I've received emails from many NXT 1.0 readers regarding their frustration with not being able to take advantage of some of the new books coming out. Trust me, I understand... (and I apologize for responding to many of your direct emails with a "form letter" response - it's just I got so many I had to create a standard response.)
So maybe now it's time to really start brainstorming. I'm not 100% familiar with BrickLink, having never ordered any parts from it. But I have browsed it quite a bit and realize that there is a vendor for just about every part... if you're willing to pay, right?
So, what's a solution? Well, we've had a discussion in an earlier post about possibly trying to convince a BrickLink vendor to create an "upgrade pack" - this would be a pack that would include ONLY those pieces in the 2.0 kit that are NOT found in the 1.0 kit. This would include quantity matches, so if the 1.0 kit comes with 4 of a particular part and the 2.0 kit comes with 10 of that same part, the Upgrade Pack would come with 6 of that part (4 + 6 = 10).
Someone mentioned that some of the parts are rare or hard to find in small quantities and have to be extracted from other LEGO kits. That is a problem. Given that LEGO is very unlikely to start adding Technic parts to the "Pick a Brick" bin at your local LEGO Store, I'm not sure how this could be solved. Maybe a BrickLink vendor is buying in such large quantity from LEGO that they could request special parts in larger quantities to create the Upgrade Pack. Ideas? Thoughts?
Another option is to appeal to LEGO directly. Well, many of us have done so... and the offical response seems to be no response. I don't think this means that LEGO is being unreasonable, just that they've probably got bigger production issues on their agenda than the issue of an Upgrade Pack. That said, if every 1.0 owner... and I mean EVERY 1.0 owner suddenly emailed LEGO saying "I'd buy an Upgrade Pack" than likely we'd probably get our bag. Why? I'm guessing here, but let's assume that LEGO sold over 250,000 NXT 1.0 kits (probably a very low guess, but they're not giving us actual numbers)... well, if they figured they could sell 250,000 Upgrade Packs, I imagine they'd find a way to get that bag into production. My guess only... I could be wrong.
Another option is to book writers to provide building and programming instructions for 1.0 and 2.0 kits. Speaking as a writer, this is a VERY difficult sell to a publisher. First, most books have a maximum page count... let's say 250. With a 250 page book, I (the writer) can provide building and programming instructions for, say, 10 NXT 2.0 robots. If I choose to provide 1.0 instructions, now I have to cut that to 5 robots - the building and programming instructions are double the pages now. It's totally possible to do this, but I think (and my editor who I talked to about this thinks the same thing) that sales of the book will be lower than if the book focuses on just the 1.0 kit or the 2.0 kit, but not both. And while I'm on the subject, publishers are not likely to publish two versions of a book. Why? Because they have to pay the author twice for a large portion of the same content (two books, two contracts, two advances, etc.) and they have twice the risk if both books don't sell as well.
What options are left? Telling 1.0 owners to buy the 2.0 kit is easy to say, but at $250.00 or more, it's not a realistic expectation.
This entire issue could be compared to a game console changeover or even software version updates... some will say "Hey, onward and upward - buy the latest version" - just like PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo owners complain about the products new version every 3 or 4 years (or less). But I'm not sure that argument holds - as I understand it, most game consoles will play games for earlier consoles... 2.0 owners can't necessarily build or use the programs of earlier robots designed with 1.0, right? Some, maybe... but not the majority is my guess.
So, I'll open this up for more discussion - maybe LEGO will even be listening. I have to admit it would be great as a writer to be able to offer up new books and know that both 1.0 and 2.0 owners can use my material... but I can't assume that will become a reality... therefore I have to write for the latest kit (2.0) because it's what my publishers want. But in reality, it comes down to what the community wants. I'm fairly certain the 1.0 owners outnumber the 2.0 owners (for now)... I truly wish that 1.0 owners had the ability to upgrade their kit to the 2.0 (like Windows XP and Vista upgrading to Windows 7 for a slightly lower price). Speak up, let LEGO know, and maybe something will happen. But don't count on it - instead, let's try and find a way to get the 1.0 to 2.0 upgrade on our own. This is one of the most creative, "make it happen" groups around... let's see what we can come up with...