There are a lot of reasons why Lego remains one of the world’s most popular toys, over 3,700, in fact: the number of unique Lego pieces that have been created over the decades. It allows everything from Batmobiles, to excavators, to Kessel running space ships to be built from plastic bricks, but Lego can be used to build more than just toys.
Fans of the building toy have been expressing their creativity through Lego for over 60 years after the modern plastic brick as we know it was introduced by the toymaker. But aside from random conventions, most of those creations went unnoticed and uncelebrated until the internet arrived. It has given MOC (my own creation) builders a platform to not only share their custom builds, but also new building techniques and strategies, and the results of all that collaboration have been staggering. Here are 11 of the best projects a person could tackle given enough Lego bricks.
Despite your covert attacks, if and when your family, friends, or co-workers get their hands on the Nerf dart blaster you’ve been harassing them with, one quick vengeful toss out the window will leave you with a pile of shattered plastic. Unless the dart blaster you’re using is made of Lego, like the one YouTube’s Astonishing Studios created. Once you find all the broken pieces you can retreat and easily rebuild your weapon of mass annoyance.
It’s cliché, but stepping on a Lego brick ranks up there with unsedated dental surgery and child birth on the pain index. Instead of spending hours scouring your floors for loose bricks to make sure that never happens, you can use the rest of your Legos to automate the cleaning process. Unlike a Roomba that would choke on most Lego bricks, the Lego Rumba, created by YouTube’s The Brick Wall, employs a custom-designed sweeping mechanism to collect lost bricks, and even an articulated gripper arm that can grab larger pieces it encounters.
In reality, your home isn’t going to be any safer with a never-ending fleet of paper airplanes at your disposal, but watching this monstrous Lego contraption at work as it feeds sheets of paper through a Chaplin-like maze of levers and mechanisms is immensely satisfying. The results are a perfectly folded paper glider that gets automatically launched into the wild blue yonder with a pair of Lego-powered spinning fly wheels. It might not be the most practical Lego invention, but it will save you from the threat of paper cuts.
If you like the feel of the wind in your face while out for a drive, with enough patience you can assemble this 7,000-piece open cockpit electric Lego go-kart which is powered by 32 electric Lego motors. You’ll want to make sure it’s already a windy day, however, as this beast can only hit a top speed of around two-and-a-half miles per hour. But it can carry a human rider with a bag of groceries on their lap, and it can be even remotely driven using a smartphone app, so you can go for a ride without ever leaving the house.
It doesn’t take long for a small collection of Lego sets to turn into a giant bin full of assorted bricks that makes it a challenge to find exactly the piece you’re looking for. Even Marie Kondo wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of sorting a mountain of Lego, and Daniel West feels the same, so he built a Lego sorting machine out of 10,000 bricks that uses an image recognition neural network to automatically recognize and sort pieces. His version only sorts pieces into 18 bins, but its AI brains allow it to organize thousands of Lego elements.
With enough ingenuity, Lego can even get your name into the history books—or at least that one history book that documents humanity’s most over-the-top accomplishments. The Cubestormer 3 can not only solve Rubik’s Cubes all by itself—a feat that by itself is impressive. It can also do it in world record time, fast enough to earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2014 it solved a Rubik’s Cube in a staggering 3.253 seconds, which to this day still edges out the record held by an actual human solver of 3.47 seconds.
How can you guarantee you’ll be remembered after you die? Philanthropy? Charity work? Inventing a better mouse trap? No, no, and no. The obvious answer is to commission someone to sculpt a bust of your likeness, or build a Lego milling machine that can automate the process. Yes, instead of materials like marble or bronze this machine works in the less-than-permanent medium of floral foam, but the results of Arthur Sacek’s creations are no less impressive, carving enough detail to produce easily recognizable 3D busts.
Sometimes a change of scenery is good, even if it’s just a slightly different arrangement of all the furniture in your living room. But do the benefits outweigh all the effort that goes into lifting couches and re-arranging coffee tables? No, unless you pawn all that hard work off onto a fully-functional, 24 foot tall 1:24-scale Lego replica of a Liebherr LR 11000 mobile crane, which was designed and built by Dawid Szmandra. It takes a slow and steady approach to moving things around, but you can just sit back on the couch and watch it do its work—until it’s time to move the actual couch.
Nike’s self-lacing Adapt sneakers, inspired by a neat prop in Back to the Future Part II, are still incredibly expensive at $400 a pair. Few of us have that kind of spare cash laying around, including Vimal Patel, who decided his Lego collection could be used to upgrade his own sneakers with the same functionality. The results aren’t quite as pretty as Nike’s kicks, and you won’t want to wear these onto a basketball court, or anywhere near water, but they work and will keep your feet snug and secure assuming the Lego mechanism doesn’t slowly fall apart with every step.
With price tags starting at $6,000 for tables like its recent Stranger Things themed model, Stern’s classic pinball machines are only worth the investment if you’ve got customers feeding quarters into them all day. For the rest of us budget-minded folks, a giant bin of Lego bricks can be the next best thing, as Vladimir van Hoek demonstrated with this full-size and fully functional Lord of the Rings themed pinball machine. It’s got orcs, wizards, Gollum, Smaug, Mount Doom, and countless other miniature recreations of locales in Middle Earth. It even keeps score, but there’s no details on what horrors are released by Sauron when you tilt the table.
It’s no surprise that Lego own expert designers were responsible for one of the most impressive custom creations ever assembled from tiny plastic bricks. Using over a million pieces of Lego Technic, including 2,304 Lego electric motors, this copy of a Bugatti Chiron actually works, and thanks to a hidden metal support frame inside it can support the weight of a driver and cruise along at a top speed of over 18 miles per hour. It took months to build and even longer to plan and engineer, and ironically, while Lego didn’t release details on how much this would cost, it might actually be cheaper to buy a real Chiron than invest in this much Lego Technic.