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4.3 out of 5 stars
The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines
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103 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After building a few (OK, a lot of) Lego sets with my son, I've rediscovered my love for Lego and making custom builds. I've noticed that the more complex, mechanical Technic elements play a larger role in most Lego sets, so when I saw Yoshihito Isagawa's Lego Technic Idea Book - Simple Machines I decided to give it a shot in the hopes that I'd be able to incorporate some of its ideas into my own creations.

Unfortunately, this book is entirely free of text. I understand that Lego instructions are also text free, but this guide doesn't read like a Lego instruction book. You can get a general idea of the building sequence and parts involved, but it's not always clear. It's also not always evident just what the simple machine on each page is supposed to be used for. Perhaps more advanced Technic builders don't need that basic information, but as a novice (and as a parent), I didn't find this book nearly as helpful as I had hoped.

The Lego Technic Idea Book - Simple Machines has some useful information, but I'd only recommend it to more experienced builders. If you're looking for something that will help younger builders, this probably isn't it.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you are a LEGO builder like me, you have gotten pretty proficient at building what is called the System type of models. These are buildings and vehicles that are the scale of the minifigure and are the majority of the things that are built with LEGO elements.

However, there are other scales and other parts that are not the typical brick and plate. Once called Expert Models, these became the Technic theme, which are models that have working features, like working steering and gear systems. These are sets that are more complex, and as a result, are tough to explore building possibilities. With The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines, using Technic parts becomes a much easier exercise.

As the first book in the LEGO Technic Idea book trilogy,Simple Machines explains the parts and their uses in a clear, easy-to-understand format. There are no words used in the diagrams: all ideas are explained with graphics and colorful photos of example models. This makes it really easy and fun to pick up on building. The simplicity of the photos and diagrams also allows the builder to adapt the model to his creations.

For the beginning builder this is a great guide to learning how to make working models. For the experienced builder, this is a good reference on building techniques. This book would also be useful for FIRST LEGO teams, as it explains how to use gears, which is useful for MINDSTORMS robot builders.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are hundreds of models in these books and, unless you've got a massive storehouse of LEGO Technic parts in your 10,000 square foot basement, you may not have all of the parts you need in order to build a particular model.

We want to help you find those parts. To that end, Yoshihito Isogawa has prepared a hyperlinked list of the more unique parts in the books to help you to find them at the Bricklink website. We can't post a direct link to that list here, but here's how to find it on our website:

(1) Go to the main No Starch Press website
(2) Search for the word "technic"
(3) Click the first search item that comes up ("LEGO Technic Idea Book Complete Set")
(4) When you reach that page, click the link that says "See the parts list for the books," which you'll see just underneath the red text that says "Buy the whole set and save . . ."

or, if you can read between the lines, try:

nostarch dot com /technic

Please remember that these are idea books; buying these books is not like buying a pre-packaged LEGO set. As such, you're encouraged to explore and invent with LEGO. Many of our readers draw considerable inspiration from the pictures of Isogawa's models alone and I hope that you will, too.

Sincerely,

William Pollock, Founder
No Starch Press
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 25, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My 9 year-old son is a Lego fanatic, and especially loves to build with Technic and Bionicle pieces. He's awfully timid about creating on his own, however, so I thought this book might help to provide the inspiration and confidence he sometimes lacks.

This beautiful book is absolutely filled with useful information. First, there are hundreds and hundreds of pictures showing different ways to combine gears and other common Technic pieces to translate power and motion in every direction. Then, the author moves on to show examples of what can be built with these basic machines... doors that slide open and shut, motorized cars, and even simple musical instruments! There are no building directions or parts lists, but we found that everything was photographed clearly enough to allow us to replicate, and that almost all of the pieces were already in our fairly extensive Lego collection.

The one huge detraction from this book, I felt, was the complete absence of descriptive labeling on the photographs within. The author does so deliberately for effect; in his own words, "This is an idea book; it's about imagination. Rather than tell you what to see or think when you look at each photograph, I encourage you to interpret each one in your own way." I appreciate the sentiment, but I can't help feeling that the author has sacrificed usefulness in his pursuit of art. The well-organized table of contents contains very helpful titles and descriptions, after all... why not transfer these same few words to the corresponding pages to help identify the extremely beautiful, creative, and thought-provoking Lego constructs shown there at a glance? Thus, while I unhesitatingly recommend this book for Lego aficionados with the patience and knowledge it requires to really enjoy it, I do so with slight reservations for the lesser, more easily-frustrated mortals among us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
I just received a copy of this book today, and I am SO excited. Finally---a book of basic mechanisms that I can use in designing TECHNIC machines and NXT robots! This book---along with the other two volumes, The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Fantastic Contraptions and The LEGO Technic Idea Book: Wheeled Wonders, should be on the Christmas list of anyone who uses a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Kit.

