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Lego Goes Back to the Basics: Building Blocks

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the returning-to-basics dept.

Toys 717

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "Slashdot recently covered Lego's plan to stop producing its Mindstorms line in response to the Danish company's worst financial loss in history. While the original article linked focused primarily on Lego's plans to cease production on various toy lines, Yahoo News now has a follow-up article that looks in greater detail at Lego's plan for the future. 'We are returning to Lego's former concept,' says Lego owner and president Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. 'We're going to focus on building bricks as our main product, concentrating on little kids' eagerness to assemble.' Kristiansen goes on to blame the company's financial woes on its attempt to follow trends rather than focusing on its more traditional products. In turn, the company's plan for 2004 will include a renewed marketing push for Lego bricks as opposed to licensed products like the Harry Potter and Star Wars lines. Toy researcher Joern Martin Steenhold also notes the following in the article: 'All research, including my own, shows that computer games and other electronic games take up only 20 to 30 percent of children's play time. Boys play with traditional toys up until the age of eight or 10, and it is in the zero to seven age range that Lego has its niche.' Zero to seven? What about the Slashdot crowd?"

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717 comments

Awesome (-1, Redundant)

Astroboy! (126236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952724)

Whoo-hoo!

More power to them!

Re: Open Sores (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952727)

If I open source my code, how am I supposed to make any money?

Re: Open Sores (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952741)

sell pre-compiled binaries on cd for the bandwidth impaired.

Re: Open Sores (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952762)

Like you were going to make money from your crappy code in the first place. Dream on.

First Post (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952731)

I always preffered unabashed Lego sets.

Having 100 of each was great. The sets with instructions were fun, but it really was more enjoyable to be creative. That's what we should getting children to do anyways.

Re:First Post (5, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952888)

Lego could probably be a very profitable company for a long, long time. All they need to do is sell plastic blocks (which they price very high). Their move of getting rid of the electronics, tie-ins, etc is a good one. I wonder if they will dump the theme parks too.

20 years ago, someone at Lego thought that they should be a huge powerhouse company, with their hands in everything. Why not just be a medium sized company, making a few million dollars of profit every year with your core business?

Walgreens pharmacy did a similar thing. It seemed like suddenly every single corner had a Walgreens on it- everywhere you looked, another frickin Walgreens. Now, craploads of them have gone out of business, and the corner is left with a VERY cheap building. They didn't do themselves, or anyone else any good by over-expanding. (My old neighborhood had an awesome coffee shop that leased a corner building. Eventually, the landlord sold the corner lot, the coffee shop went out of business, and nice shiny new Walgreens was built. 2 years later, it is an empty building, where once my favorite coffee shop, with a fireplace even, stood.)

What does that have to do with Legos? Over expansion- the urge to be big, instead of concentrating on what works for you.

First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952738)

First

Damn kids (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952745)

I'm proud to say I've played with legos for as long as I can remember, and I still do.

I still play with my Lego :) (5, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952746)


Boys play with traditional toys up until the age of eight or 10, and it is in the zero to seven age range that Lego has its niche.' Zero to seven? What about the Slashdot crowd?

I'm 38 and still monkey with Lego. When I was sick at home for a few days I had a little contest running with myself. I had built a small Lego "bridge" that could span a piece of legal paper lengthwise (14") then would place a glass of water on it. If the bridge didn't hold then I had water to clean up. If the bridge held for 5 minutes I'd tear it down then 're-engineer' it with less pieces than before. All the regular bricks, no cheating with the longer pieces. :)

When you're sick a bit of a mental challenge helps you forget the illness. (I was doing this with my Lego blocks from 30+ years ago but I have a lot of Mindstorms stuff too, it's leet)

Re:I still play with my Lego :) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952789)

A 38 year old who uses the world 'leet' and plays with Legos. Talk about a mid-life crisis. In case you are wondering why your friends keep telling you to grow up, just refer to your parent post.

Re:I still play with my Lego :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952808)


Talk about a mid-life crisis.

By your measure I've been in this "crisis" all my life, AC.

Re:I still play with my Lego :) (4, Funny)

bconway (63464) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952879)

Zero to seven? What about the Slashdot crowd?

I'd say that pretty much covers the maturity level of the posters here.

what I would like to see (5, Insightful)

mpost4 (115369) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952747)

is a return to the way legos were sold in the 80's, not in sets, yes there were those, but you could also just get a generic set. I have not see a generic set in the stores around here, they all are some set based on some movie game or some thing, but no generic set.

