Free Mobile apps for LEGO fans

In my endless pursuit of different ways to enjoy LEGO products, I found the following free mobile apps in the Android app store (a.k.a. Google Play).

  • LEGO Creationary – Excellent series of build and guess games, created by the LEGO Group themselves. A bit heavyweight in terms of performance though.
  • myBrickset: LEGO Set Guide – Allows you to search for LEGO sets by number and create a catalog of the ones you own (or want to own).
  • LEGO Instructions – Lots of simple LEGO sets for younger children, complete with interactive step-by-step instructions.
  • LEGO Scans – Quickly peruse through over 4,000 LEGO sets by name or theme (but no instructions included though).
  • LEGO Minifig Collector – Search and browse through the full series of Minifigure collections. You can also tell the app which ones you have and it’ll then tell you which ones you’re missing (a potentially expensive feature).
  • Lego Mini Figure Identifier – Very clever app for helping you identify which minifigure in inside the package before you buys it. However, LEGO have made it a lot harder to use this app since Minifigure Series 5 onwards so bring a microscope with you if you intend to use this app.
There are loads more, some of which are just mobile games inspired by the LEGO brand and others are for much younger children or for specific LEGO sets.

Over 915 million ways to combine just 6 LEGO bricks

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my favourite toy, LEGO, so I thought I’d correct that with a crazy LEGO fact that stuck in my mind this weekend while watching National Geographic’s special MegaFactories: LEGO. So here it is:

The number of unique ways you can combine 6 classic (2×4 stud) LEGO bricks of the same colour is an incredible 915,103,765

That’s over 915 million different ways! So, if like me, you had to find out how they came up with this number, there’s a great story behind it here, along with some great numbers regarding combining of larger numbers of bricks.

Other great facts from this same programme were:

  • Over 50% of LEGO’s entire annual sales take place in the 2 months before Christmas each year
  • The LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark is technically the largest manufacturer of tyres in the world (great table quiz question!)
  • Worldwide, 7 LEGO products are sold every second

Beijing 2008, LEGO style

A group of LEGO enthusiasts from Hong Kong have constructed their own version of the Olympic venues from Beijing 2008.

By the looks of it, they’re made mostly from fairly common LEGO pieces and as a result, they’re both highly impressive (as it anything made from LEGO in my opinion) but also refreshingly simple. Far too many modern LEGO kits have pieces in them that are all to realistic, taking the fun out of it for me.

Source: SlashDot

Inside the LEGO Factory

Gizmodo is back with another amazing LEGO exclusive and this time he has been afforded the opportunity to explore (and film) inside the LEGO factory itself. His report includes several short videos showing the LEGO manufacturing process as well as some astonishing footage of how the bricks are stored in massive silos where no humans are allowed.

Some interesting facts and statistics I took from this are:

  • The plastic granules from which LEGO is made are a by-product of Diesel.
  • The LEGO machines produce 600 pieces per second (36,000 per minute, 2.1 million per hour or 19 billion per year).
  • The LEGO factory processes 60 tons of plastic  granules every 24 hours.
  • The plastic granules come in 70 basic colours, from which all other colours are derived.
  • The moulds that produce the LEGO pieces are retooled after 5 million uses.
  • Decorating the pieces is the most expensive part of the process.

Having spent a number of summer months working at an Injection Moulding company in a past life, I recognised much of the machinery and processes used but it is clearly off the radar in terms of scale, with pretty much everything controlled by a mainframe computer system.

Source: SlashDot

Triskit Project

Triskit is a fascinating project that takes the form of a self-generating toy system. If you own (or have access to) a mini laser cutter or acrylic sheet stock then you can use the Triskit software to design pieces for your very own toy system (called a Triskit). You can use the data that is produced by the software as input data for your laser cutter and the result is your very own, custom-made toy part.

Sample Triskit

One of the benefits of this is that, if you are trying to build a toy and find that you don’t have a particular part that does what you need, you can just make one to suit your needs. With the likes of LEGO and K’nex, you are limited to what pieces came in the original box.

Secret LEGO Vault

Here is real treat for LEGO fans everywhere. I learned today that there is a special vault at LEGO Headquarters in Denmark where they store one of every LEGO set ever created from 1953 to 2008, that’s 4720 sets, still in their original boxes!

Apparently one of the primary reasons for retaining such a collection is that LEGO can use it as a safeguard in copyright and patent cases.

To a long time LEGO fanatic like myself, this is an unimaginable concept and represents possibly the finest toy collection in existence bar none. Special thanks goes to Gizmodo for sharing the experience and emotion of his recent visit to this labrynth of true wonderment. His article and accompanying video are well worth checking out.

Source: SlashDot

Indiana Jones meets LEGO

With the long awaited release of the fourth movie in the Indiana Jones series, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, hitting Irish big screens next week, the creators of LEGO have pulled off another master stroke in the form of a new series of video games called Indian Jones: The Original Adventures. Here’s one of the trailers for the new game (and the new movie) that’s currently doing the rounds. If like me, you grew up on a diet of LEGO and Indie, you will love it!

What’s amazing to me about this is that it’s basically computer-generated animation that’s been made to look like LEGO. It’s normally the other way around. In any case, it is quite brilliant and an extremely clever move from a commercial sense.

Dan Haspert also has a short review of this same topic and you can see more trailers of LEGO computer games here.

Happy 50th Birthday LEGO Brick, my old friend

The infamous LEGO brick that we all know and love turned 50 years old today.

Personally, I have been a fan of LEGO for as long as I can remember and much to the credit of my forward-thinking parents (or were they just hoarders?), I still have pretty much all of it to this day. In recent years, I have discovered a renewed appreciation for this wonderful toy, mainly due to my 9 and 5-year old nephews and my 3 year-old daughter, all of whom play with the myriad of less-than-shiny bricks, wheels, windows, roof tiles and mini-people on an almost daily basis.

Amazingly, the boys have lots of their own (modern) LEGO but seem to prefer the simplicity and imagination of my collection. There aren’t many toys that could survive intact for over 30 years and still hold the imagination of today’s tech-hungry children for so long!

The LEGO company itself was actually first formed way back in 1934 by a Danish carpenter, Ole Christiansen, who had been making wooden toys for a number of years prior to that. It was in 1934 that he first named his company “LEGO”, a name that was derived from the Danish phrase leg godt that means “play well” but interestingly, LEGO also means “I assemble” in Latin. It was not until much later, in 1958, that the first LEGO brick was patented.

Gizmodo have also put together a great LEGO timeline in celebration of this momentous day.

Sources: SlashDot, WikiPedia