Today, I enjoyed a fully new experience. I went to the LEGO Brandstore in Antwerp, now open for 2 months, and for the first time in my life, I tried the Pick a Brick, or PAB wall for short, system.
In this, you 'buy' an empty cup (16 euros for a large one, 9 for the small size) and just stuff it to the nook with the bricks you want from that periods offering. The contents of the wall differ from time to time, but thanks to the Store supervisor, Werner, I had a lot more bricks then in the wall where presented, like the 2 by 1 brown 'wood' bricks, as the wall only had the 4 by 1s. You just have to ask to see what they have left in their stock, though in this case he asked what I was looking for, and with being mainly a 'medieval fantasy' builder (Mitgardia for example) I replied 'mostly brown and grey normal pieces'.
He went to the back and came back with 3 additional boxes not currently in the wall and the savage filling could begin. Now I had been googling on how this works exactly, and found even PDF's on how to stack your bricks to get max value. I discarded that yesterday after reading through page 17 of 32, thinking all that 'value per ounce' with statistics and all being rubbish if your a 'normal person' building stuff. I just dived in, the only thing I did do was fill a layer with bricks, then fill up with the small transparent blue round 1 studs and such I needed to 'fall in the holes', then another layer etc etc etc.
In the end, I filled three large and two small pots, as I had a serious discount (I needed to spend my VIP points as they neared the one year valid period, the card having been used the first time last year in februari at the London store) of gathered points.
I also picked up the newest Brick Journal magazine, at 7 euros (same as online on their store) but saving the 6 euros postage LEGO charges, as well as being FAR cheaper then when you have to get it at an imported magazines speciality store (I belive it costs around 14 euros there with their margin, exchange rate and such). Last issue it was castles as a theme, this time Mythological Beasts, and also features ZOIDS... in LEGO (childhood memories a plenty).
The final piece of the cake making it a great value trip was that this months 'spend that much and get this freeby' offer was that if you spend 55+ euros (BEFORE the card got substracted, kajing) you receive a cardboard PAB box that can be used between january and march. It is about half the size of the small cup, but it is square! That means it is ideal to really go back 'in' with the box and stack up those square panels that would take to much space in the round cups.
Oh, and you get an extra discount apparently (this I didn't know for sure in Belgium) if you bring the cups you bought. They get a barcode label, and re-using the large ones grants a 0.75 cents discount on the next fill, the small ones a 0.50 discount.
I just think that register employee, the kind lass called Eva, will prefer that I go to another register. The moment it was my turn, the 'professionally stacked' tower of cups I held decided to go on a sightseeing trip and tilted off forwards. The poor girl already had nightmarisch visions of bricks spilling and splashing everywhere, but thanks to my supernatural reflexes honed by a lifetime of korfball I managed to block and stop them all (okay, or due to sheer luck but keep that quiet, if I had swooped a bit further off with my hand, the cup would have been launched through the whole store...). She did tape the cups closed really well though for some reason....
Another fun thing about LEGO... it is universal. I sat on the tram flicking through the mag, when the two kids next to me where peaking in, but especcially the dad, a 50+ something gentleman with an american accent, where really oohing and aahing. I got into a chat with the sir, about recruiting processes as one of the kids apparently wants to become one, the beauty of the especcially Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings sets, and he gave me his e-mail with the kind request if I could mail him the route to the store. Turned out he is visiting family for the holiday season for two weeks, and where he lives in the States they don't have a Brandstore nearby and he wants to go see one with the kids. With a handshake I wished him a good time, and heard him talk to his wife as they got off 'see honey, that gentleman is also a LEGO builder'. And for some reason, you come off easier with the kid toys then when explaining someone your more 'mature' hobbies x-s
And then people like my girlfriend and mom say I am not a social type HA!!!
Oh, and I passed my exam from last week monday, the result was today but life is all about priorities ;-)