If you’ve been active in the online customization community, then you’ve likely encountered Victor Fernandez (aka eclipseGRAFX). Victor has often amazed with his custom lightsabers or various minifig creations. Over the past year or so, Victor has set off on a journey to create a custom minifigure business for himself. During the weekend of April 16th, Victor took another big step in that journey by setting up as a vendor at the LEGO Fun event at Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown, NY. Being curious about what being a vendor at a LEGO event was like, I reached out to Victor to find out how it went.
I believe this is year was the sixth for the LEGO show at Lyndhurst Castle. Can you tell us a little bit about the event and give us a sense of how big it is? Was this your first LEGO show both as an attendee and/or vendor?
Yes, this was the first event I ever went to, and though I met some adult builders, this event really didn’t help the “it’s not just for kids” image since most of the people there were kids. I mean, it was a kids’ event after all.
I have been in contact with one of the coordinators there, and I was told they had over 4700 attendees (I personally didn’t see that many people though). It was a good size but it was a cold Saturday and the vendors were located in a big tent outside. [The event] was cut short by the pouring rain. I think it started raining at around 3:30 or so, so basically there were no stragglers trying to buy what they could. I can’t really compare this event to another one but I thought it was pretty big.
ILUGNY (the LUG I am in) had, I believe, 1,300 square feet of displaying room. There was another [room] displaying buildings, plus, in the vendor area, there were a lot of building stations for the kids.
What was the process for setting up a booth at the event? Were there any challenges in getting space?
Actually there was no formal process of setting tables. I just needed to tell one of the LUG members in contact with the coordinator that I needed a table and he took care of it. When I got there, though, there wasn’t enough table space for one of the members who wanted to sell his sets. Basically, we shared a table, though he wanted the whole thing.
In the end it was pretty fun having a table. One challenge was having the kids step away with their heaping ice cream cones melting over the edge. One of my figure’s, by the end of the day, was not worth the $45 ticket on it from how many times [it] was picked up and dropped.
Was this a family affair or did you attend by yourself?
My son was there… I wanted to [at least] bring him to this event since I knew I wouldn’t be able to take him to the others yet. He had fun and I received a good report on how helpful he was with the staff.
My wife was my right hand, she was helping at the table and was able to step away to check on the boy and pick up food; she was a huge help in streamlining the sales process since we were both new at it. We are good at adapting to situations and coming up with ideas. She basically made sure she had a system in place, however temporary, that would buy her time to make her rounds.
A week before the event you were sharing many of the items that you were bringing with you on Flickr. What all did you bring?
Well I never reached my goals. My Friday was eaten up at the accountant to get my taxes done in time (about 12-14 hours including travel). I brought the pictures I posted on my Flickr plus what I called two “Deluxe Terminators”, some simple Punishers to reduce the price of the figure, and other BrickLink merchandise.
Was there anything that surprised you and sold better than expected?
My black ops figures sold out surprisingly fast, and were the only figures that sold. Being that it was a kids event, I though that a $22 price tag would scare the kids away but those were the first that they gravitated to. My $14 half-done sci-fi figs only sold two maybe…if that.
Were you able to meet any other AFOLs who you knew from the online community?
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the ILUGNY members that I hadn’t met yet since the merger of the two LUGs. I also had a few members on Flickr (teens) come over as well—Mandarin97, stealthsniper’s customs, and alphascout who came down and bought from me. They were actually pretty cool kids.
The only AFOL (that I can remember) meeting there came all the way down from Massachusetts—Chocobricks. He came down pretty early on in the event, shopped at my table, and then hung out with us the rest of the day. He even became a member of the ILUGNY team. We went out to dinner after our meeting. He was chuck full of laughs…kept “borrowing” my Lego! I think I am missing some heads. LOL.
Now that you have your first event under your belt as a seller, what’s next for eclipseGrafx?
Before I can answer that I have to explain how Lyndhurst came about. I knew about Lyndhurst for about a month before the event, but I wasn’t sure if I was going yet. Spiritually I have been concerned that I have spent too much attention on LEGO and not enough on God and His word. So I had been asking Him where I should be and what was the path ahead of me. Back in early March, I submitted a business plan to my Pastors at the church detailing what I have been doing and my plans moving forward. The purpose of the plan was to decide whether I should take on an investor or not, since I had a few people make offers. After receiving the 30-page plan and praying about it, the pastors and I met again for a second time to follow up on the meeting. As we were about to sit down he received a Word from the Lord. It was a scripture [from] Ecclesiastes 11 [in the Judeo-Christian Bible which reads,] “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.” [It] basically meant to walk in faith, start the business, and know that he will give in return. Getting the confirmation from God, I started revving up. That’s when you started seeing all the figures being posted almost each night. I really wanted to have a nice presence there.
With this green light, and after finishing the event, I thought it would be time to register at every convention I could make it to by car. Sadly, BrickFair is already sold out of vending tables, but I plan on going to BrickMagic, Brickworld, BricksNorth, and Brick Fair (even if I have to sell at the yard sale ).
[NOTE: I found out from Victor that Brickworld may have run out of vendor space, so he won't be able to make it this year. Chicago's loss may be the Twin Cities' gain as Victor is looking into attending LEGO Kids Fest instead.]
For BrickMagic I have partnered up with Legoboy Productions to sell some figs that will be printed (yes, printed) using my design along side some of my decaled figures. We will also be selling printed clones using Clone Army Customs (CAC) designs in 14 different [varieties].
I am looking forward to meeting Fine Clonier there and a few other big names. Next year (judging by how this one goes), I may even attend all the conventions in the US. I want to see if I can meet fans from across the nation.
It feels like I graduated High School and [am] entering the college of AFOLs.
If you plan on attending any of the events this summer that Victor plans on attending, drop by his booth and check out his wares. We may just check back in with Victor to see how things have progressed throughout the convention season.