Tradeshow for MISYS

In late January 2002 I managed to accomplish two extremes with LEGO bricks and letters of the alphabet. First, there was a project with thousands of teeny, tiny letters, and a couple days after completing that, I had to exhibit five very large letters at a tradeshow.

The company MISYS had requested that I construct their logo out of LEGO blocks. I was to be present at the HIMSS tradeshow (I think those initials are for 'Health Information Managment Systems Society', but don't hold me to that). During the four day event they wanted me to build the word 'MISYS' and their 'Circle-M' emblem.

Once I got straight the spelling of the company name (it's 'MISYS', not 'MYSIS'), I was set.

The company colors are purple and white, but since LEGO bricks are not really available in purple (I knew I'd need a lot of bricks), we decided that I'd make the letters white.

White and BIG.

Considering I have a supply of about half a million standard bricks at my studio, it is rare that a single project threatens to use up all of a single color, but this project almost did just that.

Having been given the digital image of the logo (see upper right of webpage) and the decision that the three dimensional letters should be about two feet tall, I started to build.

I settled upon a depth of 40 studs for each letter (about 12.5 inches). Even though they were mostly hollow, it still took a lot of white. I decided to use a lot of 1x2 bricks since I had an abundance of those. Of course, I ended up using a lot of the other sizes as well. Not to mention a lot of other non-white colors for the interior infrastructures.

When completed, the five letters stretched over 11 feet long when placed side by side (this photograph by Gene X. Hwang).

I built all of the letters before the tradeshow and then deconstructed some of them partially so that I would have something to build during the show (as requested by MISYS). This was another reason to use a lot of 1x2s: I could disassemble just a relatively small amount of the letters, but still have plenty to do onsite since building with 1x2s takes so much longer than if I had used 1x4s or larger.

I also constructed a 'Circle-M' logo which had a diameter of 60 studs (and thus was a nice circle at 50 bricks tall). I used black for the interior of the circle so that the M could appear suspended within the outer ring (again, purple was not an option, and black helped hide any support bricks that stuck out from the center to hold the M in place).

On the first day of the tradeshow I set up the letters I had brought intact: the two S's and parts of the Y and M. I also brought one fully constructed Circle-M with plans to build a second (the Circle-Ms were to be placed at a second, smaller MISYS booth on the exhibit floor -- which was fine since the Circle-Ms were relatively smaller than the massive white letters).

During the first two days of the tradeshow (Monday and Tuesday) I finished rebuilding the letters (photograph by Ted Creekmore). The 11 foot long display was completed right at day's closing on Tuesday (here are a couple more views: #1, #2).

During the third day I constructed the second Circle-M. It took about 5 hours to duplicate. It was an interesting project to attempt to replicate a two dimensional logo in three dimensions. I had to make the skewed perspective of the circle and M appear as accurate as possible from one angle while remembering that this model would be viewable from any angle, so it had to look presentable from all around.

I had a slight scare during this time as I came dreadfully close to running out of black bricks. I had estimated how many I'd need for the second Circle-M, and even though the show was in Atlanta, and I could have driven home to gather more bricks if needed, I really didn't want to do such a thing unless absolutely necessary. In the end, I used about a third of a blue tub of black 1x4s, plus a medium Ziploc bag of 1x2s. I finished the second circle with fewer than 50 1x2s remaining (and no 1x4s).

The models remained displayed for the fourth day (a half day, actually).

Then, when the show was over I had to do a quick deconstruction. MISYS was not to keep the bricks after the show (they remained my property), but I had to take the models apart as quickly as possible so that I could get out of the way of all the union guys and gals who needed to deconstruct this and every other booth in the massive exhibit hall. It would have been nice if I could have hauled the letters out as big pieces, but they would not have fit in my car; besides, what would I possibly do with these five big letters (what are the chances I'd run into a LEGO-fanatic named 'MISSY'?)

With a little help from some of the MISYS employees, I mananged to tear down the models in less than two hours (not completely torn down and sorted, mind you... just torn down enough to get them boxed as compactly as possible so they could be carried to my car in a reasonable time).

As usual, it was a fun gig, but I was glad it was over and done.

The project used an estimated 50,000 of my bricks (at least 15,000 of those were 1x2 white bricks).

Tradeshow halls are often filled with gimmicks, magicians, clowns, video displays, and who-knows-what, all in an attempt to attract the attentions of the attendees. As with other tradeshows I've done (AMGEN, FORUM), the use of LEGO bricks and large sculptures was unique among all the exhibit booths.

My thanks to all of the MISYS folks (and their public relations firm), especially: Lorrie, Bethany, Meredith, Henry, and the trio who helped in teardown: Deidra, Brian, and Tom.

Picture Links (preshow construction)

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