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kottke.org posts about Legos

The design of these Lego shopping bags is 100% genius

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 28, 2016

Lego Bag Design

These Lego shopping bags are cleverly designed to make people carrying them look like they have Lego minifig arms. Fantastic design. (via @andrewbloch)

We Work Remotely

A Lego minifig with human skin

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 29, 2016

Um. Um, um, um. Uh. Frank Ippolito built a costume designed to look like a Lego minifig with real human skin. The hands — the haaaaaands!! — are super super super creepy.

Statistical analysis of 67 years of Lego sets

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 22, 2016

Legos Are Graying

Life-long Lego fan Joel Carron recently analyzed a data set containing the types, colors, and number of pieces in every Lego set from the past 67 years and graphed the results. The shift in colors is the most striking thing to me: Legos are graying.

Legos have gotten darker, with white giving way to black and gray. The transition from the old grays to the current bluish grays (or “bley”) is a hot-button topic for many Lego fans.

If you look at the dominant color palettes for all of the tie-in sets they’re doing now, it’s not difficult to see where those darker colors are coming from.

Behind the scenes of Legoland’s model workshop

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 09, 2016

Wired recently talked to a couple of Lego Master Builders about how they create new pieces for display at Legoland. They have a custom CAD program for making Lego structures (and people and animals) which can show MRI-like slices for whatever thing they’re working on for ease of construction. The subway station mosaic detail at the end is super cool.

Minecraft: more than just a game

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2016

Minecraft Niemann

Clive Thompson’s article for the NY Times about Minecraft captures what many players, parents, and teachers find exciting about the game that seems like more than just a game.

Presto: Jordan had used the cow’s weird behavior to create, in effect, a random-number generator inside Minecraft. It was an ingenious bit of problem-solving, something most computer engineers I know would regard as a great hack — a way of coaxing a computer system to do something new and clever.

In addition to learning about logic and computer science, various educators have also touted Minecraft’s lessons in civics, design, planning, and even philosophy. If you’ve ever seen little kids playing with blocks, you’ve noticed that some of those potential lessons there too.

Block-play was, in the European tradition, regarded as a particularly “wholesome” activity; it’s not hard to draw a line from that to many parents’ belief that Minecraft is the “good” computer game in a world full of anxiety about too much “screen time.”

Among the parents I know, Minecraft is not classified as a game…it’s very much tied to education.1 And when listening to the kids and their friends talk about it, if you can get past the endless chatter about zombies and diamond armor, their understanding of the whole world of possibilities is quite sophisticated.

And I can’t resist commenting on this little aside about Lego:

Today many cultural observers argue that Lego has moved away from that open-ended engagement, because it’s so often sold in branded kits: the Hogwarts castle from “Harry Potter,” the TIE fighter from “Star Wars.”

Until very recently, I was in that camp of cultural observers, frustrated by the brands and paint-by-number aspect of contemporary Lego kits. But my kids play with Lego a ton and I’ve observed plenty of open-ended engagement going on. Sure, they sit for 20-30 minutes putting the kits together using directions, but after they’re “done”, the real play begins. Ollie’s Star Wars ships dock at Minna’s birthday party. Soon, beach goers are wearing Stormtrooper helmets and Vader’s eating cupcakes. None of the “finished” products survive more than a few minutes without being augmented or taken apart to make something different. Ships take on wheels from previous kits and become delivery trucks (with cool laser cannons). Parts from every station, house, vehicle, and landscape get remixed into whatever’s necessary for their dramatic play. It’s like jazz with injection molded plastic.

  1. On my iPad, I have a screen full of educational apps that the kids can work with pretty much anytime they want without asking. (To play Alto’s Adventure or Subway Surfer, they have to ask.) Minecraft is not on this screen — and I had to explain my decision on this specifically to the kids — but this article may have persuaded me to add it.

Trailer for the upcoming Lego + The Force Awakens video game

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 02, 2016

Lego and Disney are teaming up for a Star Wars: The Force Awakens video game, out this summer. The trailer for it is possibly more fun than the movie was and is well worth watching if you enjoyed The Lego Movie.

The Free Universal Construction Kit

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2015

Universal Construction Kit

The Free Universal Construction Kit is a collection of almost 80 adapters between various construction toys like Lego, Lincoln Logs, Duplo, and K’nex (10 toys in all). The kit is available as freely downloadable designs for your 3D printer. The MoMA announced the acquisition of the Construction Kit for their permanent collection earlier this year.

Plastic injection molding is fascinating?

