Instruction Books for Legos?

I find this depressing - evidently Legos are now sold as kits, complete with instructions.


For Legos.
What do you think?

Um, its been that way for many years. I got some expert set (now named technic) sets (tracor and bulldozer) more than 20 years ago, closer to 25, and those had instructions. (I’d build the set once, play with a bit, then make my own creations)

I do beamon that parts are getting superspecialized these days.


They had those when I was a kid, if not sooner. And I’m 18 now. I never really thought of it as depressing, but now that you mention it, yeah. It is.

I’ve had Legos since I was 3. And I am now 42. And they’ve had instruction books at least since the seventies.

Nowadays, of course, they take the views off their 3D modeling software, as in many other engineering fields, but way back in the day, there must have been some poor devil drawing all those bumps on top of the pieces in the pictures…

I’ve always considered the Lego instructions to be superb examples of pictorial instructional design.

With Lego designer software like LDraw, LeoCad and MLCad, you can design your model, and some of them will create step-by-step instruction books and spit them out as PDFs. :slight_smile: Here’s one I made (1.6-meg PDF).

The castle I built when I was little (from instructions in the mid-80s) was millions upon millions of yellow 2x1 bricks which could then be used for other stuff.
Today, it seems to be all specialized - nothing can be used for anything but it’s original purpose.

The lego people seem to have more facial expressions, though.

You can still by big “basic” sets that are less about making a specific thing and more about having pieces to design your own stuff. They even do this with the “bionicle” line now. You can also special-order blocks (just blocks, without them being part of a specific kit) through the lego online store.

But most legos, as you say, come as a set or kit with detailed instructions. Some of them include pretty specific and specialized block shapes. Some have instructions books showing multiple designs you can make with that particular lego set, or combination of sets.

FWIW, my son has more legos than anyone I know, most of them bought in kit form. He still enjoys making his own stuff, designing his own ships, cars, buildings, etc.

Eh, like others have said, there have been manuals included for quite some time now. I never really played with Legos myself (Playmobile® till death!) I have to admit that my eleven-year-old self probably couldn’t have built the totally awesome pirate ship on the cover of the box if there had not been any instructions. :o

I don’t really think it’s actively discouraging children from using their own imagination and creating new things either.

I guess I must’ve just thrown those instruction manuals out.
Oh, wait - maybe it’s that I didn’t really have many “Legos” per se, but some knockoff generic house brand that Sears sold in the '70s.

At any rate, I can’t imagine thinking of Legos as a “kit”. It seems like a perversion. I hate kits anyway.

I remember using them as an armature for some small horses I was making out of clay, mostly b/c I was short on clay.

Heretical splittist! :slight_smile:

That’s true. Whenever I got a new set, I built the pictured models once, lost the instructions, discarded the box, and ended up just mixing the parts in with my other Legos. (I do keep all the small pieces in a separate bag, though…)

My sons use the directions if they want to build the specific model but they also build their own creations. It might be a little depressing but the instructions aren’t always that easy to follow and I feel they learn something from it.

Since most LEGO builders are boys it gives me hope that we’re raising a new generation of men who will look at instructions.

Ha ha ha ha! :: chuckles ::

Sorry, what was that?

I’ll say. WhyKid is my official Furniture-Put-Togetherer after 13 years of Lego!

(Psst…I got corrected once in another thread, it’s not Legos, just Lego. Apparently, Lego is kinda touchy about it. They used to have a snarky message about “respecting brand integrity” by using the proper plural if you went to . Now they just redirect you.)

Yeah, I was going to add that the plural form of “Lego” is… “Lego”.

Legos sounds like the capital of an African Banana Republic to me. :smiley:

Every Lego kit I’ve ever built has come with instructions, which is just as well, since some of the early Pirate Lego stuff would be VERY hard to make without it.

It is a shame most of the new Lego kits have such specialised parts that can’t be used for anything else. I’d say that the Adventurers series was the last Lego theme series which largely “generic” parts, rather than the over-abundance of “specialist” parts seen in the Knights Kingdom and Viking sets.

What? I like my Lego. :smiley:

I think the instructions are good - my son will struggle and struggle over the instructions until he has made what the kit is for (a T-rex was the latest) Then he will take it to bits and make some of the suggestions. Then, as others have said the box will get broken and chucked, and the blocks will just get mudged up with the rest of them, but he will end up making a T-rex with bionicle spurs or whatever, which he couldn’t have done if he hadn’t done the first project the way it was supposed to be done first.

He will often come to me with something he has made and tell me he used this technique for this bit, and that bits body for that bit. It’s all helping him kick off to his own creations.

Isn’t this rather unnecessary, when you can find instructions in every hotel room?

They are. LEGO takes their instruction booklets very seriously - to the point of having kids in the relevant age brackets come to the factory in Billund and build models to draft instructions while being videotaped through one-way mirrors. They’ve got child psychologists and whatnot on staff. Come to think of it, there’s no part of the product that LEGO doesn’t take very, very seriously, which is one of the reasons the competitors can undercut them.

Oh, and I remember instruction booklets from back before I could read, which must be - ehm - a lot of years ago. A whole lot. OK, 35 years.

You try building this without instructions.

And it has VERY few, if any, unique pieces. Although it also has very few of the generic 2x4 lego “brick”.

Could be worse. They could say something like ‘Cakes made of Legos must not be eaten’ or ‘Do not put Legos in nose, ears or eyes’.

Or ‘Do not put Legos dildo in vagina.’

I used to think the specialized parts were too limiting, but after seeing some of the stuff people are making and posting online I no longer hold that view. Here’s some examples:

The front grills on this spaceship were probably originally from a town police set, as barricades. The pilot’s seat is made with three Star Wars droid arms forming the back.

This spaceship by the same builder has engines made from tires.

This mecha uses minifig legs as hands (minifigs is the term used for Lego people) and a variety of railings, antennae, and wing pieces in interesting ways.

This model of the Nebuchadnezzar from the Matrix uses a TIE Fighter window as its cockpit window, and tires and radar dishes as the hover generator thingies.

Here’s a spaceship I built. I didn’t use any really outlandish pieces, but the main hull pieces were originally molded for a UFO set.

There are examples out there of designs using even more highly specialized pieces for completely different uses. None of the really cool stuff people are making would be possible with just the plain bricks of 30 years ago.

One of the many things my ex-husband does that drives me insane: He will buy Lego kits, assemble them according to instructions, then present the finished product to our son as a gift. I try to explain to the boy that Lego is a building toy, and it can be lots of fun to make your own stuff with the bricks, but he doesn’t want to bust up Dad’s hard work.