Subject: LEGO frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Followup-To: poster
Distribution: world
Summary: FAQ about the construction toy LEGO, posted monthly
Keywords: LEGO, toy, construction, FAQ

Archive-name: LEGO-faq
Last-modified: Jun 19, 2000
Url: Rec.Toys.Lego Frequently Asked Questions

This is the FAQ for the newsgroup

This page is in NEITHER affiliated with NOR sponsored by the LEGO company.

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 Group.

Please include the word LEGO somewhere in the Subject-line of email.

Tom Pfeifer

*** 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:

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 Affairs)
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:
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 Pièces 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
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
Servizio Consumatori
Via Colombo, 12
20020 Lainate (MI)
Tel. 02/93 74 581
LEGO Nederland B.V. [reported to be expired]
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
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 delivery)
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 itself.
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 06083
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 ticket.

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: (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 hour).

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).


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 park.


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 

Catering: 5 Moevenpick operated resaurants in each of the themed areas.

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 park.

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 information:

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 section.

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:

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 them.)

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) say:
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 like.

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.

Simplastix Innovations offers "BOX-4-BLOX": flat containers, 10.25" = 26 cm each side, which can be stacked on top of each other for storage. See for online orders.

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 find.

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 "20th anniversary" in the early 90ies 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 ( say:
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 fire.
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 model?

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!

(**) more precisely, it is derived from "leg godt", as stated above.
(***) claimed by to be not correct in Latin. "lego" means "I pick out" or "I choose", while the infinitive, "to pick out," is "legere".

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:

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 Dan:
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 ( comments:

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

Todd S. Lehman and Suzanne D. Rich maintain the Website of the LEGO User Group "LUGNET" (independent from the company) at They also have a News site and product guide.

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 by Brian Ward by Dan Bailey by Cord Hölscher (German)

Links added 1998 Richard Wright provides a lot of information and other links.
next 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 **