Time To Get ‘Powered Up’: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns. And A Little Speculation…

Feeling overwhelmed after a barrage of press releases and new sets being announced by LEGO in New York this week, I attempt to put together what is known about the new Powered Up platform, previously referred to as Power Functions 2.0

60197_LEGO_City_Personenzug_Packung-2This week, at the Fall Preview for the (Northern) Summer 2018 LEGO® releases, there have been a number of exciting announcements, some of which have been vigorously speculated about for most of the year, plus a couple of surprises!

Given that this year respresents (amongst other things) the twentieth anniversary of the LEGO Mindstorms range, and also represents 10 years since we first saw the arrival of Power Functions, it should come as no surprise that we have seen a number of sets featuring the new “Powered Up” platform – previously referred to as Power Functions 2.0.

“For 20 years, we have been creating new ways for children to combine technology and LEGO building, starting with the introduction of LEGO MINDSTORMS®, a robotics toolkit that pioneered the idea of a ‘smart toy,” said Michael McNally, senior director brand relations for the LEGO Group. “With Powered Up, we’ve established a flexible connected platform to enable innovative new play experiences that merge digital and physical play in natural ways that will delight and inspire the builders of today and tomorrow – while still focusing on the core physical play proposition of our System of Play – the LEGO brick.”

We have also seen some exciting announcements to go with LEGO Boost.

Powered Up: Power Functions 2.0 Known Knowns.

Back in February, we presented information about the new power functions platform. We were aware that we have a new combined Bluetooth receiver and Battery Box, as well as a motor unit suitable for trains. We knew that the new cables featured the same connections as the WeDo 2.0 platform, as well as Boost.We also knew there would be a new remote and that the platform could also be App Powered.

This new platform, and all of the other Motorised LEGO Elements now fall under the broader banner of “Powered up,” and includes CITY Trains, app driven vehicles, Boost and the DUPLO Cargo Train.

Trains

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Nexo Knights Villains: saving the best ‘til last [Twinfector 72002 Review]

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This is the third and final year of NEXO Knights. While the line has been a bit hit and miss over the last few years, especially AFOLS looking for a clear cut castle or space range, I for one will miss is once they are gone. I have gathered a good number of the Knight’s sets over the last few years- while the actual builds have been interesting, I have ultimately dismantled them all and used the parts to rebuild Classic Space sets. Add air tanks and they look like fantastic space men and women, ready to explore the galaxy.
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But, just as the Classic space sets were without any form of antagonist, until the arrival of Blackthorn, I have found none of the  antagonist characters fitting into my vision of a NEXO- Classic Space Utopia. The bad guys just haven’t captured my imagination: demonic lava beasts and rock monsters are great in the fantasy landscape afforded by the castle line, but as villains in a science fiction/space theme, they are haven’t appealed to me. As such, I was excited when it became obvious that the villains in this final season were far more sci-fi inspired than any of the others seen to date.

While the new series is yet to air, the ‘Tech Infection’ theme, has the villains looking suitably more futuristic than fantastical. We see a collection of white skinned villains, with varying levels of cybernetic components, and lime green printed circuit motif’s on their faces to imply a level of ‘infection’.  Their Black green and silver uniforms, with a red eye makes them an instant army, with sufficient variation to make them interesting. But more on that later.

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Conspiracy or Coincidence III: Helicopters- from Red Cross to the Star of Life [626/6626 vs 60179]

In which I look at a couple of helicopters, with 40 years between their release dates, consider what happens when a humanitarian organisation reclaims its trade mark and contemplate the special place that helicopters have in the world of LEGO® Vehicles…IMG_9819As has been previously discussed, this is a year for celebrations at the LEGO Group. We have seen sixty years of the LEGO Brick, forty years of the minifigure (celebrated with the release of the series 18 Collectable Minifigures), and twenty years of Mindstorms.

Great vehicles:

While we have the recurrent police theme (even with the new mountain setting), some , miners, as well as last year’s fantastic jungle theme still on the shelves, we also have the ‘Great Vehicles’ sub theme. Now, I recognise that there is a limit to just how many different vehicles might be presented in LEGO Set form over the years. This year however, we seem to have a number of sets that give more than a passing nod to sets that were released twenty, thirty and forty years ago.

IMG_1069IMG_0338Here at the Rambling Brick, we would far rather believe in a conspiracy than a coincidence, and so I would like to believe that these might be a covert celebration of sets celebrating their decennial anniversaries this year. In recent months we have discussed the JetCar and the Helicopter Transport Truck. Today, I would like to compare some  helicopters- specifically the Red Cross Helicopter from 1978 and this year’s Emergency Helicopter. While the Helicopter from 1978 may not be as obvious counterpart to today’s set, compared to the the helicopter carrier and speed record car, there are a number of interesting comparisons between then and now that I would like to make today.

First, let us start with the change in the markings used… Continue reading

Dig a Dinosaur: Stygimoloch Breakout [75927]

In which I revisit dinosaur nostalgia, realise I missed a lot of LEGO® Dinosaurs, before finally getting on the band wagon with the Jurassic Park Fallen Kingdom sets.  We breakout the Stygimoloch, and take her out into the wild.  Then, we look at the latest ‘Iconically Jurassic’ contest over at LEGO Rebrick.

