Tag Archives: CUUSOO

Legends of the Sea marble maze

I’m a sucker for anything with, well, suckers. A while back, Chris blogged an amazing marble maze project on LEGO CUUSOO by Jason Allemann (True Dimensions). To celebrate the fact that his project recently reached 2,500 supporters, Jason posted a version customized with a nautical theme.

Marble Maze (Labyrinth) - Legends of the Sea

This is one of the things I love about this project (and why I featured it in my list of 5 LEGO CUUSOO projects that need your support) — the basic structure of the LEGO mechanism supports customization and expansion.

You can help this project become an official LEGO set by voting for it on LEGO CUUSOO.

LEGO CUUSOO 21101 Hayabusa spacecraft [Review]

I recently took advantage of the free shipping going on right now to pick up 21101 Hayabusa, the second project to receive the necessary votes and become an official LEGO set through the original Japanese version of LEGO CUUSOO.

Given the space fever I currently share with many of you, I thought I’d let you know what to expect if you order it yourself.

LEGO CUUSOO Hayabusa

The instruction booklets for both of the LEGO CUUSOO sets I’ve bought (the other being the Shinkai 6500 submarine — the very first successful CUUSOO project) have included lots of information about the real-life vehicles that inspired the sets. The Hayabusa booklet is bilingual (English & Japanese), and available in several additional languages from the LEGO CUUSOO page.

Hayabusa spacecraftAs I learned from the LEGO Hayabusa booklet, the real Hayabusa was a Japanese sample-return spacecraft launched in 2003 that rendezvoused with the asteroid Itokawa in 2005. Five years later, Hayabusa returned to Earth carrying particles from the asteroid. The spacecraft sported ion engines — you know, like TIE fighters! The mission’s project manager was Junichiro Kawaguchi, who made it into the set as a minifig.

One of the things that’s so interesting about the LEGO CUUSOO process is seeing the differences between the original LEGO fan’s design and the final design as a LEGO set. According to the press release earlier this year:

The original Hayabusa model on LEGO CUUSOO was built by Daisuke Okubo and achieved 1,000 supporters on the Japanese-only version of LEGO CUUSOO in the spring of 2011. LEGO model designer Melody Louise Caddick designed the final model, refining earlier concept models based on Daisuke’s original project.

LEGO Hayabusa design by Daisuke Okubo

The final model does look very different from Daisuke’s original design (above). I have to admit that I do appreciate the details and overall shaping introduced during the official redesign, proving that a collaboration between a regular builder and a professional designer can yield great results.

The build itself is fun though fairly basic, but what innovative techniques can you really expect from source material that’s basically a box with wings? My greatest disappointment is that the spacecraft’s body is built from yellow bricks rather than gold — the only (pearl) gold piece is the radar dish that serves as the reentry vehicle on the front. Then again, I suspect that chrome and pearl gold might be expensive colors to produce, given their overall rarity.

I recommend this set as a display model for collectors; this isn’t a set that you buy for the parts (I certainly don’t intend to take it apart and sort the pieces into my collection). Nevertheless, I think 21101 Hayabusa is a must-have for any fan of realistic LEGO spacecraft. The set goes for USD 49 from the LEGO Shop, and includes 369 pieces.

Soviet Lunokhod 1, first robotic rover on another world

I watched a show on the Science Channel called “Tank on the Moon” last night, about the USSR’s Lunokhod robotic rover program, and learned just how much today’s rovers on Mars owe a debt to these Soviet lunar rovers. Built during the 1960s in secret, Lunokhod 1 landed on the moon in 1970 and operated for four months. The feat of launching, landing, and successfully operating a remotely operated rover on another celestial body wouldn’t be repeated again for nearly 30 years, with the Sojourner rover on Mars.

After watching the show, I felt like my own collection of LEGO rovers was incomplete, and felt inspired to build one. However, I soon remembered a wonderful LEGO version of Lunokhod 1 by Japanese builder Kei-Kei over on CUUSOO.

LEGO Lunokhod 1 on CUUSOO

(Kei-Kei’s presentation is even what I would’ve done myself, with the Classic Space baseplate and Star Wars planet standing in for Earth in the background. I may still build one of my own, but this one’s too good to not highlight here on TBB.)

Head on over to CUUSOO to support this excellent project.

5 LEGO CUUSOO projects that need your support by Sep 3

We’re just a few days away from September 3rd, the date that kicks off the autumn review period on LEGO CUUSOO. It’s not really a deadline, as such — projects that don’t hit 10,000 supporters can continue earning supporters and get into a future review cycle — but there are a handful of projects that have enough supporters that we want to give them an extra nudge to see if they can hit 10K within the next week.

