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LEGO frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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Archive-name: LEGO-faq
Last-modified: Jun 19, 2000

This is the FAQ for the 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.

Tom Pfeifer
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
Bulk orders
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:

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
   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
   Mail order:
          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 ( 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.
          Consumer Service
          Albert-Schweitzer-Gasse 11
          A-1147 Wien
          LEGO Benelux
          Postbus 9311
          NL- 4801 LH Breda
          phone: 076-5731100
          phone: 076-5731122
        LEGO Canada Inc.
                331 Amber Street
                Markham, Ontario
                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)

        Shop@Home Canada
                P.O. Box 3700
                Markham, ON
                L3R 6G9
                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:
        LEGO A/S
                DK-7190 Billund
Phone +45 - 75 35 11 88
Fax   +45 - 75 35 33 60

        LegoLand Billund
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
          LEGO GmbH
          Martin-Kollar-Strasse 17
          D-81829 München
          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.
          GR-17671 Kallithea
          LEGO Hungária KFT
          1027 Budapest
          Tölgyfa utca 28
          LEGO S.p.A.
          Servizio Consumatori
          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
          Auckland 6
          New Zealand
          Phone +64 +9 276 1405
          Fax +64 +9 276 1526
          A/S LEGO System Norge
          Postboks 66
          N-1301 Sandvika
          or: Postboks 38
          1314 Skui
          Telefon: 67131600
          LEGO, Lda.
          Largo Joao Vaz. 9-A/B/C/D
          1700 Lisboa
          Tel.: (01) 847 33 41
          LEGO, S.A.
          Apartado 500
          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
          Neuhofstrasse 21
          CH-6340 Baar
          Tel: 042/33 44 66
          LEGO U.K. Ltd., (including club)
          Ruthin Road,
          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
                1-800-243 4870
        LEGO Systems, Inc.
                Consumer Affairs
                P.O. Box 1138
                Enfield, CT 06083
                1-800-422-5346 (9am-9pm Mon-Fri Eastern time, pseudonym
                "Susan Williams")
                (860) 749-2291
        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
                Orlando, FL
        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,
        LEGO Dacta
                555 Taylor Road
                P.O. Box 1600
                Enfield, CT 06083-1600
orders and info: 1-(800)-527-8339
fax:             1-(860)-763-2466

                semi-official email:
                (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
          Henry Wiencek
          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
          Dewey: 688.7'2
          ISBN: 0-382-09362-3
          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 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
          LEGO Robots"
          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).
          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.
          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
   Israel Shenker
          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 (
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
   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
   factory discounts.
Subject: 4) LegoLand theme park

   See also
  Billund, Denmark, Europe:
   since 1968
   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
   ( 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)
  (Craig A. Finseth) and (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
   LEGO bricks.
   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
  Windsor, UK, Europe
   The park opened 1996.
official entrance fees for 1999:
Gate price

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 (
    By Car
   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.
    By Rail
   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

    By bus
   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
   London (Victoria).
Heathrow Airport enquiries - 0181 759 4321
Gatwick Airport enquiries  - 01293 535353

    By Foot
   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
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:
Gate price
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.