Re:what I would like to see (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952817)

I went to Legoland in Windsor UK last summer (*cough* it was her idea honest). They had a generic set for sale labelled "Classic Lego". Only place I've seen it.

Re:what I would like to see (1)

Dilbert_ (17488) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952870)

Yeah, I remember those... As a kid, I used to play for hours with lego, constructing this, building that... I never understood the appeal behind all those 'branded' sets (Star Wars, Potter...) anyway.

Re:what I would like to see (5, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952875)

The great thing about doing this (going back to generic set sales) for Lego is that it drastically reduces their costs while also directing focus back where it belongs - on the open-ended nature of the toy. Instead of directing a kid to build Hogwarts or something, let them build whatever their imagination comes up with...

Re:what I would like to see (5, Informative)

broller (74249) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952887)

They come in buckets now. They were called Freestyle sets throughout the 90's, but I'm not sure what the series name is now. Check your local Lego aisle for buckets full of windows, bricks, etc.

If it's individual kinds of parts in bulk you want, shop.lego.com [lego.com] still sells the service packs that they've always sold through the Shop At Home catalog, as well as the rest of their product line.

For single special parts, or any other sort of non-set purchase, BrickLink [bricklink.com] is a great resource. That's where the resellers break down the sets they buy from stores and sell the parts individually. If you want 300 wigets in blue, bricklink is the best way to find them.

FIRST Lego League? (4, Interesting)

GabrielF (636907) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952748)

I wonder how this will effect FIRST Lego League, the international robotics competition for middle-schoolers. FLL is a great program from Dean Kamen and the same people who run the FIRST Robotics Competition.

One story per week on this is enough (-1, Flamebait)

crush (19364) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952755)

this is a lame follow-up to the story about Mindstorms being dropped. "Slashdot - News that you don't care about. Stuff that you've heard about already". Come on editors -- there's lots of interesting science and tech stories.

Re:One story per week on this is enough (1)

MrBlackBand (715820) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952860)

Why oh why, if you aren't interested in Lego stories did you take the time to post a comment about it? Believe it or not, there are people on this site who care about Lego. This is not "Slashdot- News for crush. Stuff that only matters to crush."

What about us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952756)

Zero to seven? What about the Slashdot crowd?

What about us? I haven't touched a Lego since I was probably 10 or 11 years old. Do grown men still actually play with these things? Say it ain't so!

Re:What about us? (4, Insightful)

dnahelix (598670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952915)

You're not grown, you're just OLD .

Great news for parents and children (4, Interesting)

addie (470476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952757)

A corporation moving back toward imagination and away from limiting corporate tie-ins, don't see too much flowing in that direction these days. The "themed" Lego sets were the worst thing to happen to toys in my lifetime.

I'm beginning to have faith that I may be able to buy new Lego for my future children, as opposed to having them play with my mess of a collection.

first lego? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952759)

POUTIN!!!
LEGO!!!

Oh... strange age range (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952761)

umh... 0-7?! And I just got my new lego car (but my kids stole it!!!!) and I'm not in that range. Legos are really cool for creative usage. Have you ever tried to use cpu cooler with legos? (The coolers should be stronger, they break down too easily - I managed to break couple such things with kids when we were playing with them and legos. )

=)

Creativity (2, Interesting)

trACE666 (731643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952765)

Back in the days you really needed to have some creativity to build somehting with Lego, not just putting together fancy parts of a spacecraft...
I think it's a good thing they are forced to put demands on kids' creativity once again...

Amazing! (1)

rune.w (720113) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952768)

Sounds like they've been reading Slashdot recently ;) Now if they could only reduce the price of the bricks a little bit... Ok, maybe I'm asking too much.

Still, kudos to Lego.

R.

Re:Amazing! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952907)

Go to the Lego outlet store. My wife picked up a bucket of pieces for about $40.00.

Call me blasphemous, perhaps (3, Informative)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952771)

but when I was a kid, I remember having much more fun with K'Nex than with legos. K'Nex constructions were larger (some could take up the better part of a room, which kids find tremendously cool), more permanent, and they could have some really neat moving parts (Lego Technix notwithstanding). I played much more with my Big Ball Factory than with the Lego models that I had.

