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Taranaki club builds on success of previous Lego-themed fundraisers

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A Lego model of Stratford’s Glockenspiel sits in front of a Star Wars scene at the 2023 Eltham Brickshow. Photo / Ilona Hanne

A popular Lego-themed event is returning to Taranaki this month.

Now in its third year, the Eltham Brickshow will take place over Taranaki Anniversary weekend, and organiser Eddie Sanderson says it will be a fantastic show for all ages.

“Without giving away too many surprises, people can expect to see some fantastic builds. The outstanding model of the Stratford Glockenspiel will be back and it may have a friend standing beside it.”

Eddie, who is the Eltham AFC junior administrator as well as committee member, life member, and “general dogsbody”, says the Eltham Brickshow is a fundraiser for the club, and is all about ensuring tamariki can play.

“Families often have to pay quite a lot of money to have their children play sport. Club registration fees, playing equipment such as boots and shin pads, fuel to get to games and practices, it all adds up. This is then amplified when families have more than one child playing a sport. With the cost of living at the moment, it is even harder than before.”

To help families the club has introduced a Free Fees for Juniors scheme, which has been running for around five years.

“With the Free Fees for Juniors scheme, junior players aged between five to 15 can play for Eltham Football Club without paying any club registration fees.”

While families don’t have to pay the registration fees, the club itself still has to pay player registration fees, he says, hence the need for fundraising.

“The cost can go into the thousands. The club covers these costs through fundraisers like the Eltham Brickshow and with the help of our amazing club sponsors.”

It’s a successful formula, he says.

“Last year’s Eltham Brickshow raised enough to pay for all of the registration fees, and we were also able to help out junior players who made Taranaki rep teams by giving their families fuel vouchers to help with getting to practices and tournaments.”

Eddie says several club members are “AFOLs,” which led to the idea of the brickshow.

AFOL stands for Adult Friend of Lego, and Lego, says Eddie, is everybody’s friend.

“Lego appeals to all ages. Pretty much everybody has a story or memory of a Lego set from when they were kids. Kids see it with the amazing imagination only kids have, while adults look at it and think, how the heck did they build that? It’s the most popular toy in the world for good reason.”

Star Wars Lego is always popular, and this exhibit at the 2023 Eltham Brickshow got plenty of attention. Photo / Ilona Hanne
Star Wars Lego is always popular, and this exhibit at the 2023 Eltham Brickshow got plenty of attention. Photo / Ilona Hanne

In recent years, Lego has become even more popular he says, with movies such as the Lego movie, as well as TV shows such as Lego Masters.

“We thought, why not combine our interests to help out the club. AFOLs love sharing and talking about their hobby.”

In fact, so many people love talking about Lego and sharing their cool builds, the Eltham Brickshow has grown substantially since it first began. Eddie says they went from around 200 visitors to the first show, to over 1200 last year.

“We held it in our club rooms at Taumata Park the first time, just to see if the interest was there. That went brilliantly and the feedback was so positive we decided to take a chance on a bigger venue the next year, and moved it to the Eltham Town Hall.”

Word about the show also spread in the NZ Lego community, meaning double the number of exhibitors booked a spot for the second year, says Eddie.

“We even had Lego Master contestant Daniel Mullholland [and his dog] take part. Dan has been a terrific source of advice and encouragement to getting a Lego show run in Taranaki.”

This year, the show is likely to attract even more, with word spreading across the region, and the country and plenty of interest from exhibitors and visitors alike, says Eddie.

He says as well as the return of the Glockenspiel build, there will be the return of the Jedi too – with plenty of Star Wars builds expected.

“There will be plenty for the Star Wars fans, as well as other popular themes such as Harry Potter, Batman, Lego Cities, Friends Elves and loads of vehicles. Local AFOL Jack Horrocks’ custom-built cars are one to watch for, especially his high-speed wheelchair.”

Exhibitors are coming from across Taranaki, as well as from Whanganui, Palmerston North, Levin and Masterton, Eddie says.

He says the club is grateful to the many businesses supporting the show as well as the exhibitors who spend their time and money to bring their models, and the many volunteers who help run the event itself.

Eltham Town Hall is a great location he says, as the club members were keen to keep the event in Eltham, where their club is based.

“Events like this often go to the big centres like New Plymouth, which is totally understandable, but it’s nice to have them come to more rural areas that tend to get a bit starved of events like this. Add to that, the hall itself is a magnificent venue, at least one of the exhibitors said it was the best venue they had been to.”

The event will have a range of raffles on offer as well as the chance to buy some Lego-related items.

Eddie says he encourages people to come and have a look, whether they are Lego fans or not.

“Lego is one of the best toys for helping to encourage and develop kids’ creativity and imagination. For adults, Lego is an amazing way to destress and unwind after a hard day’s work Many celebrities including Chris Pratt, Anna Kendrick, Brad Pitt, David Beckham and even Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, are known to chill out with a bit of Lego.”

The details:

What: Eltham Brick Show

When: Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10, 9am – 4pm (Saturday) and 9am – 3pm (Sunday).

Where: Eltham Town Hall, Stanners St, Eltham.

Entry: Adults $5, children (15 and under) $2, family – two adults and up to four children $15

Eftpos available, no credit cards.

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