (and some partners) slaved for around 100 hours to build this beast.  It was everything we had hoped for.  We can’t wait to see what the world does with this next.

Train track beautification succeeded!

Over the weekend of 27-28 April the Train SIG special project was showcased as part of the ZALug Sandton event. The primary purpose of the special project was to take dreary old train tracks and turn it into something far more worthy of a Lego display event.

A total of 24 ZALug / Train SIG members pooled their talents to construct an awesome 70m (40 tables) of continuous track encircling the display area. More than half of this distance was done using the special project MILS layout. 18 Members worked together on the MILS project to create more than 120 MILS track blocks.

Multiple MILS blocks were used to create a turn-around loop and multi-track train yard. From there the track covered 8 table lengths on MILS blocks (including two 90° turns).

On the other end of the line another 12 tables contained MILS blocks, and included multiple features: two 90° turns, a connected cityscape with a train station, a siding with additional carriages, a siding with a tyre work-yard, a double line with a station, a double cross-over track, a train workshop and ending in a beautiful Star-Wars themed turn around loop.

Studdington: A Micropolis Masterpiece Unveiled

We are excited to share the story of our latest achievement—Studdington, potentially the most extensive and ambitious Micropolis cityscape ever created in South Africa. This impressive display was revealed at Sandton City on April 27th and 28th, showcasing the dedication and passion of zaLUG’s Micropolis Special Interest Group.

Studdington, meticulously brought to life by the collaborative efforts of 18 talented members of the SIG, serves as a stunning testament to collective creativity. What sets this project apart is the remarkable scale and depth achieved through our shared dedication, as each member contributed their unique vision to construct an impressive display consisting of 400 carefully crafted modules, each measuring 16×16 studs. The resulting cityscape emerged as a captivating mosaic of imagination and innovation, presenting a diverse array of architectural wonders. As visitors explored our exhibit, they were immersed in a dynamic urban landscape pulsating with vitality and ingenuity. Wind farms gracefully turned amidst the bustling streets, while cable cars gracefully traversed the city skyline, offering breathtaking panoramas. Amidst this vibrant cityscape, a forest fire blazed—a poignant symbol of nature’s resilience and our responsibility to safeguard it.

This remarkable achievement was made possible thanks to the invaluable support of Lego, whose generous assistance enabled us to acquire bulk parts for the Special Project through zaLUG. Their collaboration and backing were instrumental in bringing Studdington to life, demonstrating the power of community and partnership within the Lego enthusiast world.

The response from event attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Both children and adults marveled at the intricate details and impressive scale of Studdington. Witnessing the joy and wonder on visitors’ faces as they explored our LEGO city was truly heartwarming. As we reflect on this extraordinary accomplishment, we extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who visited and supported our display, as well as to Lego and zaLUG for their unwavering support. Studdington stands as a testament to what can be achieved through collaboration, creativity, and a shared love for the art of building with Lego bricks.

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