Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The embassy got mail

Many of you were caught in surprise this morning when got to see the10 nominees for the February challenge.
Reactions started a bit all over the online places, where Technic fans have presence, once the participating AFOLs felt somehow "disqualified" without notice or previous warning.
While the reasoning behind was correctly anticipated and well understood, some have been suggesting such kind of contest should then have two categories. One for TFOLs and another one for the AFOLs.

Sometimes things do not happen exactly as we planned beforehand.
But frustration is something no one wants to cause you! So before you get to think about it, there was already a decision to address the tremendous success achieved by the first challenge of "The LEGO Technic Challenge".
Read the good news below, that Monica asked me to spread.

As you have all discovered we have kicked off a building competition on called “The LEGO Technic Challenge”. The purpose behind the challenge was to show kids, that they can do so much more with LEGO Technic than they might think. Basically to inspire kids to fetch their LEGO Technic elements and start building. We have lined up 8 competitions in total – all themed around something different.

We have of course been following the discussion on different web-sites about AFOLs and their submissions, which eventually got us thinking whether the competition would only get entries from AFOLs and if it was thought to be only an AFOL building competition. When the panel of judges got together to review and select the contenders for the February vote we realized that even though there were a lot of great entries made by kids, we also saw a lot of great models made by adults. But as we wanted to show kids what they can build with LEGO Technic and inspire them to continue to build different models themselves, we wanted to keep the competition clean; i.e. we only chose models submitted by kids. Please note that some of the kids submitting entries are only 7 years old – how can they expect to win this competition when up against all of the great AFOL MOCs out there? So the LEGO Technic Challenge will continue in its current form – but only kids’ models will go through to the voting phase each month.

However, we also want to acknowledge the many great models that AFOLs are building so we decided to create an extra prize for you. First, we will each month make sure to showcase the best adult entries in our blog and at the end of the competition (October) a panel of judges will select the 20 best adult models from the previous months and these models will compete for the same prize as the kids: the complete LEGO Technic novelty assortment from 2010.

We want to just share a few things with you to pay attention to before next competition in March:

  • Submissions with URLs are being moderated out before the judges even see the models
  • Submissions with e-mail and other contact information in the description are being moderated out before the judges even see the models
  • The format the judges will be judging from is still photo; ie. no videos will be taken into consideration, and the judges will not see them
  • Visuals that look like 3D renderings will not be taken into consideration as this is a building competition

More models than the ones showed on the blog has caught our attention (DaVinci comes to mind) and they will all be taken into consideration for the final vote.

So please continue building and submitting – we are enjoying looking at every model and are honored that so much time and effort is being invested in building with LEGO Technic.

On behalf of the LEGO Technic team

You may also find a similar communication from Ricco (LEGO Technic, Design Manager), posted at blog, this morning.

So you, TFOLs and AFOLs out there, lets vote for the current challenge and to participate on the next one!


Al said...

I did wonder how they were gonna handle this situation. Even if the judges were to allocate 3 of the ten to choose from to AFOLs, would those three being there be "unfair" to the other submissions? I guess so. So, to solve the problem, TLG show more generosity by splitting AFOLs from every one else, allowing AFOLs to battle it out between them for there own prize. Although we are excluded from the chance of winning the log loader this month, I still think this is a very generous move from TLG, for which I would like to give my gratitude. I'm also happy to see my submission appears in the blog as one of the ones that caught their eye (ALTHETECHNICMANIAC), which also leaves me reluctant to wish anybody else luck in the competition, just kidding HAHA good luck everyone!

Parax said...

Presumably 'DaVinci' is a reference to this awesome moc .

I hope that 'boys' is a mis-translation of 'children'.


grindinggears said...

They even didn't take a look on my model just because I pasted a url to a longer description in their description field?
Well there should be another AFOL contest organized by TLG where you have more space to show off all your models' functions.
Well, my got a mechanical accelaration sensor, if you want to find out more about it go here:

Jetro said...