At the top of my personal list (and currently the most supported project in this post at 6,552 supporters) stands Peter Reid‘s hardsuit. It’s every kind of awesome, and deserves a chance to be made into an awesome LEGO set.

LEGO hardsuit by Pete Reid on CUUSOO

Since we first posted about his British bird series back in May, DeTomaso Pantera has not only created a project for them on CUUSOO, earning 3,213 supporters as of today, but also delved into tropical birds. They’re lovely, and deserve even more love from each and every one of you.

LEGO birds on LEGO CUUSOO

Any list with gorgeous LEGO birds wouldn’t be complete without this adorable red squirrel by Arjen Vuurzoon. This excellent and naturalistic model deserves many more than the 1,226 supporters it has today.

LEGO red squirrel on LEGO CUUSOO

Chris blogged Jason‘s customizable labyrinth maze game back in April, but like DeTomaso’s birds above, Jason created the LEGO CUUSOO project soon afterward, and he’s earned 2,205 supporters since then. This is an excellent, well-planned design with a lot of play possibilities, and deserves 7,795 more supporters.

LEGO labyrinth marble maze on LEGO CUUSOO

My admiration of Masao Hidaka‘s pianos goes back to the very earliest days of this blog. Masao’s LEGO CUUSOO project, currently with 2,725 supporters, proposes famous composers with appropriate keyboard instruments — and that’s music to my ears!

LEGO composers on LEGO CUUSOO

If you’re still here and not off clicking the big green Support button over on CUUSOO, I may as well explain a bit more how I see The Brothers Brick supporting LEGO CUUSOO projects in the future.

As I explained in our anniversary post last month, I’m really only interested in seeing The Brothers Brick support CUUSOO projects that have a realistic likelihood that LEGO will approve. Everything else is a waste of energy.

Just for a bit of additional clarity, here are the kinds of projects that we won’t be supporting here on the blog (so, seriously, please don’t ask):

  • Sets that LEGO already has a license for, like Star Wars and Batman
  • Ideas based on M-rated video games, R-rated movies, or “TV-MA” shows
  • Pointlessly obscure pop culture references
  • Set and theme ideas for which one of LEGO’s competitors already has the building toy license (K’Nex has Nintendo, Mega Bloks has Halo & World of WarCraft, and so on)
  • For that matter, pretty much any set or theme that would require a new license, whether it’s a specific make of car, the mascot of a mobile phone operating system, or a fruit-themed computer company…
  • Projects without global appeal (pretty much everything in the bullets above)
  • Gargantuan ideas — sorry, Nannan! :-P

Even though we’re going to be a bit less stringent about this next guideline here at TBB, LEGO has said that CUUSOO is about proposing specific sets, not broad themes. Proposed themes with great primary models (or many to choose from, like the birds) may indeed have something from among the project’s models made into a set, and we’re happy to highlight the idea, but we’ll be doing so with the clear understanding that we’re supporting (and asking our readers to support) a model/set, not a theme idea.

Again, what are you still doing here?! Head on over to LEGO CUUSOO to support these — and many other — deserving projects.

Perijove’s LEGO MSL Curiosity Rover hits 10K on CUUSOO [News]

UPDATE (June 14, 2013): LEGO MSL Curiosity Rover is go for launch!

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Back on August 5th when I first highlighted the excellent Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover project by Stephen Pakbaz (Perijove) on LEGO CUUSOO, the project had been online for about eight months and had accumulated about 1,300 votes.

In a sign that timing is everything (with a little help from a few friends on the web), Stephen’s Curiosity project hit 10,000 supporters this weekend. In fact, the project gained its final 5,000 supporters in less than 24 hours.

LEGO Curiosity Rover with skycrane

(I wanted to use a picture of the model we haven’t already used several times here on the blog. Stephen’s proposed model for the project doesn’t include the skycrane, but how awesome would that be?!)

I used Stephen’s instructions to build the rover myself yesterday, and it’s a really excellent model. The build itself was very enjoyable, and I even learned a few SNOT techniques I hadn’t seen before. The final model includes so much detail and functionality it’s really fun to play with, in addition to being just shy of fully functional (with working “rocker bogie” suspension, stowable mast & arm, and little details like forward and rear haz-cams).