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2015

Yes, yes, it is fascinating. At least when Bill Hammack, aka Engineer Guy, explains how it all works. Don’t miss the bit at the end for how quietly ingenious Lego’s injection molding process is. (via digg)

The full-sized Lego car

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2015

Raul Oaida built a full-sized car out of half-a-million Lego pieces that actually drives. The 256-cylinder engine is powered by compressed air. Top speed is 20 mph.

This is a stunning and insanely clever achievement. My favorite part, aside from that 256-cylinder engine, is the windshield built out of two dozen tiny Lego windshields. (via devour)

Behind the scenes of The Lego Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 13, 2015

Nice four-minute video about how the creators of The Lego Movie used CGI to make the movie look like it was 100% constructed with real Lego bricks with fingerprints and everything and animated in stop motion.

I’ve watched it twice with my kids, and The Lego Movie was way better than it had any right to be. They so easily could have bollocksed the whole thing up. Maybe the secret is Chris Pratt? Guardians of the Galaxy was better than it should have been as well. I’m bearish on Jurassic World, but come on Indy! (via devour)

A working Lego particle accelerator

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 25, 2014

Huh. Someone built a working particle accelerator out of Lego bricks. Ok, it doesn’t accelerate protons, but it does spin a small Lego ball around the ring much faster than I would have guessed.

Update: I stand corrected, the Lego particle accelerator does indeed accelerate protons, just a lot of them very slowly, accompanied by all manner of other particles.

Fantastic 1970s letter from Lego to parents

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 24, 2014

At some point in the 1970s, Lego included the following letter to parents in its sets:

Lego Letter

The text reads:

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It’s imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to the put the right material in the their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

The letter seems like the sort of thing that might be fake, but Robbie Gonzalez of io9 presents the case for its authenticity.

In our home, Lego currently rules the roost…the kids (a boy and a girl) spend more time building with Lego than doing anything else. This weekend, they worked together to build a beach scene, with a house, pool, lifeguard station, car, pond (for skimboarding), and surfers. Dollhouse stuff basically. Then they raced around the house with Lego spaceships and race cars. Nailed it, 1970s Lego.

Update: QZ confirms, the letter is genuine.

Renting Lego sets

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 11, 2014

My kids and I went to the new Lego Store in the Flatiron this weekend, and I again noticed how freaking expensive Lego sets are. The Death Star set is $400 + tax and even small sets are $30-40. Afterward I wondered if renting Lego sets would be an economically viable business and sure enough, someone is giving it a go: Pley. It works a bit like Netflix’s DVD service: you pay a flat subscription fee each month and can check out as many sets as you want, one at a time. Doesn’t look like they rent out Lego Stephen Hawking or Lego Mona Lisa though.

Lego model of the Simpsons House

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2014

Simpsons House Lego

This Lego version of the Simpsons house looks amazing. Not sure if it’s $200 amazing, but still. These minimalist Lego Simpsons characters are much cheaper.

The Lego Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   May 22, 2014

Lego Movie

If you missed it in the theater (like us), The Lego Movie is available to buy on Amazon right now. I mean, you could wait until mid-June for the DVD/Blu-ray, but one of your kids’ friends is going to see it this way and come to school and lord it over your kid that he saw THE LEGO MOVIE AT HOME and then your kid is going to feel bad and why would you want that so you should just buck up and watch it already so your kid can have the cool cred at school for once and parlay that into greater social & academic success and then she’ll get into Harvard and have a fantastic life. What I’m saying is, watch The Lego Movie now and your child will become President basically. Why wouldn’t you want that? Are you history’s greatest monster? Ok, I’m calling child services…

Lego Mona Lisa

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2013

This Lego Mona Lisa is amazing:

Lego Mona Lisa

Crazy recognizable even with only ~400 pixels. The Girl With the Pearl Earring is pretty good too. Of course, nothing beats Lego Stephen Hawking. (via mlkshk)

The trailer for The Lego Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 01, 2013

Some Hollywood people are making a Lego movie called The Lego Movie. Batman’s in it and the plot is from The Matrix. I can’t decide if it looks horrible or amazing.

An ordinary guy named Emmet (Chris Pratt) is mistaken as being the Master Builder, the one who can save the Lego universe. With the aid of an old mystic named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), a tough young lady named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmet will fight to defeat the evil tyrant Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who is bent on destroying the Lego universe by gluing it together.

The Wikipedia page notes The Lego Movie Video Game will be released in conjunction with the movie. Which, if you’re following along, is a video game based on a movie based on stacking toys & figures containing characters based on other movies that are based on comic books. I can’t wait for The Lego Movie Videogame Comic Book Movie that comes out in 2019.