I haven't checked out the submission rules for this competition, but LEGO makes a point of keeping all material on their own website, without links to external sites whenever possible mainly as part of a policy for child protection. A link could lead anywhere and even if the content of the link is ok, what about the other material present on the site (publicity for example).

If you want to submit anything to the NXTLog the same rules apply so I deem it highly probable that this restriction was announced in the submission form (LEGO usually do their homework) so anyone who was left out probably didn't read very carefully.

Luc2000 (_luc_) said...

I am one of the people that is in the top 10. Would you please vote for me? (I am _luc_)

(I know it is a bit stupid that I am asking to vote for me here, but I just want to win. Mahjqa's davinci flyer, and the most other AFOL moc's are much better, of course)

Dornbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jetro said...

Did you carefully read the entry rules on the page you posted the MOC?

Luc2000 (_luc_) said...

I don't think it is disqualified. I had this ( ) video in the description, but they just removed it. The original description was this(, but with the link.

sholto_bateson said...
my model had way more functions than most of the winners, it just looks odd, please watch the video, i think the davinci flyer is best and should have won.

M_longer said...

Right... It's nice to see that AFOLs will have a chance to win the Technic sets, but it's odd that we are restricted to send only one photo, and no movies or external links. I understand Lego policy, but... MOCs made by adult fans are sometimes very complicated, and it's impossible to show all functions in one picture. I'll probably enter this challenge, but only to see how it looks from inside ;)

Dornbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A French AFOL submitted that :

(video for more details : )

It is obviously one of the best helicopter ever done in Technic. And it seems it is not even selected.

Besides, the restriction of one photo for a Technic (or any theme else) is just stupid. -_-'

@ TLG (because you seem to read TB's) : you are doing star wars sets for 10 years, and the Force seems not to be with you yet ! [:haha]

About the constest organization, I would say : "There is no try. Do it [well], or don't do it".


grindinggears said...

Wow that's absolutely awesome, seems like you didn't even use the flex system.

We really need a monthly AFOL contest, isn't there anyone out there to organize such a thing?

Jetro said...

@grindinggears: a question to get started: where would you announce the contest and where would you want to see entries?

@Dornbi: I think this one caught LEGO out. They should have anticipated the AFOL response, but I think they are fair and true to their intended audience by limiting the age group and at the same time providing a second big prize for AFOLs.

@ Anio: I shouldn't go by the pics they show on the blog. From the email it appears clear that mahjqa's flyer (DaVinci) was selected even though no picture was shown and 'others' have been selected as well.

Anonymous said...

wow the ones they have on there now suck ass. obviously little kids suck at building.

Atr said...

this is good move done by Lego, because they don't discourage AFOL to entering the competition, but it would be nice if they have done monthly AFOL contest instead of only one in October.

BTW. I'm glad that they "noticed" my skycrane (AtrX user) :)

Gray said...

i dont know why, but the ones they select as finalists suck. can they not just put one in that is good? the kids should have to with us afols, its a lesson in life. life ain't fair once you get down to it so these kids should have to accept disappointment. Also they should not spam up the comments section of TBs telling AFOLS to vote for them. I am not voting for any of them because they look bad and it flys in the face of an open contest. shame on you lego and finalists, shame on you.

Jetro said...

@Gray: were your MOCs so much better when you were 12?

Gray said...

yes they were

gear.head said...

I don't mind putting together a monthly contest.. I have the technical ability and resources (server & technical know how) to support one properly.

I would be happy to create a system that allows contestants to put up multiple images of their creations, video links/imbeded video, room for a vivid description and other resources. an integrated public voting system.. and a Winners circle.

My only issue would be the prizes.. I myself cannot afford any prizes.. (are they needed.. or is a title of winning enough of a motivator to enter?)

If anyone is interested.. I can put up a system in a week or 2. The next thing would be selecting a committee of judges to select finalists.. it would need to be fair.

Dan said...

This announcement is actually pretty bad news if you ask me. Excluding AFOL's and girls is really the wrong way to go about this. Telling kids that they can't build at our level is a bit mean as well - there are some very talented kids and teenagers out there. You only need to see some of the better FIRST LEGO League teams (many of which have girls and not just boys, BTW) to see kids bright enough to compete with the AFOL's.

