My brother, sister and myself are the youngest of our cousins, and ended up inheriting all their Lego.
We had a whole verandah (grew up in Australia in the country) filled with our Lego city.
It became all encompassing.
We had no close neighbors(nearest was 6 km away) and no console until the n64 was old so it was Lego or helping Dad on the farm.
We had the most detailed alternate reality you could imagine.
Characters, occupations, a little economy (each of us had a primary character . And then all their accessory characters, and we would have a million dollars... Learned a lot about closed economies from that little experiment!) We made cheque books with little bits of carbon paper, and would reconcile the transactions.
We would start a 6 month long session by determining the rules- is space allowed? Western? Only one character? Combine with the train set for transport?) And then play out until our 'dump' of all the remaining pieces was left with nothing but the rejects... Then tear down our civilisation, rub of the chalk Marks from the floorboards that laid out the streets (we only had for pieces of road and they were all corners!)
I dislike that Lego only comes in kits now... The glory of Lego was in getting a massive rub of pieces and doing whatever you dreamt up out of it.
We had a Lego police station and helicopter and a restraint, and they were great centerpieces, but the beauty of our playtime was that it was a creative effort of the the of us.
Through out we learned/discovered economics, banking, made mini newspapers, the rules of society... I ever created my first computer program in vb so we could do our bank statements on it.
So much love for Lego.
Maybe Minecraft fills a similar role in today's kids?
I tell ya, as much as I remember loving Legos when I was a kid, there is absolutely nothing as cool as building them with your own kids. Also, they still sell those big boxes of random pieces. I think it's called the "Classic" line or something like that.
Lego Friends sucks. The gendering of Lego sucks. The relentless specialist themed sets sucks. The move towards many small fiddly pieces and some specialist pieces to create a Lego-thing sort of sucks.
Luckily I can ignore all of that and buy Lego Creative or Lego Classic.
My understanding is gendering of Lego in the US sucks. It's cultural. The EU doesn't have a pink stigma.
Also, Lego made bank with the themed sets. First with the western (cowboy) then with Star Wars sets. I think some (not all) of them are awesome. Lego's made plenty of stinker sets. They really had little choice. Their target age market was being squeezed from both ends, "learning toys" on one side, video games on the other.
I don't care what child has which toys (boys with dolls, girls with bulldozers, vice versa) so long as they're playing, learning.
Overall, that experience made me a toy snob. +1 to Lego/Duplo, Lil' Tikes, and misc reading books. Most other toys suck.
Except magnets. Magnets are always cool.
As a parent of a 2 1/2 year old I couldn't agree more. We went to Toys 'r' Us to do some Christmas shopping last year and I was absolutely appalled to see the place. Aisles weren't organized by age, or the general "types" of toys, instead they had entire aisles dedicated to specific brands or media franchises.
An entire two aisles of Frozen toys, another for Cars, then all the Hot Wheels (okay, I might give this one a pass), so on and so forth. And really, all of these things were junk, just generic dolls or little specialized playsets.
Somedays I look into my daughters room and wonder if maybe it's a little sparse, I've got a big bucket of Lego Duplo, some alphabet blocks, a play kitchen with a bunch of Melissa and Doug items in it, some dress up clothes and a couple other age appropriate toys. But every time I realize that she has plenty of things to play with, and she's always doing neat and new things with everything she has.
She had me help her make a train car out of her Lego over the weekend, it was just a basic "box" that was 6x4x4 with an open top, and she started cramming her stuffed animals and Little People into it and going around the room shouting "choo choo".
Meanwhile, every other kid I see that has these toys from big media franchises just plays out or extends the universe they already know from the movies or shows. I think we really need a return to the basics with toys for our children, watching my daughter explore and create is much more enjoyable than watching the other kids act out their favorite scenes from Frozen again.
Very much this.
I have a couple of kids, and I try to steer clear of the specialized sets. I've heard stories of friends' kids pointing out set after set in the store and saying "Done that one. Done that one. Done that one. ..."
They have no sense of dumping out that giant bucket, delighting in the rushing chatter of a plastic avalanche, then asking themselves, "What do I want to build today?"
Sort of makes me sad...
Plus the joy of watching them figure out that you can use old Lego with new Lego is fantastic. Principles to live by!
Or someone who actually cared about children and learning?
Or someone who points out your writing in fragments instead of acknowledging your point in the first place?
