Let me set the scene: you’re 13 and you’ve just completed your first original Lego build. It is then that you understand, Lego is not just for kids.
If you are an adult fan of Lego or perhaps live in a Lego house, then you will know the joys that the humble brick can still provide.
If you still think that Legos are just construction toys for kids, let me introduce you to the world of AFOL.
What Are Adult Lego Fans Called?
Adult Lego fans are generally known as AFOL (adult fans of Lego), but a growing number of AFOLs prefer more radical terms on how they use this creative medium. Lego artists, Lego masters and master model builders are just some alternative labels.
Personally, I feel that considering the astounding Lego projects that AFOLs create, referring to the community as mere ‘fans’ is an understatement of their talent.
The abundance of Lego news & even a TV series ‘Lego Masters‘ really shows how impressive AFOLs are.
When Did The AFOL Craze Begin?
So here’s the thing, it could be argued that adult fans of Lego have been around for just as long as new sets of Lego have been popular.
But, it was not until the Lego Mindstorms collection became available in 1998 that Lego started understanding the extent of the adult community.
Tormod Askildsen (the head of AFOL engagement at Lego) said that it was customer feedback from the Lego Mindstorms which led him to see Lego customers differently.
It was not just children who were using Lego products, but many adults.
The Lego Movie (2014)
Some claim that it was the release of The Lego Movie that spurred the AFOL craze.
The movie was released in 2014 and featured a whole cast of stars that both children and adults love. Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell and Morgan Freeman are now household names, but it was not necessarily the stars that inspired AFOL.
Just the sheer scale of the movie’s Lego set design demonstrated what can be built when bricks are used without instructions.
It is for this reason that some believe the AFOL craze started with The Lego Movie, as when parents took their kids to see the movie, they may have gotten inspired by the nostalgia of their favorite childhood toy.
Either way, the current community of adult Lego fans continues to thrive and grow as it has done for years.
It seems lately everyone is looking for more to do and for adults to find new hobbies.
What Is The AFOL Designer Program?
It seems as though the AFOL community grew so big that Lego could not ignore the desire for adult-targeted Lego sets.
That is why Lego decided to join up with one of the biggest Lego buying and selling ‘Bricklink’ to create the AFOL designer program.
The deal was that 13 fans would have the opportunity to have their designs sold as official Lego sets.
In 2019, these 13 sets were released with massive success. So much so that Lego brought Bricklink shortly after.
In 2020, the AFOL designer program was reimagined.
How To Take Part In The Designer Program?
A Lego design would have to have 10,000 fan votes to be considered for the program, but once the votes have been achieved then it is posted on the Lego Ideas page.
To get 10,000 votes, a fan designer has to promote their idea within the community.
It has been speculated that Lego purposely made the program like this so that any designs that do qualify would already have a large consumer base. Lego would then have a sure-fire way to make a profit.
While this may be true, the program is still an opportunity for adult fans to showcase their abilities and enjoy their favorite pastime.
AFOL Convention | What Is BrickCon?
With so many adult Lego fans all over the world, it only makes sense that there is a place for the community to meet to talk about all things Lego.
BrickCon is considered to be the place to be for any adult fan of Lego and has only grown over the years.
What Happens At BrickCon?
It doubles as not only a convention but also an exhibition for creators to show off their best Lego creations.
Over a few days, BrickCon hosts a bunch of events for all those who appreciate the colorful plastic bricks.
BrickCon’s Private Convention
The convention part of the event is only for the adult fans of Lego so that dedicated builders have the chance to network and participate in competitions.
What AFOLs find so attractive about the convention is that they are only surrounded by other adults who enjoy what may be considered a toy.
A safe, comfortable space can be created without judgement which is why the online community came together in the first place.
If you are not yet part of the AFOL Lego club then do not fret! You can still be part of BrickCon.
The exhibition section of the event is made for the public and is designed to be kid-friendly.
The event is set up like a massive interactive museum, split up into themes that feature builds done by adult fans.
Of course, there are also professional Lego sellers so that you can buy individual bricks for your own Lego builds.
Much like the brick & mix sections in Lego stores but on a considerably larger scale.
Are There Other AFOL Conventions?
To accommodate the ever-growing AFOL community, members have taken it upon themselves to create more conventions and opportunities to meet up with their fellow fans outside of BrickCon.
BrickFair Lego Fan Expo is all about having a fun time with Lego.
You can shop, play with an abundance of Lego and go on a Lego-themed scavenger hunt. The best part? It’s all Lego themed!
The Lego Group (the Danish company that invented Lego), are not officially associated with BrickFair. That being said, they have shown their support for the convention repeatedly. They have even gone as far as to supply Lego prizes for the various games at the event.
While BrickFair is for everyone who loves Lego, it does give AFOLs a popular space to display their builds and interact with the community outside of the internet.
AFOL | Lego Investing or Hobby?
Unfortunately, Lego is expensive. The popularity of the brand and business collaborations means that buying Lego sets regularly is unaffordable for most people.
That is why, to carry on building their creations, some AFOLs start investing in Lego sets. This way, AFOLs are able to afford individual Lego bricks to work on bigger projects.
Lego often has exclusive sets and seasonal promotions. For example, certain seasonal events will see limited edition seasonal Lego sets.
AFOL will mass buy these sets to invest in them and then will re-sell them at a later date to be able to support their expensive hobby. After all, Lego collectors are willing to pay a considerable price for their favorite sets. Just don’t let the Lego get away before they retire soon.
Finally, you don’t have to feel weird about still wanting to play with Lego.
The AFOL community continues to grow online and many have turned their hobby into a full-time job. After all, we are all just big kids at heart.
Why do adults love LEGOs?
This four-word acronym stands for Adult Fan of LEGO, and has dramatically re-shaped LEGO’s entire way of doing business. It remains to be seen if LEGO’s big bet on AFOLs will pay-off in the long run.
Adults playing with Legos can be found to be relaxing, it can be a display piece, and it can bring back memories of childhood.
What Are The Best Adult-Friendly Set Ideas?
At the time, there were already a small selection of sets that were made specifically for older LEGO fans – the Modular series was starting to hit its stride with 2010’s Grand Emporium, and Star Wars’ UCS line has been well established by then.
What are the Adult Lego Effects of Millennials?
Then, they also started having kids, and by introducing them to their own childhood toys, they too, got sucked into LEGO.
What are the most popular Lego designs?
Some AFOL fans have niche focuses, so there are fans who like train, so who like castles or space. Never mind, all the movie themes that have a raving fan base like Star Wars.