For the better part of a generation, LEGO® MINDSTORMS has been considered the premier name in robotics education – both as a school-based educational tool, and as a consumer-level product: Even though I was at peak Dark Ages when the first set was released in 1998, I was aware of its existence, and before I had become engaged with the LEGO Community, I had somehow become aware that the RCX had been reverse engineered, with hobbyists developing ways to program it in ways not initially intended. But I digress. Kids brought up with those early sets are now well-established in their careers, which may in part be due to their engagement with MINDSTORMS at a formative time.
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that the 51515 LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor, and with it, the LEGO MINDSTORMS Brand, will be retired at the end of 2022 – a little over 2 years since the set’s initial release in October 2020.
This brand, with a pedigree dating back to the 1980s, was being unceremoniously retired. Well, it will be at the end of the year. In part, this retirement means that the app now enters into its sunset phase, where no further development is taking place, but the software is maintained to run on contemporary platforms for two years, as required under European law. But what then?
This is not a post specifically about LEGO® Harry Potter™. This is a post regarding the way in which the LEGO Group have chosen to represent female characters over time. I have chosen to use this theme, as it has had 2 distinct phases of release: first in 2001-2012, a period that ran in parallel with the release of the Harry Potter movies, while the second began in 2018, and continues to this day.
This my the second article is a series, looking at gender distribution of minifigures in licensed themes – themes where the LEGO Group has little say over the content of the source material. The first, relating to such trends in LEGO Star Wars sets can be found here
Happy new year: Welcome to 2020. I rediscovered playing with LEGO Bricks as my kids were growing up. When we attended a Fan Event in 2009, I discovered that being an AFOLwas actually a thing you could do! I now realise that I have been an AFOL for a little over 10 years, and during that time we have seen a number of changes – this coincides with the opportunity to have a look at some of the changes we have seen with the LEGO sets being sold to us over the last decade.
It feels as though the number of sets has ballooned, and that the number of parts in a set has also increased over that time. And what about Licenced themes: Some days it feels as though they have been taking over the LEGO shelves in the toy stores. But have they really proliferated that much?
Now that we are at the end of the 2010’s, I thought we could approach the decade with 2020 hindsight: Let’s take a look at the data in the Brickset Database, and take a year by year look at the number of sets being produced, as well as the number of sets with high part counts (lets define that as over 1000).
We’ll look at the number of themes over this period as well: how many are related to a single intellectual property (IP)? Some themes relate to multiple IPs, while others remain home grown, within the LEGO group, and are dependent on nothing except the imagination of the designers.
Who knows what else we might stumble across along the way. Grab a coffee. There will be graphs. Lots of graphs…
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.
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 →
Who doesn’t love “free” stuff? Have you found your desire to buy through the online store, or your local LEGO retail store influenced by the Gift with Purchase Currently Available?
Over the years, there have been some great ‘Gift with Purchase’ sets (GWPs) available at LEGO retail outlets, including the online store. We have spoken about some of these in the past, including the small scale London Bus and VW Beetle, the Christmas build up and the Snow Globe from 2016. Sometimes it might just be a minifigure, such as those offered during May the Fourth Promotions or the Mr Freeze minifigure from 2015. The LEGO Group have asked for input and ideas for future GWPs from the fan community.
All Recognised Lego User Groups and Recognised LEGO Fan Media have been invited to canvass the members of their community for ideas, so you may see requests for these ideas coming from different places around the web or email. Continue reading →
In which I fall victim to an insidious viral marketing campaign back in February, and have it come back to visit me in August. I test clutch power along multiple axes and find myself surprised at just what I discover. Of course, a completely different question relates to the benefit that this knowledge may bring to human kind…
There are perils with being an AFOL. One such peril is the response to your nonLEGO friends to viral videos for vaguely LEGO® related applications. At its peak in February, I suspect the marketing video for Nimuno Loops brand tape had crossed my screen several hundred times. It had a wide level of casual viewer reach, just judging by the number of non-AFOLS who tagged me on Facebook. I succumbed to the hype, and ordered 2 rolls (1 meter each, red and blue) through the Indigogo campaign.
This was in February. A fulfillment date of August was given at the time. My package arrived in the first week of the advertised month. So far, so good.