Lego calendar

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 01, 2013

Vitamins is a design studio in London that made a wall calendar out of Lego. They also built a mechanism to sync an online calendar to the Lego one: you just take a photo of the Lego calendar and send it to a special email address and voilà!

(via ★interesting)

LEGO paper airplane folding machine

posted by Aaron Cohen   Mar 21, 2013

It does what it says on the tin.

My favorite part is how it shoots the airplane out at the end. “Be gone, good sir, I am quite done with you!” (thx, Alex)

Lego Stephen Hawking kit

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 06, 2013

The awesome Lego Stephen Hawking model I posted a few years ago is available from Amazon as a kit!

Lego Stephen Hawking

Update: Or, if you have a massive trove of bricks, here are the instructions to build your own. (via @nickmelville)

Lego Macintosh

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2013

The Lego Stephen Hawking is still number one, but this Lego Macintosh is pretty great.

Lego Mac

Built by Chris McVeigh. Rumor has it he will be offering the plans for this one as well as a limited number of kits. Prints of the photo are available now.

The Star War$ and Łego universe

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2012

Now that I have a 5-year-old, I pay attention to things like Star Wars branded Lego sets. And they are a rip off. Why are these little plastic bricks so expensive? The cheapest set I can find is $7, most of the minifigs are more expensive than that, many sets are a few hundred dollars, and the most expensive sets are the price of a used car: there’s a Lego Star Destroyer for $1600 and a Lego Millenium Falcon for $3400.

Now get off my lawn!

Update: Ah, the Star Destroyer and Millenium Falcon are discontinued and collectable, that’s why they are thousands of dollars. Original prices were $300-500. It’s so difficult to tell these things on Amazon when you’re old and crotchety and and and wait, where are my pants? (thx, everyone)

Update: Why are Legos so expensive? Because each brick has to fit perfectly with every other brick ever made. (thx, @johnhutch)

Lego version of Felix Baumgartner’s record jump

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 14, 2012

This has got to be some sort of record for quickest Lego parody of an event: watch as a Lego man jumps from a balloon hanging high in the air, just like Felix.

(via ★thoughtbrain)

Stop-motion Lego Dr. Strangelove

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 02, 2012

Two sequences from Dr. Strangelove done in Lego.

This is really well done. (via bb)

The Lego Wire

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jul 18, 2012

Marissa Mayer has only been CEO at Yahoo! for a day and she’s already creating viral content like a stop motion Lego version of The Wire. Imagine what we’ll get when she’s been there a week.

Audible guffaws at, “What’s up his ass?” “No one likes our season, that’s what.” (via @jonahkeri)

Cool anatomical sculptures of Lego people

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2012

Artist Jason Freeny is making these neat anatomical sculptures of Lego people.

Lego Anatomy

You can see more of his work in progress on his Facebook page. Reminds me of Michael Paulus’ work. (via colossal)

Watching 130 episodes of The Simpsons simultaneously

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2012

If you’ve never seen the early seasons of The Simpsons, a good way to catch up might be to watch this:

Just a quick hack to experiment what happens if you watch a lot of The Simpsons episodes at the same time. It just took 10 lines of code and a few hours of processing.

About the video:
-Top to bottom: each row shows a season (from season 1 to season 10)
-Left to right: each column shows an episode (from episode 1 to episode 13)

A total of 130 episodes is displayed, framerate is 25fps, thumbnails have been captured at 80x60px

I also enjoyed this minimalist representation of the Simpson family in Lego:

Simpsons in Lego

(via @TrevorBaum)

Building a scale Lego model of the Death Star

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2012

Rhett Allain from Wired asked and then answered, “could you build a scale Lego model of the Death Star?” Using the scale of the Lego people as a guide, Allain estimated that the Lego Death Star would be much taller than the world’s tallest buildings and weigh more than 2 billions tons. My favorite bit: a visual of what the Lego Death Star would look like in low earth orbit. “That’s no moon” indeed. (via @educurate)

Lego camera

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2011

This photo was taken by a camera made almost entirely out of Legos:

Lego camera output

Even the lens is homemade; it’s just plexiglass ground into shape with fine-grit sandpaper. I misunderstood: the lens is store-bought but the focusing screen is made of plexi. (via ★alexandra)

50 Legos

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 14, 2011

Tyler Neylon decided to create 50 designs with a base set of 50 Lego pieces.

50 Legos

(via hacker news)