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Toys

Lego Addictions 202

randomErr writes "Canada.com has an article about Frank Robinson, an man who is into Lego WAY more than the average builder. Frank said "I still get Lego for my birthday and at Christmas, too. So do my kids." At last count the Robinson family's Lego inventory was nearing 100,000 pieces, a majority of which were tallied and itemized by type and colour on a computer spreadsheet." No Lego story would be complete without a link to something large and useless, say, a Lego harpsichord. Okay, it plays, so it's not actually useless. But the Lego Star Destroyer is.
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Lego Addictions

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  • mmm.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by minion2 ( 531192 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:54PM (#4322407)
    Yeah, legos 0wn me. I mean, come on, I'm studying to be an engineer 'cause of the damn things. They rule.
  • Come on... (Score:5, Funny)

    by joyoflinux ( 522023 ) <thejoyoflinux.yahoo@com> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:56PM (#4322428)
    640 pieces should be enough for anyone...
  • by Crag ( 18776 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:57PM (#4322432)
    Can I get that in terms a simple consumer like me can understand? How many Lego bricks would it take to build a Library of Congress?
    • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:16PM (#4322600) Homepage
      Can I get that in terms a simple consumer like me can understand?

      When I was a kid (yikes), lego sets usually cost about 10 cents per brick. Using that factor, 100,000 pieces is around $10,000 worth! That's not allowing for current prices, either, which are probably a lot higher.
    • Well according to the link above, the Lego Star Destroyer (which is over a meter long) is built with just over 3000 pieces. So he has roughly enough to build 33 of those Star Destroyers (or enough to put the Emperor to shame).

      Although I'm still not impressed. Maybe if he had enough to build 33 Death Stars with 33 Calmari cruisers with 33 lil' Admiral Akbars all yelling in unison "It's a Trap!"
  • by Marijuana al-Shehi ( 609113 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:58PM (#4322439)

    ...when you register the legose.cx [legose.cx] domain. It's still available. Hurry!

  • Many applications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Jordan ( 453607 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:58PM (#4322443) Journal
    It's not just a childs toy anymore. Check out this one guys Lego Computer Case [www.woo.nu]. Looks pretty cool.
  • by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @04:59PM (#4322446) Journal
    Sorry, this dude doesn't get geek status unless each piece is bar code scanned into a MySQL database with Apache/PHP front end.

    Spreadsheet? Bah!!!

    • My God! You're right! Ideally, the barcode will be inside each brick so as not to destroy the esthetic.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:02PM (#4322475)
      Somewhere along the line, geek must've stopped meaning "clever and innovative" and started meaning "workoholic masochist". I totally missed it.
    • I don't know that a bar code is necessary... but you bring up a really good idea - A lego sorter. A machine that takes in a ton of bricks and looks at each one and then enters it into a database.

      I propose a kit made using only pieces from the Lego Mindstorms kit and the Lego Mindstorms camera ;-) Heck, if someone can make a photocopier [lego.com], surely this would be possible.... and useful too!
      • actually, one of the mindstorm books out there had a project inside it for making a lego sorting kit. I think it was by color only.
        • By color is the worst way to sort Lego pieces! What's easier, finding the red piece in a sea of identical shapes, or finding the right shape in a sea of red pieces?

          Color-blind people may want to sort by both shape and color, but never sort by color alone!
    • by mackertm ( 515083 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:20PM (#4322637)
      Sorry, this dude doesn't get geek status unless each piece is bar code scanned into a MySQL database with Apache/PHP front end.

      mySQL, are you an idiot? Clearly Oracle or DB2 will be needed to scale to such levels!

      But wait, mySQL is faster!

      But it doesn't support transactions!

      But now it does!

      Wait, this isn't a database pissing contest? I'll go find a different article, never mind.
  • I can't wait for the Death Star...

    Tor
  • Anyone think there's a market for DRM'ed Lego Harpsichord music [henrylim.org]?
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:02PM (#4322477) Homepage
    I identify with him when he laments about the lack of good pieces. There was a golden age, when space lego got .. lets see .. MTron (the magnets were ultra cool) and Dark Space (was that what it was called) when the right balance between specialized pieces and generic blocks (and suitable colors for cool models!) was found.

