My Favorite Little Brick House

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Oscar Gordon

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget.

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19 Responses

  1. I noticed an interesting comparing my old legos to the new ones: when kids play with my classic sets like the space and pirate ones, they seem much more creative and free. There is something that the branded ones like Star Wars they seem to veer into making it like that established universe. Makes me glad I grew up in the era before the branding and I could just put astronauts on pirate ships and build castles with hidden starships to my little heart’s content.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I agree. Bug has lots of the DC/Marvel super hero Minifigs and he plays with those per the canon. I started noticing that pretty quick, so I went shopping on BrickOwl and found a bunch of older Minifigs from ExoForce and Space Police, etc. I also get in the habit of fully disassembling his Minifigs when he leaves them alone for too long, so if he wants to put Batman back together, he’s gotta dig through the Minifig bin to find all the parts. That often results in him finding other Minifig parts and coming up with new characters to play with.

      I do the same thing with built out models. If a given model hasn’t moved in a while, it gets taken apart and the elements put in their proper bins. If he notices it’s missing and wants it, I remind him that the instructions are on his tablet (buried among hundreds of other instructions I’ve downloaded) and he can find them and rebuild it. He never does, because he finds something else in the instructions library and pretty soon we are building that.

      Also, this is so neat.Report

  2. Avatar bookdragon says:

    I played with Lincoln Logs first (yes, I’m old, but not that old – Lincoln Logs were the toy my grandparents had put away fro when their son had kids and to their credit they didn’t hold it back waiting for a grandson to use it). And I loved playing with those, though at least in part because it was the toy that got Grampap down on the floor playing with me.

    Legos came later, but I enjoyed them just as much (and completely identify with the cartoon you linked on girls and Legos). I started my kids off on Duplos as soon as possible and I am amazed at the variety now. That said, we live near-ish to the place that makes K’Nex and my son at least preferred the expanded options for design that he could come up with using those. Plus, a neighbor gave us her adult son’s giant collection of them, including little motors and for making a functioning rover or walking robo-dinosaur. (I loved playing with those too when he’d let me help).

    All in all, imo any toys that allows building + imagination are good.Report

  3. Re the sub-optimal assembly instructions… I recently assembled a small robot kit that suffered from the same problem. At least in this case, the problem was basically an insistence on building complete subassemblies, then fastening them to the chassis. I suspect there’s some sort of instant-gratification principle in action; people want to feel like they’re making progress immediately. Not that many people want to spend the first hour just putting all the mounting studs for this and that module on the main platform.Report

  4. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I didn’t know the story behind LEGO Digital Designer and Stud.io, but it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen several versions of the “company that doesn’t do software tries to do software and falls on its face, and then open-source developers working for nothing do something better”.

    It’s a bit of a mystery, honestly, even while making perfect sense. I mean, usually if you want to build something, you shop around for people who know how to do it and then you pay them, right? I suppose its because software costs so much more and takes so much more time than you think it ought to.

    I played with Lincoln Logs, Erector Set, Tinker Toys and some one-off house/building builder with flat sides and roofs that I no longer remember the name of. I did not have LEGOs, though I knew kids that did. Lately, I’ve done a couple of K’Nex projects. I had one as a conversation piece in my office for a few years.

    I like to do LEGO builds now of small objects as desktop decorations.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I don’t know for certain, but I suspect (based upon my impressions after using both packages) LEGO just hired developers, and BrickLink found CAD/Solid Modeling developers. Stud.IO has an interface a bit more reminiscent of modeling software, and is much better about moving and rotating pieces, as well as detecting collisions between geometry.Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    LEGOs and Lincoln Logs were part of what inspired me to love building and construction.
    I actually preferred just the simple rectangular brick shapes, since they were versatile enough to make any sort of building I wanted.Report

  6. My son loved Bionicles when he was younger. LEGO also made animated videos starring them, which are among the worst things I’ve ever seen.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “usually if you want to build something, you shop around for people who know how to do it and then you pay them, right?”

    If owning the thing yourself and keeping total control over it is important to you, then Open Source is not good for that. And Lego is very much about owning the brand and keeping total control of their “Lego bricks or toys and not just ‘Legos’ “.

    And, really, given their commitment to specific categories of play — or, rather, their commitment to avoiding certain categories — it doesn’t seem quite so strange that they’d prefer to develop their own software in-house than trust a bunch of nutballs on the Internet to do it the way they wanted.

    That is, do it in a way that bans you from making guns, or at least from showing people that you’ve made guns. Something to keep in mind is that actual Lego parts that were clearly guns was a very recent development, and even so far it’s confined to sci-fi lines (Star Wars and Marvel/DC). Lego wouldn’t even make olive-green or -drab bricks because those would be used to build army vehicles (and, as far as I know, they still don’t make those colors.)Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      They have a ‘Sand Green’ which is close to Olive Drab, but not quite. Mega Blocks is the knock-off that caters to the military vehicle crowd.Report

  8. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Another interesting thing to do with Lego bricks is make tiny working mecha out of them. There’s quite a lively community for this; there’s even a wargame published for it, http://mobileframezero.com/mfz/ (it is a bit more abstract than you’d expect for a turn-based tactical game; it plays more like Starcraft than Battletech.)Report

  9. Avatar J_A says:

    I grew up with LEGOs, and LEGO was my go-to gift, and what my parents asked family to give me in birthdays and holidays. And in those times of yore, there were very few “specific things” kits. Most of the sets were general boxes with lots of different pieces, and no special design to complete with them (*). I would play for hours creating my own things, unemcumbered by instruction manuals.

    Nowadays I hesitate to give LEGOs as gifts because I rarely, if ever, see one that it’s not “build this cool specific thing”. They look more like jigsaw puzzles than something you apply your imagination into.

    (*) the day after the birthday party, all LEGO pieces were dumped unceremoniously in a big container I had, and the original boxes trashed.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      That’s the reason I don’t let specific models last too long. He gets to play with them for a while, and once I notice he’s not playing with a specific model any more, it get’s taken apart.

      That was the joy of having LEGOs as a kid. We were poor, so I didn’t get the latest and greatest toys unless they were at St. Vinnies or a garage sale. But I could always try to build a facsimile of a new toy with LEGOs.

      Hell, I remember watching too much Anime and making mini-scale space fleets and having battles on the dining room table, with every exposed stud being a weapons turret.Report

  10. Avatar DavidTC says:

    the familiar LEGO (officially LEGO Mursten, or LEGO Brick) name

    Heh. I just watched the Lego Movie 2, and in that movie, the mother steps on a lego…and in one of the few weird immersion breaking moments, says she stepped on a ‘brick’. In actual reality she, like everyone else, would called it a ‘lego’.

    Everyone except the LEGO people call them ‘Legos’. The LEGO people insist (And thus the movie does) that they are ‘LEGO Bricks’…or apparently ‘Elements’ now?

    I find myself baffled by this. It doesn’t seem like any sort of trademark issue. Is it?Report

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