Jetro's blog


Review – 41062 Elsa’s Sparkling Palace

With two Young girls in the house singing “Let it go” at every opportunity, the LEGO rendering of their favourite Disney story simply had to end up in our house. It took a lot of restraint on my part not to build the set myself, but we had a great building session all together and although I didn’t get to build anything I had my hands full as supreme brick finder and instruction page turner.
 
The box for this set felt a lot smaller than I had anticipated, but size isn’t the same as quality and since this is a licenced set the price/size ratio was likely to be less favourable than that of other sets. Since the two intended builders have very different ages (4 and 8) and very different skill levels, I split the set up into the main build (Esla’s palace) and the complements. The set contains two instruction booklets, but both my builders needed book 1 at the same time so one used the paper version and the other used the digital version. The experience met with mixed feeling – good on the one hand because each one could build at their own speed, but on the other hand the colours shown in the digital version are sometimes quite different from the parts available in the set, causing some confusion while building.
 
The complements of this set are rather cute: Olaf the snowman is very well characterised and means the set has 3 minifgs – the other minifigs are of course Ana and Elsa. Elsa is really cool, but my very demanding jury decided her hair was way too short. The cape she wears tends to turn around her neck quite easily and so half the time she wears it like a kind of bib. The sled is a great little detail and the ramp actually works quite well together with the sled. The skates and skis that come with the set allow Ana and Elsa to have lots of fun in the snow. It’s a good thing there is a spare skate, because they are tiny and get lost quite easily.
 
 
The palace itself had me puzzled for a while: why are the stairs not secured at the top – the slightest movement will collapse them. Then I had a look at the back of the box and it turns out that is actually a play feature! The kids love it. Elsa arrives at the palace to find a wall of ice and magics the stairs into shape. The kids didn’t like the fact that the only way to get to the top floor of the palace is by flying there. There are no stairs or ladder that lead there, but they quickly built one out of their own LEGO parts – that’s the great thing about LEGO sets: you simply customise anything you don’t like. 
 
 
Inside the palace there is an ice-cream bar – another favourite of the kids. And the icicles on the tree are also a really nice touch. All in all the set was a big success. Ana and Elsa are now part of the considerable Friends family that lives on their LEGO table, ready to find out what snowmen do in summer…
 

REVIEW 40145 LEGO STORE

REVIEW 40145 LEGO® STORE
 
Set: 40145 LEGO® Store
Parts: 413 aprox.
Minifigs: 1
Price: Not applicable
 
We've all dreamt of having a reproduction of a LEGO® Store in bricks, well, it is already real!!!
 
 
This is an exclusive set with 413 parts, whose essence is like the Creator sets one, simple and fast building with generic bricks.
 
The set includes five parts bags, three plates, a small sheet of stickers and the book of instructions.
 
 
As mentioned before, in relation to the construction there is not much to tell, a simple construction, a brick over another and not much more. The set is basically walls and some stuff inside, but despite this, the result is really worth it, since, with a few parts the result is great. The best are the details; they have not forgotten to reproduce the Pick a Brick, shelves with sets (this is where the stickers do their job) and some sets built.
 
 
Despite the simplicity, it is a great set, you can add color to any City diorama, and complements the LEGO® City Truck (3221).
 
 
Building: 6 (easy)
Playability: 7 (fits perfectly in any diorama)
Parts: 5 (generic pieces)
Price: Not applicable (exclusive, not known how to get it)
Final Mark: 8 (due to the charm and the desire to have a LEGO® Store)
 

Review - LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Essentials

Packt publishing has recently entered the list of publishing houses that carry books about LEGO. So far they have a single title related to the EV3, but a second title is scheduled to be released in January.
 
The first title is "Lego Mindstorms EV3 Essentials". Before going into the contents of this book, I'd like to highlight that the digital version of the book is available in several formats: PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle, so you can read the book in the format that best fits the device you use at any time. I cannot say anything about the physical book as I have not had it in my hands. As can be expected, the programs that appear in the book can also be downloaded from the publisher's website
 
The subtitle of the book "Create and program complex autonomous robots using the third generation Lego Mindstorms kit" doesn't provide many clues as to the contents, but promises an interesting book.

Packt MINDSTORMS Titles

LEGO MINDSTORMS EssentialsPackt Publishing is one of the many publishing houses that has decided to offer LEGO MINDSTORMS related books. I have just received a copy of LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Essentials which at first glance offers a very complete though basic overview of the EV3 elements and the on-brick programming feature after which it moves on to an introduction into programming the EV3 with Java.