In addition, the photos and paper used in this book are of such high quality that I just want to sit and look through it. This (along with its reasonable price) make it an all-around best buy in my book.

If you've seen Yoshito's Japanese editions, you haven't seen anything like this. Its terrific!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you or someone you know is interested in expanding their LEGO building techniques or is seeking inspiration to build like a professional, this three book series is the answer.

I give the series of books five stars with a special commendation for the simple machines book because it covers a wide variety of advanced building techniques in an extremely simple manner.

Similar to the LEGO idea books from the 70's and 80's, these books are chock full of clever creations, but instead of specifically describing how to build things like houses, spaceships or vehicles, this series of books takes creativity to an even higher level by teaching the reader how to build foundational components that can be used to build practically anything.

Using full color photo illustrations and an intuitive icon-based index system, you can quickly find how to build mechanical walkers, automatic sliding doors, flexible vehicles, and much more. These books contain virtually no words beyond the first few pages, but this is no problem thanks to Isogawa's carefully arranged photographs that indicate where to place every piece.

Novice builders wishing to learn how to connect bricks in unique and interesting ways such as sideways, upside down or at angles will particularly enjoy the Simple Machines book, whereas Mindstorms robotics fans and LEGO Technic fans will enjoy the entire series due to the frequent use of gears and beams to achieve startling results.

Whereas the titles of these books aptly describe the bias towards technical creations, all three books should be on the shelf of every serious LEGO fan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This excellent illustrated "Idea Book" will serve: 1. Lego builders and enthusiasts, 2. Mindstorms NXT Roboticists, 3. Makers and DIY'ers seeking a basic knowledge of mechanisms, 4. Students and Teachers seeking a hands on introduction to Simple Machines Physics/Engineering.

I was at first distressed by the lack of accompanying text and disassembled component illustrations--that is until I saw the brilliance of the illustration scheme. The choice of views illustrated along with the coloring of the models allows both easy reproduction of the models and visualization of other Simple Machine and Mechanism-based ideas. I would call attention to the note on economically acquiring
the components of these models in another review by a member of No-Starch Press's staff (the publisher of this Idea Book).

As a member of the local Philly Hackerspace (Hive 76) I am particularly impressed with how this illustrated Idea Book could serve to acquaint those interested in acquiring a basic knowledge of Mechatronics and Mechanisms for work in Robotics and 3D Prototyping (Reprap and Makerbot).

I believe this simple illustrated Idea Book will serve students and all interested in learning a bit of the Mechanical World.

--Ira Laefsky, MS Engineering/MBA
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I love that this book doesn't spoon feed instructions step by step, and deliberately includes so many pieces that nobody (except maybe the author) actually has exactly the pieces shown in all of the book's models. The whole point of LEGO is that kids learn to think and design, which is difficult to do when they are trained to precisely follow someone else's ideas every step of the way.

These models are IDEAS, to get creative juices flowing and maybe help bridge some areas where children aren't sure how to proceed with their own ideas. There are many resources out there for people too lazy to figure out how to build their own model of "X," but always following others' ideas destroys self confidence. Children only learn that they could "never" design something so complicated, and stop trying. It is much better to look at a great idea and then have to figure out how to make it work (or improve it!) with the materials actually on hand.

Much more real world, and trains children to observe, think, and experiment, not just follow rote directions for snapping "tab A into slot B."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't have the expertise and practice with Legos, but luckily someone in my house does. Our resident expert gives his opinion on this book:

"It is fun, cool and useful. Some of the creations are useful for building a whole city out of Legos. Even though I don't have all the Legos, I can substitute certain ones (although some I can't)-- For example, I need some treads. Compared to doing Star Wars Legos, these creations can help you build a tank or a plane. Unfortunately, Star Wars Legos doesn't show you how to build stuff like a tank with treads. Some stuff you'd have to come up with yourself. I give it 5 stars."

His initial reaction to the book was that he doesn't have the right pieces. I could hear strains of "Mom, I need more Legos" coming. But after looking through the Lego examples and designs longer, he changed his tune. :) I like that this book helps develop their imagination outside of the standard, premade Lego collections.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Everybody loves Legos. Heck, my 8-year old son is still using the Legos I saved in a storage bin from when I was a kid. A timeless classic.

Lego books can be good source of inspiration for the Lego builders of the world. This book achieves that as well by providing inspiring pictures and ideas. Like typical Lego instructions, just pictures and no words. My son was able to build a few models based on the pictures and on a few others he didn't quite achieve the model but his attempts still evolved into some interesting creations.

The main thing to note with this book is that the typical Lego player will not have all the parts as represented in this book. So you can either do what you can with what you've got (as my son did), or treat it as an easter egg hunt and scour the internet to add the missing pieces to your collection.

My review title says "not so simple" because there are pictures only and you probably won't have all the parts, hence minus 1 star. Overall, good book and if you are a Lego jockey the price of this book is reasonable and there is no downside to adding it to your collection.
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