After I completed my visit to Jakarta (see previous blogs),, before going home I decided to make the most of my geographical location and take a trip to see our BRICKLIVE partners in China as they prepared the venue for our first BRICKLIVE Centre in China, Fulong resort, for opening.
Fulong Chongli is undergoing development of its ski resort and is one of several Beijing sites getting the Olympic touch in anticipation of hosting the 2022 Winter games. However the reason I was heading to the northern regions of China was not to see how the snowboard ramps were coming along, but to catch up with our local team to take a look at the latest BRICKLIVE permanent space. Located on the top floor of the beautiful new Four Seasons Hall, Snow Park preparations were reaching their final stages as this custom built space readied for the delivery of bricks.
The journey from Beijing airport was not short of adventure as the road weaved past some impressive recognisable sites including the Olympic ‘Birds Nest’ stadium and probably more famously the Great Wall of China, making the three hours pass seamlessly. Arriving at Fulong it was hard not to be instantly impressed with the work going on. New houses, facilities and complexes were springing up across the entire landscape all of which was neatly framed by the sculpted mountains boasting new ski runs and lifts.
It was already clear that the venue was going to be the perfect place for visitors to enjoy a BRICKLIVE event but that feeling became even more so as the lift doors opened onto the fourth floor revealing the giant winter sport, brick-built mosaic, it was quite the welcome. Looking left and right and ready to begin my inspection of the progress made I grew more excited. There were structures everywhere. The entire floor had been turned this into some sort of adventure land for brick fans. All the different areas and rooms where made to look like mini houses that children could explore, it was like a magical world of its own. Curved walls directed my eyes to two giant mushrooms sporting windows and doors, exposing more play zones for the sure to be excited visitors. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, brightly coloured designs, fun houses and zones all ready for the BRICKLIVE content.
Fulong is set to take the BRICKLIVE experience to another level and will sure be a great attraction for all visitors. Before I left the installation of some specially commissioned statues (including Snow Leopard, Polar Bear and Dragon) had started. This is going to be a great place to play with the brick and I cannot wait to return when it opens later this year.
Indonesia was not a country I have had the privilege of visiting before, neither was it a location that had hosted a BRICKLIVE event, so you can imagine the excitement was enhanced somewhat as this week I set off to Jakarta for part one of the South East Asian tour.
I love travelling around the globe following the BRICKLIVE roadshow, and whilst it’s always exciting it has to be said when it’s a trip of firsts, like this one, emotions can be a heady cocktail of anticipation and excitement. My uppermost thought in scenarios like this is the fact I am travelling out to assist our partners on their first BRICKLIVE adventure and I want it to be as stress free as possible. Co-ordinating and managing 4000sqm of bricks in a totally unfamiliar environment can bring its challenges. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen the floor plan and assessed the space you can still be thrown a curve ball upon seeing the venue in the flesh, something which is less of a factor at the more established events.
Regardless of being a little pre-occupied with all these thoughts, I boarded the plane knowing that in 15 hours time I would be enjoying another ‘BL’ adventure. Jakarta greeted me with a unfamiliar humidity as I left the comfortable air conditioned terminal and was knocked back by a wall of heat, what was this big shiny yellow thing in the sky? Was I set to get a bonus tan during the stay? That said, I was instantly impressed by the friendly nature of all the locals and despite my severe lack of bi-lingual skills communication finding my destination was easy (primarily due to the fact the locals seemingly have a good grasp of my native tongue – phew!!!).
As already suggested this was to be no ordinary BRICKLIVE event. The location for the show was in the heart of the PIK Avenue lifestyle and shopping centre; I said it was a trip of firsts.
This posed some interesting setup challenges, as hauling huge models through a busy mall was not really the done thing, so the ground floor atrium had to wait until closing (10pm) before any work could begin. It would then be a case of working through the night before the following day's revellers appeared for another day of bargain hunting. This played into my unadjusted body clock perfectly as I was yet to adjust into the new time zone so being awake at night was perfect at this stage of my travels. However, the surprising downside was it would appear that whilst Jakarta doesn’t really cool down at night the centres operators do turn off the air conditioning.