Passports (2000)
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 ( knows where you can get short
Karen Ireland
LEGO Park Planning Inc
Suite 130
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. (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. (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. (FOO) (Pattie Everett Fulton) remembers an exibition
   in a museum in Frankfurt, Germany, for architectural demonstrations.
   Mark Hornblower (
   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 (
   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).
   Catalog names:
     * "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. (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
   microchannel computer)
   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
   reversible). (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. (jim koch) provides:
   The price for Apple or IBM starter pack US$798.00 (Jan 92). (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 " (")). This
   includes diagrams and a parts list. The tech reference is a 47-page
   Postscript document.
   There is a mailing list at Send the body
   "SUBSCRIBE ROBOT-BOARD your_name" to this email address, the body HELP
   for 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: [] in the ~ftp/pub/ACS/6.270 directory. (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, (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!
                            Susan Williams
                            Consumer Services (Susan's name is a
                            pseudonym for the service dptmt.)
   Matthew Miller,, 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"
   _or_ "Lego".
   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.
     (Juergen Christoffel) and (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)
     (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
          let air-dry...
   Do not wash your LEGO people -- their faces come off!
          ... but (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" ( 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 ( highly recommends Brookstone's #177956
   Flipper Parts Boxes (phone 1-800-926-7000 (24 hrs)).
   Franz-Michael S. Mellbin (
   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] (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 (Clive Jones) writes:
Let:      - 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 ( 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. (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 ( and Timo (
   The LEGO patent of the original brick has expired some years ago.
   Franz-Michael S. Mellbin comments
   ( comments:
   Lego changed their strategy, so now they are taking out patents
   (lots!) on their specific sets - including many sets, that are never
   marketed. 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 (
   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 / 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,
   Inc., 1987,
   quoted by (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
   LEGO brick.
   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]:
   Company structure:
     * 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 (
   from Wiencek's The World of LEGO Toys, paraphrased by
          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. (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 (
   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 ( 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
   shaking it. (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. (Sean J. Crist)
   LEGO is not a toy. - It's a way of life. (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:
   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 ( used to maintain an FTP archive of LEGO
   information, which has been taken over by Brian Ward
   (, 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 ( 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: by (Paul
   Gyugyi) by (Preston F. Crow), PC's LEGO Empire (Europe) (Jacob Sparre
   Andersen) by David A.
   Karr by Joe Lauher
   (lists of all Technic stuff and pictures of each set) by Jason S. Ehrlich with searchable
   LEGO set databases by (Marilyn Kelley) LegoWars by Eric O'Dell
   and Todd Ogrin and by Brian Ward by Dan Bailey by Cord Hölscher
   Links added 1998 Richard Wright provides a lot of
   information and other links.
   from you?
Subject: 16) Substitutes / compatibles / clones

   Finally some information about similar products. Most people state
   that the quality is much lower then original LEGO pieces. (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
   easily distinguishable.
   Mini-Micro Blocks are found in 1000-piece buckets about $0.02 per
   piece. There are large quantities of the basic 2x4, 2x2, and 1x2
   bricks, more tight but reported to be fully LEGO-compatible. Made by a
   company called Ritvik, which also makes Mega-Micro blocks. The Ritvik Mega-Blox are giant-scale; a 1x1 brick is about
   2cm x 2cm by 8 cm. The knobs are only a tiny bit shorter than the base
   of the bricks, and they don't hold together via friction; turn a model
   upside down and it falls apart. The charm is that they're great for
   very small (pre-Duplo) children who don't have the strength or
   coordination to play with Duplo or LEGO.
   Ritvik Toys Inc., P.O. Box 1408, Champlain, NY 12919
   HQ in Quebec, Canada. Offices in U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
   Ken Koleda (
   Tandem Bricks, made in Taiwan Tandem Toys, Rolling Hills, CA 90724
   Notes: Largest brick is the 2x4 full height. A large portion of these
   bricks are 1x flats. The flats are the same height as LEGO (1/3).
   Colors are similar to lego, except with a good number of gray flats
   and greens bricks. Quality is similar to other clones, generally
   somewhat below LEGO (loose, but workable).
   PEDLO is reported to be similar, but not compatible with LEGO. Their
   plates are only 1/2 height of full bricks, not 1/3 like LEGO. (Alexander (Sandy) McKinney):
   Qubo ville Basic Building Bricks, look identical except for the LEGO
   missing from each of the studs. Assortment of 23 standard pieces, 2x4,
   2x2, 1x4, 1x2, 1x1, about CAN$ 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 (Niels Elgaard Larsen) and (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'. (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 (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. (Alan Shutko) knows:
   Rokenbok systems ( 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 faq **

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