Claims for the product on the box include:
binds to smooth surfaces
Reusable and washable
Compatible with popular building bricks.
‘The Indiegogo smash hit!’
What follows is a review of the product I purchased. I cannot speak for other brands or presentations of tape, including the Mayka Tape, which appears to be produced by the same company, and has hit local toy shop shelves recently. There may or may not have been changes in production processes – initial comments I have seen regarding this product seem to not be consistent with my personal experience.
In which I try to reconcile a colour that produces a disturbing personal reaction with some of my favorite sets of the year so far! Along the way we take a history lesson, explore the wonderful world of colour wheels, build a Wyvern and hopefully prepare to enjoy some frozen yoghurt…
It’s been a little while since my last post because I have been trying to reconcile something that has been troubling me. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we have just seen the start of spring. A time that the weather starts to turn for the better, we feel the days getting a little longer and the grass starts to grow and trees start to bud. It is of course still jolly cold. My problem comes from trying to reconcile springtime, with its new growth, hope and optimism with the name of Spring Yellowish Green. A light, bright colour whose name shouts optimism, but whose shade, to me, shouts sinister thoughts, nasty infections and recollections of a bad night at work.
Of course, not everyone has the perceives colours in the same way as other people. I personally spent 5 years vigourously debating the colour of some towels with my wife. I eventually conceded defeat and accepted that I was wrong. But not because discretion is the greater part of valour, but because it became apparent that I experience a mild form of colour blindness . The junction of green, grey, blue is not a clear, well discriminated area of my colour perception. Rather, it is a hazy, muddy thing, where some colours stand out, and others blur together with imperceptible difference to myself, but to great embarrassment to my children, or frustration for my wife. Whilst I only experience this lack of colour vision, the rest of my family suffer because of it!
But what does this have to do with LEGO Bricks? LEGO elements have appeared in almost one hundred distinct opaque colours over the years, to say nothing of the transparent, translucent, speckled and glow in the dark colours. Well, distinct for some. For others they just blur together. You can find Ryan Howeter’s most excellent colour chart documenting LEGO colours, and their appearance over time, here. Much of the information regarding appearance dates for colours, as well as hex codes for colour pickers has been derived from this. The current colours in the LEGO Colour palette can be seen here:
In 2012, we saw elements produced in six new colours, and another was released shortly after: Aqua, Dark Azur, Olive Green, Medium Azur, Medium Lavender, Lavender and Spring Yellowish Green. Olive green is the only one of these opaque colours that has been introduced after the Friends theme was released. Only one of these colours has ever evoked a visceral response in me, just by looking at it. And that is the colour I would like to talk about today. Continue reading →
Please don’t get me wrong with the title here: I can find stickers to be as irritating as the next person. However, after looking at Stephanie’s House last week, I came to realise that some LEGO elements are used in a recurring fashion, but that the final appearance and effect is dependent on the labels used.
On this occasion, I am specifically thinking of the humble laptop computer. Design number 18659. This piece is currently available in two colours: black and medium lilac. It appeared in black in 2010, and medium lilac in 2016.
It appears simple enough: Slightly less than 3×4 studs in area when open, there are no clear system connections. No studs, no tubes, no clear handle. However, when closed, there is an indentation in the upper and lower parts of the laptop that accepts a clip type attacment such as a minifigure hand. Actually, when open, a lip along the bottom section allows a clip connection there as well.
Now, these laptops appear simple enough. But they are a little plain. I can see the benefit of only having one part, without printing it. From the manufacturing point of view: every new element – a part in a new colour – needs a new bin in the warehouse for storage. Once you go the next step, and print on that part, each printed design has a new element ID, and therefore requires a new place to store it too. For the MOC Builder, the role of this element is not locked in: It’s a little hard to pretend that a part printed with decorative bows is, in fact, a vital tool in the war against crime!The medium lilac laptop (Element ID 6141902) appears in three distinct sets, all in the Friends theme: 41314 Stephanie’s House, as discussed already; 41115 Emma’s Creative Workshop and 41116 Olivia’s Exploration Car. Each set has a new sticker added to the sheet, which can (if you wish) be attached to the laptop present in the set, and allow you to give it an appearance of functionality.