I'd rather see contests focus on the actual best creations instead of putting so many arbitrary restrictions on things. It's better to have no contest at all than a contest with this many caveats.

...not for nothing, but other "kids only" contests have featured (as winners) creations clearly plagiarized from well-known AFOL's. So they're willing to let kids plagiarize us, but not let us compete with them?

Tobbe Arnesson said...

Some AFOLs that have commented here clearly should be accepted as kids, at least is appears to be their mental age. Yeah, I recognize some as trolling. :P

Good move by LEGO, after all it's a toy and the Technic boxes say "10-16" which is a good indicator to whom they focus their products and earn their money from.

I too hope Monica meant to say "kids" rather then "boys".

I'll try to participate (as an AFOL) on the competitions still to come. The grand prize is tempting! :D

Jetro said...

@gear.head: you have my vote although my participation would be limited to voting (or helping out with any tasks you need)

@Tobbe: thanks for stopping me...

nicolego said...

good news from TLC but for the AFOL contest, I notice that big MOC are privileged. I created this for the contest :
The moc wasn't selected as a kid's creation. And wasn't selected as a AFOl's creation. Though, it was a technic creation and some AFOL's creation selected are more sculpture than technic creation. Lego give priority to big and complex MOC, despite the design I think. I am disapoited but not really surprised. I hope the next contest will more priviliged the creation with good technic and good design.


Junkstyle Gio said...

@ Gear-Head: I would like to be accepted as one of the judges aswell

@Dan:Don't think it as plagarism, but as inspiration...

@ Tobe: I strongly agree.

@ NicoLego: Not being shown in the LEGO box doesn't mean you're not selected. Thinking "outside the box" is definately the way to go in this competion! Your helicopter looks "at a first glance" like it's all has been done before! (Although i like it very much!)

Conchas said...

Part I:

I understand the mood to some extent, but you guys must first read with attention!

Ricco: “I have attached here some of the submitted models that really caught our eye and that we want all of you guys to see - these, along with others, will go into the pot where we will select the 20 Adult submissions from at the end of the year!”

Monica: “More models than the ones showed on the blog has caught our attention (DaVinci comes to mind) and they will all be taken into consideration for the final vote.”

So while you may feel unlucky by not seeing your creation featured in the Technic Blog, you should also think about how many submissions they should have got.
It would be impractical to feature all them and these were just some examples of the very good MOCs submitted. So we have seen just a few!

Also and despite not applying for a monthly prize, there will be much more AFOL models in a final, than there will be in the kids final.

It would be also beneficial to think that in a contest where participations are evaluated by a jury (independent how experts they are in topic, and they are!) is always an easy target for criticism. It is natural for some participants, to think their submission is better than others… and probably they are, under your criteria which are likely not the same as from the judges.

BTW the term ‘boys’, was meanwhile corrected to ‘kids’, despite IMHO we all know Technic is mostly appealing for boys. Just wonder if there was any girl submitting a model to this contest at that should speak for all.

Conchas said...

Part II:

I won't enter in detail about any specific comments above and don't think it is the case for moderation, but some comments are not exactly fair to anyone (TLG, the Technic Team and finally the kids participating in the contest).

Also I agree that some are pure trolling... from some already feeling like adults, but likely not yet that mature.

Have you realized that many from the comments above could be quite demotivating for who already proved to care about the AFOLs too?
After all they are making efforts to provide you with a new LEGO experience?
How would you interpret the readiness to put online two communications targeting the AFOLs, with an explanation?

You should realize this to be an excellent initiative, it could have its flaws regarding the details from initial communicated rules, but everyone could make some mistakes, learn from them and improve.
That’s what is happening!!

Despite not stated in the rules, is more than understandable that Technic team should address in first place their target audience (kids aged 9-13).
Also most kids are not (yet) as proficient builders as some (not all) adults are.
So we must respect and motivate them all, in first place.