The original price for the eBook with sample code (PDF and ePUB formats) is around $18, but until January 6th you can get any Packt title for just $5

If you feel the book is right for you, go ahead and take advantage of the offer. If you want a more in depth review, come back in a couple of days and I'll let you know what I think of the book.

The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Idea Book

Book Cover

Anyone who knows the name Yoshihito Isogawa will immediately associate it with clever colourful contraptions made with stock LEGO pieces. When No Starch Press decided to print Tora No Maki, his LEGO Technic Idea book, it was an immediate success, despite the fact that most of the information was already available as a free PDF download. Idly leafing through those books is a visual pleasure and a source of inspiration for all kinds of mechanical solutions.
 
The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Idea Book is based on the same principle, but applied to the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3, or rather, to the inventory of the EV3 Retail set (31313). Although the book includes a few very simple programming instructions it doesn’t teach programming. It also doesn’t include instructions for abuilding any robots. So what is the book about?

Behind The Design: Lego Technic 42030 Volvo L350F Wheel Loader

In the latest issue of HispaBrick Magazine we included a review of the 42030 Remote Controlled Volvo L350F Wheel Loader, a collaboration between LEGO and Volvo. The following video shows some insights into the design process of this great set:

Jennifer Clark's Demag All Terrain Crane

Jennifer Clarke has done it again: another one of her iconic models has been revisited and instructions have been made available for a small fee. The model she is offering now is the Demag All Terrain Crane. Aside from being a visually attractive model, the MOC has been extremely well documented at every stage on Jennifer's website and the instructions are the icing on the cake: a chance to look inside and even build your own version of this magnificent model. The instructions are clear and she's had the help of NXChase for some modifications to the model and of Blakbird for the rendering and instructions. 

Review - DK LEGO Play Book

DK publishing has been so kind as to send me a copy of the “LEGO® Play Book” for review.  The book sports the subtitle “Ideas to bring your bricks to life”. It is a beautifully bound, 200 page  hard cover edition, in line with other LEGO related DK books. However, I was more interested to see the little blurb in the bottom right corner of the cover: “More than 500 build and play ideas from LEGO® fans”. A book made by fans – but what fans?

 

The table of contents (which spans 4 pages) gives a very clear answer to that question. The book is split up into 5 themes sections and next to each section you will find a LEGO avatar of the fan/builder in charge of the section together with a short bio including such information as their age, job, LEGO specialty and favourite brick.

So who are these fans? The section “once upon a time”, is presented by Barney Main – if you don’t immediately recognise one or more of the names of the fans, I encourage you to do a quick google search for their names (e.g. Barney Main LEGO) and you will soon discover these are not “just” a couple of fans, but a select group of specialists in the different fields. The builds go from large (a castle) and detailed (a close-up of the construction of an arrow slit) to small and simply ingenious (a pair of “angled plates” on a neck bracket turn a minifig into a flying fairy). But what stands out especially in this section are the brick built creatures and characters in this section.

Next up Tim Goddard with “A small world” dedicated to microscale; a great introduction to building small, but with maximum effect. Then Pete Reid and Yvonne Doyle “Go wild!”, building animals of all sizes. Rod Gilles takes on “Things that go bump in the night” with spooky builds that also provide ideas for plenty of other uses. Tim Johnson closes off with “Wish you were here” (any section that uses the title of one of my all-time favourite Pink Floyd songs can only be great), building the holiday season. I was especially interested to see his Holiday Postcards which are a kind of 3D mosaics.

The book is full of interesting ideas. There are no very special building techniques, but then again that isn’t the aim of the book. It Is, however, a real eye-opener to the fact that you can go a very long way with a handful of relatively basic LEGO elements.

A recurring feature in the book is a section called “Handful of bricks” in which the builders suggest constructions related to their specific themes with a small predetermined set of bricks that is the same for all of them. The selection of bricks for this section is listed on the very last page of the book and is indeed a collection of common elements in small quantities that any fan is likely to have in their collection. While the builds are not especially brilliant, they do provide extra inspiration and a sense that anyone can build something cool without the need for either a large collection or specialised elements.

The book has already been adopted by my kids (meaning I effectively no longer own it) and ever since they got their hands on it there have been little LEGO sketches everywhere, trying to mimic many of the ideas provided in the book. The book is also visually attractive meaning it has been read and reread on multiple car trips and new and inspiring ideas are being discovered by the new owners on a regular basis.

