Think back on the coolest LEGO creation you ever made when you were a kid. Maybe it was a tower, or a colorful White House, or a robot that broke the second you tried to make it move. If you were lucky, you got your hands on a LEGO Star Wars kit so you could make a decent looking TIE fighter or something. Our point is, whatever your proudest LEGO creation was, it's going to look like a crap mountain compared to ...
OK, that looks like it would be a pain in the ass to make even if it was just intended to look like a V-8 engine made out of LEGOs. But this sucker has all the moving parts, including pistons and a drive train, and clocks an impressive 1,500 rpms. Watch it in action, it's insane:
You can make one yourself, if you like -- all you need is about $400 and to devote about an hour a night to the project for, oh, the next year or so.
He's working on a Maserati, but the LEGO airbags present a real challenge.
This is the work of Dutch LEGO nut Barry Bosman, and all it took was 2,862 parts, 300 hours, and far too much patience for a regular human. Oh, and it runs on air, if you were wondering how you combust gasoline in something like that without it exploding into a mass of molten plastic.
Bosman made it so he would have something to take to LEGO events, and we are assuming the people who attend these things are suitably impressed. But maybe not, considering that they may also see ...
So clearly the goal of modern LEGO enthusiasts is to rub our faces in the fact that they can make things out of LEGO that we couldn't build even if we were allowed to use any material. For instance, state-of-the-art 3D printing technology that can carve out three-dimensional objects from a set of computerized instructions:
A guy named Arthur Sacek built this one that can carve a block of floral foam into a perfect real-world representation of a model. And the only non-LEGO piece of the machine is a small drill bit that meticulously grinds away at the foam, fleck by fleck, in order to reveal the chiseled visage hidden below. If he's lucky, Arthur ends up with a bas-relief head or another cool design. If he's unlucky, he adds the creation to the pile of dicks the LEGO printer already arbitrarily printed.
"Yes, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie. Why do you ask?"
Arthur's 2.0 printer effort has a badass robot-handed lathe that carves foam in full 3D. So instead of three different motors working like slaves to produce a picture, Arthur's got a rotating pig spit that holds the foam as the drill carves away. We're not sure what's scarier -- the idea that Sacek is clearly paving the way for a LEGO version of that laser that sucked Jeff Bridges into Tron World, or that the resulting sculptures look like animated Disney heroes.
Sadly, no amount of LEGO craftsmanship can make that haircut look good.
So already you can see that while you weren't paying attention, the LEGO scene got downright serious. Which brings us to LEGO Mindstorms.
This is a joint LEGO/MIT project that put programmable software and LEGO robots in the hands of kids who may never know the simple joy of making a cross out of two long bricks and telling everyone it's an airplane. And while our idea of "LEGO Wars" meant throwing tiny bricks at each other from behind our blanket forts, today kids all over the world are competing against each other in LEGO robot competitions.
So what sort of things do they come up with? How about rows of cold automatons that will surely take our jobs one day? Look at this shit:
That is an assembly line that automatically sorts LEGOs and is itself made of LEGOs. That's the creation of Chris Shepard, and it uses light and color sensors to know when different colored LEGOs come onto the belt, which puts his robots ahead of toddlers in the smarts department. The four arms move in three directions, driven by air and OCD to sort the blocks into their proper bins.
A task so difficult that no human child has ever done it correctly.
And they only get more sophisticated from there. Here's another LEGO sorting factory commissioned by a company to demonstrate their manufacturing system. It sorts by size, color, and shape, and once a container is full, it is taken away and replaced with an empty one. It's like an industrial metaphor for reincarnation, which is probably what they were intending all along.
We're guessing asshole LEGOs get reincarnated as one of those shitty neon circle pieces.
But probably our favorite has to be this one, which uses about 7,000 separate LEGO pieces to fold and launch paper airplanes.
We must have one of those. We must.
Once again, if somebody just made that track out of LEGO and nothing else, we would declare them a genius, or at the very least, unemployed. When LEGO enthusiasts like Adam Tucker make fully working model roller coasters, all we can do is stare in awe:
For authenticity, the bottom has a wiener LEGO guy waiting for his friends
after wussing out halfway in line. His name is Craig.
The best part about Tucker's ride is that it never ends. The carts are on an infinite loop of awesome or awful, depending on how you feel about imagining yourself on a never-ending roller coaster.
"The hard part was engineering LEGO-scale vomit."
Another LEGO fan wasn't content to let tiny invisible people enjoy roller coasters without the rigmarole that accompanies going to an amusement park, so when he built his LEGO ride, he added the crap the rest of us have to put up with: turnstiles, lines, stairs, and itty bitty acne-scarred roller coaster operators who make you wonder if this was the best way to spend $50 and a day off.
On the plus side, everyone is exactly tall enough for this ride.
All the fake waiting pays off, because the fake LEGO patrons (who coincidentally look like the Village People) get to experience an inverted roller coaster with a corkscrew and a loop. It's more impressive when you realize that this is all one guy's design, not a kit or a deity or a wizard who magicked up tiny roller coaster realms to lord over.