Forbidden Lego review – Lego projects that can take out an eye

Forbidden Lego is a book of Lego projects that could never pass muster at the company's design headquarters in Denmark. Written by two former Lego kit designers, Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley, the book contain five sweet, elegant projects that either fire small objects or overclock Lego vehicles to go off-road. Each project is lavishly illustrated in classic Lego style (though you've never bought a Lego kit that included a little stylized set of tin-snips cutting a trimming down a brick to size, nor a little bottle of Krazy Glue joining two pieces together into a frankenbrick). Best of all is the explanatory text accompanying each project, which provides a great deal of insight into the Lego company's design ethos (by explaining how each project violates it). Even better is the introduction, in which the authors provide a formula for coming up with your own kit designs — and provide good advice for all makers, like prototyping a complex model by "quickly building something that does not necessarily look anything like what you want the model to look like, but that satisfies one or more of the key functions that the final model will have to perform. By going through the process for each major function, you quickly discover some of the major design challenges that would only have shown up later when you tried to build the entire model." Another useful exhortation is to save the intermediate steps of your models so that you can go back and refer to your prototyping steps to see if you can improve on some early stage of the project. I was also tickled to discover that Lego is Europe's leading tire manufacturer (albeit of very, very small tires). This book is the perfect set of projects to give to the adolescent budding builder in your life, or to buy for yourself as you push the limits of what you and your legos can do.


See also: Forbidden Lego: dangerous Lego projects!