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Subject: LEGO frequently asked questions (FAQ)
This article was archived around: Mon, 19 Jun 2000 19:07:03 MET
Last-modified: Jun 19, 2000
This is the FAQ for the rec.toys.lego newsgroup
This page is in NEITHER affiliated with NOR sponsored by the LEGO
I compiled it from information in postings, email contributions and
catalogues. Providers of larger pieces of information are mentioned.
Please feel free to mail me corrections and contributions. I do not
work for the LEGO company. The usual FAQ disclaimers apply.
All trademarks and tradenames are the property of their respective
owners. LEGO, DUPLO, TOOLO, LEGO SYSTEM are trademarks of the LEGO
Please include the word LEGO somewhere in the Subject-line of email.
phone (Germany) +49-30-3463-7288
*** Last-modified: Jun 19, 2000
*** New since last version
Legoland park California Openings 2000
Legoland parks Billund, Windsor: 2000
new comment about plural of LEGO
*** Recent updates:
German Address changed
Profit section updated
minor corrections, phone numbers, etc.
*** Since Jan 30, 1996 The LEGO company has its own www-server:
The charter of this group:
To provide a forum for the discussion of all things and experiences
relating to the LEGO(tm), DUPLO(tm) and compatible construction toys.
Including interesting models that one has built, experiences one has
had using LEGO, or questions about how to build particular components.
1. Addresses, Phone numbers, Mail order, Clubs
2. Books, papers, videos about LEGO
3. Bulk orders, Price comparison & profits
4. LegoLand theme parks
5. Large displays / play rooms
6. Computer connections and DACTA
7. Plural of LEGO
8. LEGO advertising
9. How to wash LEGO pieces
10. Storing / sorting / using LEGO
11. Taking pieces apart
12. LEGO history / What does LEGO mean
13. Material, Technology and Measurements
14. Nice quotations
15. FTP and WWW sites, further references
16. Substitutes / compatibles / clones
Subject: 1) International addresses, Phone numbers, Mail order, Clubs
Please mail any changes of numbers to the editor of this faq.
See also http://www.lego.com/info/addresses/default.asp
USA: see Shop at Home 1
and Lego Imagination Center
Canada: see Shop at Home 2
Europe: Ask your local service department for the
"LEGO Service catalog of spare parts"
From Denmark: This department store might send you something
(Jeffrey T. Crites (firstname.lastname@example.org) has computerized
their price list):
Magasin Du Nord
13, Kongens Nytorv
DK-1095 Copenhagen K
LEGO Australia P/L.
P.O. Box 639
Lane Cove; N.S.W. 2066
LEGO Handelsgesellschaft mbH.
BELGIUM / LUXEMBOURG / NETHERLANDS
NL- 4801 LH Breda
LEGO Canada Inc.
331 Amber Street
Canada L3R 3J7
Tel. (905) 887-9046 (General information)
or (905) 887-5346
Tel. (416) 940-6600
Fax (416) 940-0745
Toll-Free 1-800-387-4387 (Dacta)
P.O. Box 3700
1-800-267-5346 , Extensions:
-222 (S@H), -111 (request a catalogue), -444 (Consumer
The S@H hours are M-F 8:30-4:30 ET.
LEGO Club (newsletter, catalog information, etc.)
P.O. Box 3700
Ontario, L3R 6G9
Banbury Cross, Winnipeg, Dacta authorized distributor:
Phone +45 - 75 35 11 88
Fax +45 - 75 35 33 60
Phone +45 - 75 33 13 33
Fax +45 - 75 35 31 79
Oy Suomen LEGO Pb
PL 42; 02701 Kauniainen
Oy Suomen LEGO Ab
PL 46; 02631 Espoo
Puh.: 90-520 533
LEGO France S.A., Service Pičces de Rechange
B.P. 837, F-28011 CHARTRES Cédex.
Tél.: +33 - 237 91 85 00
Fax.: +33 - 237 35 57 56
1 rue Charles Coulomb
Fax.: +33 - 237 34 17 92
Tel. +49 089/4534 60
Fax +49 089/4534 6140
(old) Service: Regina
(old) 24594 Hohenwestedt/Holstein
(old) Tel. +49- 4871-29-0
N. Kouvalias S.A.
25, El. Venizelou Ave.
LEGO Hungária KFT
Tölgyfa utca 28
Via Colombo, 12
20020 Lainate (MI)
Tel. 02/93 74 581
LEGO Nederland B.V. [reported to be expired]
new: "LEGO BENELUX"
LEGO New Zealand Ltd,
PO Box 62-160; Mt Wellington
Phone +64 +9 276 1405
Fax +64 +9 276 1526
A/S LEGO System Norge
or: Postboks 38
Largo Joao Vaz. 9-A/B/C/D
Tel.: (01) 847 33 41
28850 Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid)
LEGO South Africa (Pty.) Limited
P.O Box 5856
1685 Halfway House
Tel.: (+27 11) 314-3825
Svenska LEGO AB
Fack; S-443 01 Lerum 1
or: Box 304; S-443 27 LERUM
Tel: 0302-229 60
LEGO Spielwaren AG / LEGO Jouets SA / LEGO Giacattoli SA
Tel: 042/33 44 66
UNITED KINGDOM and IRELAND
LEGO U.K. Ltd., (including club)
Clwyd LL13 7TQ
Consumer Service - 01978 296 247
LEGO Club - 01978 296 290
LEGO Technic Club - 01978 296 251
Service, spare parts - 01978 296 233
Retailer Queries - 01978 296 224
LEGO (UK) Ltd Main Fax - 01978 296 296
LEGO (UK) Ltd Main No. - 01978 290 900
DACTA Order line - 01978 296 289
DACTA (from 1995 Catal.)- 01978 296 239
DACTA Customer service - 01978 296 293
DACTA freefax Order line- 0 800 317 673
LEGOLAND Windsor Park Ltd.
