Friday, February 27, 2009

New Magnet sets out

LEGO has released a variety of new magnet sets iconrecently. They've done some neat magnet sets in the past, but these new minifig-based ones are particularly cool - for around $15 US per set, you get 3 minifigs (usually fairly hard-to-find ones, often ones only otherwise available in fairly expensive sets) and 3 magnet pieces. The minifigs are completely removable from the special magnet brick (which is larger than older magnet bricks and includes a "stand" of sorts for the minifig). Take the set pictured here, for example - you get three hard-to-find minifigs from some of the most expensive sets (based on price-per-piece ratios) that LEGO makes right now. The magnet bricks (which I'm sure people will build some great things with before long) are almost like a freebie once you factor in what people pay for some of these individual minifigs on BrickLink. These are a great way to start building in new directions (right on the fridge!) and to build up an exciting minifigure collection quickly.

There are some other new things showing up on LEGO Shop-at-Home lately as well - more of the Farm sets in particular, but sets in a variety of other themes too. You never know what you'll find on there - for example, I just found out that the Troll Battle Wheel set is on sale at a great price. I suspect we'll be seeing quite a few good sets and good prices come and go in the months to come - LEGO is phasing out the 2008 items fairly quickly now (my guess is that they sold more of them during 2008 than they expected to, and now have decided to focus on newer items) in favor of the sets released recently and the sets introduced at Toy Fair.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

4-Wide Mobile Command Center

Name of Model: Micro Agents
Created by: nolnet
Found at:
There's an interesting phenomenon in recent LEGO's more recent kits - cars are getting bigger. 4-studs wide became fairly standard in the mid 1960's, and didn't really go anywhere all through the 1990's. Of course, minifigs are themselves nearly 4 studs wide, and real cars generally seat two people in the front - so these cars, while fun, were almost always incredibly out of scale. Minifig scale has always been considered a meaningless term by many serious LEGO fanatics, since the car scale has little to do with minifig size, train size, building size, etc - there are just too many different scales that the company has sold as made for minifigs over the years.

This gets a bit painful for some of us long-time LEGO fans - we have 4-wide cars lining our roadplates, and now we're getting cars that are more accurately scaled (or even overscaled, which is the case for the set this model is based on), and suddenly it's clear that many of the cars we've been buying for years are the wrong scale. Naturally, we're finding clever ways to change the scales and sizes of things to make things more consistent. Which size to switch to is a topic of much debate, but the creator of today's model decided to take the awesome Agents Mission 6: Mobile Command Center kit (a 12-stud wide beast that contains a number of smaller vehicles and all sorts of goodies) and turn it into a 4-stud wide truck (with 6-wide trailer) closer in scale to the vehicles of my childhood.

I don't know if I should call this microscale (it is a less than half-size version of a real set) or minifig scale (it matches the "minifig-scale" vehicles of my childhood), but it is darn awesome.

Well, now that I look through more of the photos and see the interior of the trailer (awesome!) and the smaller versions of two other Agents setsicon, I'm thinking I'll call this microscale. Or, again, maybe just "awesome". I think we're at a new "awesome"'s per post record...

Metroliner; a Monorail?

Name of Model: My Monorail; "Metroliner Monorail"
Created by: BBroich
Found at:
Metroliner Monorail.

Have you ever wondered what the Metroliner set would look like if it were actually a monorail?

LEGO®'s Monorail system came out in the late 1980's, but last appeared in a set in 1995 (the rarity of the parts have made them are desirable collector's item among LEGO fans). The "monorails" are powered by a battery-operated 9V motor that sits in between the chassis of the two cars. The tracks that the monorail rides on have teeth pointing out horizontially on each side that are used to propel the vehicle fowards by a means of gears gripping onto them. They are controlled by small buttons on the side of the motor which can be switched with special pieces of track.

Besides the obvious wizardry of combining a 4-studs-wide monorail set-up with a more well-known 6-studs-wide train set, this model is also unique in having a third car. Extra monorail cars are not easy to come by, and LEGO never designed a way for multiple cars to be strung together (although a few builders have successfully fashioned their own ways of connecting cars.
Although this post for Wednesday's model of the day is appearing late, it's only appearing at all thanks to the work of new blog-member Brickapolis.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Name of Model: Dragonfly
Created by: coleblaq
Found at:
It's pretty hard to impress me with an insect (especially a serious one - as compared to things like the Insectoids sets), but this design is pretty clever. It's abstract enough to not look as ugly as the real thing, and the red/black color scheme works surprisingly well.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Robotics Monday: Bionicle Zamor Sphere Mindstorms NXT Machine Gun