LEGO MSL Rover instructions

However, Stephen’s rover does include a handful of unusual parts, and parts in quantities or colors that I don’t have (especially the Technic parts for a mainly SYSTEM builder like me). Even with my substantial, relatively well-sorted collection, it took me the better part of an afternoon to dig around and gather all the parts, and I still had to place a couple small Bricklink orders to replace parts I don’t have at all in the right colors.

All of this is to say that an official set will be a great way to easily get all of the necessary building materials for a reasonable price — as I’m sure LEGO won’t be charging $2 for the white bracket (of which the model requires two), for example.

Congratulations to Stephen, and I can’t wait to see how LEGO handles this particular project. Specifically, I’d love to see LEGO accelerate the approval of this project, given LEGO’s existing partnership with NASA, the clear educational value of the model, and the current “space fever” gripping the world.

Finally, in case you missed it last week, be sure to check out our interview with Stephen Pakbaz (who worked at JPL as an engineer on the Curiosity project) right here on TBB.

Mission to Mars: An Interview with MSL Curiosity Rover builder Stephen Pakbaz

UPDATE (June 14, 2013): Stephen’s LEGO Curiosity Rover will be the next LEGO CUUSOO set!

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The Brothers Brick has featured the Mars Rover Curiosity CUUSOO project before as one of the more original and stand out projects on LEGO CUUSOO right now. But here is a surprising factoid, the creator of this model, Stephen Pakbaz, aka Perijove, was an actual engineer for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and worked on designing the very same Mars Rover in real life! The Brothers Brick decided to interview Stephen.

MSL Rover 06

TBB: Tell us about your background?

Perijove: I received my Bachelors Degree at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace and a minor in Electrical Engineering, and then a Masters Degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego in California.

TBB: What was your position at Jet Propulsion Laboratory?

Perijove: My position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was a Mechanical Engineer in the Structures and Configurations Group. I also sometimes took on the responsibilities of a Cognizant Engineer.

TBB: Can you tell us about your work on the Curiosity Rover?

PA070020Perijove: The Curiosity rover was the first spacecraft I ever worked on after I finished with school in 2007. Even back then, the rover development was well underway, but there was still a lot of design, assembly, and testing left to do. I took part in all of these activities. I designed parts like brackets and covers and was responsible for their development all the way through delivering them to the technicians that would put them on the rover. Other tasks included writing procedures, assembling, and testing things like telecommunications systems and antennas. Types of testing included vibration, shock, and thermal-vacuum to simulate the different environments that would be experienced by the rover. One particularly fun test was bolting an engineering model of Curiosity to a 50 foot diameter centrifuge and spinning it up to over 20 g’s in order to simulate the forces the rover would experience during entry into the Martian atmosphere.

TBB: How long have you been a Lego enthusiast?

Perijove: I have been a LEGO enthusiast since at least elementary school. My own collection, at the time, was mostly pieces like simple bricks and wheels, but I would often play with friends and their collections too.

TBB: What experience did you have with Lego as a kid?

Perijove: My collection began to include more complex pieces just before middle school. I mostly built minifigure-sized robots and spaceships. Play scenarios often including using all my pieces to build a massive spaceship to move my entire minifigure population to another habitable planet before their current one was destroyed by a huge asteroid or a rogue robot. (Wow, that just brought on some powerful nostalgia!)

TBB: Did LEGO play a role in your chosen career path?

odysseygraphPerijove: LEGO absolutely had an impact on my career path. In high school, I spent much of my free time designing things like manned missions to the moons of Jupiter in graph paper notebooks. I often drew the designs with LEGO pieces so I could eventually create real models. This was also a great way to learn everything I could about space travel from interesting destinations and past missions to new forms of propulsion and radiation protection. LEGO has also been a great tool for quickly making quick prototypes of various mechanisms and other ideas to see how they worked.

TBB: What were your favorite sets/ themes as a child?

newnomadPerijove: Most of the space themes, of course, were my favorite, like M-Tron, Ice-Planet 2002, Exploriens, Roboforce, etc. Technic and Trains were great too, but those kinds of sets were often too expensive for me. I would have to say one of my favorite sets was 6338 Shuttle Launch Pad.

TBB: Did you ever experience a dark age?

Perijove: I never experienced a total dark age, but more like a dim age, while I was at school in Indiana. I couldn’t bring my entire collection with me form California, but I did manage to keep a few choice models and pieces with me. During this time, I also satisfied my LEGO habit as a volunteer and mentor for kids in the First LEGO League, a popular nationwide LEGO robotics competition. I had a lot of fun teaching kids about the mechanical possibilities of LEGO and seeing their robots compete and cooperate with eachother.

TBB: Did having first hand experience on the real Curiosity help with the design of the Lego version?

Perijove: I learn best by seeing and touching, which perhaps explains my affinity for mechanical engineering and LEGO. The rocker-bogie suspension system on the rover was just so cool, that I needed to make a LEGO version that I could play with. Being so close to the real rover all the time, designing a few small parts for it, and working with larger assemblies certainly helped me to understand its features, what they did, and how they worked. I’m hoping the LEGO Curiosity rover does the same for others.

TBB: Did you follow the progress of the rover’s trip to Mars?

Perijove: I kept up on every piece of information about the rover that was available to me. This was the first project where I was finally able to put my years of engineering education to use, so I really wanted it to be successful. I saw the landing live and ate plenty of peanuts beforehand for good luck, a tradition at JPL before critical mission events.

MSL Descent Stage 02

TBB: How did you feel about the landing?

Perijove: The landing itself was a conflicting conflagration of emotion. In my mind, I was confident of the success of the landing. My heart and other organs were filled with excitement, fear, nervousness, anticipation and, of course, curiosity. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep afterwards and spent that time calming down, talking to family and friends, and watching all the events that happened shortly afterwards.

TBB: Any thoughts about the historical significance of this achievement?

Perijove: The landing itself was quite historic. The ability to land such a large payload so precisely will be extremely important to future efforts. Though it’s still too early to be sure of the historical significance of the scientific returns of the mission, I’m sure it will be something wonderful. As for the significance of my own involvement, I think it’s kind of cool to think that long after the Great Pyramids on Earth have perished over time, it is possible that the rover I worked on will still be preserved on Mars (unless, of course, it becomes a victim of space looters).

Mars Curiosity Rover roars through the Martian atmosphere ... and lands safely!

I’m watching live coverage of the descent and landing of the Mars Curiosity Rover, thinking that we should note the occasion here on our little LEGO blog down on Earth as well. We featured Tim Goddard’s LEGO Mars Curiosity Rover a couple weeks ago. I found this great photo by Kooberz:

Nuclear Powered!

Alex points us to a LEGO CUUSOO project by Stephen Pakbaz:

LEGO Mars Curiosity Rover on CUUSOO

As I post this, Curiosity has separated from its cruise stage, and JPL is receiving “heartbeat” transmissions from the spacecraft as it begins its entry into the Martian atmosphere. Good luck, Curiosity!

UPDATE: Mars Curiosity Rover has successfully landed on Mars and is sending pictures. Congratulations!

Pete Reid’s hardsuit on CUUSOO is too much awesome

After my rant yesterday about LEGO CUUSOO, I was gently reminded that there are indeed some really original projects that deserve broad support from LEGO fans everywhere. We love Peter Reid‘s greebtacular hardsuits so much we’ve followed their evolution over the years.

Pete recently his latest iteration on CUUSOO a little while ago, and it’s hit 5,000 supporters — giving it a chance that we can get it to 10,000.

LEGO hardsuit by Pete Reid on CUUSOO

Look for us to continue supporting great, original projects like this here on TBB. I’ve supported it, and hope many of you out there join me.

Portal on CUUSOO

I have seen a lot of discussion with respect to CUUSOO, in particular in terms of licenced themes, but generally about feasability of the entire program. Everyone obvioulsy has their own opinions, but personally I think the program is brilliant. We have to keep in mind that this is all in Beta right now and obvioulsy the kinks will be worked out over time. I think the true success of CUUSOO will be through highly thought out projects that are designed with the program in mind…just throwing any given LEGO model on there won’t work in most cases.

Now with all that being said, Team Jigsaw, made up of Five X Five, Brickthing, Lego Junkie, and Arkov have just published a new project based on the hugely popular Portal video game series. I have to be honest, I have never played the games, but I am familiar with the design and aesthetic of it, and one thing is very clear with this project…these guys put a tonne of thought and effort into all aspects of the design!

Well here we go again!

The thing that really stands out with this for me, is that they have really designed it with different types of possible sets in mind. This wouldn’t be restricted to just a simple building set. One of my favourites is the LEGO boardgame version.

Portal Board Game (Cuusoo)

Be sure to check out all the details and ideas. If nothing else, these guys deserve a pat on the back for their planning and development. I think they have set the bar rather high for the design effort of future projects. This had previously been denied by the CUUSOO team, but their perseverance got it reconsidered and approved for voting.

Well done guys!! I really do think that this is a project that could be a huge success!

CUUSOO PROJECT