(for visitor information and booking look in respective section)
Windsor, Berkshire SL4 4AY
Tel: (+44) 1753 626111
Fax: (+44) 1753 626119
The LEGO club costs 3.95 pounds (4.50 pounds for Ireland). They
need: name, address, post code, sex, date of birth. Cheques
made payable to 'LEGO U.K. Ltd' or credit card.
LEGO Systems, Inc.
555 Taylor Road
P.O. Box 1600
Enfield, CT, 06083-1600
LEGO Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 1138
Enfield, CT 06083
1-800-422-5346 (9am-9pm Mon-Fri Eastern time, pseudonym
as listed in the Thomas Register
Enfield, CT 06082-3298 USA
(Children's Building Sets, Scientific Models)
LEGO Shop at Home Service
P.O. Box 1310
Enfield, CT 06083
Tel.(860) 763-4011, -4012, and -6800 (8:00 - 8:00 EST)
(catalog available, no charge for shipping, 3-5 weeks for
Lego Imagination Centers (reported to do phone orders)
Lego Imagination Center
Mall of America
Bloomington, MN 55431
Lego Imagination Center
LEGO Builders Club
PO Box 5000
Unionville, CT 06087-5000
(one year $7.95, two years $14.00; membership kit and
free bonus mini set, birthday mailing, Mania magazine,
555 Taylor Road
P.O. Box 1600
Enfield, CT 06083-1600
orders and info: 1-(800)-527-8339
semi-official email: LegoDacta@aol.com
(Dan, for product info, no orders)
Subject: 2) Books, papers, videos about LEGO
See also: Facts and Figures, listed below in the WWW section.
The World of LEGO Toys
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York
Times Mirror Books
TS2301.T7W474 1987 688.7'2 86-23200
ISBN 0-8109-1790-4 (hardcover)
ISBN 0-8109-2362-9 (paperback)
Where does it come from? LEGO brick.
Text and editing: Kathy Henderson
illustrated by Diane Tippell
Art Director: Debbie MacKinnon
22 pages, fully illustrated in full color
Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1986.
Library of Congress: TS2301.T7T525 1986
The book traces the manufacture of Lego bricks all the way from
the sucking of oil out of the earth to the placing of the
finished bricks in the hands of children. While this edition is
supposedly "adapted" for the United States market, it still has
a definite British feel to it. Type is large and writing is
simple enough for seven-year-olds. A delightful, if not deep,
the book does the job for its intended audience. (Wes Loder
The Epistemology and Learning Group at the MIT Media Laboratory, has
made some of their papers and publications available via anonymous FTP
from cherupakha.media.mit.edu:/pub/el-publications/EL-Memos. Some
papers of interest to the LEGO community are:
/pub/el-publications/Theses/Martin/, Apr 29, 1994
"From Circuits to Control: Learning Engineering by Designing
by Fred Martin
by David W. Hogg, Fred Martin, and Mitchel Resnick
This paper describes 12 autonomous ``creatures'' built with
Electronic Bricks. Electronic Bricks are specially-modified
LEGO bricks with simple electronic circuits inside. Although
each Electronic Brick is quite simple, the bricks can be
combined to form robotic creatures with interesting and complex
behaviors, similar to the fictional machines described in
Valentino Braitenberg's book Vehicles (1984).
"CHILDREN AND ARTIFICIAL LIFE"
by Mitchel Resnick and Fred Martin
Artificial Life is a new field in which researchers study
living systems by trying to build artificial versions of them.
In this paper, we argue that ideas from Artificial Life
research can and should be shared with children. We describe
various computational tools (including LEGO/Logo and Electronic
Bricks) that students can use to build artificial creatures. By
building and programming artificial creatures (and discussing
and thinking about how the creatures behave), children can
explore some of the central ideas of Artificial Life -- ideas
like feedback, levels of organization, and emergence.
"LEGO/LOGO: LEARNING THROUGH AND ABOUT DESIGN"
by Mitchel Resnick and Stephen Ocko, September 1990
Most classroom problem-solving activities focus on analytic
thinking: decomposing problems into subproblems. Students
rarely get the opportunity to design and invent things. In this
paper, we describe how LEGO/Logo, a computer-based robotics
environment, supports a variety of design activities. We
examine how students using LEGO/Logo can learn important
mathematical and scientific ideas through their design
activities, while also learning about the design process
Playing with blocks can be a fine art at this theme park. in:
Smithsonian magazine v. 19, June 1988, p. 120-4+
A video is available from Enfield, CT called "How Lego Bricks Are
Made". It runs 12-15 min and takes the viewer through the various
production and packaging stages. It also talks briefly about the
design and manufacture of the molds or "tools". Unfortunately it does
not dwell at all on things like how sets are designed, how themes are
chosen, etc. Nonetheless it's informative and well worth the slight
hassle of getting one's hands on it.
You can "check the video out" by sending a $20 check made out to LEGO
Systems, Inc. to:
Ms. B. St. Pierre, Lego Systems, Inc., P.O. Box 1138, Enfield, CT
You can keep the video for two weeks and upon its return LEGO will
mail back your original check. Simple. --- Mario (email@example.com)
Subject: 3) Bulk orders, Price comparison & profits
Since 2000, LEGO offers a limited assortment of LEGO elements in bulk
through LEGO Shop At Home. See http://www.lego.com/bulk/.
The profits of the company are falling in the last years. Reasons are
weaker demand due to interest in computer-based toys and video games.
LEGO itself was a bit late with their computer development.
LEGO will cut 1000 jobs of its 10000 employees worldwide. Half of the
workforce is based in Denmark. They will focus also on opening more
theme parks worldwide, in addition to Billund, Windsor, Carlsbad.
LEGO, privately owned by the Kristiansen family, claims not to have
had a loss since it was founded. Look at the optimistic photograph of
CEO Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.
1992 1996 1997
Sales US$ 1000M US$ 1200M US$ 1200M
Profits US$ 100M US$ 78M US$ 10M
or in DKK:
Sales DKK 7600M DKK 7600M
Profits DKK 470M DKK 62M
Somebody calculated the price per piece in the 'old days' as $0.10.
Today it may be between $0.10 and $0.30. Count, calculate and mail me
(Tom) your comments.
