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
Packt 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.
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:
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.