Legos aren’t just children’s toys. The plastic bricks also serve as building blocks for some of the world’s most inspired architects, who combine thousands of small pieces to craft incredible things. The Lego Group — which overtook Ferrari in 2015 as the “world’s most powerful brand,” according to Brand Finance — never stops innovating, introducing new themes and products each year in an effort to satisfy its fanbase.
In 1999, Lego introduced Mindstorms, a line of software-laden robotics toys that allowed the bold to create programmable machines using Lego products. Since then, the range of mechanical and electronic parts has grown enormously, and today, Lego Robotics teams are commonplace in schools. Across the globe, enterprising builders have constructed elaborate machines, composed of thousands of moving parts, made to tackle tasks both large and small. Without further ado, we’d like to show you some of the coolest Lego machine ever created.
Paper Airplane Factory — Arrow Electronics and Arthur Sacek
Apparently, no one at Colorado-based Arrow Electronics — a Fortune 500 company — was capable of properly folding a paper airplane. So instead of learning, they decided to hire Lego wunderkind Arthur Sacek out of São Paulo, Brazil, to do it for them. Sacek, of course, built a ridiculous machine (comprised entirely of Lego bricks) that feeds a sheet of paper along a conveyor belt while simultaneously folding it into a picture-perfect airplane. At the belt’s end, two spinning gears effectively “launch” the airplane off its runway.
The project was all in service of a commercial, which shows the airplane slowly making its way through the machine while snippets of inspirational voiceover — including choice excerpts from one of JFK’s most famous speeches — and music play in the background. It’s a slick composition, and it’s worth checking out. Arrow also released a “Behind the Scenes” video featuring commentary from the Arrow team and Sacek, which you’ll probably like if you found the first video interesting.
Lego Mindstorms NXT Loom — Tomasz Zajac
Polish builder Tomasz Zajac (no relation to the soccer player) built a fully-automatic Lego loom, which was honored by LugPOL — which, as far as we can tell, is the official Lego club of Poland — as 2013’s top creation.
Using a series of power function motors, Zajac crafted a loom that, if properly fed yarn, will actually weave you a freakin’ scarf. Or, if you’re really skinny, a blanket. The monstrous device is controlled via a Mindstorms NXT brick, and uses several Power Function remote control motors.
It’s kind of entrancing to watch the loom methodically work through its colorful threads, and it actually looks to be faster at knitting than a human. We’re watching you, SkyKnit.
Pinpoint Animator — Arthur Sacek
The Brazilian Lego master returns, with a new twist on a classic toy. Actually, we’re not sure if this qualifies as a toy, but it’s definitely a new twist on something you probably bought at an arcade and left sitting on your desk for 12 years.
Remember those pin-art things? Well, Arthur built an autonomous robot version called the Pinpoint Animator, which is capable of setting a matrix that moves each pin individually. It requires about 30 minutes to complete one “frame,” but afterward, it rotates the box and resets the pins before going to work again.
For two days, the robot created frame after frame, automatically triggering Sacek’s camera to take a photograph upon completion. Then Sacek went and edited all the images together to make the sweet video you see above.