Unfortunately we had here a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, and TechnicBRICKs may have contributed to make it even worse, by advertising the contest in blog whose readership is probably including AFOLs mostly (yes another idea for a future poll... to characterize our readership by age ranges).

After all, the contest initiative seems to be a huge success! :)

IMO the biggest achievement with this contest is far beyond the intermediate and final prizes. But not everyone could see that far, by its own.

There are those who just complain and always complain.

This could have the dangerous effect of showing to the Technic team that they should better focus on their target audience and forget all about the rest…

Conchas said...

Part III:

Now about a monthly contest targeting AFOLs… Again I think you should not become impatient with this.
“The LEGO Technic Challenge” as just started and somehow already shown the willingness to adapt itself.

TechnicBRICKs could off course promote such an initiative. But do you think it is the right thing to do at this moment, given the circumstances?
Even if arranging for the prizes, selecting a respectful jury (and there are many to choose from out there), do you think:
- It would get the same level of adherence and enthusiasm from the AFOLs?
- There would be enough motivation for submitting so many and good models, in a monthly basis?

Here you have my opinion: I believe not. Not monthly!

Nothing could have gathered the same enthusiasm, than having the power of the LEGO brand and LEGO Technic team themselves, behind such initiative.

There could be of course, room for an annual contest at TechnicBRICKs, with categories and so on, like it is done in

…but this is not the right moment!

Who tells you there won’t be a future edition of “The LEGO Technic Challenge” with further improvements?

Conchas said...

Part IV:

…and here what I forgot to wrote in the above…

Each contest must have its rules, and they are always for a purpose.
Sometimes it is the hardest part to achieve at first.

There should be of course good reasons for accepting just one still image, no videos, links etc… and some were already here mentioned by you.

It is also your challenge to find right model to build, the right photo to submit that will catches the judges’ eyes.
For sure it is not only about complexity, gears, functions, etc… it can be also about simplicity, creativity even the way you decide to present your simple or complex model.

Being a judge is not easy as well, but those submitting must first be prepared to be judged by others and accept that fact.

Junkstyle Gio said...

@ Conchas:
Nicely spooken!

grindinggears said...

Conchas and TLG are both right.

There is a target group which is about ten years old and without this there would be no AFOLs.

Regarding the AFOL contest we should maybe wait a few months and see what LEGO does. If we want our own contest we have to be supported by almost every technic blogger and the LEGO Technic team as well.
A monthly event as well as big prizes are maybe out of reach but at least it would intensify the contact between all AFOLs, especially those who aren't that famous because they don't have an own website and the time to promote it.

Time will tell, now is not the right moment to start an own contest but to support TLG.

Al said...

@ Conchas

I agree man!

Knifie Sp00nie said...

An independent contest doesn't even have to be a contest. It's nice to just have a weekly/monthly theme or challenge to kickstart the imagination. Lots of photography and writing sites do this.

gear.head said...

Thanks Jetero & Junkstyle Gio for the support.. I'll try to contact you both later on..

I myself understand that now is not the time to start a contest.. but not saying now is not the time to build a system to support one.. TLG clearly stated what they will do for AFOLs...

I myself was disappointed but I really expected this from them and understand that this is really a childrens contest because its a children's toy (not saying that it wouldn't have been nice to have an age limit indicator in the rules) I do believe that TLG did the right thing regarding handling the situation too. I hope all the best for the 9 children who made it to the final 10 (shame on _luc_ for asking for votes :P )


It left me with the desire to have a monthly (or some other regular time interval) contest for AFOLs. Do I think it will get the exposure that TLG's Technic challenge got? NO.. Do I think it will get the Volume of Entries? NO.. Do I care really? NO.. Do I think a yearly contest should be ran to allow time to get the amount of exposure and volume of enteries? NO.. The AFOL Technic Community is lacking a common stage where their creations can get noticed and share them with everyone else to inspire even greater creations and I believe that I can help build that stage.

