Thoughts On LEGO Technic Sets

The beta reviews are coming in. Thank you everybody. Instead of rushing in to fix all the problems I decided to wait a few days to see which are the issues most people comment on. I use the time to clean up desk an generally take care of some things I have been neglecting.

One of them was to finally build a few LEGO Technic models that have been piling up on my desk. Actually, there were only two sets but there are instructions for two models in each set. Technic models have been a moderate hobby of mine in the recent few years. I have built at least 15 of them. I may have written already about it here but there are two insights I got from doing so.

  1. Less is More. I had the most fun with the smallest sets. Yes, the huge flagship sets do look awesome in the store. And yes, building them is an epic experience. But then that’s it. I build them once and it takes away half of my day. Then I salvage them for parts or they stay on my exhibition shelf and collect dust because I don’t have the time to do something else with them. On the other hand, the smaller sets can be assembled in 20 minutes or so. Which means I can build and re-build them over and over again. And that’s what I actually sometimes do. It’s very relaxing. Sometimes I follow the instructions, then change them and freestyle something horribly disfigured. I remember once when my old friend Daniel Renkel came over. We made a competition of trying to assemble Mindstorms rovers using only the parts from the tiniest Technic set available, the 8290 Forklift. The results were hilarious and it was an incredibly enjoyable exercise in creativity and economy. It’s an philosophy that gets lost as the number of parts increases.

    Squashed Kitten

    I called this one the “Squashed Kitten”.

  2. Turning Radius. The other thing is perhaps more specific. Generally, the desk-life (the timespan I keep a particular model at my desk to play with it) of a model is dramatically increased when it’s a vehicle with a steering. I will race it around my desk making turns around obstacles. But in order to do so, the vehicle needs a descent turning radius. It needs to be able to make tight turns around the obstacles. Making a 10-point turn at every step is just not fun. But oddly, this is something LEGO designers often fail to consider. For example, the 8262 Quad Bike has a particularly bad turning radius. It’s a beautiful set with some really cool suspension and very dramatic building sequence. But with a turning radius of at least half a meter it won’t stay long on my desk. Luckily, it has some pretty cool parts I can use for other inventions. Sets that enjoyed a plentiful desk-life were the 8296 Dune Buggy (one of my first sets after the Dark Ages) or even the unseemingly small and cheap 8261 Power Truck.

    I have no idea what the lesson from that is. I guess sometimes a small technical detail can have a huge impact on user experience. And also, when you design a product you need to pay attention to the environment the product will be used in. So nothing new, I guess.

So do you guys have any LEGO you still build or am I the only one outing himself as an AFOL.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

5 responses to “Thoughts On LEGO Technic Sets”

  1. McZonk

    I have no more real bricks but I’ve built a whole city with Lego Digital Designer

  2. sirleto

    the last set i build was a birthday present from sascha siebert and david zaadstra: due to my day job they got me a nice yet simple technic helicopter: LEGO Technic 8046 ( )

    all my other sets are stowed away as i dont find the time to play arround with them. last time i did (years ago) i created my simple (but unplayable difficult) puzzle prototype with them:

    happy new year to you kryst, and everyone reading these comments!


    1. Krystian Majewski

      Happy New Year to you too. Yeah, I had my eyes on that Helicopter as well. Now I might just buy it. Btw, why don’t you post something about your game on here? I’d love to hear something about it.

  3. Alex

    I’m a big fan of lego technic sets. Also I have over 100 constructions made of lego bricks.
    I’m over 30, but building with bricks relaxes me and makes me forget everyday troubles.

  4. Jonathan

    Does anybody know how to measure the turning radius of a lego model? I would love to know how.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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