On LEGO

Let’s take a (short) break from quantum-computing and retro-computing. LEGO sets have been an important part of my childhood. I believe I started having fun with LEGO bricks while I was around 4-5 years old, but it really accelerated at the end of the 70’s / very early 80’s with the classic LEGO Space sets. So much memories. So much fun !

In the mid-80’s, I was getting older and micro-computing arrived. Bags and bags of bricks … took retirement in my parent’s attic. By the early 2000’s I passed the torch to my little nephew and offered him these bags. 

And then, forty years later, with COVID-19 lockdown, and bit of nostalgia … a very efficient LEGO marketing triggered a new wave of LEGO fever !

MY VERY FIRST LEGO SETS

I believe my very first LEGO sets where these ones (#661 and #565):

I barely remember the first one. I believe the “Spirit of St. Louis” was offered to me by my parents during vacations (summer 1976 ?), on a train going to Italy.

Strangely, I remember very clearly the second one (“Moon Landing“). I was 5, so building this set was a bit of a challenge. A few months later, the set was broken by accident and unfortunately, the instructions booklet was lost. So, I started building my crude little LEGO creations with its bricks.

Time went by, the Lego collection slowly grew. And… everything accelerated when the classic LEGO Space sets were published, triggering my first wave of LEGO fever:

Oh boy, I loved them ! In the end, by 82-83, I think I had collected and built all these sets:

  • 483: Alpha-1 Rocket Base
  • 487: Space Cruiser
  • 493: Space Command Center
  • 497: Galaxy Explorer
  • 897: Mobile rocket launcher
  • 918: Space Transport
  • 920: Rocket Launch Pad
  • 928: Space Cruiser and Moonbase
  • 6870: Space Probe Launcher
  • 6927: All-Terrain Vehicle
  • 6950: Mobile Rocket Transport
  • 6970: Beta I Command Base

I gave all these bricks to my nephew … except for a few moon baseplates, that I kept for myself for some reason. These are the only LEGO bricks of this era that I still have, unfortunately.

A NEW LEGO SPACE AGE

Let’s move forward in time. Forty years later, in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown, I felt a LEGO itching, that turned into a full blown second wave of LEGO fever.

As an homage to one of my very first LEGO sets (“Moon Landing”), I built the LEGO Creator “NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander” set:

That was it ! I was hooked, once again. Thus, I bought a few weeks later the LEGO Ideas “International Space Station” set:

It was followed by LEGO’s “NASA Apollo Saturn V” set (which was harder at the time to find, but was re-edited since):

And this space conquest madness peaked with the LEGO “NASA Space Shuttle Discovery” set:

MOCS

In the meantime, I wanted to start My Own Creations (MOCs). In order to do that, I read a few books and saw a few on-line tutorials to recall techniques I had forgotten and to learn new ones. I went shopping online – on LEGO’s Pick a Brick and on ToyPro – to create a stash of bricks:

From there, I started created very simple spaceships :

Once I got my hands on it, I tried more sophisticated creations, like this Mars Perseverance Rover look-alike for example:

STAR WARS UGLIES

Later on, I bought a couple of small Star Wars LEGO sets:

Within the Star Wars universe, “Uglies” are starfighters that had been cobbled together out of parts that had been salvaged from varying origins, including crashed starships and ex-military surplus [from Wookieepedia]:

My idea was, starting from regular LEGO Star Wars sets and my stash of bricks, to build more and more “badass” looking Star Wars starfighters:

This is a Work In Progress, I have yet to mix this last step with X-Wings parts.

LEGO MEETS RETRO-COMPUTING

At one time, my LEGO fever met my retro-computing fever. I built tiny LEGO versions of

  • A CRT TV (based on Chris McVeigh‘s creation)
  • A Commodore 64 (based on Chris McVeigh‘s creation) and it’s datasette
  • An Atari 2600 console
  • A Nintendo NES console
  • A Nintendo Wii console
  • An Arcade game (inspired by Chris McVeigh‘s creation)
  • An old-school turntable

Then came Christmas 2021 … and the LEGO’s Nintento Entertainment System set:

Then came August 2022 and the release of LEGO’s Atari 2600 set:

A NEW ERA OF CLASSIC SPACE LEGO

Celebrating it’s 90th birthday, LEGO created a tribute to the classic 497 LEGO Galaxy Explorer set. I HAD to buy it to complete the circle:

Galaxy Explorer 2022, meet 1979‘s moon base plates (yes, they need some kind of retrobrighting):

WILL LEGO MEET QUANTUM COMPUTING ?

What will be the next steps ? Well, there are ideas around Lego and quantum computing floating around the Internet, like this nice 3D-model for example:

The general idea would be to build with Lego bricks a replica of a quantum computer, mixing it with a Raspberry Pi and IBM’s Qiskit to get a nice quantum computer simulator. For now, due to today’s chip shortage, Raspberry Pis are expensive and difficult to find. On top of that, some of the bricks I would need for this project are also not available at the moment. 

So, this project is put on hold for now, but hopefully will be resumed very soon !

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