They have discontinued the pneumatic line which is a shame because it required no batteries and I grokked pneumatics because of it--the pneumatic pump had a one-way valve as I recall it allowing air to push through. I was maybe 8 at the time.
Similarly, where do you get the idea that pneumatics have been dropped? They were on a hiatus, but are now back and still going strong. http://brickset.com/sets/theme-Technic/tag-Pneumatic shows 28 sets, one of which is currently available from Lego direct, and at least two more of which are still available retail. The 2015 Technic flagship model - the Mercedes Arocs truck - will have new pneumatic elements.
Awesome to know I can still get it, ordering one for my son via UK if I can find it.
Yeah, LEGO is still a big deal. My older boy has participated in LEGO-based robotics competitions, and both of my boys still spend time just about every day building.
My kids do like the kits, but generally those kits stay together for a month or so, and little by little, blocks are scavenged for other projects. My older son has a small handful of built kits that are sacred, but otherwise, the rest of them end up in the bin.
You can build anything, go on any adventure. Far more immersive than lego, but still crude enough that you need a bit of imagination to really get into it.
I haven't seen the kind of deep social interaction that my brother sister and I had while playing lego though - more the way we all used to stand around while one of us played simcity 2000 (still social, but one driver of activity)
I'm getting reports of a Bacon City and a Cake City being built connected by a railroad ;-)
Today's Lego has 33 product lines:
When your Legos are branded as "Chima", "Bionicle", "Ninjago", "Marvel(tm) Super Heroes" or "Disney(r) Star Wars(tm)", it's expected that you play within the existing marketeer-created universe. Less blank canvas, more coloring book with product placement.
Here's a list of the sets released in 1981: http://brickset.com/sets/year-1981 . Out of 58 sets, 16 are designed for generic use. Much of the rest are buildings and vehicles from the modern world, like houses, fire stations, tow trucks, ferries, helicopters, dune buggies, etc. But there are also sets with medieval knights and space themes. Plus, Lego created their own characters for a theme they called "Fabuland". There was even a tie-in series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keJua4D2Ymg
In summary, back in 1981, there were generic sets plus four different themes.
it's expected that you play within the existing
Kitbashing is _the_ plot driver of the Lego movie, in that it's what Master Builders do.
Notice how the Lego Club magazine highlights people's creative builds.
I want to postulate that Lego's endpoint is not static sculpture, but active imagination. Consider fan fiction. Sometimes we want to create stories inside someone else's universe. Hasn't your imagination been sparked by some favorite movie or book or artwork? Have you ever wanted to tell the rest of the story? I know I did! That's why I flew my Duplo Millenium Falcon around the living room. I don't see how a more realistic version would have been less fun, or less imaginative. And that's the point of the branded sets. They're fun! With any luck someday soon I will be able to build model rockets that look a lot like what explodes on my launchpad in KSP, only my kids and I will be able to fly those around the living room, pretending the sofa is Planet Klystron, home of the savage (but peaceful) race of Mer-mole-men (Lego people with frickin' sharks heads!) Meanwhile, Superman arrives to rescue our stranded Kerbals, whose ship (naturally) blew up upon launch.
And so on.
It's about the stories we can tell ourselves and each other. In-universe. Something wholly new. It doesn't matter. Do whatever it takes to get you or your kids' imaginations jumpstarted.
Or at least that's what I'm after when I buy a Lego set (branded or not). It looks cool, and it sets my imagination racing.
Is there any way/adapter to connect Duplo (or Lego) on top of Megabloks?
I sometimes manage to usefully mix them but always feel it'd be more useful the other way around if Megabloks could provide large-scale structure with Duplo providing fine(r) detail on top... Though I might be biased by having tons of Megabloks and not that much Duplo.
[There is of course the kludge of hanging a protruding duplo under:
You should also mention though that Lego still make and sell a lot of universal building sets.
In Lego stores there are walls of bricks where you can select any bits you want.
Yes, there has been a big rise in themed and licensed sets, and yes, some of them have specialised building parts that you can only really use in the set.
But that's just part of the trend over the last few decades from generic products to branded products. Everything has to be branded... I even saw a "frozen" branded loom band set. I guess the loom bands are just colors associated with the movie? Even buying kids shoes these days they're mostly branded with superheroes, princesses, etc
You can enjoy building predefined models, and creating your own from buckets of bricks though. Both can co-exist nicely. The best thing is that Lego is still going strong.
Lego is a business, of course. Those ABS plastic blocks are practically indestructible, so they're not going to grow by selling replacements for universal blocks...