LegoLand, Billund, Denmark is reported to sell at list prices, no
Subject: 4) LegoLand theme park
See also http://www.lego.com/legofinder/legoland.asp
Billund, Denmark, Europe:
Billund is in Jylland (Jutland), a town of only just over 4500 people
somewhere between Esbjerg (65 km) and Vejle (35 km).
Tel. +45 - 7533 1333, Fax +45 - 7535 3179
LEGOLAND Park, Nordmarksvej 9, DK-7190 Billund
entrance fees for 2000: sping/fall summer (peak season)
Baby Kids (0-2) free free
Little Kids (3-13) DKK 125 DKK 135
Big Kids (14-59) DKK 135 DKK 145
Senior Kids (60-) DKK 100 DKK 105
Two-Day-Ticket DKK 180 DKK 200
Season Ticket (full day early season, after 16:00 in peak) 185 DKK
Season Ticket (all season) 375 DKK
Increase compared to 1997: 30 (early season); 25 DKK (peak) per day
When admission has been paid, all rides and exhibitions are free.
The Traffic School has a separate booking and payment system.
Guides and coach drivers are free and get free meal coupons.
In 2000 the whole park (both indoor and outdoor) will open:
Early/Late: April 1 - Oct. 29 --- 10 am - 8 pm (rides - 6 pm)
Peak season: June 17 - Aug. 27 --- 10 am - 9 pm (rides - 7 pm)
Until 1993 the indoor exhibits (8000 sq m) were open until December,
now they close with the outdoors.
The Legoland driving school is for kids aged 8...13. Examples of the
replications in the park and their piece counts, found by Mike Weldy
(firstname.lastname@example.org) in a magazine:
* Mt. Rushmore (American monument to Presidents Washington,
Jefferson, Lincoln, and T. Roosevelt) (1.5 million regular bricks
and 40K Duplo)
* Billund Airport (complete with airplanes) (687,860 bricks)
* Port of Copenhagen (3 million bricks)
* The Statue of Liberty (1.4 million bricks)
* Big Chief Sitting Bull (1.2 million bricks)
* a buffalo hunt (2.5 million)
email@example.com (Craig A. Finseth) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Bo Kjellerup)
have details how to get there:
From Europe: Fly to Billund. (Yes, there are flights directly to
Billund from most major European cities.) The airport, which was at
first build by the LEGO company, is the second busiest (behind
Copenhagen) in Denmark. The first model of the airport was made out of
From the US or anywhere else: Fly to Koebenhavn (Copenhagen) "Kastrup
Airport", then to Billund.
Once in Billund, walk. It's just across the parking lot, about five
minutes away. The Legoland Hotelis half a mile from the airport.
You can't directly. Billund is about as far as you can get from any
railway lines and still be on land in Europe. Since the town was
essentially "put on the map" by LEGO Systems and that company didn't
really get going until well after World War II, I would guess that
they missed out on the railway building era. In any event, you can
take a train to Vejle (nice town) and a bus to Billund (about half an
If you arrive with a ferry from England (Harwich - Esbjerg), take the
train from the ferry to Esbjerg rail station, and go by bus to Billund
(about one hour).
BUS / AUTO:
The bus goes there. A main road goes there. As I recall, the airport
and LegoLand parking lots are one and the same.
There is a large store and it carries the entire current line. It does
_not_ carry old, non-standard, or discontinued kits. All sales are at
list price. If you're from the US, the only reason to buy anything is
that the current line is somewhat different in Europe than the US, so
you might find a new kit (and wince when you have to pay for it).
Price is a smaller consideration for other countries.
Family Hotel LEGOLAND, open all year round, Tel. +45 - 75 33 12 44
Banking: Den Danske Bank has a branch in the Information Office.
Handicapped: Walking-impaired and wheelchair users can go all over the
To keep the FAQ in limits, I'll email you the heartwarming
descriptions by some visitors, if you email a Subject line 'LEGOland
Billund request' to email@example.com
Windsor, UK, Europe
The park opened 1996.
official entrance fees for 1999:
Little Kids (3-15) UKP 13.50
Adult Kids (16-59) UKP 16.50
Senior Kids (60+) UKP 10.50
British LEGO Club members UKP 10.50
2-day Little Kids (3-15) UKP 17.00
2-day Adult Kids (16-59) UKP 20.00
2-day Senior Kids (60+) UKP 14.00
Season Little Kids (3-15) UKP 39.00
Season Adult Kids (16-59) UKP 49.00
Season Senior Kids (60+) UKP 30.00
Season British LEGO Club members UKP 37.00
(in 1996 there war a pre-booking discount, which is not listed
for 1997. Tell me if you know.)
Group tariffs (min. 25 paying) and school rates available on request.
Booking 1997: +44 (0)990 04 04 04
Booking: +44 (0)990 62 63 64 (individuals)
Information: +44 (0)990 62 63 75
Groups/Schools: +44 (0)1753 626 100 Fax: +44 (0)1753 626 200
Pre-booking is recommended for guaranteed, fast track entry.
In 1999 the park will open:
daily: March 13 - Oct. 31 --- 10 am - 6 pm
Peak season: July 17 - Sep. 5 --- 10 am - 8 pm
* Miniland (LEGO): Scenes around Europe, major cities like London,
Amsterdam, Edingurgh, Paris. Some 800 buildings, another 700
vehicles, cranes, bridges, people. 25 mill. bricks.
* The DUPLO Gardens: rides, surprises, water, warm air fans for wet
* Driving Schools: electric cars for older children, powered boats.
* My Town: life-sized buildings, ice caves, tropical jungles, Magic
* Circus and Fairground: Children don't watch, they _are_ the show.
* Wild Woods: Pirates, traps, labyrinth.
Catering: 5 Moevenpick operated resaurants in each of the themed
Educational programmes for primary and secondary schools, incl. DACTA
Justin knows how to get there (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Legoland is located on the B3022 Bracknell/Ascot road just 2 miles
from Windsor town centre - easily reached and well signposted from the
M4, M25, M40 and M3 motorways.
