Monday, July 19, 2010

San Diego Comic Con Exclusive

Sold as a set by lottery. 450 will be available every day. Angus MacLane will also be at the booth to sign at certain hours.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LEGO Survey...

This is a bit late, but it's been busy at BrickJournal Central...

From Jim Foulds,
Community Operations Manager
Community Dev. Americas & Australia

The LEGO Group Wants to Hear From You!

As Adult or Teenage Fans of LEGO, you bring an important perspective to the LEGO Group. We respect your creativity and passion for the LEGO brand.

Since December 2008, we have done quarterly online surveys to learn more about the needs and wishes of global AFOL (defined as ages 20+) and TFOL (defined as ages 13-19) communities. For your information, we have listed the key findings from the latest survey in April 2010 below. Now we ask you to take the survey again. It include some of the same questions, but also a set of new questions for you.

Please take a few moments to complete this short online survey to let us know your opinion about the LEGO Group.

You might notice that the link refers to the LEGO Kids Inner Circle; this is because Satmetrix, which hosts that site, is also supporting our efforts to track AFOL/TFOL opinions. Rest assured that this survey is for AFOL’s and TFOLs only.

Here are some of the key findings from the first quarter 2010 survey:

· The survey was completed by 3.750 AFOLs and TFOLs. 33% of respondents were TFOLs, 67% was AFOLs. When asked about likeliness to recommend LEGO products and services to friends and family, AFOLs are (consistent with the previous surveys) more likely to recommend than TFOLs.

Several TFOLs this time expressed disappointment with the discontinuation of the Bionicle line. When asked what the LEGO Group can do to improve willingness to recommend, most frequent answers center around request for more complex/modular sets, re-release of classic sets, teen/adult focused section on and better pricing.

· In this survey we asked some questions specifically about online behavior. Interestingly we found that both AFOLs and TFOLs are more creative and conversational than average online population. They are very active on forums, blogs and social network sites, but not using Twitter much. Putting the data into the Forrester Social Technographics Ladder, we got the following results:

o Around 40% of AFOLs/TFOLs fit the categories of Creators and Conversationalists (average for US online population is around 30%). We compare to US online population just because we do not have comparable numbers for e.g. Europe or Asia.

o Around 70% of AFOLs/TFOLs fit the category of “Critics” (average for US online population is less than 40%). Surprising?:-)

Very interesting findings, so we will follow up with some more questions about online behavior in this 2nd quarter survey.

Thank you,
The LEGO Community Team

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Alex Taylor: Crane Builder

Occupying one of tables by the wall at Brickworld was a couple of cranes built by Alex Taylor.

His models are neat because they are functioning cranes, with pulleys and turntables and drives to work them. A couple of years ago, he built a crane with a span of over five feet! This year, though, he decided to be a little more portable.

These are to minifigure scale, and the model above was lit with LEDs from Rob Hendrix (Brickmodder). The dumper works and is kept closed with magnets. A pulley opens up the dumper when needed. The controls can be seen behind the crane...two Power Functions remotes put together.

Alex's next project (he's thinking) will be another crane, but larger. Much larger. A car will easily fit in the dumper of the next one!

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Build on the Spot Results

When last we left Brickworld, there was a competition going on with the robotics builders....

The rules stated that points would be given to the blocks moved to the score zone, and stacked. However, it quickly became clear that the rules were a little 'fuzzy.' Two strategies were used for most of the robots: move as many of the blocks to the score zone, without stacking, and stacking in small stacks.

There were a couple of unique robots. One, built by team college students Jay Kinzie, Peter Ehrlich, and Jessica Reams actually stacked a group of small blocks. The other, built by MINDSTORMS builder Steve Hassenplug, had a box that had sloped sides and a catapult. The box was moved to the score zone and the catapult threw blocks in. This was a clever solution, however, it did wreak havoc on the rules, as it brought to question what defines a stack.

The scorekeeper was Brian Davis, who unfortunately, didn't see the rules given scores became a messy thing, as they were determined by multipliers and stacks and...

The competition went late into the night, and the winner announced at the awards ceremony was the Jay's, Peter's and Jessica's stackerbot. In terms of construction, it was the most complex of all the bots in terms of tasks, although there was another that used the table side to slide along and stack blocks built by Ron McRae.

All in all, it was neat to see robots for a challenge built within a few hours - and it was cool to see different solutions used.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Build on the Spot Robotic Challenge at Brickworld

Thursday was the day that the Build on the Spot (BOTS) challenge happened.

This was a competition that was open for MINDSTORMS builders and had the following rules:

Entrants brought in their own parts and NXT components and came in with no completed models. All models were to be built in the span of approximately 5 hours.

Robots had to be able to move blocks of two different sizes from their edge zones on the tables to the middle zones adjacent to them. Points were awarded to blocks in the scoring zone, and if stacked, more points could be gathered. A few of the smaller blocks also were multipliers if stacked. All of this was done in a timeframe of 2 minutes.

After the rules were explained and clarified, the room suddenly became full of activity, as you can see below:

There were more than ten teams, and all of them had different approaches to solving this challenge. Some focused on getting as many blocks to the scoring zone. Others believed that a stackerbot would be able to get the points for a win. Regardless, it would take some time to build.

From there, it became a matter of practice and testing, as seen below.

Stacking proved to be difficult, as a first block had to be placed to stack on. From there, others were placed on top. The general strategy for the stackers were to only drive forward to place, then reverse to get another block. The teams could not bring a stack of blocks and place them in the score zone...they had to be done one by one.

A much easier strategy was to just have the bot push the blocks to the score zone, making the score based on quantity of blocks, as opposed to having a stack.

These strategies had to be determined and bots built within the few hours of the construction phase. That night, the competitions were done at another table in another room...

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