I’ve built LEGO models since my early childhood, and I’ve been an adult LEGO fan since I was an adult.

I started exhibiting around 12 years ago – or possibly longer, I can’t quite remember my first “true” event as an AFOL. Most of my early events were very small visitor wise, though I did have a lot of anxiety having my LEGO models on display. That anxiety wears off pretty quickly, I think – the enjoyment of being part of the LEGO fan community outweighs the likely perils of losing some LEGO bricks!

One thing I personally dislike as an exhibitor at events is barriers between the display and the public. A large part of enjoyment of LEGO fan events for me is interacting with the public, and I feel physical barriers make that much harder to do!

After 100 or more events, I’ve only ever knowingly lost two minifigures from displays: a cheap construction worker figure at a show in Yorkshire, and a Buzz Lightyear figure at a busy event in Manchester. Both of these I consider a small price to pay for the hours of enjoyment, whether I’ve been at the event for work or pleasure.

How to protect your LEGO at exhibitions

As I’ve said, I haven’t knowingly lost much LEGO after over a decade of exhibiting and attending LEGO fan events here in the UK. Touching delicate models is certainly more of an issue than parts going missing, in my experience!

Here are a few tricks and tips I’ve found useful in protecting my LEGO models in public displays:

  • An obvious one, but keep your expensive minifigures out of easy reach of the public
  • If it’s an expensive or irreplaceable part or minifigure, just don’t exhibit it – keep it at home!
  • Be vigilant – it can be difficult to keep track at busy events, but I’ve found engaging the public can be a good pre-emptive way of preventing younger children touch your displays – they’re more likely to remind children not to touch if you start talking to them. If you’re going for a cup of tea or toilet break, let your neighbour know so they can keep an eye over your display.
  • Leave a buffer zone at the front of your display – assume some people will touch, and design your display to accommodate that. On LEGO train displays, I tend to leave the first 20 studs of depth as low level scenery that can withstand heavy public interactions. LEGO is a tactile medium and people instinctively want to touch it! Train layouts also provide another useful barrier – a train track that rings the display: we use this as an extra boundary and are more vigilant when members of the public lean over this.

As I say, I’m lucky that it has not been a large issue for my LEGO model displays over the years, but I hope these tips prove useful for other adult LEGO fans!