By the second night thanks to the teamwork and co-ordinating of Bectero (the Official partner) coordinating the room was coming together nicely as the zones were neatly decorated with inflatable arches, illuminated banners and colour coded carpets. By about 2am we had started to fill the brick pits, load the specialist brick trays and started to apply the finishing touches. By this point I had found myself drawn to the growing display being installed by the local Afols. The quality of work on display was incredibly high and in my opinion worth the entrance fee on its own. The use of parts and the designs incorporated to these detailed creations, was impressive and it was an honour to meet the local user groups and to discover they were among the elite.
A quick sleep had me ready for the Wednesday celebrity and press opening. Over 40 local media and influencers arrived for a sneak peak of the event (with their families), their eagerness to listen to my presentation and follow me on a show tour was only superseded by their excited children, who did well to hold off getting involved while I droned on. It was self-control beyond anything I have ever demonstrated. With the pre-show tour done, our high-profile visitors quickly got involved in the show experience, wading through brick pits and swooshing spaceships all afternoon. The joy and excitement shown by the media alone was a good indication that this was going to be a great event. All the finishing touches and hard work had paid off; don’t get me wrong, the credit for this goes firmly to our partners but it was certainly nice to be part of it and see it come together.
In summary this show has many highlights and the first days visitors certainly agreed with me as they explored the two areas. It seemed to have the perfect ingredients for a BRICKLIVE event, happy customers, well designed zones, exclusive statues, an amazing fanzone all set in a very unique, beautiful venue.
I started last week meeting new clients in Monaco. Not only is it a spectacular part of Europe, it’s also one of the locations we have been looking at for a while and although it was only a short trip we made a lot of progress.
We also opened a small off-shoot office in the UK Midlands this week which will form a local hub for some of the non-London based team when we aren’t traveling.
Next it was on to Belgium (see below) with Paul Esson to see the partner that runs a large number of our shows across Europe. We discussed up and coming locations (which is always exciting) and the cities they have in the pipeline have all the potential for hosting great events. We also discussed some of our newer show content like the silent disco, 3D printing, virtual reality and education as I really want to push the innovative new content across the globe through our partners. You’ll see all of this in a new video we’ll be hosting here soon so watch this space.
Ahead lies another week in the skies, for Paul and I are traveling to meet our partner Universal Exhibition in Brazil (which will hopefully be less wet than Belgium) to discuss their opening show(s) and some of their commercial partnerships.
We then hop up to Miami to see Exim who are our partners in the rest of South America to discuss their event schedule and the first show in Argentina in May. I'll finish the week in Enfield, Connecticut with Lego.
Interestingly, Lego took the number one spot from BA this week in the Super Brand ranking which is fantastic and underlies what a strong product it is.
Have a good week.
It’s been a week of relatively little travel this week post the New York show (much, it has to be said, to my families delight). We now gear up with our partners for the shows that are nearly upon us as once we get into late March the run of events starts to really begin. We have shows in Japan, then in multiple European locations and across the Atlantic in Brazil and Argentina. We head to Asia for our debut in Thailand and back then to Scotland - and that's all before we hit the summer so as you can imagine preparations are well and truly underway for a busy year.
Next week will see me visit Monaco to discuss potential new opportunities along with a visit to see a partner of ours in Brussels, confirmation that these next couple of weeks are all about doing the groundwork before we get into the event season. Whilst this goes on our permanent centres in Korea are still trading as normal and we are making big strides with the AFOLS (Adult Fans of LEGO) in that region as we continue to develop the relationships there so it becomes a real hub of family and AFOL activity. On top of that our first centre in China is progressing well and the containers of equipment are on route ready for the opening in a few weeks time.
Post our New York show we have been working on exciting new concepts so we can keep updating our partners with new content along with new products/IP of our own - all part of our drive to continue to develop the business at the fast pace we have prided ourself on.
As I’ll be travelling more in the coming weeks the team have kindly bought me some kit to allow me to V-log on location (to which you can only imagine my delight!) so you can look forward to video updates on our weekly progress along with some context of who we work with and yoiu should get a better idea of what the shows themselves look like.