    Since then, all their forays into branding, that evil of evils, have caused them to have to design all these specialized pre-made pieces. God damn it this world would be better off if it were illegal to position yourself horizontally in the market place.
    • I agree that Lego has had a not so hot period the last ten years, but the future looks bright with concepts like mindstorms [lego.com]
      Hey, someone even got one of their toys into space [slashdot.org]!
      By the way, I think the line you were referring to was Black Star (at least that was the danish name)
    • by Rader ( 40041 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:24PM (#4322671) Homepage
      Honestly, if they want to make that crap and sell Harry Potter/Star Wars pieces that come pre-made (is there even more than one piece?) all the power to them.

      But please!! Keep making the old stuff. I can't even walk to walmart or target or shopko anymore and buy a tub of decent pieces when I run short of 2 x 4's. They don't sell them anymore. I'm stuck with online sales only now.
      • Ah damn, that explains it. I was at Eric Harshbarger's [ericharshbarger.org] page and saw this mention of the blue tub:

        I get most of my bricks from discount department stores like Wal-Mart or K-mart. Toy-R-Us also comes in handy. For pieces not available in the bulk piece sets I resort to LEGO Shop At Home (1.800.453.4652) or private collectors that I have contacted via the Internet. In the spring of 2001, LEGO discontinued the very useful 'blue tub' (#3033).
      • Even online sales don't sell sets of assorted bricks. Go to lego.com and try to find a package with assorted bricks in different colors. It doesn't exist. (The best I have found was assorted black bricks: 1x2, 1x4, 1x8, 2x2, 2x4, etc. And the shipping and handling cost is more than the cost of the bricks.)

        What really happens with the sets you can buy today at WalMart is as follows:

        1. Daddy takes 6-year-old Robby to the store.
        2. Robby sees lego sets with cool themes that he has recently seen in movies.
        3. Daddy, on the other hand, sees a tub of assorted bricks packaged in a boring plastic case.
        Guess which one gets purchased? (...even though daddy knows that Robby will *eventually* get more use out of the tub of bricks than he will out of the Harry Potter castle.)
      • Honestly, if they want to make that crap ,,, all the power to them. But please!! Keep making the old stuff. I can't even walk to walmart or target or shopko anymore and buy a tub ... I'm stuck with online sales only now.
        Can't have it both ways. Shelf space is finite, and there's a lot of competition for it. If Lego decides to push a new item, they probably have to pull another item to make room for it.
      • No comment on the Harry Potter stuff, but the Star Wars kits are excellent. The sets have a minimum of specialized pieces, and are well built useing lots of the "old" generic bits. The kits are reminissent of the old blue and grey Space with lots of interlocking pieces forming a solid model. Some of the Star Wars kits rival my own designs.
      • But please!! Keep making the old stuff. I can't even walk to walmart or target or shopko anymore and buy a tub of decent pieces when I run short of 2 x 4's. They don't sell them anymore. I'm stuck with online sales only now.

        How about Mega Bloks [megabloks.com]? I bought a big huge Battleship box full of 780 pieces for like $30 CDN [amazon.com]. That works out to around 2.5 cents USD per piece, and this ship is almost entirely "standard" type blocks. Unbelievable value as compared to the "premium overpriced" Lego brand bricks.

        Boy I sure am tempted by that Lego brand Star Destroyer though ;)
        • I once bought some Mega Blocks. There was a sale at walmart, and a huge 500-piece tub was like $10 or even less.

          Biggest mistake I've ever made. I'm still finding those pieces of shit in my collection, and throwing them in the garbage.

          There is absolutely no precision in them. They will make your walls crooked, and your supports flawed. Make something big enough with them, and you won't be able to line up a square.

          I'm no lego nazi purist, but there is a big difference. More than I would have guessed.
    • but they actually do a pretty amazing job of reusing pieces, or at the very least molds. a new piece of branding may require something they haven't made before, but soon you see them used pretty creatively in other sets.

      case in point... the 'flames' from the castle sets. looked like a one-off, no other use. until they showed up as coral (same mold, different color) in one of the undersea sets.

      the same thing happens over and over again. every time I see a specialized piece, I cringe. and then I start to imagine what else their designers might do with that mold.
  • his cue::cat to really do it geek justice.