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (2, Informative)

trACE666 (731643) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952807)

Anyone used Fischertechnik?

Maybe not well known outside of Germany, but it gives you much more technical possibilities than Lego.. I have seen university student projects done in it.

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952951)

We used to have those in my old primary school here in the U.K. This was back in the late 80's. I have never saw them in the U.K outside of that school.

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (2, Informative)

elf-fire (715733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952835)

If size does matter: Try Quadro: http://www.quadro.de/englisch/index_e.htm

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (1)

elf-fire (715733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952948)

Sorry: Quadro [quadro.de]

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (1)

hcuar (706760) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952864)

For me it was Constructs. Constructs were W-Beams (of varying size) and 6 way connectors. Although Legos were still pretty cool! :)

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952904)

hey i remember those. very cool stuff. we built a drum set of them for our band!

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (1)

mlambie (696617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952933)

They got my vote too.

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (4, Informative)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952937)

Two more:

Capsela - Cool plastic spheres with gears and motors inside them and various wheels and such to attach. The coolest part was that they had float attachments so you could make boats. I made some of these into a robot for a final class project just recently.

Old School Erector Sets - these things are valuable collectors items now. I seem to remember the instructions giving you basic structural engineering tips. The motor they had was badass.

Tim

Re:Call me blasphemous, perhaps (2, Interesting)

dnahelix (598670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952941)

I would combine them. I would create structures that incorporated Legos, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, Erector Set, and plain wooden blocks.

We don't need more Mindstorms... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952773)

...we need more cowbell.

Walken.

Teh Spoke.

Out.

-----------------
This message brought to you by the "Desperately Trying to Create a New Slashdot Catchphrase in '04" Committee

YUO = TEH WIN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952842)

Re:We don't need more Mindstorms... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952854)

You, sir, are a Turgid Troll

DK

"What about the Slashdot Crowd?" (5, Interesting)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952774)

The problem with the Slashdot crowd is that not as many /.'ers play with legos and one might think. Most of us have jobs and lives that prevent us from playing with cool toys.

On the other hand, Lego's problems lay deeper than a bloated product line. Lego toys are way, way too expensive. Even when I was a little kid twenty years ago, my parents bought me high quality knockoffs at Sears for like 1/3 the cost of Legos. I imagine that it's worse today.

Re:"What about the Slashdot Crowd?" (5, Insightful)

Tassach (137772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952942)

The great part about parenthood is that "having a life" means that you spend time with the kids. Having kids means that you can go out and blow a wad of money on toys and not feel guilty about it. My munchkin is still a little young for lego, but when he's a little older you can bet that he & I are going to be spending many hours playing legos together.

non interchangable (1, Redundant)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952778)

I always though Leggo went down the tubes when they started pushing the non-interchangable 'theme' sets.

Mental Age (4, Interesting)

JohnGrahamCumming (684871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952780)

> Boys play with traditional toys up until the age
> of eight or 10, and it is in the zero to seven age
> range that Lego has its niche.' Zero to seven?
> What about the Slashdot crowd?

Perhaps he was talking mental age? :-)

Seriously though a key trait of the hacker mindset is, I think, playfulness. That shows up in the way hackers mess around with language and Lego. And that playfulness is a key aspect of learning. How many times have you hacked something together "just for the fun of it": in reality half the fun was that you were learning.

The good news is that Lego is going back to the bricks. Great news Lego, that's just what we all needed!

John.

Stupid LEGO pieces (5, Insightful)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952785)

The problem with LEGO is the stupid pieces.
Grab a random $20 kit at a store, it's full of special pieces with no real use.
What happened to actual blocks? you get only a few if any in the average kit.

I was going to buy lego for some children, until I realized I would need a moderate fortune to give them a decent assortment of basic pieces.

luddite's UNITE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952787)

I played with LEGOs for years and years. Now having my first child (a boy) I am not at all interested in allowing a game system. I don't see any value to the skills it teaches. But with LEGOs you have to bargan with other children for the good pieces, pick up before the vaccum/dog gets them and generally interact with the REAL WORLD.

The only issues with LEGOs is their long life. I have 13 pounds of them from my child hood and after washing in the diswasher (inside a gym bag) they look new!!! Too bad for LEGO that I wont need to buy any new sets. . .

Later.