London has a large number of railway stations, few of which are
connected. This is a hangover form the early days of the private rail
companies (pre- 1940). It means you have to travel on the Tube or the
bus, but who cares. Windsor is South-West of London and can be reached
either from London Paddington or from London Waterloo.
Travel to Windsor takes just under half an hour from London
(Paddington), changing at Slough. From Waterloo, trains go direct.
Windsor has two stations (also for historic reasons, and not because
of its size). A dedicated shuttle bus runs from the stations to the
From other parts of the UK, particularly the airports, Slough is on
the Reading to London line, which has lots of trains running.
Timetable and fares can be found by phoning:
London - 0171 928 5100 (24 hours)
Reading - 01734 595911
A dedicated shuttle bus runs from both Windsor stations to the park.
Other bus companies may provide transport to Windsor town, but you'd
have to make your own enquiries.
If you bring your own bus, you get free coach parking, and the driver
gets in for free if you have at least 15 people.
Tourist Information, Basingstoke - 01252 20968
By aeroplane / helicopter / parachute
London Heathrow and London Gatwick are within easy reach of the park.
Heathrow is best, and you should be able to see the park from the
aeroplane as you land. Enquire at the airport for local buses.
Gatwick is a bit further away, and you should either take the train to
Reading and change, or alternatively take the Gatwick Express into
Heathrow Airport enquiries - 0181 759 4321
Gatwick Airport enquiries - 01293 535353
Take the train to Windsor, then get the special shuttle bus. You'll
need your walking feet for the rest of the day!
Carlsbad, California, USA
The LEGOLand Family Park in Carlsbad, California (a city near San
Diego) has opened in 1999, obviously.
See their website at http://www.legolandca.com/
In 2000 the whole park will open:
1999-Dec-31 - 2000-Mar-31 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
2000-Apr-01 - 2000-Apr-07 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
2000-Apr-08 - 2000-Apr-29 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
2000-May-01 - 2000-Jun-18 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
2000-Jun-19 - 2000-Sep-04 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
2000-Sep-05 - 2000-Oct-29 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
2000-Oct-30 - 2000-Dec-15 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
2000-Dec-16 - 2000-Dec-31 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (24, 25, 31: until 5 p.m.)
official entrance fees for 2000:
Little Kids (3-16) US$ 29
Adult Kids (17-59) US$ 34
Senior Kids (60+) US$ ask at gate
Parking: $4 Motorcycles, $7 Cars, $8 Campers/RV's. Buses and bicycles are free.
Annual Passport Primo (3-16) US$ 89 (all days a year)
Annual Passport Primo (17-59) US$ 109
Annual Passport Primo (60+) US$ 89
Annual Passport Block (3-16) US$ 59 (except 19 high traffic days))
Annual Passport Block (17-59) US$ 79
Annual Passport Block (60+) US$ ask
Family Discount: 10% if you bye 4 or more
Ambassador Lifetime US$ 1000
Order Passes: 1-877-LEGOPASS or 1-760-918-5347
Genral Information: 1-760-918-5346
Theresa Motyl (email@example.com) knows where you can get short
LEGO Park Planning Inc
5600 Avenida Encinas
Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA
Tel +1 (619) 438-5570
Fax +1 (619) 438-9499
Subject: 5) Large displays / play rooms:
The Seattle Children's Museum (Seattle Center) has a large DUPLO
playroom. They have also had LEGO exhibits from time to time.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Ethan A Merritt)
The Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota (USA), has a Legoland
store near the center of the mall. It has a large area for play, with
tables and chairs. The tops of the tables are LEGO, and there are
basins set in the center where loose LEGO bricks are stored. There are
also huge models there: some hang from the ceiling by cables, others
stand tall on the ground, with moving parts and blinking lights. And
best of all: ALL AGES ARE WELCOME.
email@example.com (Steven Parks)
... The sculptures range from dinosaurs, circus performers, and
animals, to scientific models of such things as the space shuttle.
... there are two *MEGA LARGE SIZE* lego blocks located in one part of
the surrounding parking lot that you might want to take a picture of.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Pattie Everett Fulton) remembers an exibition
in a museum in Frankfurt, Germany, for architectural demonstrations.
Mark Hornblower (email@example.com):
There is a LEGO play area and store at Ontario Place in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada. It consists of a medium-sized room equipped with
about 25 building tables, and a retail area. The play area allows "big
kids" to play, no questions asked. Ontario Place has a sliding
admission scale (depends on the day of the week) but is often free for
various special events. DO NOT try to visit the LEGO area during the
Canadian National Exhibition - you won't even get in the door.
Patrick Goodsell (firstname.lastname@example.org):
A permanent exhibit, "LEGO Mindstorms", opened 11/1997 at the Chicago
Museum of Science and Industry, sponsered by the company, features
hands-on building opportunities--with voice-controlled robots,
touch-screens, and push-button controls. Workshops offer visitors the
chance to design, program and test a rover vehicle. Young navigators
also create, then maneuver their own robot athlete--all via computer.
There is a $5 charge per computer station for each 40-minute session.
Reservations are required for workshops.
Subject: 6) Computer connections and DACTA See address of DACTA in the address
Fred Martin from the MIT provides:
LEGO Dacta is the educational branch of the LEGO company (which has
its U.S. headquarters in Enfield, CT). Dacta sells the LEGO Technic
product line -- the geared and motorized version of the LEGO system.
Call Dacta and get their catalog, which has many LEGO Technic kits.
Recommended kits are the 1038 Technic Universal Buggy (a specialized
kit for building a small LEGO vehicle with a dual motor drive; about
US$60), the 1032 Technic II with Motorized Transmission (a small
general-purpose kit including one motor and one battery pack; about
US$76), and the 9605 Technic Resource Set (a large general-purpose kit
including two motors and two battery packs; about US$200).
* "Making Connections" (new 1994)
* "Small Hands: Big Imaginations"
* "Gear Up for Learning" (probably obsolete)
Dacta charges 5% shipping cost (while Shop at Home shippes free).