  • Me and my friends used to have a blast with legos.
    The fun for us was that you could ram lego planes,
    trucks, boats, etc. into each other then put
    them back together. You could also simulated
    damage done by removing stuff hit by your imaginary
    guns. Lots of arguments like, "HEY NOT FAIR I HIT
    YOUR ROCKET BOOSTER AND YOUR MISSILE
    LAUNCHER TAKE THEM OFF". The only thing we
    hated was how big things would get if you tried to make
    the curves look realistic. I ended up putting half a billion
    legos into an 'AirWolf' helicopter to make it look
    realistic and it was too heavy to play with. Another
    thing was the wars that would break out
    over "special pieces". Anything transparent, or
    the antenaes, or the wheels, windshields, etc. We'd have
    arguements and fights over what pieces belonged to
    who. It killed a lot of time and probably allowed
    the picture tube in the TV to last a few years
    longer than it did
    • We used to fire ball bearings out of slingshots at each other's lego space ships. No need to 'simulate' damage there! Around the 4th of July, we would get very creative, often requiring significant reinvestment in legos to replace all the melted bricks.
    • I did this too except in HS we used rubber bands to make sling shots with the Technic pieces. It was all fun and games until we actually broke a couple of the longer pieces in two. Too much tension. :)

  • by JFMulder ( 59706 )
    It's a shame the person who made it didn't post an mp3 of him playing on the hapsichord. I wonder what it sounds like...
  • by nucal ( 561664 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:05PM (#4322508)
    All of this fuss and bother is the nuts and bolts of Robinson's raison d'Lego -- designing and building intricate scale models, right down to a Lego man at a Lego urinal, or a Lego toilet paper dispenser in a Lego toilet stall.

    Lego toilet paper ?!?!? That's gotta hurt ...

    • use the pieces with the one smooth side >:)

      just make sure you're using it the right side up unless you want to be the basis of an ER urban legend ..

    • Well just imagine the poor Lego man who has to wipe his ass with it. He'd end up with a TP trail like 90% of the time!
    • give a whole new meaning to "The Sims", and peoples apparet addiction to it.

      It is one thing to let a computer simulation run, but actually building a guy to use your bathroom that you built, with toilet paper (dispenser) that you built. That borders on insane, way past geek.

      Now, put some mindstorm guts in the guy, hook it up to "The Sims Online", and interact with someone elses world.
  • by grungebox ( 578982 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:08PM (#4322533) Homepage
    Try here here [ericharshbarger.org]. This guy does Lego construction for a living. A LIVING! I'd build Legos for a living to if it weren't for my lack of opposable thumbs...Oh, well, back to engineering.
  • Wow, that harpsichord is really impressive looking. However, listening to it, er, it kind of reminds me of a joke:

    A man and his dog were sitting in the park in front of a chessboard. A stranger stopped by, wondering what was going on. The man made a move. The stranger was amazed when the dog reached out a paw and made another move!

    "Wow! That dog plays chess? That's some amazing dog you have there!

    And the man replied, "Ah, he's not so amazing. I'm crappy at chess, and I still beat him 9 out of 10 games."

  • 9MM and MP5! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by therealmoose ( 558253 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:13PM (#4322572)
    Lego Beretta [malagraphixia.com]

    Lego H&K MP5 [malagraphixia.com]

    These are really cool, with working slides, collaspable stock, and removable mags.

  • "I still get Lego for my birthday and at Christmas, too. So do my kids," says the 44-year-old academic, who teaches poultry production and physiology in the University of Alberta's department of agriculture.

    Not only does he wield a mean lego block, but he's also a man who can tell you exactly how the chicken crossed the road!

    Hrmmm, but what exactly does one do in poultry production class? I hope you're not making any really weird home movies...

  • by allanj ( 151784 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:14PM (#4322583)

    Come on, michael - there is no such thing as useless Legos. They're fun, they pique the imagination, they provide an endless number of fun hours. I'm really glad my son is turning 5 soon, so I get to play with real Legos with him (IMHO, Duplos are not really funny for adults). If the cool Start Destroyer weren't so expensive, I'd get it for him (and me :-) right away.


    I have so many fond memories of playing with Legos during my childhood, and no model was ever useless. They could all be combined in so many fun and surprising ways that even the hopelessly outdated models I inherited from my father were never useless. In fact, most of the Legos used by my son now is from MY childhood, and a (very small) part of those are from my fathers and uncles' childhood.


    In some ways, this goes to show that a carefully designed interfacing system can survive many years and revisions. If only programming API's had the same level of longevity. The C standard libraries, perhaps?

  • So a family named Robinson is really into a swiss toy, huh?