Have a good week everyone,
Our Press Officer Mark Guest takes you on a tour of LEGO LIVE NYC
Our Executive Director Andy Smith reflects on the final day from LEGO LIVE NYC at Pier 36 in Manhattan
I write this blog whilst I witness a bridge made from LEGO built in less than 5 minutes by a collection of children and adults supporting over 240lbs in weight (dumbells being added in increments) whilst a group of more than 100 people chant ‘ADD MORE WEIGHT!'
It’s been a great few days at our inaugural LEGO Live event and it’s been amazing to see such a huge number of happy faces flow through the doors.
We've had sold out sessions which is always great to see but even more rewarding than that has been seeing the success of some of our new content such as 3D printing, YouTube stage shows, the silent disco and a digital Minecraft zone (plus much more), but this is only the beginning and I am excited to see what new and exciting content we can add to ensure we are always innovating.
I met a lady who had travelled from Philadelphia just to be at the show and saw the enthusiasm she had for the experience. She then went on to give me a list of locations (obviously including Philly!) that would love to have LEGO Live come to their city - feedback which can only give the team more encouragement that the experience we offer can really bring something to the market place. I’ve been stopped numerous times throughout the show (as have a lot of the management team) to have parents and fans thank us for bringing the event to New York and for allowing them to have an experience that they could share as a family.
Another girl travelled across half of the United States to meet Vikkstar (one of the YouTubers that attended). She’d written him a 3-page note telling him how delighted she was that he had made the journey over here.... I could keep going with the stories but suffice to say it’s been a great start and hopefully there’ll be many more to come.
The local press really got behind the event and supported us, we achieved major coverage on channels such as CBS and Fox along with appearances in print from the likes of the "New York Times". In total we reached over 250, 000, 000 PR impressions which, for our first event and in a major city such as New York, we have to celebrate.
See you on the other side of the pond
The culmination of months of work as thousands attend the first day of the show at Pier 36 in Manhattan
Finally the hard work of our team has paid off. We’ve had a tremendous first day here with lots of great feedback and some fantastic insights into what’s really engaged our U.S. audience.
I told you a couple of weeks ago in my blog about the YouTuber’s we’d secured and I’m delighted with the outcome and I truly believe it’ll become a key element of shows as we go forward.
As with every event we do, nothing gives me greater pleasure that the look on the faces of the parents as they watch their children interact with the entertainment we’ve provided. The standout for me has been the silent disco - the quietest area on the floor has produced the loudest feedback. I’m sure this it a feature that will roll out across our shows worldwide. I’ve never been so pleased to dance silently to BonJovi with so many people of different generations. Fortunately our crew wasn’t filming at the time but you’ll be able to see highlights of the LEGO LIVE NYC show on the news page of this site over the next few days.
I’m looking to what tomorrow brings and hopefully we’ll see many more happy faces over the next few days.
All the best
The great global expansion continued this week as we travelled to Japan and Korea to meet our regional partners and some very excited adult fans of LEGO.
The week started in a brisk fashion as we landed in a bustling Tokyo city. We were set for a busy week meeting our far eastern partners to explore further opportunities for collaboration and expansion of the BRICKLIVE franchise.
First stop was to meet with Sony Kimura and his team to get an update on his latest projects and partnerships based around creating some exciting new mini events in the region. It would seem the brands popularity has been attracting plenty of interest in Japan, with multiple partners having already entered into discussions about BRICKLIVE and creating compact experiential events. The thinking is that these custom shows are set to pop up across the length of the country. This bespoke concept of taking key show themes and elements into smaller venues certainly suits the territories demands and will enable the franchise to cover a wider spread across Japan. We spent many hours developing themes that would suit a smaller space whilst ensuring they retained the concentrated level of activities and interactive building.
With our heads full of creativity and ideas we moved onto an evening engagement with LEGO Ambassador Edwin Knight (Japanese LEGO user group founder and official Fan Weekend organiser). A vital part of our events are the fans models and we were looking to grow the opportunities we can provide for these master builders across the globe, so meeting with key facilitators like Edwin will help us understand the needs of the fan community. This train of thinking proved to be correct as we spent a fruitful evening learning about the Japanese AFOLs (Adult Fan of LEGO) needs. The insights and information Edwin supplied instantly helped us develop ways that we can enhance their show experience and help them make exhibiting their creations to the masses mush easier. This is the start of our AFOL engagement and expansion program that will see more fans gain the ability to showcase their work within a BRICKLIVE event. With the moon shinning bright it was time to hit the hay before heading off to Make Merry the following day.