Nothing wrong with Potter & Star Wars (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952788)

I think there actually might be a good market for the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Bob the Builder and similar Lego sets.... if those sets would be more compatible with the standard Lego blocks. None of the much-lamented specialty blocks that were only good for one thing, but 'themed' sets of generic or Technic Lego. There's no reason why they wouldn't sell well.

Zero to seven? (2, Insightful)

CptChipJew (301983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952791)

Zero to seven

I would never give a child under 1 year old something that swallowable.

Re:Zero to seven? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952846)

I also wouldn't give something like Lego to a child with underdeveloped motor skills and hand-eye coordination. That's what Duplo is for.

Re:Zero to seven? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952848)

first one to predict sick jokes following, just you wait! there's no accounting for taste here.

It's about time! (1)

a_timid_mouse (607237) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952794)

I played with "Legos" (don't let the company know I still call them that!) until I was *at least* 10 years old. As I grew older I moved away from building houses, cars, and other "normal" stuff and started building my own nifty creations like secret vaults with locks and awesome aerial firefighting aircraft. It really got my mind thinking about how practical my creations would be in the real world, and if they followed the laws of physics or not.

Anyway, glad to see Lego getting back to what it always did best. Perhaps they can spin off the Mindstorms branch. I'm sure there are plenty of us who would still buy Mindstorm products.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (4, Funny)

p4ul13 (560810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952795)

He is soon to be a guest on Krusty's Komedy Klassic.

Concentrations spans (4, Interesting)

vpscolo (737900) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952796)

One thing lego always helped me do was learn to conentrate. I could spend hours just doing one thing. Kids now days seem to spend 5 minute son something then move on

As the old saying goes

"I'm sure my concentration span is...ooh look shiny thing"

Rus

Re:Concentrations spans (2, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952914)

Lego gave me a way to approach my job...little pieces that I can move around and make into different things. I write various financial reports all day and I treat all the paragraphs and general concepts as different kinds of bricks that I can use to build whatever I need. So, in my head, a certain kind of text has a unique "feel," which is akin to rumaging through a box of Lego for the right piece.

I want basic bricks (4, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952798)

It'd be nice if they were more affordable though (this is where that nasty global economy / foreign currency things comes into play :(

Actually, I've been kind of surprised that Lego hasn't hit upon the idea of marketing kits directly to grown-ups, say a line of desk accessories (the pens struck me as lame).

When I got a Fujitsu Point 510 pen slate, I didn't bother to get a stand---thought about making one out of wood, but instead chose to use my old Legos (I've since added a pen holder and a stand for a CD-RW drive to lift it up behind the Fujitsu Stylistic I did purchase a stand for (was running low on Legos)).

Pictures of the Point 510 and stand should be here:

http://www.tabletpcbuzz.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPI C_ ID=7109

William

What about the Slashdot crowd? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952802)

The sharp edges of my Lego RealDoll are a real health hazard. Perhaps Legos with rounded edges might appeal to the adult crowd.

Star Wars Lego (1)

samsmithnz (702471) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952805)

I have to admit that I only buy the Star Wars Lego... If that is discontinued I'll be upset... I guess its a good reason for me to finally have kids, so that I can *buy them* lego...

Good for them!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952814)

Having special LEGO pieces that could be used for only one purpose wasn't very inspiring.

I guess some models will become bigger in size since they have to do details with standart pieces now.

Official Bionicle Hate Thread Begins Here (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952815)

I hope this means the end of Lego's "Bionicle" line of toy robots. I've been a major Lego fan since I was little and, to me, the Bionicle line was the epitome of Lego dumbing down their toys and sucking every bit of fun out of them. A lot more fun and imagination happens in your head when you're given a cleaner canvas.

Re:Official Bionicle Hate Thread Begins Here (2, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952939)

Nice big thread you've got going here... ;)

Nothing at all wrong with the Bionicle bricks, it just requires a bit more work to get interesting things out of it. Unfortunately I've lost the link, but somewhere out there on the the big wide net are all the main ships from the mighty Ikaruga, made out of Bionicle stuff; amazing work I'd recommend hunting for.