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I was once, it will come as no surprise, a 6 year old boy. Like many such creatures, at one point I developed a fascination with dinosaurs. They consumed my waking hours, my conversations and dominated my visits to the local library.  I could draw and spell them all by heart.  If I wanted to watch dinosaurs on television, I was limited to watching Valley of the Dinosaurs (a 1974 Hanna Barbera cartoon where a whirlpool in the Amazon transported a teacher and his family into a land that time forgot)  or Land of the Lost – from the crazy team that brought us HR Puf’n’stuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. For me, The Flintstones didn’t really cut it for me: it was really just a sitcom wearing animal pelts.

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My favourite book of this era, the Ladybird Book of Prehistoric Animals and Fossils, was a favourite. Portable and sturdy with its yellow hard cover, there was always room for it in my school bag, or clenched between my knees when we went for a drive to the shops. It was a long night when I accidentally left it at school.

I read this book time and again, able to recite portions off by heart.  The final pages offered sage advice: If you have enjoyed this book, why not look further afield to continue expressing your interest – why not go searching for fossils or build a model kit; perhaps try making a paper mache diorama of a prehistoric landscape.  Put a small lizard in it, and pretend it is a massive dinosaur.  (to be fair, some of these ideas may have come from other books of this era).

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Doubling up with Duplo; Quadrupling with Quatro…

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System, Duplo and Quatro Bricks. If only I found a  2×4 Blue Quatro Brick.

Earlier this year, we saw the 60th anniversary of the original patent for the LEGO Brick being filed. There have been several other LEGO Bricks released in the meantime, designed for smaller hands.:

Duplo was first released as a toy for preschool children in 1969: it will turn 50 next year, in 2019.  During the LEGO Group’s experimental phase in the early 2000’s, the line was rebadged ‘explore’, returning to the traditional ‘DUPLO’ branding in 2005.

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Part of the DUPLO Dinosaur sculpture, under construction in the Czech Model Shop, before its installation in the LEGO House.

Duplo Bricks are twice as large as the standard system bricks in all dimensions: 2x2x2=8 times the volume of a standard LEGO Brick.

Also pictured above are some samples of the QUATRO Brick. Produced from 2004 to 2006, these bricks are four times the volume of a standard system brick, with a 2×4 quarto brick occupying the same volume as 4x4x4=64 system bricks! Quatro also featured a couple of vehicles, and bricks with a curved edge (like the top of an arch.)

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May the Fourth Be With You: Tatooine Battle Pack Review

IMG_1519Today is May the Fourth, the day when a pun is allowed to take over marketing of Star Wars related LEGO® sets for a limited time only, with a variety of special offers in place, changing daily.  Check Shop.LEGO.com in your country for details.

Tatooine

“If there’s a bright centre of the galaxy, you are on the planet that it’s farthest from.” – Luke Skywalker

When Star Wars debuted in 1977, Tatooine was the first alien landscape we encountered. A harsh, unforgiving desert planet, bathed by the scorching heat of binary stars, we see people enter a daily struggle against the environment: farming moisture to survive; fending off hostile desert nomads and dealing with diminutive scavengers. We see a variety of exotic megafauna, some just skeletons, some utilized as low maintenance transport in an environment which treats life forms and machine with equal contempt. It is far from the attention of authority: smugglers, gangsters and fugitives make this planet their base of operations. We also see hope: cautious optimism in the face of a deadly environment, a place of refuge from the Empire, and spectacular twin sunsets! It was a long, long time ago, and the locale took us to a galaxy far, far away…

And yet with its exotic locations and importance to the overarching saga- events take place on Tatooine in five of the first six movies- the indigenous races: Jawas and Tusken Raiders remain shrouded in mystery. And indeed , in my opinion,  sadly underrepresented in LEGO Star Wars sets.

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1978 X-Wing Fighter. 3 1/4″Action Figure Scale Luke Skywalker in place, and a makeshift R2D2 in the Astromech slot.

Melbourne, 1977

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LEGO® Life wins Webby Award and Webby People’s Voice Award

A Press release from the LEGO Group about the Kid Friendly Social Media App, LEGO Life…:

The safe social network app for children developed by the LEGO Group has been named winner of one of the leading international awards honouring excellence on the internet.

LEGO® Life, the safe social network for children under the age of 13, is named Webby Winner in the Mobile Sites and Apps: Family and Kids category. In addition to receiving this award granted through the review of an expert jury, LEGO Life also won The Webby People’s Voice Award in the same category: https://www.webbyawards.com/winners/2018/mobile-sites-apps/general/family-kids/lego-life/

“We are very happy and honoured that LEGO Life has been granted with this award – not only getting recognition by experts in the digital field but also by the public vote. It is truly a testament to the fact that it is possible to provide safe digital spaces for children in a playful and fun way”, said Rob Lowe, head of Kids Engagement at the LEGO Group.

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Digital layer to physical play

Since the launch of the app in January 2017, LEGO Life has been downloaded more than 6 million times, and roughly one million children share content through the app every month.

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