Nov 28, 2007

Missing the point...

I've had fun with the Clustrmaps widget that we've recently popped into the blog - it's kind of fun (and now I want to know who the uber-user is on the edge of the Hudson Bay that hits the blog so many times :) ). But recently one of the ads caught my attention - for having robots built for you. Clicking through to the JFRobot site, at first I thought I had hit a spoof ad. These nice people will build any of the four stock robots for you, and ship it to you complete... for a hefty price jump ($299 for Alpha-Rex, for instance). Is it just me, or has this company completely missed the point of the NXT, MINDSTORMS, and LEGO? If these were kits for robotic lawnmowers and I just wanted to get my lawn mowed, I'd understand - but the whole point of kits (& especially LEGO) is to build it yourself - or am I missing something very fundamental here? Some of the text on their webpage is more than a bit misleading as well. For instance, they mention:

...but you also find out that 100 hours of research and assembly work is unafordable.

(yes, that's their mis-spelling this time, not mine - I love Leopard). "100 hours"?!? What are they building, a general-purpose Turing machine? I've watched a 10-year-old build some of the stock models in 30 minutes, including programming.

So somebody tell me - should I be upset at this, or just sad that perhaps there's actually a market for such a misdirected market demand? I'd be curious if anyone has bought one of these, or knows someone who has. Perhaps I just have a very unusual viewpoint - that the reason you get something like the NXT is so you can do it yourself, and learn something, If I want a coffee-table display, there are plenty of inflexible slick-looking options.

--
Brian Davis

11 comments:

Laurens said...

>So somebody tell me - should I
>be upset at this, or just sad
>that perhaps there's actually
>a market for such a
>misdirected market demand?

I don't think there are any people who pay 50 more dollars for an assambled robot. Why would you?

LEGO sets are meant to be built by yourself. Otherwise you could just buy a standard plastic toy.

But the Clustermaps are indeed a nice extra for the blog. :-)

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

Nothing to be upset about, in my opinion - I take it that whoever is smart enough to be interested in a NXT at all will appropriately rate the site's attempts to convince readers of the purpose of buying a pre-built standard NXT model...

NXTMonger said...

I agree! It is totally pointless to get a pre-built NXT kit. Especially Alpha Rex, which is fun to build but is not that fun to play with. I mean, it barely walks! No offense LEGO, I understand prettiness is valued over functionality for your cover model :P
P.S. I like the Clustrmaps too. As soon as I saw yours I got one for my blog. Now I know that I have a reader from somewhere in the Philippines!

Matthias Paul Scholz said...

he he. let's make a contest. who's got the most exotic reader location?

For my Die NXTe Ebene, I've got one from the North Cape in utmost Northern Norway.

No, just kidding - what's exotic and what is not depends on the eye of the beholder.

Dean Hystad said...

I wouldn't get too upset. One of the most interesting rules of the internet marketplace is that you don't need a market to start a company. I'm sure they'll soon be joining the ranks of other brilliant .com busts like Flooz.

As for Alpha Rex, I got him to walk sidways really well. Of course I wanted him to walk forward at the time. My daughter got two Alpha Rex's to dance together, well somewhat, well about as well as I dance anyway.

Andy said...

I think that it is pointless to sell/buy a prebuilt NXT model. Do you get it with the rest of the parts in the retail set? Do you get NXT-G with it? I doubt so, but still.. And yes, Alpha-Rex was the robot I enjoyed the most to build because of the hardness in it. As said before, not so fun to play with. But for me, building is the whole point of LEGOs.
And Matthias, I check by your blog once a while too ;-) And one last thing, it's pretty cool to see how many thousands of readers this blog has with Clustrmaps though :-)

-Andy

Anonymous said...

There are markets for pre-built pine derby racers, why would you be surprised at the existence of a market for pre-built LEGO robots? If school science teachers start integrating LEGO into their teaching curriculum, you can bet this market will grow :)

CATpit contractor said...

I think it's funny. These people understand the point of the Mindstorms kit, but they realize that there is a market of people who don't. A "lego statue" is a novelty, more so than a non-lego one, which would increase the marketability of their product and justify the price-hike.

These people had a bad idea, and decided to use it on less then intelligent people.

...I find that amusing, not irritating.

Brian Davis said...

{Warning: personal opinion follows}

> These people had a bad idea, and decided to
> use it on less then intelligent people.
>
> ...I find that amusing, not irritating.

Hmm. As somebody who's professional life involves trying to teach people to be rational members of society, and use critical thinking skills, well... let's just say it bothers me somewhat the general level of rational thinking in the society around me.

BTW, that would be the same society that votes people into or out of office, consumes resources at outrageous rates without thinking this is a problem, and believes things like "growing forests reduces global warming" by a significant amount. In other words, I could laugh at the general gullibility of people if I wasn't influenced & controlled by the choices others make.

"The only ethical use a manipulation is teaching people to be less easily manipulated."

--
Brian Davis

CATpit contractor said...

Brian,

I stand corrected. My comments were immature, and represent the same intelligent people I spoke of.

Brian Davis said...

Whoa, I'm not angry or anything. In point of fact, your comments tend to represent the mainstream view that I usually encounter... I just tend to have a different view :) .

--
Brian Davis

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