Honestly, after reading reviews of the Boston Lego KidsFest, I approached the Chicago event with a bit of trepidation. Happily, the event staff appears to have worked out the kinks. My 10-year-old Lego lover and I had a great time at Lego KidsFest.
We didn't encounter any unusually long lines or wait times, the staff was pleasant and we got to chat with one of Lego's Master Builders, i.e. the guys who get paid to play with Legos all day.
In some sense, this is just an expo with a lot of Legos and a few related vendors, but if you are a fan of the brand (or your child is), this event is so much more. On a related note, with door prices of $20 per adult, and $18 for children over age 3, I'd limit this event to the ones who will appreciate it most. (My son and I were comped.)
Who will appreciate it most? Based on my observation that would be boys ages 5 -10. McCormick Place was crawling with eager little boys.
The event itself is divided into 5-hour time slots. Our time slot allowed plenty of time to take in the sights, like the group mural that my son got to help create, have a bit of Lego free play, check out a few Lego video games, try out the Lego board games, and the new MMOG: Lego Universe. Of course we also managed to visit a few vendor booths and shop at the on-site Lego store, too.
We also learned about AFOLs, Adult Fans of Legos, a population the brand only recently tapped into. I heard a former Lego employee speak at the Word of Mouth Supergenius Conference several months back and he talked about how while the key Lego consumer may be about 8 - 10 years old, he only spends something like $50 a year on the product, while AFOLs spend hundreds or thousands.
The AFOLs will be flying their flag this June in Chicago at Brickworld, an event which sounds like the Comicon of the Lego world. We saw a few Brickworld creations on display at KidFest and, wow, these are amazing. My son is already asking to go.
Rather than feeling like the cynical consumer I often am, I left Lego Kidsfest more aware of the art and science of Legos. This is a toy I'm willing to buy for my boys as long as they keep playing.
Sorry for the lack of pictures; they seem to have disappeared into the ether. I will add them when I find them.