Forbidden LEGO: Do Try This at Home

Geek Culture

forbidden legoforbidden legoForbidden LEGO, it conjures up memories of my mom busting me for making guns with my LEGO bricks — we had a no war toys house. But the title actually refers to the fact that the models presented in the book would never, for a variety of reasons, be produced as an official LEGO product. As the authors explain, the company sensibly enforces very strict and specific rules that builders follow in creating models. Of course, countless prototypes are created that violate these rules; some of them these ended up in Forbidden LEGO.

So what are these rules that cannot be broken? The authors (former LEGO employees) describe them thus: 1) No non-LEGO parts. 2) No modifications required of users, for example, drilling a hole in a LEGO brick or clipping off part of it. 3) No shooting out a projectile strong enough to tear through Seran wrap. 4) Never use glue when building. 5) No tinkering with battery pack voltages.

With all the introductory and explanatory text, and with detailed CAD instructions, there are actually only five projects in the book. I have no problem with this! There’s a lot more value to be gleaned from the book than just the models. The authors’ funny anecdotes as well as their insights on the LEGO corporate dynamic serve as a welcome accompaniment to the projects. The first model is a paper airplane launcher. The second project describes a catapult that uses a spoon to launch candy through the air. The third is a cannon that shoots ping-pong balls. The third project is an ATV supercharged by two MINDSTORMS battery packs. And the final project shows you how to build a LEGO machine pistol that shoots out bricks at high speeds. Of course, keeping with the book’s theme, every model includes a list of LEGO rules violated.

In some respects this book embodies the true value of the LEGO toy — it’s not the official models you buy in boxes, though those are great; we’re having so much fun with Mars Mission at home. But what’s wonderful about LEGO is what you invent after you build the model. You throw away the instructions and create something new and crazy.

Whether it’s forbidden or not is up to you.

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