This month marks the fourth anniversary of the RAILBRICKS magazine. Few people know how this all started, so I thought that it might be good to recount a little history of this project.
I registered the domain name railbricks.com in July 2006 in hopes of using the site to sell custom LEGO train kits. RAILBRICKS was to be my custom kit brand. At around the same time, I was asked to participate in the 10183 Hobby Train Set, known then as the Ultimate Train Builder Set. Part of the agreement made with LEGO was that we could not sell competing products for a period of one year after the release of the set. While I was having a discussion with my best friend in the hobby, Mark Peterson, I came up with the idea of creating a magazine just for LEGO trains. Because I already had a good name, I decided to turn RAILBRICKS into a magazine for LEGO train fans. At that time, BrickJournal was doing rather well and Joe was about to take the magazine to full print. I had no intentions of stepping on any toes, so I contacted Joe and ran the idea past him, and he loved it.
I then began doing some mock layouts for a magazine. Above is one of those iterations. I quickly realized that this was going to be a bigger project than just I could handle. I began compiling a list of AFoLs that were both active and respected in the LEGO train community. I also wanted an international team if possible.
Then, in May of 2007, I sent out some invitations. Initially I sent these to Didier Enjary, Holger Matthes, Benn Coifman, John Neal, Larry Pieniazek, Steve Barile, Matt Bieda, Mark Peterson, Tim David, Tim Gould, Erik Amzallag, Jordan Schwarz. Some were able to commit some time to the project, others couldn't and more invitations were sent later based on suggestions.
Initally, I just had an idea, but really nothing much more than that. I wasn't very organized, but fortunately the team that joined helped tremendously in forming a direction for the magazine.
During the same time, I was working frantically helping organize the NMRA show in Detroit and the inaugural Brickworld Show in Chicago. An official announcemnt was made at Brickworld and many of the original team were able to meet for a brainstorming session at the NMRA show in Detroit. Below are a couple of Benn Coifman's pictures of that first meeting.
It took us about four months to get that first issue together and on October 1st, 2007 both RAILBRICKS and my first daughter were born!
RAILBRICKS simply could not have happened without the efforts from the team. Again, I thank you for seeing my vision to reality.
As the magazine began to grow, we added more features to the website including an instruction portal and a blog and more recently forums and easy sharing features.
Two years later, my dream of releasing custom kits came to fruition with the first RAILBRICKS kits. The small production run quickly sold out, but they were fun to do (but more work than they were worth!)
Many of the original members are still on the team, but we've added others over the past four years including Cale Liephart, Anthony Sava, Eric Kingsley, Elroy Davis, and Steve Jackson.
My interest in the hobby has waned over the past few years so I asked Elroy Davis to take the lead in pulling the magazine together after I put out issue #6, and a fine job he has done! He helped keep the magazine alive.
I've always wanted to make RAILBRICKS the place the LEGO train community could come to share ideas, get inspiration, and connect. With the LEGO community so splintered nowadays, there doesn't seem to be a hub for LEGO trains any more. So I ask you, dear reader, what would you like to see from RAILBRICKS, both as a magazine and as a community?