Name of Model: ZMG—Zamor Machine-Gun
Created by: isketch93
Found at:

While discussing the upcoming NXT 2.0 kit this past weekend with a friend who went to Toy Fair, I heard what must be the real reason that the new kit includes a large amount of Bionicle parts: it's a machine gun kit. As a general rule, I don't blog gun related things here (and if I do, they're clearly only fantasy items - this is the same rule the LEGO company has used in the past) - but who am I to argue with the only obvious use for the parts in the new NXT kit? Besides, what other possible reason could there be for cutting over a hundred Technic parts from the kit (compared to the version in stores now) and including Bionicle Zamor spheres and launchers instead? (strike-outs are there to correct my mistake: I confused the NXT kit's piece count with the RIS kit's piece count)

Of course, you don't actually need a new NXT kit to build a machine gun that launches Bionicle Zamor spheres - all those parts are already available. Today's model is one implementation based on parts that are already out (and this builder's created a few similar guns advancing the concept as well).

Still, questions remain - should we still be worried about taking somebody's eyes out? Will any of these parts actually be in the Educational release of the NXT 2.0? Is there some other interesting thing to do with these parts besides make machine guns? Can we hook these things up to a Great Ball Contraption to build shoot-em-up duel games?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Toy Fair Recap

Photos from this past weekend's toy industry trade show in New York (better known as Toy Fair) are now online in a variety of places. I've already received more links than this, but feel free to send yours in if you have more Toy Fair coverage:

Red Inn

Name of Model: Red Inn
Created by: crises_crs
Found at: and
Here's another awesome town building. The catch? It's really castle-era. The windows are really fence pieces, and the roads are all stone (and with a clever technique I haven't seen before - nice use of medium size plates to get an effect many of us thought you needed tons of little plates to do!) With all the great techniques, colors and details in this model, it's to miss the macabre plot involved. More great photos (including interior shots) are at the BrickShelf link above.
This is Wednesday's model of the day

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The "Painted Ladies" District - Victorian II

Name of Model: The "Painted Ladies" District - Victorian II
Created by: SoftaRae .
Found at:
Take a close look a this building facade - it's not minifig scale. It's not really miniland scale, either. This classic house is in an interesting medium scale that fits perfectly on 15 inches (48 studs) of baseplate going across (I'm not sure just how deep it is). The details are amazing, and the colors - this builder uses so many rare parts and colors that it's hard not to be jealous about all the great stuff going into the models. For this sort of beautiful details, though? Completely worth it.
This is Tuesday's model of the day

Monday, February 16, 2009

Robotics Monday: Life-Size ABB Flexpicker Assembly Line

Name of Model: Lego FlexPicker
Created by: theonlyshep
Found at:
This is really a hard project to sum up quickly - there are 3 NXT programmable bricks in use, but also pneumatics, tread links, a remote control, 9V power for a compressor...this is actually a fully realized portion of an assembly line. While the conveyor belts look great, the real feat is the life-size flexpicker, based on the robots sold by ABB for use in manufacturing. The engineering of the machine itself is pretty clever (even if it is a copy of an existing non-LEGO robot), but there are a few other engineering feats here as well. Anyone who has tried building a robot on this scale knows the challenges of creating a sturdy frame out of LEGO - or even just building something out of LEGO that can handle the weight of several motors moving quickly below. While other large-scale 'bots I've featured here have used metal frames (and received no criticism for it!), this one goes all-out.

I'm a little jealous - if I were trying to make a flexpicker, I'd probably have done it on a small scale, with a metal frame, and without realistic conveyor belts. This goes a bit beyond just capturing the mechanisms or building the robot - this is a work of beauty.
Since I know people are wondering - I will be trying to round out the week and see if I can get this blog going again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bionicle Rose

Name of Model: A rose and vase for BBCC 46...
Created by: MuffinToa
Found at:
Every so often, the various Bionicle fansites out there will do a building contest. Most of these contests are based on Bionicle-style creations, but the most exciting ones to those of us who aren't Bionicle fans are always the contests that ask builders to use the Bionicle parts to build something outside of the theme. This sculpture of a rose is beautiful, and fitting for Valentine's Day today.

Love is sacrificing rare colors like dark red, dark green, pearl gray, and trans-dark-blue, isn't it?

Most of the building techniques here are fairly straightforward - the two to catch are the paird-up masks at the top and the use of loose balls from ball-and-socket-joints to put dark green socket beams close together (Close up photo: ).