CES (Computer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is always an excellent reference and a showcase for the new technologies that will appear in the coming year. This year is no different. LEGO have just announced a new product: WeDo 2.0
WeDo came to market in 2009, geared towards starting robotics with primary school children. The first version of WeDo had a USB tether or hub to which 1 motor and 1 sensor or 2 sensors could be connected. The software runs on a computer that acts as the brain of the gadgets that are built with LEGO elements that are mostly from the System catalogue (stackable rather modern "Technic").
Version 2.0, which was presented today, comes with several important updates to this earlier platform. The main novelty is the fact that the new hub is not tethered, but rather a kind of intelligent battery box (for standar batteries or a separately sold battery pack) which connects to the computer via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy).
This makes it possible to program the hub, not only via a computer, but also from a portable device (iPad/Android tablet) or even a Chrome Book (the latter in the second half of 2016).
The new deep sea exploring subtheme expands the horizons of the City theme to include the bottom of the sea. It has been several years since we last saw divers of this typeand even more if we only look at Town/City sets. The first wave of this subtheme consists of 6 sets and the 60092 Deep Sea Submarine is a perfect starter. The two smaller sets are little more than minifig packs with accessories and the two largest sets are more than double or triple the price of this one. In addition, the entire action of this set takes place below sea level..
Let's have a closer look at the contents...
As a complete Minecraft novice I had to let my daughters put me up to speed about this “exciting universe” of what some have called “unending virtual LEGO”. My first encounter has been through the 21119 – The Dungeon set.
With 219 parts this is the smallest set in this year’s LEGO Minecraft lineup. As is to be expected in this theme, the bricks included in the set are mostly basic – lots of 2x2, 2x4 and some larger bricks as well as a fair amount of plates. There are some “special” bricks though, including a number of small printed plates and tiles to build the mini zombie that goes in the cage (spawner as I learned reading up on the game) and a second one with the spare parts. The set does, however, come with three minifigures – Minecraft style. The square heads of Steve and the two zombies fit well with the Minecraft theme, but don’t feel quite “LEGO”.
No Starch Press, publisher of a wide range of LEGO related books, has teamed up with Humble Bundle (again!) to provide the new Humble "Scholl's Out" Bundle - a selection of ebooks designed to keep kids (and adults) busy and interested during the holidays. In adddition to books on Arduino, Scratch and Linux, the promo includes The Art of LEGO Design, The LEGO Adventure Book, Vol. 2, The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide, and the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Discovery Book.
31031 Rainforest Animals is one of those new sets that immediately make you think "cute!" LEGO has been offering sets with built animals for a long time, but some of these sets have a special something that make you like them even more..
In part this is due to the colour palette which works really well with the kind of animals that were chosen and also the obvious character of the parrot that adorns the front of the box addds to the interest of the set.
The the LDraw.org Steering Committee has sent us an exciting press release concerning some important developments in the LDraw system of tools. HispaBrick Magazine 022, which will be published on May 1st will contain additional information on this subject, but we wanted to let you know as soon as possible:
LDraw.org is going to allow digital replicas of LEGO clone and custom bricks in its official parts library. This decision has been taken by the LDraw.org Steering Committee yesterday.
In the past LDraw.org had a policy which allowed only representations of parts manufactured by the LEGO group in its official library. This forced part authors to offer their own creations on personal websites and prevented the addition of bricks developed by competitors such as Mega Bloks or Enlighten Brick to the LDraw library.
„We have dropped the restrictions in favour of a wider LDraw experience and believe that clone bricks will affect the building style of our users in a positive way“, said Willy Tschager, member of the LDraw.org Steering Committee. „With LDraw you might use bricks in colours LEGO never moulded and the results are stunning. I guess this will be much true also for some awesome windscreens one can for example find in Mega Bloks 6859 - Call of Duty Hovercraft“, Tschager adds.
In a first round LDraw part authors will submit custom bricks they have designed over the years, such as “Plate 2x2 with studs underneath” or female torsi. Later mainly 3D-counterparts of Mega Bloks, Best-Lock Construction Toys and Kre-O by Hasbro, which have been prepared in the foresight of this allowance. “But it's not limited to those … there are also great pieces in military sets from Kazi or Sluban”, the Steering Committee welcomes the new entries.
The LDraw Parts Tracker, an online system used by the community to review and certify unofficial parts, has been adapted and will offer the possibility to brand the uploaded files according to the manufacturer. Nonetheless the different libraries will be joined, once the users have become familiar with the additions and start mixing LEGO bricks with the clones. By then parts will be distinguishable only by the new !SYSTEM meta-statement in the part-code. Also more general construction toy parts (that don't connect with LEGO) are planned for inclusion in the library in the future: Lincoln Logs, GeoMag (for which a new magnetic connector primitive is in development) and Meccano.
There are also talks with the LDD - LEGO Digital Designer development team at LEGO. „We hope LEGO will joins us in our attempt to add value to the overall building experience, as they did back in 2007 with the development of the so called Lego Universe Mode in their LDD software: In addition to some 1400+ bricks you could suddenly build in any colour, even in colours that haven’t been produced – like transparent tires. Something LDraw could do right from the start in 1995. Nowadays the LDD Extended Mode is normal business and not a hack for LEGO Universe designers. We bet the same will happen to clone bricks in LDD“, Tschager said. There hasn't been a breakthrough in the negotiation so far, but at least signals of cautious opening.
The LDraw System of Tools is a popular system of free software tools for modeling LEGO creations in 3D on a computer. The parts library that is central to the programs is under continuous maintenance and extension by the LDraw community since 1997. LDD as a virtual building experience attracts several million people each year to build a huge range of amazing creations.
LDraw Content Management
On behalf of the LDraw.org Steering Committee