We dedicated Tuesday to full-on entrenchment in the Make Merry offices with our stalwart partners Kaz and Joe. Armed with a giant whiteboard, marker pens and ideas a plenty we explored ways to further push the boundaries of the larger Japanese show experience. With multiple Japanese events scheduled it is vital we ensure the tour provides fresh engaging experiences that our loving fan base demands. Educational programs, new workshops and fresh features were all added to the plan. Its fair to say this will be a noticeable upgrade for the masses. In technology terms we've enhanced the camera, improved the battery life and installed an operating system that will make you a cup of tea.
After two days in Japan we headed off to Seoul. Not totally sure what time or day it was we landed to discover it was -12ºc outside and that our Chairman David had more suitcases than Imelda Marcos had shoes. Fortunately a minibus had been booked (and in David’s defence he had many more destinations ahead after this trip).
We were all set for a three-day stay in South Korea and it has to be said we certainly made the most of our time. Day one started with a warm welcome (and a warm croissant) as we joined Sara and Sonia from our Korean office. The schedule was to see us travel across the city later to meet with the marketing team in the LEGO group offices. To have been invited to sit and discuss ways we could develop further collaborations with TLG is testament to the great work BRICKLIVE is doing in the region.
Personally, it is always a thrill to visit LEGO offices, there is always a great sense of fun and energy. The Seoul location situated high up in the skyscraper tower didn’t disappoint, providing some great views of the city for the members of the team that could look beyond the in-office LEGO displays. Joking aside though it’s fair to say the meeting was an incredibly constructive endeavour that would seem to be the start of some very exciting projects (more to come on that in future blogs).
It was then over to the Hi-Brick offices to meet Mr Kim and his team in preparation for the next day’s busy schedule. Working together, face to face is incredibly beneficial when developing creative ideas, it allows for a much more fluid and open discussion. Our focus for the next 24 hours was to be the BRICKLIVE centres, exploring ways to develop new ideas and enhance the BRICKLIVE consumer experience. With such a great team of people all in one room it is no surprise that this meeting spawned some exciting ideas and fresh ways to encourage more interaction with the brick.
24 hours later and the UK team of myself, David and Jon Gayton made our way to the Centre in Coex (a first for me and Jon) ready for an incredible evening with some local AFOLs (Adult Fans Of LEGO). Over 30 key builders from the region turned up for an evening that was to be the first of its kind for the South Korean AFOLs. They were all treated to the full BRICKLIVE hospitality with food, drink and entertainment supplied. We ran a LEGO trivia quiz that proved to be very popular and a lot of fun, even if a couple of my questions were too hard. The BRICKLIVE team had done a great job getting all these fans together in one place for what was a fantastic evening. Part of our goal is to make sure that fans have a voice, a platform and an opportunity to meet like-minded people and this was the first step on that road and was greatly received. In fact, it was such a success that the AFOLs themselves took the time towards the end of the evening to stand up and tell the group individually what they thought of the gathering. From their comments it would appear this certainly was the first time most had had an opportunity to meet and there were requests for this to become a regular event, so it would seem the BRICKLIVE centre now has another positive use for its space.
I will have to confess by the end of what was an energetic evening I was ready to get back to the hotel room. Tomorrow would involve a quick visit to the centre at Starfield 2 before climbing back on a plane homewards bound, which incidentally is where I am sat now reflecting on what has been an incredible visit. Not only did we get to see our extended family and build some great new plans, but we also made a few new friends along the way.
Andy is on his way back to New York to get ready for LEGO® LIVE NYC which opens on February 16th. He’ll be updating his blog from there but whilst he and the team get ready for the show here’s the first in our series “Meet the Team” which was recorded at the sell-out NEC show last autumn.
Myself, and Connie Lee (Event Manager) and Betty Waypa (BLG Account Director, Americas)
Toni Hodges (BLG Content Manager) at the BECTERO office in Bangkok with May Rungrath (BECTERO Project Manager, left), and Sara-Seohoa Kim (BLG Commission Manager - right)
It’s been another busy week here at Live Company Group, both in BRICKLIVE and Parallel Live.
