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

60197_LEGO_City_Personenzug_Produkt-2 Continue reading

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

Thirty Years of LEGO® Helicopter Transporters [Review 6357 vs 60183]

IMG_1069Just as Minifigures (Happy fortieth birthday for last weekend folks) bring life to a LEGO® Town layout, so do vehicles.  Sorry for the use of a dodgy  segue there.  And the only thing better than a LEGO set with a vehicle to build, is a LEGO set with two vehicles to build!

This year, as I have previously discussed, we are seeing some interesting parallels between the LEGO city sets, and sets that are 20, 30 and 40 years old.  I have also seen a particularly strong set of coincidences between the Town range of 1988 and that of today, and I would like to explore this further today.

Today I would especially like to look at the helicopter transporter truck.  Just why a highly manoeuvrable flying vehicle needs a truck to take it from Point A to Point B, unless it has broken down, and managed to land in a somewhat controlled fashion without dismembering all on board,  in such a circumstance, I am not entirely sure. However, I am going to jump past that flaw in logic to examine this special class of set, which not only celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, but also has its tenth representation in a LEGO Set. Continue reading

Coincidence or Coverup? The Covert Celebrations in LEGO City, 2018 [ Land Jet 7580; Speed Record Car 60178]

In which I postulate a trend of rebooting Classic LEGO Town vehicle sets in a year otherwise chock full of LEGO Celebrations. A conspiracy? A cover up? An unexpected Easter Egg?  Step inside the Rambling Brick House of Advanced Aluminium Millinery and join us on a rollercoaster ride of unfounded supposition, speculation, and imaginary voices calling from inside the LEGO Room as we look at Jet Cars, past and present.

Coincidence or Coverup? The Covert Celebrations in LEGO City, 2018

IMG_9838As 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 (to be celebrated next month with series 18 Collectable Minifigures), and twenty years of Mindstorms. The fortieth anniversary of the Minifigure also commemorates the arrival of classic town, space and castle. Now space and castle don’t have individual representation at present, but LEGO Town has Grown over the last 40 years to LEGO City.

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Some of the new Great Vehicles in  the 2018 LEGO Catalogue.

There are themes in LEGO City that recur on a regular basis: Fire, Police, Coast guard. And there also less frequent themes: Volcano, Jungle and Arctic Explorers to name a few.  But fitting in between all of these are some Great Vehicles.  They fit in your city, but are possibly off theme for this year’s main City sets.  And they are sure to return every so often.

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Some of the classic LEGO gets celebrating their 20th, 30th and 40th anniversaries this year? Coincidence? I think not… [Catalog scans from brickset.com]

As I looked through this year’s catalog, I spied some familiar subjects, from catalogs in my youth, ‘classic’ sets on display at shows and a mysterious feeling of delay vu. This year, I believe we are seeing a number of vehicle sets revisited on their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries.  I accept these concepts all come and go in LEGO Sets on a regular basis, but with all of the aforementioned anniversaries I am suspicious that some  sets from the past have been revisited and given a contemporary spin on the occasion of their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries.

Here 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. Over the next few months I am looking to explore some of these past sets which, while not necessarily classics, provide some insight into how things have changed over the last forty years. Continue reading

Getting started with Mining in the City [Mining Team – 60184]

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In which we consider recurring subjects in LEGO Town and City, consider the nature of the LEGO City Starter Sets and realise why they are no longer named as such, investigate a new cohort of mini figures, make a mountain explode and realise that Glow in the Dark Spiders are never going to surprise you by jumping our of the cupboard. Now read on…

It is a year of celebrations and anniversaries: 60 years of the brick, 40 years of the minifigure, 20 years of Mindstorm. Going back a little, we have just celebrated 10 years of modular buildings/ UCS Millennium Falcon and the Taj Mahal, with a tribute, reboot, or reissue for each.

But there are many sets in this year’s city range that call back to sets from the past, 20 and 30 years ago, and we shall look at some of those in greater detail over the next few months.

Today, I was looking at the Mining Team Set 60184, and saw a vehicle that took me back to the early days of LEGO Town:

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The front loader, 607 from 1979 was part of the second wave of LEGO Town sets to be released. A simple vehicle, for a simple time, and bears a remarkable resemblance to the dump truck seen into days set for review. Continue reading

Getting back on Track: Continuous Linked tracks in 2017 LEGO Sets.

Over the last few weeks, life has been getting a bit busy, and interfering with my ability to get to the keyboard! Not an excuse. Just an explanation. And not a very clear one either! Anyway: Perhaps it is time to get back on track…

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Continuous, self propelled tracks were first conceived in the 1770’s, but it was probably not until the early 20th century that they became a method of choice for moving heavy vehicles such as tanks, bulldozers and Antarctic exploration vehicles across soft, uneven ground. The term ‘Caterpillar tracks’ was trademarked in 1911 by Benjamin Holt.  Such tracks have featured in LEGO sets or either as continuous rubber bands, since 1969 and as interlocking linkages since 1974 (Element 273). Continue reading

Minifigure Gender distribution: 2017 update

A little over a year ago, I wrote up an analysis of gender distribution in LEGO® Minigures in the post friends era.  In the years since LEGO Friends had been released, there had been some positive trends towards an equal balance, after starting from a pretty low base line (around 11% in 2012) up to 30% in the Volcano Sub-theme of LEGO City in 2016.

As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP.  By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.

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The LEGO Ideas set: 21312 Women of NASA.  Real Life STEM role models in LEGO Form.  This set is due to be released this week from LEGO retail stores. 

This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalised in LEGO form.

I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens… Continue reading