TLG did one thing right.. giving a time limit.. This really is a motivator to push the limits in a short period of time.. if the contest is yearly.. many might loose interest or forget.. What got me thinking creatively and not procrastinating was the motivation of the monthly contest.. I no longer was "planning" my next creation I was actually "building" my next creation.

Again I'd like to state my intentions are not to get the volume of entries or the amount of exposure TLG generated or Replace their contest but to inspire MOCers to build and in turn inspire others to do so as well.

Jarren said...

I'm curios if the 10 finalist models are arranged randomly, or if there ranked by vote count.

Conchas said...

Not exactly true.

Technic fans can show their creations at several places. E.g. at LUGNET despite it got quite obsolete, MOCpages, etc...

But you have also Technic section at EuroBricks, which is probably now the most popular, since they separated Technic and MINDSTRMS from Bionicle.
There are everyday more fans, showing their creations at EB.

Conchas said...


from what I can observe, they are displayed randomly.

Also nothing else would make sense too.

gear.head said...

Thx for clarifying Conchas.. I meant one that Got Voted on as a contest.. sorry.. all of the places you mentioned are nice.. but it takes a lot of searching to find anything related to what you're looking for..

Tobbe Arnesson said...

Back in 2002 I tried to arrange a monthly AFOL-competition, but I let people submit their MOCs with no theme.

It was very few who participated, despite it got a lot of attention at LUGNET which was the place to be. But perhaps the Technic scene has grown in the last eight years, I have not been paying attention. The feeling I have is that the AFOLs are more scattered now than ever.

Here's the competition page as I left it.

Nathanael said...

Conchas did a great job with his explanation. I already had a strong feeling that the focus would be on kids and that's why I didn't bother to participate in the first place.

We have to understand that LEGO is mainly for kids, and always has been. LEGO has done a tremendous job in the past few years by providing more sets specifically focussed towards AFOLs, thereby giving recognition and appreciation to the fan community. However that doesn't mean that now suddenly AFOLs are the main focus...

Therefore I think it is very sad that once AFOLs believe that this competition is judged unfair, many immediately start to complain, instead of laughing at their own stupidity that they didn't realise before that this was likely only going to be for the target age, accept that and relativise that they had fun building.

I have to admit that promoting this on the TechnicBricks website wasn't maybe the smartest move, but I can't blame them either, because this is indeed relevant news about LEGO Technic.

I think people should be very thankful that LEGO is willing to give away the same grand prize to the older contestants, which I think is kind of surprising. Again it's a sign of appreciation... I hope.
(Because I can also explain it as, maybe stop the spoiled (grown-up?) kids from moaning)

Conchas said...

Indeed the main objective with the announcement post, was to let all know about relevant Technic news.

The main goal of TBs.

Dornbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

AFOLs, you have to ask yourself WHAT you were seeking by entering the contest. Was it:
(1) Glory
(2) The prize
(3) The challenge of building?
Many MOCs get glory and recognition on TBs, Eurobricks, MOCpages, etc. Is cutthroat competition what you're after, where THE PRIZE is the be-all and end-all? Everyone should just step back and take a deep breath. I've heard VERY LITTLE about the merits of the 10 entries that TLG has selected. They DON't "suck"; they're pretty good. I'm 52 years old and submitted an entry, but I can live with TLG's decision. Let's encourage the next generation of AFOLs to BE CREATIVE and keep participating in the upcoming months' contests too.

Dornbi said...

Hi Everyone,

sorry for overreacting the issues and would like to apologize to everyone who felt insulted. Technic Challenge is a great competition.

I have one question though, maybe someone knows the answer: so if I did submit an entry for the February challenge but it had a URL in it, is there a way I know whether I have been disqualified or not? At least Luc2000 had mentioned that he was not disqualified despite putting a URL into it.

I understand that this is strictly forbidden to all future competitions.


Dornbi said...

@Anonymous: to me the main motivation is Glory. There are of course many forms of recognition but being recognized by Lego itself is I think the coolest possible thing.

Mark Bellis said...

I felt similarly to Nathanael on this one. Knowing that TLG focuses on encouraging kids (something we should all do too), I knew it wasn't worth stopping all my other projects to build something specially for the competition. I have past experience of this in 1996 with a dragonfly - it met all the rules but I was not aged 7! However, TLG did feature it in the next issue of the LEGO Technic Magazine (September 1996), along with its parts list!
I enjoy a building challenge but I like to select the challenge and remove the time limit :-) Some of my MOCs are 5-10 year projects!
People will think what they like about what I build, and some things will be either too technical or too esoteric, and a competition is so subjective that you can't aim at a target unless the judges are very specific about what they're looking for. Again, there would never be an engineering requirements document, so that won't happen!

I have MOCs with flying functions from years ago, like this: but a competition would not be the same if it were like the Guiness Book of Records for MOCs, with everything from history entered every time. We have that anyway as a growing community resource.

I think this sort of competition should have an extra rule for AFOLs, that the model must be able to fly under its own power. It may leave the battery box on the ground but the means of flight propulsion (propeller, rotor or wings) must be made entirely of LEGO pieces (no RC plane props or pre-fab parts and no clingfilm, but plain A4 80gsm paper is allowed). You have till Christmas because it'll take a bit longer to optimise the power to weight ratio.

In the event that no MOCs leave the ground, the winner would be the builder of the MOC that did the best to reduce its own weight. You may demonstrate by lifting off from a set of scales.

That should be the sort of challenge we AFOLs are worthy of, so how about it? (I have no prize BTW, but there is considerable kudos to be gained)


Anonymous said...

I entered the competition to show TLG the ideas i have, to promote the use of somewhat discontinued parts, to encourage new construction techniques, to submit the concept of expansion packs for kits and to demonstrate non blue axle pin finnishings.
My AirCrane got a mention.
The primary aim of this helicoptor was to make it playable. A very distant second was the functionality. Third was it's "expandability".
I had fun building it and still have more ideas to show TLG.


Mark Bellis said...

Further to my earlier comment, I tested a couple of propellers on some scales with 0.1g accuracy

The yellow one was able to reduce its weight by 2.9g and the blue one by 8.4g with the right motor/gear combinations (PF medium motor geared up 24:8 was best for the blue one).

Since the available lift is so low in these first models, the original weight of the model (~200g) doesn't matter for now. That can be re-introduced as a factor once the lift gets to half the weight of the prop and motor!


Conchas said...

Wonder to see, how does new blades to introduce at LEGO Education set 9688 (Renewable Energy Add-on Set), will perform in this regard.

AVCampos said...

Yeah, and the new motor, with much less internal gearing, should be better for that too! I wonder if it is also lighter...

As for the blades, I'm not sure (and am too busy now to search for the info) if they can be assembled with symmetrical pitches, so that we can make contra-rotating rotors. That would be really nice.

Mark Bellis said...

I see no reason why the pitches could not be symmetrical, but bear in mind that the angle of the air off the first set of blades means that the second set of blades might need to be at a slightly different angle in order to straighten the air and provide maximum thrust in the chosen direction. It depends on the relative speeds of the two sets of blades.

The method of powering the contra-rotation is also interesting. Turntables and Hailfire Droid wheels have a lot of friction, so perhaps a differential gear is better. Contra-rotation also slows down the props relative to the speed of he input shaft, so maybe 2 motors with fixed gearing is best for a model of a 2-row prop.


AVCampos said...

When I wrote "contra-rotating", I didn't mean necessarily coaxial. ;) The rotors could be arranged longitudinally like a Chinook or laterally like an Osprey. In that case, there isn't so much air interaction between them, but the gyroscopic advantages of rotating in different directions, allowed by symmetrical pitches, still apply.

Anyway, something tells me the conversation has somewhat shifted from the original focus... but, considering at least the initial tone it had, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. ;)

Dornbi said...

One could also try something like a Kaman helicopter, which is contra-rotating and not coaxial, but still the airflow is interacting. I am not sure that is easy to do from Technic parts, though.

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