Boxes of Bricks
When I was younger, (and to be honest even still now) when this time of year rolled around, I was only the interested in one thing under the tree. When you shook the box it sounded a couple of octaves lower than a box of broken glass.
I had giant tubs full of the things. Fleets of ships ready to battle at moments notice. Even as a kid I had would build the sets, and most of the time unless it was a really quality piece, I would rip it down and start over with something new. Iterative design at it’s earliest stages.
As I got older, I still really enjoyed messing with the Legos, although it became more for the act of design than anything else. It was hard too…high school aged friends look at you a little funny when you’re still messing with kid’s toys. My sister and I would still dump out the giant box on Christmas Eve, and spend the evening messing with them (this was as late as college).
I was about five years behind (or ahead) of the times. Recently the Lego Mindstorms stuff has become a really neat way for kids (and some adults) to learn about robotics and programming. There are websites all over the place now for people to post their creations (back in the day we survived with the idea books).
Another cool thing is to see design firms using them for brainstorming sessions, and design tools. It was one of my dreams as a kid to work as a professional Lego builder. Apparently some people actually make it a career. (you go guys).
Most of the sets that come out these days are a little too contrived for me. A lot of them are based on movies, or overdone themes (Although, who doesn’t want a Lego version of the millennium falcon). However the basic premise is still there. Break down the sets and you’ve got an unlimited canvas of potential. Lots of little designers in the making.
So, happy holidays, peace, joy, and Legos for all the kids who asked for them.
I enjoyed your essay on Legos. We have fond memories of them here as well. And I noticed on our recent trip to visit our grandchildren that they, too, are well supplied.
Our son, Joe who now builds radio telescopes to measure miniscule variations in microwave background temperature, enjoys a lot of interesting theory and math as he does his design work. However, nothing seems to turn him on as much as the time he spends with the machinist figuring out cam specs, gear dimensions, etc that have to be in sync with his larger subject–the universe. He thinks of himself as a shade tree machinist and he loves it.
Hope you can be with us New Year’s day. The old man is helping with the coffee. That promises to add adventure points to the day.