Not to put the knife in too hard, but megablocks and other competitors don't even function properly when they're new out of the packet.
A few years ago, however, we decided to just buy him a few of the big bucket sets. So he's got buckets of bricks that get played with, and shelves full of models that collect dust.
We also have a pretty big collection of Duplo blocks, which my 2 1/2 year-old daughter has little interest in, although she loves the Lego.
The bricks aren't finished properly, some just pop off, and it all falls to bits easily.
I'd say the nearest competition to Lego is probably 60% the quality of Lego.
It's rare to think of a toy that you can play with as "heirloom quality," but I have no doubt my kids will inherit a portion of the family set when it becomes time, and their kids just might too.
Heading 'trademarks and patents', the last patent expired in '89.
Today's boxes include too many specific pieces. Car hood, top, helicopter nose, etc. Pieces that can't be used for anything else that what they're designed for, and can't be replaced if lost.
So you can't take it appart to build something different.
I take it you haven't played with any of the modern kits. I encourage you, if you enjoyed lego as a kid, to buy a couple and see for yourself. The model on the box is more polished, but the building blocks are very much the same.
I'm pretty confident if it weren't for the Lego Friends series, there would be a lot of girls never learning that they enjoy the building process. Which would be a great shame. If girls learn building legos can be fun, then they might learn that CS can be fun as well :).
Ideally companies adjust their product lines based on customer demand. In reality it's mostly determined by other factors like supply chain, internal politics, competitor envy, random advice from consultants, need to meet quarterly growth goals, etc.
For example, high-fructose corn syrup has become a major ingredient of many American food products within the past 20+ years. That didn't happen because of consumer demand, and consumers don't have an easy way to vote against it.
That's a pretty bad example, since that was in good part a result of the action of elected governments that have kept the price of sugar way above the market price, through tariffs, quotas and subsidies.
I suppose it's true that consumers don't have an easy way to vote against it, but it is a result of the US' "democratic" process.
On a related note, there was a recent Econtalk episode with Daniel Sumner, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at University of California, on that subject: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/02/daniel_sumner_o.htm...
Legal restrictions in the marketplace are categorically different from internal company policies, and the lack of power that people have changing the former does not imply a lack of power changing or overriding the latter.
If people did care, those other factors probably would have had to take a back seat to consumer demand. So I don't think you can say that it was irrelevant to the rise of HFCS.
(You can argue that people are ill informed and blah blah blah, but that's still them not caring enough to demand whatever it is you think they should be more informed about)
Try taking away the advertising if you want to give people a free choice.
Or balance it with an equivalent level of glossy but fact-based media persuasion about the true effects of HFCS, smoking, etc.
Sure, Coke and Pepsi blast ads all the time, but do the arithmetic, they save a couple cents using HFCS over cane sugar. They aren't advertising to get people to accept HFCS, they are advertising to increase consumption of their sugared drinks. If there was reasonably widespread resistance to HFCS they would just switch.
(The arithmetic: there's about 1 pound of sugar in a 12 pack of coke. That's ~$0.50 of cost, max: http://www.sugaralliance.org/us-sugar-prices/. HFCS saves a lot of that cost, ~$0.40 of it: http://www.cornnaturally.com/pdf/hfcs-in-the-us.pdf . So a typical can of soda could use cane sugar for ~$0.03. Note that I've picked a hostile price for cane sugar.)
After that things get still get ripped apart and combined into new things. It's still mostly a bunch of colored brick except the modern boxes contain a couple more custom bricks which make his own creations look even more awesome.
Lego is still a good (or even better) for kids nowadays than it was 30 years ago.
And it's not like you can't buy non-branded Lego (there's plenty of it available). Even if you do have the branded sets you can still use them with 30 year old Lego bricks.
I don't see how branded sets result in less creativity.
But better market analysis later showed that it was a mistaken belief. Actually it is kids that decide what they want, and parent oblige. Therefore Lego does not make this kind of ads anymore. They make marketing directly towards the consumers: The kids.
So, Lego could look at ads that target parents in some of their markets.
Someone tracked down the little girl in the ad: http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/little-girl-1981-lego-ad-g...
recent studies have proven that praising a child’s
effort over the childs acheivements is the correct way
to raise a little person that will do well
I'm confident that positive and negative feedback about achievement are incredibly important moreso than acknowledging effort. Praising the attributes of a person is clearly just flattery so I don't know why anyone would do it or need a study to point it out.