Okay: Mindstorm's going away. Which should I buy? (3, Interesting)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952816)

I've always been interested in the Mindstorms, but never quite enough to buy 'em, always figuring "Some day, some day..." Well, it looks like "some day" has arrived, and I don't know which ones to geek out on. I'd like to:

- Have something mobile
- Have it be controllable via Linux
- Have it do nifty things

For those of you that've already bought/geeked out on/played with them, which models (that are still available) have brought you the most joy?
------------------

Technic? (1)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952819)

Way back when I was young, lego had two or three big product sub-lines, aside from ordinary lego bricks. There were the space-themed sets, I seem to recall there were medieval-themed sets too, and, the one I remember best of all, Technic Lego, the sets that had all the moving parts, electric motors, pneumatic pumps and stuff. Technic was actually my introduction into the mysteries of how a rack-and-pinion steering system actually worked, how diggers worked, things like that. Oh and you could build neat spaceships and things with it too.

I'm all for advanced stuff like mindstorm, etc, but if they neglected their base ranges and customers, then they were kind of defeating the point.

Back to the basics? Good... (5, Insightful)

John_Booty (149925) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952820)

I like the "back to the basics" idea. Today's Lego sets look way too specialized to me- too many specialized pieces, not enough basic Lego bricks- so there's a lot less creative potential. They also look way too expensive.

I think that selling basic Lego sets again is a nice potential return to the things I liked about Legos as a kid in the early 80's. It would be nice if they could sell the basic sets in addition to the fancier licsensed sets and the advanced products like Mindstorms instead of canning those products entirely, but all in all I like this move.

Lego's real problem! (2, Funny)

Peldor (639336) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952827)

What's LEGO's problem? Their products don't have a limited lifespan. Twenty year old Legos (Legos, that's right I called them Legos! One Lego, Two Legos, Red Legos, Blue Legos) are just as good as new ones. My own Legos have already been recycled to newer generations a couple of times.

Now if they'd switch to some sort of fast-degrading plastic or better still, edible, they'd have a huge demand without end.

Have a kid! (2, Funny)

l0wland (463243) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952828)

If you don't dare to play with Lego anymore, make sure to have a kid!! You'll have a good excuse!

Oh wait.. Slashdot... women...

Niche Market? (1)

starvingcodeartist (739199) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952831)

I think the age group of 0-7 is a little low. I played with legos daily until I was a teenager, and I still do. You should see the 1960 Ford Thunderbird engine block I rebuilt the other day.

what i'm going to build (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952832)

is a Lego PC Case mod

w000

I'm so 1337, I'm 2448!

ABOUT TIME! (1)

carldot67 (678632) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952834)

You wouldnt believe the trouble I went to to get my 5-year old basic blocks to play with. Eventually had to mail order Lego themselves - shops full of "Mindstorms" garbage.

I'm sorry but an Obi Wan Kenobi figure with one connector on his head is NOT a piece of Lego.

The whole point is that "Its a new toy every day"

(Great for making biochemistry lab apparatus too!)

Given my income level... (1)

Mipmap (569611) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952840)

I'm worth about 150 0-7 year olds.

Come on Lego, don't throw the baby (Technic & Mindstorms) out with the bath water (Bionicle, Harry Potter, et al).

Slashdot gets younger every day (0, Troll)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952844)

Congratulations on news for nerds aged 3-7. I really agree that plastic blocks are the kind of thing I will come back to Slashdot for again.

Seriously, surely there are more interesting things happening out there than this?

Or, a terrifying though occurs, perhaps there are not?

I loved lego. (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952847)

Lego was my primary interest as a small one. And not because of the "trends" as they say. I would only first build the thing that the set was supposed to be, then I'd always go on to building whatever I thought up(albeit, with terrible color coordination -- meh).

I would build and build. But my stuff would always get destroyed. I always thought it was my brother(who would be at home for much of the day cause he wasn't in school yet). Mcuh later I found out that it was my step-dad who would secretly destroy it. He said he did it cause when I had a lot of stuff I would stop building cause, you know, there's no blocks left and I couldn't destroy my creations! I guess I could say my step-dad had an interesting method of parenting in that...

Anyway, I guess the point is, I personally liked it for the building entirely not the "toy" aspect, and It's A Good Thing that they're bringing the focus to that moreso.

So will they close legoland? (3, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952849)

I read near the bottom of the article where they mentioned "forays" into other things such as the Legoland parks. I know that the last time I was in San Diego, I drove the family out to the park (my son was 14 at the time.) We saw the $40 price tags and decided it simply wasn't worth it (so we drove up Mt. Palomar to the observatory, which was indeed worth the drive.)

