My friend Rich and I pulled into the Oregon Convention Center un-premeditated last weekend: we were driving by after brunch and happened to remember that Bricks Cascade, the annual Lego convention, was going on. It seemed like an excellent way to spend nerd dollars, so we stopped in. My goodness, dear people, the world of Lego is a big one.

Rivendell, created by LEGO artist Alice Finch

Here are things that you could find at Bricks Cascade:

• custom-made realistic weapons and armor for Lego minifigs
• custom capes and wings for Lego minifigs (for people who aren't so violently oriented)
• Lego t-shirts, phone cases, and no fewer than three vendors selling Lego-related jewelry

That, of course, was just the vendors. Bricks Cascade has a whole "convention" outside of the public expo just for AFOLs (adult fans of Lego)—and over 150 of those folks attended to display over 400 works of Lego construction and art. The headline of that show, of course, was the huge Lego Rivendell (above) based on The Lord of the Rings, complete with Council of Elrond and Nagzul-defeating magical elf-horse water. And I was also super impressed by this cat made by local Lego artist Cole Edmonson:

The cat says meow
  • Lego cat: allergen-free!

There was also a KOIN tower and an aircraft carrier, you should check out some photos. But here's the truly great part of the Lego convention:

Duplo Pit: full of disease and hope for the future
  • Duplo Pit: full of disease and hope for the future.

Perhaps I am biased by nostalgia, or maybe The Lego Movie successfully marketed to me a bit too well, but it made me so happy to see all the kids running around Bricks Cascade this weekend. These kids were so excited about minifigs, toy weapons, robotics—and Lego creations that are, technically, actual artistic sculptures. The Lego brand is far from gone, and I am thrilled to see the next generation picking them up in a form that isn't just the stupidly successful videogame franchise. Legos mean something: they're creativity and science and art all in one, and I'm certainly not just saying that to excuse the three giant bags of bricks I have in my closet.