Connecting toy blocks with a universal construction set

We were all children at one time, and surely some of us remember the pain of trying to make one type of building block work with another type of block. The folks at the Free Art and Technology Lab have an answer for your inner child: adapters that connect any type of building block to any other type of building block.

The project is called the Free Universal Construction Kit. This  “gee, I wish I thought of that ideas” is a set of 79 play set adapter that allow any child to mix up their Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears, K’Nex, Krinkles, Lego, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoy, ZomeTool, and Zoob building sets in any way imaginable. Most of these adapters are up on Thingiverse, ready to be printed out with a 3D printer or sent to Shapeways.

An interesting aspect of the work of the F.A.T. Lab is the legal and intellectual property aspect; since this is the product of reverse-engineering several building sets,  it’s entirely possible the manufactures of these toys wouldn’t want adapters out in the wild. The team really covered their bases, though. Of the ten toy systems included, eight are no longer patent protected, much to the chagrin of the company behind MEGA Bloks. Adapters for the  two remaining systems – Zoob and ZomeTool – won’t be released until the patents run out in 2016 and 2022, respectively.

Check out the video after the break for the wonderful ‘a-ha moment’ one of the inventors had when watching his 4-year-old son playing with Tinker Toys and K’Nex.

Comments

  1. chango says:

    Would have been better if it were parametric, say in OpenSCAD, so you could compile your own permutations.

  2. John U says:

    And a nice child-friendly acronym too… F.U.C.Kit

  3. Greg says:

    Great concept….but I think they might want to rethink their name. Free Universal Construction Kit? HAHA

  4. Daid says:

    Being a party pooper I say, the acronym is UCK. As that’s the acronym used on thingiverse ;-)

    But one more step for us 3D printer owners to show that the sky is the limit!

  5. DanAdamKOF says:

    This should support Mega Blox (or whatever they’re called) for kids whose relatives that were too cheap to gift you actual LEGO.

    (me? bitter? nahhhh)

  6. tjb says:

    They missed Capsela! I could also see this evolving into its own play system. Just take the best of each system.

  7. Dax says:

    The most fun I had as a kid with legos was figuring out how to make other things work with them.

    It’s a bit sad in some ways to see someone take that kind of necessary invention away from kids by providing them with all the solutions out of a box. It just teaches them that if there isn’t a special adapter block available, then you can’t do it.

    • Paul says:

      Agreed. As a kid I took apart my bedroom door lock and installed a Lego version, operated by a motor. I built a ‘card reader’ to control the thing.

      Worked great until the mechanism stuck and I had to get my Dad to kick the door in.

  8. minifloat says:

    Duplo can be directly connected with Lego, as long as you take Duplo bricks with holes in their “nipples” at the top. Then add simple 2×4 Lego bricks. Man, i did that when i was 10 or so…

  9. Grovenstien says:

    I will forever be a Lego Purist! Get your filthy kinex blocks and fake lego out of my box! Awesome idea though especially given the advent of 3D Printing.

  10. steve says:

    Stupid in my view. Like bringing a toolbox where a screwdriver is needed.

  11. HAD says:

    Sorry but RepRaps lack the resolution to print functioning lego blocks.

  12. MrX says:

    That is what GNU/Linux is, a universal construction set.

  13. PocketBrain says:

    I just wanted to say, that acronym is over nine thousand.

  14. cpmike says:

    Anybody else notice and appreciate the fact that 5mm LEDs fit perfectly into the holes in lego technic bricks? That came in handy as a kid.

  15. Ketzer says:

    Superglue, modeling clay, InstaMorph, Sugru. Make your own adapters.

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