Unlocking LEGO® Adventures: Melissa Rekve’s Inspiring Journey as Lil’ Bricks, from Vancouver

Story #29 – The LEGO Story of Lil’ Bricks! (aka myself)

Why am I the luckiest girl in the world? In 2017, I met Paul Hetherington and a few months later we began dating. He’s an incredibly talented artist who uses LEGO® as his medium.

Paul setting up at LEGO® House Masterpiece Gallery in 2019

When we met, I knew Paul was well immersed in the LEGO® world, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I was naive to the idea that the LEGO® world was this huge culture of AFOLs, conventions, LEGO® clubs, LEGO® Artists, and much more. I have never encountered a company so down to earth and eager to listen to what their fans/consumers want as The LEGO® Group is. LEGO® is a lifestyle, I quickly learned.

Fast forward to today. In the just three years, I have been to 21 LEGO® conventions and 4 virtual ones; LEGOLAND® in Billund, Denmark; LEGO® House during the Masterpiece Gallery setup day (because Paul was invited to display a model in there) and AFOL Day.

Our LEGO® House Experience in Billund: A Memorable Journey with Paul Hetherington in 2019

I’ve stayed at the Knight’s Castle LEGOLAND® Hotel in Billund, Denmark; I’ve added many stamps to my LEGO® Passport from all over, and I have made some amazing memories with some incredible people. Being a big kid at heart, I am having the time of my life. Thank you, Paul!

The Lego Conventions I’ve attended in person include BrickCon, Seattle; BrickCan, Vancouver; BricksCascade, Portland; Brickworld Chicago; BrickNation (display at Emerald City Comic Con), Seattle; Skaerbæk Fan Weekend, Denmark; and many Brick Universe shows throughout America… I have been to all of these conventions more than once, with the exception of Skaerbæk. In the past year, I have also experienced 4 Virtual LEGO Conventions: BrickCan Virtual, BrickCon Virtual, BricksLA Virtual, and Brickvention Australia. 

Each convention is jam-packed with games, MOCs, friends, sightseeing, and great new memories. It’s always a rush to do everything and see everyone, even when the con happens at home. That’s part of the fun.

In 2019, I became a member of the VLC, the Vancouver LEGO® Club. I love to follow directions, so building sets is what I am most comfortable with. This year, I finally got up the nerve to attempt my first MOC  (my-own-creation).

Creating a MOC for the first time a daunting process, but it’s even more daunting when I’m dating an artist of Paul’s caliber. With lots of advice from friends and Paul to help answer questions during the process, I did it! It sure felt good when my MOC was completed, the 6 months it took me to build it felt like a lifetime. I chose to create a mosaic instead of a 3D MOC because I thought it would be easier. Silly me! The biggest lesson learned was that mosaics are NOT easy. For my first MOC, I chose something that is a big part of my life, Garbage Pail Kids.

I created the Garbage Pail Kids logo because they’re one of my all-time favorite fandoms

I have been a GPK collector since the 80’s. I decided to do a mosaic of the classic Original Series 1 card, 8a – Adam Bomb. I put my own spin on it, and added my favorite color, Pink, into the background. It is now on display in our house.

My first MOC

Each Convention is unique. From the AFOLs who attend, to the location, to the talks, to the games, to the swag, to the vendors, and to the MOCs. At Brick Universe I volunteer as part of the team, my biggest job there in the past has been dismantling the LEGO® when the kids are done playing with it in the Build Zones, but I do many other things as well. I may or may not have the nickname Godzilla when I am dismantling brick. Haha! 

Volunteering for Brick Universe has been the experience of a lifetime. The Brick Universe team is (like) a big family, and it is geared towards families to attend instead of classic Conventions which are geared toward AFOLs. Brick Universe also has LEGO® Clubs and AFOLs display models, and a lot of AFOLs and couples attend the show as well. There is something for everyone. I highly recommend it. 

Volunteering at a LEGO Convention!

One of the unique (and amusing) things about dating an Artist who uses LEGO® as his medium, is the look on people’s face when they ask you what my spouse does for work. Or what I do for fun. People have openly gasped, laughed, and become super awkward once I answered. I secretly enjoy these responses, because people have no idea what they are missing on. It’s fun to keep some mystery to the AFOL world and LEGO® lifestyle. It’s like a not-so-secret club of super fun and talented people who can make little plastic bricks look cool. I love it!

They say Nothing Lasts forever, but I hope this lasts a lifetime. My motto has always been, Never Grow Up, and I think I have achieved that. 

The excitement is building! Time to go do just that.

Melissa Rekve (Aka Lil’ Bricks!), North Vancouver – Canada

Winter Wonderland: Building a LEGO® Christmas Village

Story # 23

I have been passionate about LEGO® since the first set I received as a child about 40 years ago. My childhood was dominated by the building toy, it’s all I wanted for Christmas and birthdays.

My passion for building with LEGO® continued on as a young adult. I had my first child at 21, and I used this as an excuse to buy more LEGO® for my daughter to play with. Back then it just wasn’t as socially acceptable for adults to play with the building bricks, so this worked well for me! In 2009 I started to get more serious about the hobby when my second child was on the way. This was also around the time when LEGO® started releasing more complex and adult oriented sets with the Creator expert line, and the first Winter Village set, the Toy Shop.

I was very excited that LEGO® decided to start this theme. As a child I always marveled at my grandmother’s ceramic winter village display she would put out each year on their fireplace mantel. The thought of recreating this in LEGO® was quite exciting and a tradition I wanted to carry on in the family in a new form.

The first rendition of my Winter Village was displayed in 2010 once the second set was released from LEGO®, and I had a modest setup with some customizations. This of course continued to grow each year as new sets were released and I acquired more pieces via buying on BrickLink and harvesting extra inventory from my own BrickLink store.

Photo by author

Around Christmas 2019 I realized I had to rethink my display with the limited space I had and the ever increasing number of sets and parts I had at my disposal. I knew I had to build up. The living room credenza was the only space I had and it measures 63″ x 16″ deep. Work began on planning the structure and ordering parts.

Due to COVID, I had more time and budget on my hand as we were at home a lot and were not traveling much. So In the summer of 2020 I finalized my design on paper and ordered the final parts I would need to build my vision. I sorted and organized everything and started the build, from scratch, in October. I spent about a month getting everything just right and to the point you see it here in my video.

My future plans include lighting and to add some movement with power functions, as there is lot’s of space under the elevated section in the back.

I have received so much positive feedback for my creation, and hopefully this inspires others to keep building!

Jason Pettyjohn – British Columbia, Canada