Orders can be placed with a credit card over the phone or through the
mail with a check. Schools can order with a purchase order. This is
only for the US. For other countries you should contact your local
Dacta representatives. Most countries should have one. If not, Denmark
should be able to let you know where you can order from.
email@example.com (Chris Vaughn) found in the Dacta catalog:
MS-DOS or Apple II Slot Card Pack - US$161.50 includes slot card,
cable, LEGO TC logo software and reference guides. (card is for most
MS-DOS machines, except IBM PS/2 Models 50 and above or any other
Interface Box and Transformer - US$188.00 This box is what you connect
all your motors, lights, and sensors to. It has 2 inputs, and 6
outputs (3 if you want to use three motors and have them all be
firstname.lastname@example.org (Andy Carol):
The Lego Control Lab for Macintosh and/or PC is available for about
US$600. It connects to any computer via serial cable (RS-232), has 8
different output ports which can control motors, lights, and sounds.
It has 8 different inputs for buttons, angles, thermal, etc. This is
_NOT_ a plug in card, but rather an external device hooked up via
serial cable. It is programmed with LOGO, and has a really nice
graphical system under Mac and Windows. It's also possible to use a C
and C++ API for all control functions.
email@example.com (jim koch) provides:
The price for Apple or IBM starter pack US$798.00 (Jan 92).
firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris Vaughn) writes:
The Mini Board is a "miniature microprocessor-based controller board
designed for control of small robotic devices". It was designed at the
MIT Media Laboratory. This board is perfect for controlling LEGO
devices (and in fact looks to be much better than the interface
designed by LEGO).
All of the information about the Mini Board is available at an FTP
site (the address is "cherupakha.media.mit.edu (22.214.171.124)")). This
includes diagrams and a parts list. The tech reference is a 47-page
There is a mailing list at email@example.com. Send the body
"SUBSCRIBE ROBOT-BOARD your_name" to this email address, the body HELP
The purpose of this mailing list is to discuss robot controller
boards, and robot control in general. In particular, this list will be
used to support the Miniboard 2.0 and 6.270 board design by Fred
Martin and Randy Sargent of MIT. However, any and all traffic related
to robot controllers is welcome.
Documentation about the MIT 6.270 is also available by FTP:
aeneas.mit.edu [126.96.36.199] in the ~ftp/pub/ACS/6.270 directory.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen L. Hain) contributes:
May I suggest adding Paradigm Software's Pearl Controller and Object
Logo to this section. The Pearl Controller connects between a
Macintosh serial port and a LEGO Robotics controller, and it is daisy
chainable. Object Logo has an extension consisting of a set of
object-oriented robotics programming features, allowing event-driven
robot control. Contact Paradigm at 617 576-7675. (Stephen works for
Subject: 7) Plural of LEGO
While most people point out that they just say LEGOs,
email@example.com (Lunatic Johnathan Bruce E'Sex) dug out:
One catalogue, dated 1980, has the following on its back page:
Dear Parents and Children
The word LEGO(R) is a brand name and is very special to all of
us in the LEGO Group Companies. We would sincerely like your
help in keeping it special. Please always refer to our bricks
as 'LEGO Bricks or Toys' and not 'LEGOS.' By doing so, you will
be helping to protect and preserve a brand of which we are very
proud and that stands for quality the world over. Thank you!
Consumer Services (Susan's name is a
pseudonym for the service dptmt.)
Matthew Miller, firstname.lastname@example.org, added:
The above quote from the catalog is often cited as evidence for "Lego"
as the proper plural, but in fact that is misreading it. Trademark law
in the US at least is easiest if the trademark is used as an
_adjective_. The point they're trying to make is that you should say
"LEGO Bricks", rather than calling the product itself either "Legos"
In fact, they seem to assume that "LEGOS" is the natural plural, since
that's the only one they bother to correct. So, in formal usage, both
"Lego" and "Legos" are wrong. To me, that means people shouldn't make
such a big deal about it in informal use!
Subject 8) LEGO advertising
LEGO is new toy every day.
LEGO c'est un nouveau jouet chaque jour.
LEGO es un juguete nuevo cada dia.
LEGO ist jeden Tag ein neues Spielzeug.
LEGO e' un gioco nuovo ogni giorno.
LEGO - eine Sprache der Kinder (LEGO - a language of the children).
LEGO zeigt, was Kinder koennen (LEGO shows what children can).
European LEGO advertising is quite good - they just show an animated
film of lots of LEGO being assembled, disassembled, reassembled etc. a
few times over in 15 seconds. Some of them are quite impressive.
Subject: 9) How to wash LEGO pieces
From a LEGO catalog...
DUPLO and LEGO SYSTEM toys can be washed by hand, using warm
water -- max. 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) -- and a mild
liquid dish detergent. Storage temperature max. 104 degrees
Fahrenheit = 40 Celsius. Electric parts are not washable.
email@example.com (Juergen Christoffel) and firstname.lastname@example.org (Jack Gilmer)
Put your LEGO bricks into a pillow case or a mesh bag (the kind
for washing small articles of clothes) and wash in your washing
machine at a low temperature. Tested in kindergarten once a
year. (Be sure to put no metal or electric parts into the
machine, and wash clear pieces seperately by hand)
email@example.com (Alekz Vermont) says:
stick them in the tub w/warm sudsy water and swish about... let
soak. swish more. drain tub. spray with shower (to rinse) and
Do not wash your LEGO people -- their faces come off!
... but firstname.lastname@example.org (Meng Soo) notes:
There's nothing wrong with that. I'd pretend that their faces
melted, and became faceless mutant LEGO people. The fun really
started when I discovered permanent markers...
Subject: 10) Storing / sorting / using LEGO
One of the greatest ideas was:
Keep them on a bed sheet: spread the sheet for playing - fold it
together to tide up in seconds, and put it in whatever container you
Per K. Nielsen" (email@example.com) remembers a bag LEGO used to sell
in the good old days in Denmark, which could also made by yourself.
