Feb 14

Estes Park: Rails on The Rockies 2016

Rails on The Rockies 2016

February 13th and 14th

The Rails on The Rockies held annually over President’s Day Weekend in Estes Park was another fun filled weekend of model trains, LEGO, and Lester coming up with an idea out of the box. This year’s display theme was “Islands”. A train track was laidout out around various islands created to be humorous and practical, that had boats and ships that ran around them on the track. There was a kitchen island, Gilligan’s Island, Desserted Island and many more types of islands. A small amusement park had a standard train running around it and other city buildings. The “train” ships were something new and were quite popular amongst the crowd. Thanks to all the builders, about 13, who participated in a unique display layout.

SAM_1019Duplo blended well with the theme of islands. Just need to watch out for Captain Hook and Peter Pan. And when you have a volcano, you might as well toast a marshmallow too.

SAM_1020A popular island by Lester.

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Desserted Island is filled with yummy goodness created by Nancy

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Scooby Doo wouldn’t be out of place with a Skull Island build by Stuart, Monster Mystery Machine by Jim.

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Samantha went all out for Gilligan’s Island. SKIPPER!

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Art’s boardwalk was a great addition to the islands. It’s a very busy place to be.

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Art added a beach with a bar, rock concert, surfin’, and muscle beach. Inside Tip: Almost everything Art builds, there’s his signature concert scene.

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The smallest amusement park set up by Jim. Push buttons again were popular.

SAM_1069Nikoli’s “Penguin Island”. CoWLUG’s youngest builder keeping things cool.


SAM_1072Chris’ “Pirate Cove” is filled with many wonderful details you had to see it in person. The sails on the ships were custom made and well done.


SAM_1082A tug boat and garbage barge with a raptor drinkin’ by Lester. Michael and Meghan’s Viking ship, a classic set.

SAM_1084Some small islands by Lester and Bill. Boat races and Bat Boat, which runs on the tracks, by Lester.

SAM_1015Jim’s “Battle For The Witches Gold”. A chaotic scene featuring pirates, orcs, trolls, dinosaurs, various soldiers, a few ninjas and some wizards battling for gold.

Another fun year and can’t wait to see what Lester has planned. Thanks to: Lester, Art, Jim, Bill, Sam, Meghan, Michael, Nikoli, Nancy, Peter, Chris, (anyone I missed let me know). Early word for next year is “Steam Powered” not “SteamPunk”.

Nov 16

Laramie Train Depot Open House 2013!


Video courtesy of Ben.

Held Sat. & Sun. November 2-3, the Laramie Train Depot Open House is an annual event organized by CoWLUG’s Wyoming stronghold, Stuart. He had several things to say about the success of this year’s exhibit: “Since it is a community event, CoWLUG shared space in the building with N scale, HO scale, O scale and 027 layouts. Our portion was approximately 17′ x 14.5′ and was by far the most complete of the rail layouts. Great scenery folks!”


Photo courtesy of Tanya (Ben’s Mom.)

Stuart provided a list of New/Notable features:
– Duane’s dropped table with river (3×3 baseplates) with 2 rail bridges and a car bridge
– a 3×7 baseplate raised section (~22 bricks off the surface with buildings, 2 train tunnels)
– Lester’s elevated railway
– Stuart’s 4 interactive arcade style buttons. The buttons activated:
– Lester’s elevated rail way
– Lester’s steam plant
– Lester’s steam punk building
– Lester’s fantastically geared ATM and Duane’s helicopter on top of a very tall building.
These buttons were specifically set up to allow the smaller visitors to interact with but not touch the layout.
– PF IR controlled trains (both PF and 9V powered rail from the same controllers). Stuart hacked the PF lines to accept wall warts so we weren’t running 9V trains on batteries.
– The Doofenschmirtz Evil Inc Building courtesy of Duane Hess’s Eeeeeevil Build Table (lots of fun comments about this one)
– MANY new builds by various members My guesstimate is that we had 50% new builds.


Photo courtesy of Tanya (Ben’s Mom.)

And notable returning
– The Duplo touch table on Sunday with motorized Duplo trains (Thanks Lisa for organizing and watching this! And thanks to Sam & Star for helping out here too.). This is our 3rd year for a Duplo touch table.
– The reopened and now CC standardized Luigi’s Pizza


Photo courtesy of Tanya (Ben’s Mom.)

The Laramie Depot Open House also boasted a microscale train ornament set designed by a former LEGO designer, Joel Hoornbeek. This set of an engine and 3 cars was used as a fundraiser for the Depot.

Stuart’s best estimate is that 800 people attended over the course of the weekend. He explained that CoWLUG helped advertise and prep the community for the event: “We reserved and filled a display case at the Albany County Public Library. Lester and I filled the case with a Western scene that was 4.5 baseplates x 1.5 baseplates and designed as a visual scavenger hunt with a list of items for the passers-by to find.”


Photo courtesy of Duane.

Additionally, there was immediate, positive feedback from various people including serious model train buffs. Stuart: “On taking my son Asher to school after the weekend, I had feedback from parents about how their kids not only loved the exhibit, but went right home and started building. I think that’s where I can count our greatest success for this event!”

Oct 05

NoCo Mini Maker Faire Fun!

A handful of CoWLUG members participated in very successful first annual NoCo Mini Maker Faire on the Colorado front range. Held in Loveland this first weekend of October, over 3000 people turned out for the one-day event.

Above: Ryan, Imagine, Tommy & Barbara chat as the first crowds begin to filter in.

The CoWLUG Open Build table was busy all day. The LEGO Group should take notice of the plethora of girls who enjoyed building with the standard brick – in standard colors, without a minifig or Friends character in sight!

For those who have never had the chance to attend a Mini Maker Faire, here’s a little sampling of what could be seen (and tinkered with) today. There was a room full of cardboard for cutting and building, using special snap/hinge pieces facilitating making that kept pace with the mind. There were people playing music on carrots with their noses! And electronics of all kinds – interactive, artistic, idea generating. Finally, there seemed to be a 3D printer in every corner.

Participating and visiting members of CoWLUG all enjoyed an inspiring day. I’d like to thank Tommy for bringing our attention to the Faire and also for bringing his wife Barbara to help tend the Open Build table for the day. Their enthusiasm and encouragement fostered a creative spirit among the kids and adults that was truly contagious. As you can see above, everyone’s creations soon filled up the space. A grateful thank you also goes out to Ian and Abby for providing the brick for the Open Build table. It was very well used.