    I guess it's pointless to ask him what he'd take with him to a desert island.
  • by ohboy-sleep ( 601567 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:18PM (#4322620) Homepage
    This guy better hope The White Stripes [ifilm.com] are making a second video.
  • by Mmmrky ( 607987 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:21PM (#4322643)
    I can't imagine having anywhere near the necessary time (and money!) to create anything lifesize, but come on people, Legos are wonderful. They shaped my childhood and sparked my interest in engineering.

    My college even has a freshman engineering course that uses a slightly modified version of Lego Mindstorms to teach the design process, how to compensate for mechanical error, programming logic, etc. It was tons of fun.
  • Lego = Overpriced (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by uberstool ( 470348 )
    Lego = Overpriced
  • by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:22PM (#4322651)
    Wait for it.......

    Lego Girlfriend.
    Now THAT'S news for nerds.

  • 3,000 pieces for the Star Destroyer. Hmmmm.....

    I wonder how many you need for the Death Star?

  • Pretty cool but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FunkSoulBrother ( 140893 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:24PM (#4322673)
    In my opinion lego structures are really cool when they stay within the realm of the system. I think every non-Lego piece, substance, or tool you use detracts from the "coolness" value of the overall structure.

    For example, first he starts with glue.. thats somewhat understandable, given the size of these projects. Next its unrolling cloth capes to use as dampers. Brass wires? Well, i suppose those were necessary.

    Next he crosses the line... using a surgical scalpal to cut and shave down LEGO pieces? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?? I mean, at that point I might as well melt down 100,000 of my own legos, pour them into a harpsichord shaped mold, and say I built an instrument out of legos too! I mean, technically it would be correct.

    Perhaps thats an exageration, but I just don't enjoy these models as much when there is so much, well, cheating going on behind the scenes. I suppose those are tradeoffs you have to make to actually make something that isn't just a statue.
    • Re:Pretty cool but (Score:2, Insightful)

      by broller ( 74249 )
      Next its unrolling cloth capes to use as dampers

      Lego makes these capes to go on the Lego people (minifigs.) The capes are only about as tall and wide as the minifigs that wear them. I see no problem with this item.

      As for the glue, cutting and other things, well take all of those out and you've still got something REALLY impressive. Once you get to that level, I think you're allowed to make some minor alterations. It's not like Henry just put a Lego case around a pre-built harpsichord.
  • Recovering Addict (Score:4, Informative)

    by Denial of Cervix ( 456252 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:27PM (#4322696)
    I can sympathize with the 100k dude - my collection included well over 60,000 pieces. While I built some really cool stuff - large LEGO train layouts with pneumatically operated switching points - I found myself spending more time sorting than building. I probably owned more Plano tackle boxes than most fishermen would ever dream of, and they were full of Technic bits broken down by gear size and linkage function. Yes, I was single then. I sold the whole lot when I moved to New Zealand - paid for the trip and freighting the rest of my stuff over!

    Some interesting LEGO links:
    The LEGO User's Group Network [lugnet.com] - started as an offshoot of the rec.toys.lego newsgroup, now the definitive source for info and discussion.

    The Brickshelf [brickshelf.com] has a gallery of all sorts of stuff people have done, as well as scans of old catalogs and building instructions (you threw those away, didn't you).

    I sorta miss my LEGO sometimes, until I see new LEGO in the store - yech. For the most part, they've really gone downhill (the Sante Fe train engine excepted). Plus, I've got other expensive hobbies - 1/32 slot cars, bicycles, 'puters....

    That harpsicord is pretty wack, tho.

    Later,
    DoC

  • If I read this right, he's pretty much built a model slaughterhouse out of legos. Wow. Lego blood, lego headless chickens, lego butchers. What set does all that come with?

    "The tenants arrive here, are carried along a conveyor belt in extreme comfort past murals depicting mediterranean scenes towards the rotating knives. The blood pours into these chutes here, and the mangled flesh slurps into these large.."
    "Excuse me, did you say knives?"
    "Rotating knives, yes."
    "Well, we're not proposing to slaughter our tenants..."
    "Does that not fit in with your plans?"
    "No, no. It most certainly does not."
    "Oh."

  • Spreadsheet? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Splat ( 9175 )
    Sheesh, the guy totally gave himself away. Any self-respecting geek would be storing that all in a relational-database.

    The redundancies of a spreadsheet, aieee ....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... but any one who says the Lego Star Destroyer is useless is already dead inside...
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:32PM (#4322733) Journal
    He's got a designated Lego room at home with designated storage bins, including one for Lego "human bits." He growls at his kids if they misfile Lego pieces.