The bag was big and blue, similar stonewashed jeans. It was really
nothing but a large circular piece of cloth with holes around the
edge, enforced with brass rings. Through them went a piece of thin red
rope. Whenever you wanted to play, all you did was open the bag wide
and sit on it. When you were through playing you just pulled the red
string and the blanket turned into a bag. Convenient!
Most netters strongly object sorting their pieces and enjoy sitting on
the floor having their pieces all around them.
The variety and size of technic elements may still demand some
sorting. Hardware stores sell storage units with 18-60 drawers,
intended for sorting nuts and bolts and the like. The transparent
plastic drawers (which can include transparent dividers) allow one to
see the contents of a drawer without opening it.
Rick Clark (JRClark@aol.com) highly recommends Brookstone's #177956
Flipper Parts Boxes (phone 1-800-926-7000 (24 hrs)).
Franz-Michael S. Mellbin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
recommends not to sort by color but by size: Collect all your blacks.
Stir well. Now find that 2x1 black with a hole through. Then, try to
collect all your 2x1 with holes through. Stir well. Now take out two
black, three white and one red. Get it?
Sort big and small pieces together. Who has space for 69 different
boxes? By mixing big and small together, you can easily find both as
long as there are not to many big pieces. Sort only what you need to
Subject: 11) Taking pieces apart
People use teeth, fingernails, screwdrivers, penknives, ...
LEGO now sells a small handle-like gizmo called a "brick separator".
It works GREAT! It's under US$2 and also found in some basic buckets.
[part number 821]
email@example.com (Dennis Holmes) means: What you need is TWO
separator tools. Stick one on top and one underneath, with the handles
facing the same direction, and then squeeze the handles together.
Works like magic!
1x1x1s are easy - twist one of them through 45 degrees, and then prise
them apart with fingers.
To separate 2x1 flats firstname.lastname@example.org (Clive Jones) writes:
...be the 1-wide cross-section of the 2x1 block, so:
represents the two blocks stuck together. Now find two 12x2 plates.
Apply them like this:
------------ <- wiggle
------------ wiggle ->
...and wiggle them backwards and forwards *hard*. Within a second or
so, you'll find that all but the most stubborn plates separate, and
getting the 2x1s off the 12x2s is then easy.
Joe Garlicki (email@example.com) has another way to separate 2x1
flats. First, take two 2x1 blocks (the regular size). Put one on top
of the 2x1 flats, and put the other one on the bottom. Then, snap the
two 2x1 flats apart. After that, it's easy to get the 2x1 flats off of
the 2x1 blocks. Note: This method can be applied to other small plate
sizes as well.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeff Jahr) uses
... the small black mechanics wrench from some of the old space sets.
The jaw of wrench is designed so it can grab onto a LEGO bump -
absolutely useless for prying - but the other end is flattened like a
screwdriver. They seem to be made from a slightly softer plastic than
the blocks to avoid scratches.
Subject: 12) LEGO history / What does LEGO mean
See also: Facts and Figures, listed below in the WWW section.
LEGO comes from Danish "leg godt".
The recent "20th anniversary" refers to the LEGO company in the US
(1973), not to LEGO itself. It was available before because Samsonite
had a license to produce it.
Andreas Henning (email@example.com) and Timo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The LEGO patent of the original brick has expired some years ago.
Franz-Michael S. Mellbin comments
Lego changed their strategy, so now they are taking out patents
(lots!) on their specific sets - including many sets, that are never
email@example.com Neil Dodgson found:
My "The Art of LEGO" book says that the company name, LEGO, came from
the Danish "Leg godt", roughly translated as "Play well". The company
originally made wooden toys during the depression. They also made
yo-yos for a while, during the yo-yo craze. Unfortunately this left
them with warehouses full of yo-yos when the craze suddenly stopped;
so the boss just cut all the yo-yos in half, and used them as wheels
for toy trucks, etc. The same guy invented the LEGO bricks, initially
without the tubes inside; the addition of these tubes meant that the
blocks held together really well, and sales took off. I think it was
in the mid to late '50s that LEGO decided to drop all its other
products and just make the bricks (risky...).
(Somebody found in a book that LEGO dropped their other product lines
when a fire burned down the building housing them. Thus, it was not as
risky to sell the bricks exclusively. It would probably have been
riskier to re-capitalize the wooden toy line than to drop it.)
Bo Kjellerup (firstname.lastname@example.org):
The fire was caused by the son of the boss, Kirk Kristiansen, who was
playing in their garage/hobby room aside the factory and set it all on
BTW, the son's name was misspelled in the church's annuals, so he is
spelled with 'K' now.
"The Art of LEGO" says that one reason LEGO survives is that it
constantly adapts itself to the modern world; e.g. the original LEGO
trains, and now the remodeled one that will run off the mains. Perhaps
all these new special blocks are a reflection of a society that wants
instant gratification, rather than spending a few hours building a
found by email@example.com / Ken Blair:
Taken without permission from _Brick Kicks_ #1 ("The official magazine
of the LEGO builders club", USA) (circa 1987 or 88?)
"Bricks & Pieces: The LEGO Story"
Did you know that 300 million children have owned LEGO sets since they
were first made? And that you are one of the 68 million kids from
around the world who like to play with LEGO building bricks today!
Here's the story of how we grew...
Although the international LEGO Group is now very large, it is still a
family-run company that started out quite small. More than 50 years
ago, a carpenter named Ole Kirk Christiansen and his 12-year old son,
Godtfred, started making toys in the little town of Billund, Denmark.
Plastic had not been invented yet, so they made toy cars, trucks,
yo-yos, animals, and other toys out of wood. They decided that a good
name for their company would be LEGO, which means "play well" in
Danish, and also, they discovered, happens to mean "put together" in
Latin! Ole and Godtfred were very proud of their workmanship, and
adopted the LEGO motto that "only the best is good enough."
When plastic became available after World War II, LEGO began to make
both wooden and plastic toys. It was about this time that the idea of
plastic LEGO bricks was introduced. Godtfred loved to build with these
colorful new pieces, and was continually putting them together and
taking them apart to build new designs. In fact, it was Godtfred who
perfected the special design that makes every single LEGO brick fit
together in any combination, over and over again. The first LEGO
building set was made more than 30 years ago- and the bricks from that
set can still be used with even the newest LEGO building set of today!