I recall being surprised that the parking lot for Legoland was nearly deserted, until I saw the admission price.

Anyway, I know I'll miss Mindstorms. I wonder what other lines they'll drop?

Lego my Eggo (0)

GerbilSocks (713781) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952853)

Hmmm. I got an idea! They should diversify their business to include battered pancakes! That should make them profitable. Everyone eats right?!!?

0 to 7? Zero? (3, Insightful)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952855)

Gosh, that's going to be one unhappy baby. All it wants is something plush that maybe it can wrap its tiny fingers around while lying in the bassinet, and instead it's going to get a pile of hard, sharp angled blocks that it cannot possibly understand how to assemble. The odds of a zero-year-old choking on Legos, I would estimate at fifty-fifty.

What a horrible idea.

slashdot croud? (1)

PaulGrimshaw (605950) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952859)

Zero to seven? What about the Slashdot crowd?"

I guess if they are talking about mental age ...

Good! (4, Interesting)

Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952862)

Legos were much better when they were simply blocks and YOUR IMAGINATION was what mattered. I've watched my little brothers put together newer lego sets where most of the pieces are designed to fit together in ONE SPECIFIC WAY. Everything is already planned out, and you are supposed to follow the directions (like a some-assembly-required toy).

I'm all for plain old blocks again. And I wouldn't be surprised if that leads to higher revenues again.

Anyone else with workplace Lego? (1)

TimTheFoolMan (656432) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952865)

At my previous employer, the Network Admin built a rack for the modem pool out of Lego blocks, and glued them together once he got the design right. Naturally, it fit the modems perfectly, and it had the right level of "geek chic" for a technology company.

Needless to say, my current employer (a Fortune 100 company) would probably never stand for such a thing.

Tim

what about the girls? (4, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952866)

Boys play with traditional toys up until the age of eight or 10, and it is in the zero to seven age range that Lego has its niche.'

What about girls? (And there's supposed to be ingrained gender equality in Denmark hmmmf!)

OK, the girls that play with Legos and stuff like that might get shunned by the the silly girls who play with dolls and maybe some parents want their little girls to wear frilly dresses and play with dolls and girlie stuff but 1) it was always more fun to play with the boys, and 2) who says you can't make a tea party set with lego blocks??

Important (1)

ciryon (218518) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952878)

I think LEGO is really important for kids development. I wonder how many engineers around the globe first found their lust to construct and discover with LEGO? The MindStorm series is absolutely increadible. At my last job we had MindStorm LEGO for probably $2000 that all in R&D would play around with.

Worst move ever was to pay those enormous amounts for trash like Harry Potter and Star Wars LEGO. If LEGO now stops MindStorm they will become valuables. I want my kids to have this, and I'm willing to pay for it (when I decide to get some kids in 10 years or so, ahem).

Ciryon

Fond memories (1)

carl67lp (465321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952882)

I was thinking, out of the blue, the other day about the cities I used to construct out of several road-style plates and lots of imagination. I'd set a blanket out on the patio, and get to work. I had truck stops, police stations, fire houses, stores, houses, campgrounds, and more. Some of the areas were pre-designed (i.e., from instructions), but most were just whatever I wanted.

If I could go back to my childhood and only play with one thing, Lego would be it. I plan to pass my entire Lego collection down to my (future) kids.

But the Mindstorms thing kinda bums me out. I had wanted to buy the $200 set since I first saw it. But $200 is a lot of money for someone who also wants to buy a new sound card, or video card, or processor, or (dare I say it?) food and clothes. Had the price been closer to $100--or even $150--I would have had an easier time of buying it. Perhaps Lego priced themselves into trouble, perhaps not.

But however you slice it, Lego isn't going away. I have a sudden urge to go and grab some bricks and build a huge city again. Too bad it's too cold to put the blanket out on the patio.

Good News (2, Insightful)

TheWart (700842) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952883)

Although I don't ever touch legos unless I am playing with a younger sibling, I think this is a move long overdue. We never, ever bought any of the licensed stuff, as most of it was silly. Why would I want a Star Wars lego set when I could get a GI Joe sized star wars figurines?
The beauty of legos is that it stimulates the imagination, and I think that kids nowadays have decidedly less imagination than those of previous years (I am not saying that this is only due to Lego...it seems less children are encouraged to find a quite place and read a lot as well).

