The problem is that while in general MegaBloks bricks fit with LEGO bricks, the quality control on the MB bricks seems to be much lower*, so the bricks/studs and holes are not always the same size.
As an example, I recently acquired a MB HALO Covenant Banshee ship for my son, and can safely show that:
The holes in studs do not readily accept rods (in this ...
I use a Mindstorms NXT brick and an Android smartphone for my remote controlled tank. The downside is that the NXT motors are slower than the regular Power Functions motors, and connecting PF motors to the NXT brick requires additional components.
Personally, I am satisfied with NXT motors and don't bother kludging PF motors. (Yet.)
Here is a modular truck ...
Personally I would go with Arduino (on the car) and an Android phone as the controller (via bluetooth). There's plenty of reference on the web about mixing the two.
The main problem is interfacing with non Lego parts (motors, PCB, ...). Luckily, you can find Lego adapter parts in many Robot/Electronic sites. For example at Pololu:
There are MANY companies that offer third party stuff for NXT:
Mindsensors, already mentionned in pcantin's answer
Vision Subsystem - Capable of tracking up to 8 coloured objects
IR Obstacle Detector
Sony PS2 Controller Interface
Line Sensor Array
IR Distance Sensors (Long/mid/short range)
from the german wikipedia entry (translated with my poor english-skills):
The Federal Court of germany opened the market for LEGO-like bricks on december 2nd 2004
The European Court of Justice decided in september 2010 that LEGO-Bricks can be copied as they aren't protected by patents anymore
so at least in europe there doesn't seem to be a problem in ...
LEGO have produced an IR Speed Remote Control unit as part of their current "Power Functions" range.
Features 4 RC channels, 2 stop button and 2 direction control switches!
Use the jog wheels to control your motor speed!
You will also need the receivers as well.
Moulds are maintained in-house.
As you say, the moulds are at the very core of the business of the LEGO company and are thus treated with all the seriousness you can imagine. Considering also that some moulds are in effect trade secrets by themselves (especially for parts which aren't publicly known yet), LEGO wouldn't want any of them to exit the company. (...
Using Mindstorms NXT software (NXT-G), you can transfer any file from NXT to computer. Open "NXT window" (NXT icon in the lower right corner of interface), then go to "memory" tab. Select a file in NXT and click on "upload" button.
Or - more convenient - you may use "NXT Explorer" feature of BricxCC (in the "tools" menu).
The majority of sensors manufactured by HiTechnic (a third party company) are certified by The Lego Group. The company's website lists the following criteria required to be certified:
100% compatible with Mindstorms NXT
Meet the highest LEGO quality standards
Comply with all safety standards
RoHs Compliant (certified lead free)
These sensors ...
I suggest calling Lego customer service (1-800-835-4386) to ask them about a bulk order. Professional "brick artists" like Nathan Sawaya buy their brick directly from Lego. The bulk prices are decent as well. For example, through the LUGbulk program, we got 2x4 bricks for about 9.6 cents each (these sell for $0.30/ea on the Pick-a-brick website).
Also, here ...
LEGO is a multinational corporation. Patents, laws and regulations vary in different countries. Moreover in, many cases, even if there is an operation recognized as illegal, enforcement may be difficult to achieve.
As a result, a proliferation of compatible brands and clones (fake LEGO) do exist.
There is also the edge cases of artists selling custom ...
My mother in law thought a set of MegaBlok duplo sized sets would be a great present, and while there are some fun elements in the set, overall the real Duplos are better quality, to the point we decided to sort out the sets and keep the brands separated. At first we had them mixed together, but the MegaBlok ones seem to be more flexible (perhaps thinner ...
There's an almost 20 minute video about the kre-o Optimus Prime at youtube where pretty much everything is shown in detail - except the transformation itself. I'm really sure that if this was possible without disassembling and building it from scratch then it would be shown here, so the answer seems to be: no.
Mega Bloks: the well-known Canadian brand
Oxford toys - review
K'Nex - yes, they do bricks too (not sure about compatibility though)
Character Building from The Character Group, a range of licensed products including Dr Who, Deadly 60, HM Armed Forces and Ben 10 to name a few.
Disclaimer: some of these retrieved from the lugnet ...
As you say, LEGO is very tight with legal issues, so if custom molding was entirely illegal, it's likely we wouldn't see such companies, or maybe in unreachable countries only.
Now, LEGO may be tight with legal issues, but on the other hand they know how to be benevolent when it benefits them. (Consider the openness around the various Mindstorms systems, ...
It appears that the goal of the nanoblock producers is to make "the world’s smallest toy building blocks"1. And they appear to be too small to be compatible with LEGO. See the following video comparisons of the sizes.
From the post about Vertigo (the precursor to Rory's answer), TrilogyGlenIvy (the creator) stated:
Suction cup hangers were easily located in stores. Drilling a small hole and inserting a short section of copper tubing (1/8 “ or ~3 mm diameter) along with some vinyl glue produced the feet that I used.
Basically they are usually found in DIY/Home stores ...
The thing with ABS is a bit more than that simple. The general rule is that if you want to have different/better plastic you need to play with small amounts of co-polymers. 99-point-something of your plastic is the main co-polymer, but the 0-point-nothing decides about fine-tuning of properties. A bit more than 10 years ago a friend of mine was working for ...
There are several Chinese companies making DUPLO clones, many are listed in this fascinating article by Anthony Tomkins of UK LUG The Brickish Association.
Communist LEGO, a review of some Chinese copies
Online I would recommend BrickEngraver
I think your best bet would be to find a local trophy shop, most will engrave items. Take them some LEGO to test and they should be able to provide what you need without the need to pay shipping.
X-27's comment is correct, I have 40 years of LEGO collecting under my belt, and I have never seen any bricks with a speckle pattern like that.
You might go through the bricks you got, knock off bricks are very easy to spot once you have seen a few. Cheap looking plastic, dull colors, lack of Lego logos (almost every single part Lego makes is stamped ...
I can't actually offer any thoughts regarding anything but actual bricks, as the first - and only - megabloks purchase I ever made only contained bricks. While my experience with megablocks is limited, I feel confident in offering this advice: Don't do it.
My motivation for "playing" with Lego-style blocks at age 29 is probably pretty unique - I use them ...
I saw an official Lego remote control car at the Lego Store once and I should have gotten it that day because I haven't seen it again.
That said, with Mindstorms and a bluetooth enabled phone it should be possible to build one one your own.
In my opinion, LEGO must follow clone brands very closely, and this for a number of reasons.
The first, which is obvious and has already been mentioned, is that they want to protect their own intellectual property. As such, they'll want to take legal action as soon as possible when one of their trademarks/copyrights is infringed.
The second one is actually ...
I guess I'm too stunned (I mean, is this for real?) to answer anything remotely meaningful, although some obvious cons come to mind:
you get bricks which have been used, potentially a lot, and you have no clue how or by whom (well ok they say they sanitize them in between, but still)
you don't get to keep them (well maybe that's a pro given the first con).