LEGO bricks first appeared in the United States in 1961 and quickly
became as popular here as in Europe. The international LEGO group is
now worldwide, and is run by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Old Kirk
Christiansen's grandson. As the company keeps growing, so do the kids
of exciting LEGO kits that are now sold in 129 different countries ...
from DUPLO preschool to FABULAND, LEGO BASIC, to LEGOLAND, LEGO boats
and trains to LEGO TECHNIC SETS. In fact, this year alone, we will
make more than six billion bricks and building pieces for all the LEGO
lovers 'round the world- like you!
From _The_World_Of_LEGO_Toys_, by Henry Wiencek, Harry N. Abrams,
quoted by firstname.lastname@example.org (joshua):
1949 was the revolutionary year for the company--it was in that year
that the company introduced something then called the "automatic
binding brick." For years Ole Kirk [found of LEGO] had been making
wooden blocks in the traditional European style--simple, handmade
cubes that could be stacked one on top of the other. When he began
producing plastic toys he copied the old wooden design in the new
material, but the plastic cubes didn't seem quite right..."It occured
to us that the bricks would become an even better toy...if they could
be 'locked' together." What emerged...was later to become the real
devaney@ACFcluster.NYU.EDU: Before LEGO was in the US market, the
luggage manufacturer Samsonite has had a manufacturing license, but
without much success in the toy market, so LEGO took the license back
and opened a shop in Connecticut.
From [Uhle, Mergret: Die LEGO Story. - Vienna: Ueberreuter, 1998]:
* all companies are hold 100% by the Christiansen family, at all 50
companies in 33 countries
* 4 Holding companies, 2 of them in Denmark, 2 in Switzerland, the
latter holding 22 companies, including such large as LEGO Italy
and LEGO USA,
* fabrication in Denmark, Switzerland, USA, Brazil, Korea, total of
360.000 square meters ,
Tools (moulds) produced in Germany and Switzerland,
micro motors in Hungary
* 97% of products sold outside Denmark to 137 markets
* per Dec 31, 1997: 9.500 full-time employees, 4.300 of them in
Subject: 13) Material, Technology and Measurements
The LEGO motto: Det bedste er ikke for godt. (Only the best is good
enough.) Actually a word-by-word translation would be, "The best is
not too good" - in which "not too good" parses nicely into the idiom
of a Jutlandish understatement, making the between-the-lines statement
be, "Actually, we'd prefer to deliver rather better than the best".
Henning Makholm (email@example.com)
from Wiencek's The World of LEGO Toys, paraphrased by firstname.lastname@example.org
LEGO brick are made out of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene
styrene), it is heated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 C), then
injected into a mold which is kept at 85 degrees. The pressure
used to mold the bricks varies from 24 to 150 tons. The molds
are kept within one degree of the 85 degree specification. ABS
absorbs moisture, so the entire molding hall is kept at 50%
humidity. The allowable tolerance for a brick is two-hundredths
of a millimeter, or about eight ten-thousands of an inch.
My xwebster says: ABS: a tough rigid plastic used esp. for automobile
parts and building materials.
email@example.com (Bullwinkle J. Moose / Mike Weldy) found
in Israel Shenker's article:
The ABS granules is dyed to LEGO's secret specifications in factories
in Holland and Germany. Molds for the pieces are made in a factory in
Germany and two factories in Switzerland. The margin of error in the
molds can only be 5 one-thousands of a millimeter -- less than the
thickness of a human hair! For security reasons, LEGO inters worn-out
molds in the concrete of its new buildings.
Franz-Michael S. Mellbin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Legos real industrial force is the very fact that no other company can
provide the same quality plastic molding (at a competitive price) as
Lego can. This is why the molding process is such a heavily guarded
secret. It is make or break for their profit margin if anyone could
match them on this.
There are LEGO factories in Billund(3), Switzerland, Brazil, South
Korea, and the United States (in Enfield, Connecticut).
More Random Lego tests: Random pieces are selected and tested for
size, sharp points or edges, damage when dropped or compressed,
torsion, flammability, toxicity, colorfastness, and "clutch
power"(resistance to separation). Optimal clutch power comes after 8
to 10 couplings.
One last Lego test: Pneumatic-powered steel jaws mimic children's
jaws, treating the pieces to the ultimate test-- trial by biting!
Two 2X4 bricks can be joined 24 different ways. Six can be joined
102,981,500 different ways.
Geometry, provided by Jef Poskanzer (email@example.com): Thanks to
various pointers, especially the MIT course notes, here is the metric
version. **All measurements in mm.**
|side: __ __ __ __ top: +----------------+
| +----------------+ | () () () () |
| | | | |
| | | | () () () () |
| +----------------+ +----------------+
|spacing of knob centers: 8
|diameter of knobs: 5
|height of block: 9.6
|end: __ __ bottom: +================+
| +--------+ # -- -- -- #
| | | # ( )( )( ) #
| | | # -- -- -- #
| +--------+ +================+
|height of knobs: 1.7
|thickness of block walls: 1.5
|outer diameter of cylinders: 6.31
|thickness of cylinder walls: 0.657
(height of block) =
(spacing of knob centers) * 6 / 5
(thickness of block walls) =
((spacing of knob centers) - (diameter of knobs)) / 2
(height of knobs) =
(height of block) / 3 - (thickness of block walls)
(outer diameter of cylinders) =
sqrt(2) * (spacing of knob centers) - (diameter of knobs)
(thickness of cylinder walls) =
((outer diameter of cylinders) - (diameter of knobs)) / 2
Subject: 14) Nice quotations
I'm surprised that no one has ever mentioned the glorious sound of
LEGO. LEGO bricks are about the only present you can tell what is by
firstname.lastname@example.org (The Shaggy T.A.)
I can hear that restful sound of LEGO pieces in my mind even now. It's
kind of like the peaceful sound of a waterfall, but more tinkly.
email@example.com (Sean J. Crist)
LEGO is not a toy. - It's a way of life.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Smith)
"Too low they build, who build beneath the stars."