I’ve been in New York again this week to tie up another major collection of big wins for the LEGO® LIVE NYC show. We've confirmed the attendance of Ali A, Clare Siobhan, Vikkstar, Rebrickulous and the Boost guys from the TTV channel who have way over 20 million subscribers between them. It’s the first time such a collection of talent have been secured for a LEGO® event so it’s truly exciting. Plus we'll have Immersive Minds heading up our Minecraft area. This zone will include VR, 3D printing and many more elements that haven’t been seen before. The new content lays the foundation for the future of LEGO® LIVE as we really want keep pushing new and interactive content across the board.
In other news outside of the US, we are close to announcing the first dates for the new Brazil tour but already we have some great exhibits lined up including truly spectacular build items based around something we call Kingdoms including a life size Knight, Wolves, Wizards and much more.
Our UK partner has firmed up dates for their shows this year. They are heading to Glasgow in July and then on to one of our flagship shows at the NEC in Birmingham in early November. Both shows are scheduled around the school holidays (last year the NEC was a sell-out with over 35,000 visitors) and our fans will be able to enjoy some content that has never been seen before. I look forward to sharing more about that in my Blog closer to the time.
Three of our team have embarked on a mini tour of Asia to line up future shows. They started the week with our ASEAN tour partner BECTERO who are joint venture partners with LIVENATION. I’m excited to confirm that the first ASEAN show will launch in Bangkok in the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre on April 26th and run until the 29th. We’ve also visited our partners in Japan to finalise plans for their show Osaka in March.
Finally our week ended in Shanghai where we met both our partner out there, Fortune Access, as well as the LEGO® office from the region to talk about future projects as we have some tremendous opportunities in the pipeline. Also in China our first BRICKLIVE Centre content is in transit to the Olympic Village just outside of Beijing as we count down the days until we open.
So as you can see it’s been an extremely busy week for the team with plenty of traveling but that should be expected now that we have at least 60 shows to execute this year as well as the expansion of the Centres. It’s great to start the New Year with so many opportunities and exciting projects. We’ve also included some shots of the team on our travels this week to add to the blog so you can start to put faces to the team behind the Live Company Group.
All the best,
Happy New Year!
Welcome to the first of our weekly blog updates that’ll be a mixture of notes from my desk and the occasional video. Whilst we'll continue to upload things like newsletters to the corporate website, we thought that this was the best way for you to hear from us in person and along the way we'd love to have your feedback.
This week I’m writing from New York. I'm here with our partner LEGO® to put on LEGO® LIVE NYC on behalf of one of our companies. We've got some amazing content signed up for when we go Live on the 16th of February through to the 19th. We're down on Pier 36 in Manhattan which is a great location and we've got brilliant exclusives, things that we haven't seen in any of our events around the world (and I don't think any LEGO® event of its type will have seen before). That includes Boost, Mindstorms, Minecraft, Ninjago, Friends and we've also got some worldwide YouTube talents coming in. We've got statues and buildings that have never been exhibited. We’re absolutely over the moon to be able to bring these elements to the show and hopefully this will be the first of many events as the LEGO® Live partnership expands post this event. I'm here in New York every other week from here on in as we make sure that the show is everything we want it to be and more.
Outside of that we've got some exciting news as BRICKLIVE has secured an agreement with Universal Exhibitions in Brazil to put on 30 show a year over the next five or six years which is brilliant. Brazil is a territory that we really wanted to push on in. There's been a lot of interest there and we’re really pleased because we already operate in South America through a company called Exim in territories like Mexico and Argentina so to see that territory grow as we want it to is very rewarding.
Even though we’re only into the first couple of weeks of 2018 a lot has happened. There have been shows in Asia and come February a lot of the tour dates are going to start again. This year there'll be a lot to update you on in Asia because that is an absolutely key market for us and one that we've seen huge traction in a very short space time but I'll probably touch on that in another missive. We're really pleased to have you on the journey with us and the fact that you’ve read this far must mean you are interested so we’re grateful for your support!