Legos as non-screen playtime (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952885)

As a kid, I loved Legos. As a parent, I'm finding that it's one of the few things my five-year-old son will do my himself that doesn't involve computers, movies, or television. Strangely, even his pediatrician brought it up when discussing alternatives to video games and cartoons. My son is also a giant Star Wars fan, so I made him sit down when I told him the news that they were no longer going to be made. Of course, we do have dozens of the sets already, though perhaps now it's the time to get the Millenium Falcon that he's always wanted.

Finally (5, Insightful)

Remlik (654872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952890)

This makes me very happy to hear. I'm 25 and my favorite lego series was the "Model Team" with the Semi trucks, jeeps, vans, helicopters and generally cool, LARGE fully functional models of real life vehicles.

I recently rebuilt my model team semi and it now rests proudly on my desk. Right now they have a very nice lego Shuttle in the stores for $50 bucks (same price as most of the model team models back in the day, and even today on ebay)that I've been trying to convince my wife we need...hehe

Its really disapointing to go to the store and see Soccer, Harry Potter, and Star Wars sets with little more than 20 pieces and some look alike action figures. Give the kids somthing that will take them a few hours to build and leave them enough blocks to construct something different if they should choose.

Just this weekend I noticed some new sets out called "design sets" that were of normal everyday objects (one was a pontoon plane) and each set is capable of being at least 3 different things. (I assume they have docs inside which show how to convert as well..at least the last technic model I bought did)

This is the lego I remember and love, and I think more parents would rather buy somthing that can be more than just a scene from SW or HP.

My lego purchasing woes... (1)

shoppa (464619) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952891)

Any idiot could've told Lego that they've been pissing their main business down the tubes for years. I just went to several local toy stores looking for plain old Lego Bricks for my kids (ages 3 and 5). Most of the toy stores had an entire aisle of Harry Potter and Star Wars Lego sets (literally dozens of different sets all with commercial tie-ins) and zero generic building block Lego sets. Eventually I found one store that had a single tub of "plain" Legos left; I bought it and they now have zero.

What a concept! (1)

Ted Williams' Frozen (697843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952894)

I always had a great time as a kid playing with my Legos. Never had all of the specialized bricks that I see now, diddn't stop us from making spacships, cars, houses, heilcopters, and other assorted thing to blow up. Getting back to the basics that made it such a great idea to begin with shoud help.

Of course, I also liked the various lengths of 2x4's that I played with too (padded suit lumber swat anyone?).

Great news (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952899)

Way back when, Legos were all about imagination and unlimited possibilities.

I looked at Legos this past Christmas for my kids... got to say, I didn't think any of the sets I saw were too appealing. Harry Potter, Star Wars, and various sets that look like they're all about the licensing and very little about imagination. And there's almost no "replay value" when you buy a Harry Potter box and you only have enough pieces to build what you see on the box.

MindStorms is a little different, and I think it's a cool concept; but, somewhere along the line, Lego let all the niche products overtake the brand.

Time to get back to the basics; great big tubs of blocks that you can use to build houses, planes, spaceships, boats, or whatever captures a childs' fancy.

Oh to be zero years old again (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952905)

it is in the zero to seven age range that Lego has its niche.

it's quite possibly the most exhilarating period of a guy's life. have chicks come and pull your cheeks and exclaim how cute you are, suck on titties all you want, play with cool lego blocks without anybody complaining how childish it is...to name a few perks.

it's been well said: you spend the first few minutes of your life trying to get out, and the rest of your life trying to get back in.

Right on ! (1)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952906)

"In our efforts to follow the trend, we forgot about our traditional, basic products -- the plastic building bricks -- and we spent all our efforts on new toys that we launched together with films like Star Wars and Harry Potter".

I am the father of a boy that will turn 12 this spring. In the past decade, I bought a lot of Lego for him. It always pissed me off to see that it was near-impossible to buy brick-only set. Most Lego product on the shelves where of the franchise type. These sets where usually much more expensive than generic set, and contain may part that where not really reusable outside of the box theme (ie character's gun, etc). What I want from Lego is bricks, bricks and more bricks (you never have enough of those !). If I really want to buy my kid a Star Wars toy, I'll buy him an action figure, not some overpiced Lego set.