Edward Young / Night Thoughts
"Particularly they who do not build with LEGO."
Jeff Crites / Synopsis of Oneself
Subject: 15) FTP and WWW sites, further references
The LEGO company has its own www-server: http://www.lego.com/
All the sites mentioned below are maintained by enthusiasts, not the
LEGO company. Please mail corrections to me.
The latest version of this faq is available at
Paul Gyugyi (email@example.com) used to maintain an FTP archive of LEGO
information, which has been taken over by Brian Ward
ftp://blah.math.tu-graz.ac.at/pub/lego/, there is a README that
describes what the site contains, for example CAD, faq, games, images,
sets, uploads. The latter is an upload area for contributions.
Jeffrey T. Crites (firstname.lastname@example.org) maintains his famous
"Jeff's Castle LEGO Listing"
and typed LEGO's
"Facts and Figures"
for your reading. Now on my server.
Here is a list of further WWW pages and ftp sites:
ftp://ftp.gyugyi.com/www/legocad/layout/ by email@example.com (Paul
firstname.lastname@example.org (Preston F. Crow), PC's LEGO Empire
http://fys.ku.dk/%7Esparre/LEGO/index.en.html (Europe) (Jacob Sparre
http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Info/People/karr/lego/index.html by David A.
http://sbchm1.sunysb.edu/msl/lego/homepage.html by Joe Lauher
(lists of all Technic stuff and pictures of each set)
http://starline.princeton.edu/ by Jason S. Ehrlich with searchable
LEGO set databases
Marilyn_Kelley@blake.pvt.k12.mn.us (Marilyn Kelley)
http://rhf.bradley.edu/~xero/Lego/lego.html LegoWars by Eric O'Dell
and Todd Ogrin
http://blah.math.tu-graz.ac.at/~ward/lego by Brian Ward
http://att2.cs.mankato.msus.edu/~superdan/lego.html by Dan Bailey
http://home.t-online.de/home/hoelscher.cord/lego.htm by Cord Hölscher
Links added 1998
http://www.weirdrichard.com/ Richard Wright provides a lot of
information and other links.
Subject: 16) Substitutes / compatibles / clones
Finally some information about similar products. Most people state
that the quality is much lower then original LEGO pieces.
email@example.com (Erik Robert Wilson) TYCO are reported to have sold
(up to approx. 1995) compatible basic bricks in 500/1000-piece buckets
for approx. $0.03 per piece. They also made that LEGO-looking
telephone. There are LEGO compatible "superblocks" as well as DUPLO
compatible ones. They are of fair quality (for a clone) in different
colors (orange, green, hot pink, neon yellow, regular pink, violet,
sky blue, pastels), including 1/2 height plates (not LEGO 1/3). If you
mix them with your originals, you can use non LEGO colors so they are
Mini-Micro Blocks are found in 1000-piece buckets about $0.02 per
piece. There are large quantities of the basic 2x4, 2x2, and 1x2
bricks, more tight but reported to be fully LEGO-compatible. Made by a
company called Ritvik, which also makes Mega-Micro blocks.
firstname.lastname@example.org: The Ritvik Mega-Blox are giant-scale; a 1x1 brick is about
2cm x 2cm by 8 cm. The knobs are only a tiny bit shorter than the base
of the bricks, and they don't hold together via friction; turn a model
upside down and it falls apart. The charm is that they're great for
very small (pre-Duplo) children who don't have the strength or
coordination to play with Duplo or LEGO.
Ritvik Toys Inc., P.O. Box 1408, Champlain, NY 12919
HQ in Quebec, Canada. Offices in U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
Ken Koleda (KOLEDA_K@msb.flint.umich.edu):
Tandem Bricks, made in Taiwan Tandem Toys, Rolling Hills, CA 90724
Notes: Largest brick is the 2x4 full height. A large portion of these
bricks are 1x flats. The flats are the same height as LEGO (1/3).
Colors are similar to lego, except with a good number of gray flats
and greens bricks. Quality is similar to other clones, generally
somewhat below LEGO (loose, but workable).
PEDLO is reported to be similar, but not compatible with LEGO. Their
plates are only 1/2 height of full bricks, not 1/3 like LEGO.
email@example.com (Alexander (Sandy) McKinney):
Qubo ville Basic Building Bricks, look identical except for the LEGO
missing from each of the studs. Assortment of 23 standard pieces, 2x4,
2x2, 1x4, 1x2, 1x1, about CAN$ 2.95
Made in Italy by GOMPLA S.n.c. di Bisello D.&C., Via Emila Romagna
13/15, 35020 Saonara (PD) - Italy Imported by Wallace Companies Inc.,
USA, 175 Citation Court, Birmingham, Al 35209 CANADA, WSP Marketing
Int., 49 Valleybrook Dr., Con Mills, Ontario, M3B 2S6
firstname.lastname@example.org (Niels Elgaard Larsen) and
email@example.com (Franz-Michael S. Mellbin) says:
Some years ago LEGO did have a lot of trouble with a Chinese company
that made LEGO clones called "0937". I wonder if they placed them
upside-down in the stores. Now they changed their product name and the
style to military dark green bricks and weapons.
There are more clones playing with the brand name, e.g. 'ELGO'.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Russ Perry Jr):
Glow-In-The-Dark BetterBlocks^TM, usable with Lego^R, Tyco^R and Micro
Bloks^R, 200-piece set $25, The Lighter Side, 4514 19th Street Court
East, PO Box 25600, Dept L9501, Bradenton FL 34206-5600, USA
email@example.com (Tore Eriksson):
In Sweden we have two clones: Byggis abd Bricks. Probably from the
same factory. Sometimes they have a 'B' printed on each stud. The
quality is almost LEGO-like.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Alan Shutko) knows:
Rokenbok systems (http://www.rokenbok.com) has LEGO compatible
deckplates and ramps, although their building materials are not
aesthetically compatible (and I don't know if you can build Rokenbok
structures on LEGO baseplates).
** end of rec.toys.lego faq **