Sunday, April 8, 2012

The beginning. Birth of a ball joint





It is very exciting to get to share these files. This is where it all began to my account. It was the summer of 1995 where I finally got time to tryout an idea. I gathered some LEGO Technic elements and some sculpting clay and mashed together some characters with moulded arms, legs and heads and the rest build out of LEGO. I wanted to test if it was possible to build an action figure. We agreed to take the concept further and I worked together with Jan Kjær, my former assistant to nail the concept. It was named CYBOTS and we presented to the development department at LEGO. They liked it. This resulted in a short project setup where I worked together with a designer (sadly I can’t rememberhis name, please write if you are out there. I would love to get your name into this blog) to try to turn my clay into actual useable LEGO elements. There was one major design issue and that was the joints connecting the body parts. We needed something flexible and easy and the closest solution was to look atnature: The ball joint. This invention is still to this day the most important to this whole category.
We did a full concept description and a universe where the CYBOTS was robots sent deep below the surface of the earth to areas where humans couldn’t enter to hunt for energy crystals. Some CYBOTS had malfunctioned and rebelled against their human inventors and had claimed the depths of the planet as their own.
This project and the ball joint disappeared for some years in the development department at LEGO but it was great to see the first prototypes ofthe Slizer robots with full functional ball joints that were brought to Advance in 1998 when we got briefed on this new project.
The CYBOTS underground setting also appeared later both in Rock Raiders(1999) and Power Miners (2009). 
It is great that stuff that works always seems to surface at some point in time, so there is only one rule when working with LEGO: “It’s an amazing brand so you better do amazing things, nothing less is acceptable”

3 comments:

  1. The last picture doesn't link to a larger file.. was that intentional?

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  2. Also, I remember the "game and instructions CD" surfacing in set 8482, which I had only seen in the catalog at the time, but it was presented in exactly the way I'd expect for stemming from this original concept.

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  3. I just want to ad to this post that this was made 17 years ago in my summer holiday and at that time I had no skills in moulding anything. It was my first attempt. But I did it to prove, most of all to myself, that this could work. I had no ball joint and that made it very difficult.
    The Hero Factory building system as it looks now with the inner skeleton and the cladding is a dream come true to build with. It is what I could only dream about 17 years ago. A fantastic piece of work by the LEGO designers!!!

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