Legos Engineering Foundation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952911)

I grew up on legos in the mid 70's. At that time, there was no specialized crap. It was all in what you could create. I went on to get a degree in EE and CS. I was appalled when the special sets came out. BFD, I can make 1 thing. Whee :( Even as a kid, I thought they sucked. Now I understand why from a business perspective. Legos IS engineering for geeklets. - Geccie

slashdotters: buy more legos! (1)

scapegoat51 (215231) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952918)

i've often thought in recent years that LEGO had really gone downhill with all the specialized sets. sure, some of them were kinda cool (the Millenium Falcon comes to mind), but overall it just seemed like there wasn't any way to get away from what the designers intended, and run wild with my imagination.

the older sets were great, because as soon as you got bored with the configuration the instructions provided (ok, i'm a boring guy.. i always did the instructions first), you could tear it apart and build whatever you wanted, and if you brought in your piles and piles of other pieces from other sets, the possibilities were limitless.

it's sad that Mindstorms is having to go, though. very cool idea. hopefully they'll bring it back after they get back on their feet.

i've been a lego fan for a long time, but i haven't really bought any sets in too long... i think i'm going to start buying more. maybe if all us slashdotters buy a few sets, we'll give LEGO the financial boost it needs. :)

Mental age (1)

jamiguet (232071) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952921)

Whey they refer to 0->7 years is of mental age. My brain is normally so fried out at the end of the day I think like a 7 year old.

Watching the teletubies is about the only thing I can do. And of couse playing with lego.

I'm glad to hear... (1)

ScottSpeaks! (707844) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952923)

...that LEGO is getting back to basics. I know I'm dating myself here (I can't get anyone else to), but back when I was a kid (and not just up to age 7) LEGOs were "only" bricks of various sizes and colors... and one of my favorite toys. They didn't have any "sets" that tell you what you're supposed to make out of them, with pre-built "people" figures and whatnot. Just building blocks, which you could make into absolutely anything your imagination came up with. Who needs a LEGO-licensed character, when you can make your own [toddverbeek.com] ?

Complex constructions (1)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952932)

What about the Slashdot crowd?

I would be really interested in finding some kind of construction system which allows for arbitrary sized Gothic arcs. (Virtual systems would also do.) This is virtually unseen, because it would take arc pieces with different radiuses, but it would be cool nonetheless :-)

*Real* fun with Legos (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952952)

Lego Death [blockdeath.com]

ROFLMAOPIMP

Ideas of Lego (2, Interesting)

dyj (590807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952953)

What Lego should market is not specific single-purpose only sets but sets with general themes that allow people to put their imagination to work:
  • Town sets. Blocks that allows kids to build a town of their own. Beams, bricks, plates, trees, blocky cars, sloppy ground, so on.
  • Railroad sets are great. For some reasons kids like railroad model especially if the trains run around in circle kids can control the tracks!
  • Office sets for adults. Cubicle blocks, little persons dressed in business attire; let people build a model of their offices so they can look at the model at home and imagine things.
  • Airport sets. Hanger, terminals, little airplanes, security checking, ticket counters. It should be fun! Similar idea is a seaport set with cargo lifts, ship docks, so on.

Why so much worrying? (3, Interesting)

MoobY (207480) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952954)

Isn't Lego being a bit harsh on itself after a down year in sales? They were still profitable in 2002. I can't find the profit and loss numbers of the previous years, although statements have been made that 1998 was Lego's first loss year.

I have a mindstorms set, I really like the technic boxes, and I'm amazed Lego's sole interest for the future would be in 0-7 year olds. All of the young boys (7-10 year olds) in my neighborhood and family still seem to be getting huge piles of Lego blocks ...

0? (1)

telstar (236404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952956)

Anyone know anyone that came flying out of the womb with legos in tow?

Yes! (1)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 10 years ago | (#7952957)


My big gripe with Lego over the past few years is the increased specialization of their product. The reason my parents bought me tons of Legos is that you were forced to use your imagination. Now days, you don't need it anymore! You just follow the instructions and you build what the kit tells you to. You buy the Star Wars X-wing kit, and you build a Star Wars X-wing. All the parts are specialized and only work in certain ways.

Back in the day you got a ton of generic parts, and you build whatever you want. That's a real toy, and that's what Legos should be. I'm glad they realized this. I'm sure a lot of the Slashdot crowd became engineers and software developers in part because of the creativity of building systems that Lego helped develop.

PETITION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7952964)

Perhaps the Slashdot crowd could petition for continuation of Mindstorms?
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