Promobricks
Promobricks

LEGO Debuts Its First Minifig in a Wheelchair

Promobricks
Promobricks

For the first time, LEGO has debuted a minifig in a wheelchair at the Nuremberg and London toy fairs. The sweatshirt-wearing character and his service dog—a part of the City Park series called "60134 Fun in the Park"—were spotted by the Promobricks blog, who shared the image on the Bricksfans website. Understandably, the new development has caused quite a stir among LEGO enthusiasts.

There are a wide array of LEGO minifigs on the market today, including skeletons, elves, and robots. But some fans argue that even with all that variety in species, there has been a serious lack of diversity among the brand's human characters. Last year, the #ToyLikeMe campaign started a petition on Change.org, lobbying for disabled figures. It garnered more than 20,000 signatures.

“The brand continues to exclude 150 million disabled children worldwide by failing to positively represent them in its products," campaign co-founder Rebecca Atkinson wrote in an essay for The Guardian. "This is more than just about sales figures or disability access, it’s about changing cultural perceptions. It’s about brands such as LEGO using their vast power of influence to positive effect.”

LEGO eventually released a wheelchair for their subline product, Duplo, in a series of community people in 2015, but the senior citizen character left many advocates underwhelmed. "We applaud Lego for producing a wheelchair-using Duplo figure," Atkinson said in a press release. "But it’s so disappointing that the only wheelchair using figure across all LEGO products is an elderly person being pushed along by a younger figure. What does this say to children about disability?"

In response, Trisha McDonell, LEGO Education's global public relations manager, explained:

We are always excited to introduce new accessories, such as the new LEGO DUPLO wheelchair, to further children’s constructive role play and learning opportunities. The beauty of the LEGO system is that children may choose how to use the pieces we offer to build their own stories. In this case, any LEGO figure can be placed in the wheelchair.

But it seems that the company took that feedback into account when they created the new scene, which also features a bike rider, an ice cream vendor, and picnickers.

[h/t: The Guardian]

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Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin
This LEGO Box Could Be Key to Detecting Deadly Nerve Gas
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new way to detect deadly nerve gases, and it involves LEGO.

The new detection device, described in a study published in the journal ACS Central Science, uses chemical sensors, a box made out of LEGO bricks, and a cell phone to identify the presence of odorless, tasteless nerve agents like VX and sarin.

Chemical weapons like sarin are extremely dangerous—even at low concentrations, a direct whiff of sarin can kill you in just minutes. So being able to identify them in the field is vital, and it has to be done fast.

The chemical-identifying sensors, developed by UT Austin chemist Xiaolong Sun and his colleagues, fluoresce in different colors and brightnesses to indicate which nerve agents are present in the air, and in what concentrations. Unfortunately, depending on where these tests are taking place, it’s not always easy to see how bright the fluorescent glow is. Expensive equipment designed to detect these changes in the lab just isn’t feasible on the battlefield or in a war-torn region.

An open black LEGO box sits in the lab in front of a chemical test plate.
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin

The 320-brick LEGO structure, meanwhile, is portable and quick to assemble. It acts as a black box that blocks out light around the sensors. The top of the box has a hole in it, over which the user places a smartphone’s camera lens. Using a standard lab test plate and a UV light inside the box, the fluorescent changes can be photographed with the phone and analyzed with UT Austin's free software to determine what type and concentration of nerve agents are present in the sample.

While 3D printing could produce a cheap equivalent of the LEGO box, the toy bricks may be more accessible. Not everyone has access to a 3D printer or the same printing materials as researchers might use in the lab—but LEGOs are available across the world for a relatively low price. The software necessary to analyze the samples is available for free on GitHub, and the researchers include the LEGO assembly directions within their study.

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Build Your Own Harry Potter Characters With LEGO's New BrickHeadz Set

Harry Potter is looking pretty square these days. In a testament to the enduring appeal of the boy—and the franchise—who lived, LEGO has launched a line of Harry Potter BrickHeadz.

The gang’s all here in this latest collection, which was recently revealed during the toymaker’s Fall 2018 preview in New York City. Other highlights of that show included LEGO renderings of characters from Star Wars, Incredibles 2, and several Disney films, according to Inside The Magic.

The Harry Potter BrickHeadz collection will be released in July and includes figurines of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and even Hedwig. Some will be sold individually, while others come as a set.

A Ron Weasley figurine
LEGO

A Hermione figurine
LEGO

A Dumbledore figurine
LEGO

Harry Potter fans can also look forward to a four-story, 878-piece LEGO model of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which will be available for purchase August 1. Sets depicting the Whomping Willow, Hogwarts Express, and a quidditch match will hit shelves that same day.

[h/t Inside The Magic]

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