Brick by Brick

How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry

According to the press release from Random House Business Books, “Brick by Brick is the fascinating account of the iconic toymaker LEGO and its rise, perilous fall, and spectacular rise again to become the world’s fastest growing toy company.” The book was written by David Roberson, an innovation specialist, with the help of Bill Breen, a writer who has helped to make the text more accessible.

Despite its brick-decorated cover, the first impression of the book might not make you want to immediately buy it as a valuable addition to your LEGO book collection. The fact that the book is written by a former LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management, published in the Business Books catalogue and that it “details the unique innovation guidance system that allows managers to channel the company’s creative endeavours” may not inspire much confidence that you will actually enjoy the contents.

However, even before turning to the first page there are several hints that the contents are worth reading: David Robertson made more than a dozen trips to Billund and conducted interviews with Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and LEGO CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp as well as dozens of other senior managers. He also met Adam Reed Tucker (for all intents and purposes the originator of LEGO Architecture) and Steven Hassenplug (one of the first 4 AFOLs who were brought aboard to help in the development of the MINDSTORMS NXT).

Review 79008 - Pirate Ship Ambush

Despite rumours to the contrary, I seriously doubt anyone really believed the Lord Of The Rings theme was finished after a single year. However, none of the early rumours pointed to anything remotely similar to a ship in this theme.  The fact of the matter is that the pirate ships used by the army of the dead are only a marginal (though not unimportant) part of the story as a whole, but a ship allows for a different kind of construction from what we have seen so far in this theme. The piece count is relatively low for the largest set in a theme, but the set contains a number of rather large pieces (the hull parts and sails) that give the set a considerable volume. In addition, the set comes with no less than 9 minifigures, many of which are exclusive to the set.

Bringing LEGO® bricks to Chrome

Thanks to a colaboration between LEGO® Australia and Google we can now enjoy this latest Chrome experiment. The app is called Build and allows you to explore and build a new world of LEGO constructions online.

Build Google Chrome

The LEGO bricks have been created with WebGL, which allows for some powerful 3D in the browser and show the great performance of. It is all connected to Google Maps which puts these LEGO creations in reach of everyone.
For now it is only available for Australia and New Zealand and it is expected to be launched in other countries soon.

 

 

You can start using Build at buildwithchrome.com
 

LDConfig.ldr updated to version 2012-01-06

To those really up to date with LDraw this is of course old news and to those really not that up to date it may seem the kind of information that sounds good, but you are not quite sure what to do with it...

Well, let me explain. The LDConfig.ldr file is a file that contains all the colour definitions that are used by the various LDraw compatible programs. You may remember that some time ago we published an interview with Micael Lachman (at least the initials should ring a bell...) who explained that MLCad would be changed to use LDConfig.ldr for colour definitions. It is important that the file is updated becasue it now reflects the latest incorporations into the palette of colours that LEGO surrently uses (and the new colours use the internal numbers LEGO uses for the colours to make things easier).

New in this version are Medium_Azure (322), Medium_Lavender (30), and Olive_Green (326). Additionally a new internal colour (493) for Magnet materials has been introduced.

The file will be included in the next edition of the All-In-One Installer (AIOI), but should you want to start using it right away, it can be downloaded from the Core Files and Libraries download page. For a full list of colours in a practical format you should visit the LDraw.org colour chart.

And the surprise is.... (MWC -2)

A little later than hoped for, but this is the second part of the collaboration between LEGO, Ericsson and Hispabrick Magazine. A robot (or rather 12 robots) to play a game of soccer..

 

HBM @ MWC

For the last couple of weeks, a number of HispaBrick Magazine collaborators have been preparing for this and we can finally show you what we have been up to. In collaboration with LRoboticas.net and students from La Salle, HBM pis participating in a MINDSTORMS event organised by LEGO and Ericsson at the Mobile World Congress.

During the weekend we have put the finishing touches to the MINDSTORMS robots:

MWC12

 

"The Force” Remains with The LEGO Group

It's a great day for LEGO® Star Wars fans as the ELGO Group has announced the Star Wars lisence has been renewed for the next 10 years. Since 1999 the LEGO® Star Wars theme has been a success with more than 200 million sets sold and over 400 characters of the saga reproduced as minifigs.

Below the official press release: