Thursday, May 29, 2014

The LEGO House

The LEGO House set (4000010) landed at my desk a few weeks ago, and obviously I didn't loose time to build it, as I had my LUG biggest annual event running beginning of this month. It was a great opportunity to show our visitors a brickform preview of the new Mecca for all LEGO fans.

This has a special meaning as I was among the 10 AFOLs across Europe invited for a secret workshop in Billund. So secret that even us didn't know beforehand what was going to happen there!
Well, we were brought to get an insight on some details and preliminary ideas of the project, and to share an AFOL perspective of what we would like the future LEGO House to be (not even the name was definitely chosen at the time).
Of course we are not allowed to share any further details about what was shown an discussed in the workshop, but all that matters you already know.

As you might have heard  TLG decided to build a LEGO Brand House in Billund [1]. A brand symbol and museum or rather the future experience center of LEGO where children and parents from across the world will have fun and informative insight into LEGO play, values and history. A brand house, like other prominent brands did in different parts of the globe, is what the family toy company owner decided to do as a give back to his town to develop and grow - Billund Capital of Children is the dream and vision being chased with this project.

The LEGO House will raise in the center of Billund where the former town hall and other buildings lived before. The demolition works have already finished and the new building is expected to open in 2016.
In the meantime LEGO released this small set, an exclusive for the shops in Billund to sell, as form of gratitude to the local commerce, for the nuisance they will feel during the works.

It took me just a few seconds to think about, which excuse I would use to write about this set here at TBs , since it is not LEGO Technic related, and guess what I came with?
Yes, this is the place where you might want to go someday and visit the vault where you'll see all the relics ever released by LEGO. Including of course the old LEGO Technic and Expert Builder sets you have dreamed with and which probably you will never be able to find anywhere else.Get a glimpse from the concepts below...

... which of course may differ a lot from the actual vault in the future LEGO House we will get and certainly also very different from the current LEGO vault which opens only for certain elected ones [2, 3].

You will need to wait for the opening in 2016 to see what we will actually get.

Below the architectural and interiors concept video produced by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) for The LEGO Group, which won the LEGO House project. There you should get a glimpse about what this holy place may turn to be.
Bjarke Ingels is a Danish architect who heads the architectural practice BIG, which he founded in 2006 and is currently established in Copenhagen and New York. Ingels is known for his innovative and ambitious designs and projects and has won numerous architectural competitions and awards. I'm privileged to have attended one of his conferences in Denmark some years ago and to engage in dialog with him and my AFOL fellows about the LEGO House project.

As for the set itself there is a bit more to say than most of any other set this size. This is a 250 part set plus a few spares as usual. Although it comes in a box identical to those from the Architecture theme sets known by everyone, it is not branded as such. It is more like the special sets given by LEGO to employes, devoted to the Moulding, Factory and Production series, which makes sense as this will also be a LEGO building. Even the odd or long reference from this set fits with those. Although this one features a "Special Edition" tag.

Opening the box is rather the same experience as opening one of the Architecture sets. A few polybags with parts and an high quality booklet with the building instructions and some introductory notes about the building itself.
You will notice there is included one exclusive minifig with the building's name in its torso. Another detail that distinguishes this from any Architecture set if still any doubt remained.

As one could expect from this type of set it builds in a relative easy and small number of building steps
No special techniques neither specialized parts present here, but a very pleasant result in the end.
You may feel it a bit weird the presence of a minifig side by side with a model in such a different scale, but I guess this was done to add some level of exclusivity to this set, given the fact it will officially sell only in Billund shops.

It costs 149 Danish Kroner (about 20€ / US$27), but collectors as of today may still find starting at 38€ from BrickLink sellers.

The iconic 2x4 "brick" in the top of the house constitutes the keystone of the building, with which the architects smartly avoided the easy temptations of any further collages between the building forms and the regular brick shapes. It will also be the highest point in Billund where you can enjoy the view!
With such well known pattern on its top, the LEGO House will probably become one of the easiest landmarks to recognize if observed from space. Like the Giza Pyramids or the headquarters from the Bavarian automaker BMW in Munich (Germany), to name a few.

Eager for the opening!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Building Instructions for Jennifer Clark All Terrain Crane available!

It was in 2002 when the legendary Demag AC50-1, All Terrain Crane from Jennifer Clark was built and published at her website. Since then it became one of the most iconic fan made Technic models, admired by everyone. For you to have an idea about the dimension of the achievement we should also look at what was the official LEGO Technic mobile crane at the time - It was the well known 8460 first released in 1995 and later re-released in 2002 as 8431, and again the year after as 8438 (quite the same for a long period of time).

This revolutionary model introduced at the time many breakthroughs and several custom parts that were never available for purchase, turning this model very difficult to reproduce and even more to make a digital model of it, suitable to transform into some sort of building instructions. Although and since Eric and Jennifer started produce building instructions for some of her most iconic models, about one and half year ago [1, 2], this turned into the next big thing most desired by many fans of Jennifer's old school models.
In fact some were already dreaming with it even before than that, and the advent of the first instructions being released just catalyzed the man's will. After several attempts, elements replacement with easy to find current available alternatives (official or customized elements), compromises and many work hours, Eric was finally able to build on Jennifer, Richard Brown and Chase Horman's previous work and produce easy to follow instructions for everyone with access to a huge load of parts to build this amazing Technic masterpiece.
But if you want to know the full story, better to read it here.

Modifications included the replacement of several elements. The original and never commercially available Hi-Technic R/C receivers used by Jennifer, with current PF IR Receivers. And the custom lead-screws and thrust bearings used to lift and telescope the main boom with other alternatives for everyone without access to a machine shop - A long stroke linear actuator with built in motorization by Firgelli and a vulgar worm screw with a 32L axle.
In the process many adaptations had to be done in the model to accommodate the new elements with different sizes and shapes. But if one carefully compare the original and the model in the building instructions you will find also several other minor changes that take advantage of newer elements meanwhile released by TLG, while the original aesthetics keeps preserved. For instance some 1x1 round plates in the rear lights were replaced with newer 1x1 tiles, newer light cover bulbs (58176) were introduced, etc.
Even some red wedge plates were used in the counterweight to avoid the need of some custom stickers.  
You may argue this is not the same as the original thing, but these are the required compromises for being able to build it nowadays and to improve some aesthetic details. Even Jennifer admitted she would build it differently today than she did at the time.

Of course I did not built the model in this short period since the building instructions have been released, although it is notorious a tremendous effort was spent to make them as clear as possible and to translate this complex and dense model into buildable steps easy to follow by any moderate experienced builder.
And yes this model is almost dense as one can imagine a black hole, wasn't it packaging 7 motors (not to count the built-in motor in the Firgelli actuator, 4 IR receivers, 3 battery boxes and a fair amount of cables wiring everything inside.

The only thing I missed was the introductory pages that we got used in the building instructions for Jennifer's models with a description of the real machine and its origins, and the model as well as the creative process behind it. But we have always the model presentation page at Jennifer's website.

These 165 pages building instructions are now available from Chase Horman's MOCPlans building instructions market place.

During the first month you can buy the BI for an introductory price of only $15, or a couple of giant stone coins fro Yap Island (if you deliver them...). Afterwards the price is expected to increase.

Enjoy the build and add this remarkable model to your collection!

Week TechVideo, 2014 #21 - Akiyuky cleans them all

Kawaguchi Akiyuki returns with another brilliant idea.

Every AFOL knows how the LEGO balls get dirty after an event and several hours running through many different GBC modules. Know one wants to clean one by one, despite washing them altogether might be always the easiest remedy.
But Akiyuki who already used us with his out of the box ideas, came with a very creative in circuit GBC module that cleans the balls all the way as they go through. Amazing!

Very intricate and well done mechanism in this module, which includes an EV3 with several sensors and motors, an interesting geartrain and lots of pneumatics, pump and tubing to achieve the required sequence of movements. And some non LEGO fabric as well...

Kudos to Akiuky!


Please avoid sending requests to post specific models on this TBs section.

We understand some of you would enjoy to see your creations featured here, but please understand that because only one video gets highlighted per week, it is impossible to accommodate all the great MOCs continuously build by the Technic builders out there. They simply won't fit all and that's also not the purpose of this blog (see the header statement).

Many of your MOCs are scanned anyway and listed for later publication when they do not fit immediately. However some remain in the backlog queue just for too long and eventually loose the relevance or the publication opportunity window. As a rule of thumb, we also avoid publishing MOCs that have been featured by their authors or other fans at some other great web places dedicated to the Technic community out there. It doesn't mean that occasionally some won't get published here anyway.

Thanks for your understanding!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Self-creating "new parts"

During the last Christmas exhibition by PLUG in Lisbon, fellow member and Technic fan Filipe Rocha brought his red Porsche 993 GT3 by Crowkillers, to have it on display mounted on a rotating base (also built from LEGO elements).

After a few months, the exhibition ended and he went back for this stuff... but noticed a missing half bush from the rotating base. Oh well, it must have fallen off somehow during all that time... Then he went back home and took apart the base to find out if the half-bush was somewhere within the mechanism.

His only clue was quite some ABS dust on the mechanism. Then he found out where the element went.

Can you spot it? That's right, the half bush got embedded into the L-beam! Shocked The axle where the half-bush was spinning pushed it so hard against the beam that, during the time of the exhibition, the two elements wore down, perfectly adapted to each other, and effectively became wholly new customised elements all by themselves. Here they are separated, showing how they changed. (the "new" half bush is shown next to a "regular" one for comparison)

Do you think these "new" elements would be useful in MOCs? As for me, I would never have the heart to intentionally do this to LEGO elements!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CEE LEGO Fan quarterly survey - 2Q 2014

And it's time for yet another survey from The LEGO Group! This time there's only one link, and you choose your favourite language after clicking it.

It won't take long to participate, and it helps TLG in better meeting the hopes and needs of the fan community.

Without further ado, here is the survey!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Calling all Technic fans from Iceland!

Keith David Severson,Senior Manager at LEGO Community Support, has asked us to reach out to any Icelander fans of LEGO (Technic or otherwise). There are no LUGs or AFOLs known to TLG in Iceland, so if you live in the Land of Fire and Ice, this is your chance to make yourself known to the biggest toy company in the world: just drop me a line at, and I'll forward your contact to TLG.

Looking forward to see LEGO fans unite everywhere!

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