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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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..
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:
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:
In the previous blogpost I talked about the 2011-2 Parts Update and mentioned how easy itis to install it using the windows executable (.exe) that is available on the LDraw.org website. However, I forgot two important details I must mention.
First of all there is the location of the LDraw folder on your hard disk. Traditionally LDraw parts and programs were installed to C:\LDraw. However, the All-In-One-installer (AIOI) uses a different default location C:\Program Files (x86)\LDraw. This cretaes a conflict between the LDraw.org Parts Update executable for the 2011-2 update and the files installed by the AIOI. Nothing serious though. You simply need to remember to change the installation folder the LDraw.org executable proposes to match the location the AIOI used, but it is an important detail.
Secondly, there is another, possibly easier, method to update your parts library: by means of LDView (included in the AIOI). If you open LDview and go to File>Library Updates... a window will open informing you of the progress the application makes checking your parts library and downloading and installing any missing files..
However, there is a small problem with this method if you are using Windows 7 as this Operating System won't allow LDview to make changes to the installation folder! To solve this minor issue you need to open the windows explorer and go to the LDraw installation folder (which the AIOI by default sets to C:\Program Files (x86)). Once there you need to right-click on the LDraw foñder and select "Properties". In the window that opens you need to uncheck the "Read only" check box and agree to all the questions the you will be asked. After this yu will be abel to use LDView to update your LDraw Parts Library.
A new update of the LDraw Parts Library has been made available recently. It is the second update of 2011 and contains 786 elements, with a total of 474 new parts.
The All-In-One-Installer (AIOI) will be updated shortly to include these new parts. In the mean time, even if you are doing a completely new installation, including the update is very easyas the update is available as a windows executable, making automatic installation very easy.
I would like to announce that there is a new version of MLCad available!
- Implemented basic undo functionality (might be a bit slow, but should work)
- Improvements for network installation or installation under Windows Vista and above. MLCad now doesn't write to its installation path anymore.
- Save pictures in more formats, now supporting Bitmap, Jpeg, Gif, Tiff and Png.
- Serveral bug-fixes
More detailed information is available in the release notes and on the web-site:
I wish you fun with the new release and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!