One of the great things about LEGO bricks is the system: the way elements fit together and interact with each other, sometimes in unexpected ways. Studs and tubes are easy to understand. As are minifigure hands and the way they plug into the end of a tube or anti stud, or clip over a 3.18mm bar. Every so often you come across a new set of interactions, and wonder just how far these relationships between elements extend.
This happened to me this week: While my sorting continues, I was browsing through my holding bin of bricks with bows and arches. Look, over there, a distraction. And before I knew it, I found myself considering the 1x4x2 arch and what I can place snugly under this arch. Fortunately, during The Sort, most of the the relevant parts end up in the ‘bricks with a curved surface’ bin.
The arch fits nicely over the top of a window frame 1x2x2 2/3 (Design ID 30044).
The curve of this arch perfectly describes a semicircle, with a radius of one stud (that is, a length of a 1×1 square plate). This is the same circle described by a 2×2 round plate, brick, tile or droid body. Also the base profile of a 2×2 ‘dome brick’ officially known as final brick 2×2 Design ID: 30367. But more on that element later.
I have several other bricks that look like they should fit underneath this arch, with a studs up orientation. Those parts are a few of the bricks with arches and/or bows, including:1x1x1 1/3 with arch; (Design ID:6091); and 2×3 with arch (Design ID: 6215); brick 2×2 with bow and knobs (Design ID:30165) and 1x4x1 1/3 (Design ID: 10314). Let’s see how they all line up after the break…
Here at Rambling Brick headquarters, there is a project looming. Not technically an immensely secret or important project. But I don’t wish to reveal it right now. Please don’t take it personally. It will enhance the element of mystery in weeks to come.
In the meantime, I need to be ready for it. Now, for the last couple of weeks I have been sorting elements in my spare time. My initial eight box sorting technique was a little optimistic. What was initially going to be a simple ‘bricks plates, modified bricks, slopes, plates, tiles, small bricks/plates, greebly bits and everything else’ . I found a few extra bowls to put go through on the way: minifigures; minifigure accessories; curves and arches; round bricks; round plates, long tube like bits, profile bricks and random technic elements; I have made it through the majority of the casual boxes of broken down models and unrelated parts lying around the house.
The smaller elements seem to be in different types: 1×1 cylinders; 1×1 cones; 1×1 square plates, square tiles, round plates, and round tiles. Possibly a few more different colours than I would have been happy trying to fit into a fifteen compartment tackle box. But if we double up colours in the same compartment, it should be easy enough to identify them. In principle.
The other thing that has become apparent is the need for adequate lighting. And reading glasses. Some of these things are just related to normal ageing. The light is more related to sensible purchasing decisions. Sometimes the white LEDE light panel needs to come out to help work out what I have. However, I have discovered is that perhaps I am a a little more colour blind than I realised. Some colours are a little difficult to identify on their own, without a reference. Color variations in LEGO are not unknown. Colours that seem to be particularly inconsistent include medium blue and flame yellowish orange. Especially if medium Azur or regular yellow are close by.
This has been a challenge when sorting cheese slopes, small plates and round studs. As you can see many of these colours are pretty close together on the spectrum, and if the lighting is a little unreliable, then confusion can abound.
One colour is especially causing me problems. When ever I see pale aqua on its own, I accidently put it in with the white parts. Then I see it has doesn’t match, and attempt to chase it. How is it that it vanishes to the bottom of the compartment, only to be visible out of the corner off my eye when I stop searching for it? Any direct questing seems to result in bitter disappointment. If only my visual acuity was a little more akin to the hearing of a dog?
But was it real, or just a trick of the light? So again, I come back to this: bright, white light is certainly more important than a nice moody warm light in your sorting space. What do you use to ensure appropriate color matching in your build area. I’m open to suggestions. It may save a few headaches. There are more important things to have headaches about!
Do I actually own pieces in this colour? According to the Brickset colour database, I should own some. I have a couple of sets with Unikitty in somewhere. There were some spare 1×1 plates included from what I recall.
I wonder where they went?
Why not share your colour matching challenges in the comments below, and be sure to follow the Rambling brick for casual musings, random thoughts and occasional reviews.
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