    At last count -- and yes, he does count -- the Robinson family's Lego inventory was nearing 100,000 pieces, a majority of which were tallied and itemized by type and colour on a computer spreadsheet.

    This guy sounds like the Scrooge McDuck of Legos. He's the crotchety old man who growls at his kids when they mismanage part of his beloved collection. I'll bet he goes swimming in his Lego bin several times a day, and some evil witch has been trying forever to steal his number one piece.
  • Has anyone ever built or tried to build a house out of legos? If so how thick does one need to make the walls (for insulation purposes)?
  • by pmancini ( 20121 ) <pmancini@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @05:58PM (#4322910) Homepage
    It must be. It says he's had kids. Via what method? Sperm donation? Come on! They guy's house is FULL of Legos! It's not crack guys, its A TOY! (to paraphrase Woody from Toy Story).

    I can imagine the scene where he procreated his kids...

    "Come on babe, let's shag! Lay here next to Lego Larry!"
    "Why is the bed so hard and rough?"
    "it's made of legos! Just like these restraints!"

    Now if you want to talk about a Real Man's collection, come on by my place and let me show you my collection of SPAWN(R) action figures...
  • After reading the Slashdot writeup, clicking over to the story and reading the article, and studying the user comments, I shall now launch into a six-paragraph attack accusing this gentleman of having too much time on his hands.
  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wes Janson ( 606363 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:37PM (#4323163) Journal
    I'm suprised and disappointed to note that the subject of this article apparantly does not belong to www.lugnet.com , nor is an active part of the Lego community. It's unfortunate that many AFOLs, former AFOLs, and potential AFOLs fail to learn about the active and growing community. Come on over to Lugnet, and browse the posts. Then go visit www.brickshelf.com , the primary site for hosting MOCs (My Own Creation). Adult Fans Of Lego aren't freaks or outcasts (although many would probably call themselves geeks, just as most on this site would call themselves the same), just regular people who have a particular hobby.
    • The fact that you have a four-letter acronym describing your {habit|hobby|addiction|compulsion} pretty much belies that "aren't freaks" bit. :-)

      Of course, I'm someone who has every Rebel Alliance Lego kit gracing my bookshelf, so don't go by me.

  • by Amizell ( 565760 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @06:56PM (#4323290) Homepage
    Here are instructions [i8.com] on how to build a robot out of Legos that can solve all of those stupid Rubik's Cubes you have laying around your house. Fighting toys with toys: now that's elegant.
  • ...describing himself as a "chicken gynecologist"

    How do you decide you want to be that when you grow up?

  • Not THAT much (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheKubrix ( 585297 )
    I've noticed alot of posts assuming his collection is Massive, but in reality its not THAT big. I recently added to my own collection and went to the local Walmart/KMart and bought a few tubs of 500 pieces for only $10. Now doing the math His 100K collection is only worth $2000, of which I bet a good portion /. users has spent more on their computers and accessories.

    Theres collectors who go FAR beyond this and make legos a significant factor in their household budget and have well surpassed 100k pieces...
  • Lego Movies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xoid629 ( 598744 )
    I just recently notice the amazing amount of Lego movies people have made. They range in length from about 10 seconds to 30 minutes, with 5 minutes probably about average. Some are really quite good.

    See: This [coolbrickmovies.com] And this. [brickfilms.com]

  • What's going on with Slashdot and posting frickin' [slashdot.org] articles [slashdot.org] that feature the number 100,000?

    What? Is it as high as anyone can count?

    As for the Star Wars Destoyer, that's pretty cheap for a coffee table.. (just flip it upside down) (:
  • If you visit lugnet.com, you'll find that a collection of 100,000 pieces is not that big of a deal-I'm somewhere at 70-80K anyways, and I'm not a big Lego enthusiast anyways.


    There are 250, 350 and 600K piece collections that are really impressive.


    Calum

  • by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @10:08PM (#4324384) Homepage Journal
    are by Andrew Lipson [blueyonder.co.uk]. The kleing bottle is the coolest, imo.
  • Our daughter, who lived for five years on a 32 foot sailboat cruising the Pacific with her books and a small Lego set for company, married a Chemical Engineer (despite vowing to never marry a nerd like her father). After their wedding they ceremonially joined Lego collections. A nice touch, I thought.

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