AFoLs vs. LEGO Designers - a survey

I've been corresponding with some folks about how LEGO AFoLs and their MOCs are perceived (this goes far beyond just the NXT and robotics, but certainly applies to them). Some of these questions have really made me think, and I'd like to hear what others think of them as well. So, without further elaboration...

Official LEGO designers build a huge variety of models, but they also have a variety of constraints (price, "only legal" constructions, etc.). AFoLs end up following & evolving different rules & constraints. The result is a certain "style". Q: How do "official LEGO" and "AFoL" styles differ? What do you think the constraints are that each are subjected to? Or alternatively, is there a "style of innovation" among AFoLs, and how is it different than the official LEGO designers innovation?


Laurens Valk said…
One key difference between MOCs and designs by LEGO is that MOCs are usually built just once, or maybe up to 10 times -- often by other "A"FOLS

A design by a LEGO official for an official set will be built thousands of times, mostly by children.

Therefore, these models should be easy to build. They must be strong (not fall apart when you only look at them), so that you can actually 'play' with them.

Technic and LMS models also have to work reliably and work for the majority of the users. This is not a constraint for MOCs that are built just once.

When I write books I try to follow most LEGO conventions, so that all of the readers will be able to get their robot work as intended.
hassenplug said…
Interesting question, Brian. And good comments by Laurens. But I'm not totally sure I agree.

I build my stuff so it simply doesn't come apart. Often, LEGO Technic models are designed more for form than function, while my main focus is function, with a nod to form.

While I agree that LEGO designers are constrained by construction techniques, they also have access to more parts. AFoL builders are often limited to the parts they have available.

On the other hand, AFoL builders can use ANY LEGO part, no matter if it's currently in production, or not. But LEGO designers are limited to parts currently in production, except...

LEGO designers also have the ability to create new parts (to some degree) while very few AFoL's have the ability to make "real" LEGO parts.
Gee, I was under the impression that the difference was simply: “Official” LEGO designers are professionals (they do it for a living-paid) and AFoL/AFoLRs do it just as a hobby.
Laurens Valk said…

Yes, there are many different reasons for differences in designs. I mentioned just one of them and the ones you mention are valid as well.

V. Greene,

That is an important difference as well :)

But while I'm not paid I still try to follow LEGO conventions if I design a model that will be rebuilt by others, like the 'Manty' robot.

If you look at the building instructions, you'll notice that those are similar to those by LEGO as well.
from what I see lego's official designs are always perfectly clean and generally nothing wrong with them. They use gears and things to try to minimize space try to make them strong ect. and they always make top notch instruction booklets :P AFoL on the other hand go above and beyond and sometimes make massive robots or technic models that would cost hundreds to put in a kit. And sometimes they dont worry so much if 1 thing doesnt work in their massive construction. in the end AFoL make things that are generally extremely complex and kids would probably have trouble building the model. Also the programs are different all lego models have simple nxt-g programs and thats about it. A few blocks and they are done. AFoL make complex programs that would take hours just to copy from a manual.

I like AFoL designs better :) always cooler but I think Lego does pretty good at making very nice models that are easy for kids to build yet also fun to mess with when you are older and are at just the right price.
222Doc said…
For the most part at least the last few years I tend to look at the Lego kits mainly Technic as part sources. With the exception of those master kits, I like them as static displays.(though in the end they can end up as parted out as well). Lego designs are mostly done very well. They are able to combine form and function with a balance leaning to aesthetics.

I tend to build to functional-mechanical and never even look at aesthetics, if they ever do have an aesthetic view its by accident.

I tend to build to a task or objective goal. most times my origin of thought comes from the natural world when building things that move without wheels. Most Lego kits are reproductions of things like Crains, trucks or backhoes.

I think anyone of us would love to have a job like building kits for Lego. Constraints or not.

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