I wanted to bring a discussion out in the open that we (the blog contribs and various other NXT book authors) have been having today. It started with an email I received from a father who's son was disappointed to find that his One Kit Wonders book wasn't compatible with his new NXT 2.0 kit.
I'm opening this up for comments from our readers because I think it has potential to grow into a larger, more widespread problem for those who are new to the NXT world.
Let's state the obvious first - in 2006 the NXT was released in two versions: a Retail version 1.0 and an Education version 1.0. Both versions were different in the parts included in the box. In August 2009, LEGO released a new version of the Retail kit we'll call Retail 2.0. Retail 1.0 is no longer being produced and kits are probably slowly selling off from toy store shelves as collectors grab them up.
Okay, so we have Retail 1.0, Retail 2.0 and Education 1.0.
Now the confusing part - books. When a book was written for NXT between 2006 and 2009, most likely it was being written for the Retail 1.0 kit. A few books were done that required additional parts, either from other LEGO kits (non-robotic in nature) or what's known as the Resource Set (a LEGO Education product). There is no Retail Resource Set... the Education Resource Set simply provides more parts, gears, wheels, etc for builders to tinker with. That said, many books written for the Retail 1.0 kit contained robots that COULD be built with the Education 1.0 plus Resource Set. With me so far?
Now we have the Retail 2.0 kit. As far as I know, there are no books currently available yet for the 2.0 kit - but they're coming. So buyers who are purchasing the 2.0 kit from stores are purchasing a kit for which there are really no additional printed resources (books) available yet. Unfortunately, Amazon.com (and maybe some other online retailers) have a habit of recommending products to buyers - so when someone buys a Retail 2.0 kit, Amazon.com says "Hey, you might like this great NXT book called XXXXXXXX" and the buyer gets it thinking they'll have more robots to build... but in fact, the book is for Retail 1.0. Sad and unfortunate.
And now, with new books for 2.0 coming out, those Retail 1.0 owners are going to begin to find books with robots that they, too, cannot build (short of purchasing a Retail 2.0 kit).
(And let's not forget that Education 1.0 owners are completely out in the cold here - few books written just for Education 1.0 kit and no 2.0 kit on the horizon - as far as I know.)
So, this raises a few questions:
1. Will LEGO release a "parts pack" that will provide Retail 2.0 owners with the parts found in Retail 1.0 but not in Retail 2.0?
2. Will LEGO release a "parts pack" that will provide Retail 1.0 owners with the parts found in Retail 2.0 but not in Retail 1.0?
3. How can buyers of Retail 2.0 know if a book is written for their kit or not?
Well, I don't have answers for 1 and 2, but we (book authors) are trying to work with our respective publishers to see if we can get the kit numbers (and version numbers) possibly listed with the books to avoid future bad purchases. This probably won't completely solve the problem, though... suggestions are welcome!
So, what do you think?