Were you to praise effort and not assess achievement, you will train people to look like they are working hard rather than actually achieving anything and not give them the feedback that will help them truly excel.
I would be cautious about praising:
i) High effort but low performance due to repeating mistakes that have been pointed out before.
ii) Low effort but high performance due to luck or the task being easy for the individual.
I would find it important to praise:
i) Low effort but improved performance due to a change in behaviour e.g. learning from previous experience.
ii) High effort but low performance due to how novel or ambitiously challenging the task is for the individual.
We know that toy manufacturers spend a lot of money on research.
So, it's possible that they have a bunch of gently flawed research, and the flaws are magnified through poor reporting, poor understanding, and then implementation into product.
And now we're here, with toyshops segregrated into pink aisles and blue aisles there's no way back.
Apparently the desire. Toddlers pick gendered products on their own (for some forms of them). There was some studies about this behavior.
But it is true that kids even make gendered toys out of practically nothing. For instance, a local kindergarten here: three-year-old boys were forbidden to have toy guns. So the kids took some flat crispbread at the midday meal and chewed edges off to make it gun-shaped, and then started playing cops and robbers. Bang bang.
A gendered toy would be a toy gun packaged in a blue box with only images of boys on the packaging.
I don't care if more boys buy guns and more girls buy toy horses. I do care if those toys are packaged in rigidly gendered packaging and stocked in gendered sections of the toy store.
I would probably first try with a "normal" Nerf gun, but if that doesn't stick, why not try the girl variant.
And you can have things custom made. For items like suits or furniture it's not that much more expensive than quality pre-made lines.
Do you reckon socialism does a better job with providing individualistic toys? Or what alternative to free markets would you propose?
As for the truth of the cartoon: there are more "neutral" Lego kits than any average kid could possibly afford to buy. Presumably girls weren't buying, that's why Lego made "friends".
I'd prefer my daughter to play with "friends" than no playing with Lego at all, although to be honest I am not really worried.
A web search tells me that whether this is actually true depends on your age in a somewhat odd, nonlinear way. Lego has tried having a product range specifically for girls
on and off since the late '70s. Their first attempt didn't last very long but the followups did better. Apparently Lego Friends is the most successful one yet.
Of course that meant that there was a large untapped market of girls, and Lego have tried various approaches (mostly failures) to get at better hold in that market.
Lego homemaker predates Lego City. Since there have been Lego themes there were some that were some who were preferred by one gender over another.
(Whenever I see the praise effort, not achievement meme I make it a point to praise the effort, not the achievement).
Compare this to the still great and gender encompassingly written, but still clearly gendered approch from '74 to introduce the homemaker line:
funnily enough the now internet famous introductory text was always cited out of it's context:
There was another version other of the same year clearly aimed at boys (sorry only dutch version here).  Correction, its actually quite generic and very inclusive/neutral compared to the 1976 UK version 
[1b] http://worldbricks.com/fr/my-instructions/download/file.html... [pdf]
Yet the '74 homemaker one is clearly aimed at girls, and only mentions boys in the foreword.
My point is LEGO had quite the on/off approach with gender in their advertising for decades already, and yes I like the 1981 one.
I really wanted a Lego trainset but never had one; I did however have the house, a hospital, a racing track, a police station, the docks/port, a mid 1980s spaceship (with "Benny" out of the Lego film), Robin Hood's hideaway, a Napoleonic era series of figures with a rowing boat (can't remember if we had the actual giant boat), a castle of some sort (got the cannons). My brother and I had many many days of happiness building and playing with Lego.
I also had some horses. I have my characters somewhere but I think my mum gave away all of it to my nephew, who can only build from instructions, not from imagination. Hopefully he'll learn to do that.
So in a video she would show only gendered Lego, omitting all the non-gendered Lego. Or she shows only video games with scantily clad women, omitting the context (might be portrayed as despicable to mistreat a woman in the video game, but taken out of context you may only see that a women is mistreated in the game), and omitting the zillions of video games that have nothing to do with women or gender at all. That way she "proves" that Lego is sexist and video games are sexist, and I don't know what else (haven't watched all her drivel).
People apparently believe anything that is presented on film.
Lego Classic has just arrived in the UK but it seems a half-hearted piece of mummery to me.
And all the funny bits people moan about make excellent space lasers.
I agree that other kits are just a bunch on non-general blocks and tiny pieces.
That "discover how you're special" mindset seemed to be a socio-academic theory of the times.
"What it is, is beautiful."