I recently backed a Kickstarter for “Lini cube – Next Generation Educational Toy Building Blocks” whose campaign page drew a lot of comparisons to Lego in a sort of ‘look what we can do better’. So then let’s break this down and see if it’s actually a true competitor in design.
I got myself the lowest tier a Pocket set of reds giving me a total of 11 cubes.
Now as you see the connections work by the cube having an open-side with 4 pins, with the remaining 5 sides having open connectors in a checkered manner. This allows for direct or side connections.
However because the checker is seamless you are allowed to do things like half connections shown in here in a little body builder I made.
So then how does it compare to Lego? Well let’s use the nomenclature of Lini from their Kickstarter regarding their two main features.
- Sideplug Feature: While yes this is more versatile to work with fewer units, Lego has many pieces that ‘give you 90’ in terms of connecting things via the side. Now I will admit this can get a bit clunky with mixing plates and heights, but maybe there’s a better way. (see below)
- Move Feature: This is the ability to have a void in blocks, and move another block through – but with Lego’s plate system this is also possible, and widely used. Also Lego has the ability to have things move on axes, whereas movement here can only be done manually.
So before I move onto my own curiosity let’s sum up my review of the Lini cube. In short it solves a singular problem in that it moves us from the idea of real bricks, and into Minecraft bricks where things like physics matter less. In earnest I feel this could be easily branded to MC, and likely make some better more accurate models to the game.
However even if we ignore a lot of the Lego system, nothing that Lini can actually ‘make’ could not be done by Lego, and often look more aesthetically pleasing. Which is fine considering this is meant to be an educational toy. That though is my main sticking point with this. I can agree if this was a curiosity or something to give to children, but this isn’t actually an educational toy for me. Materials don’t act like this in real life, and Lego categorically is more realistic – even its brick like method . It can teach more valuable lessons of weight/balance, and how to make secure connections that have parallels to the real world. Lini lacks that – and is really the ultimate reason I’m not a fan.
It did get me thinking though – what would the Lini cube be like in a more Lego world?
Now as you can tell, the system is similar to Lini, with 1 side being ‘open’, and the other 5 sides having the studs to connect on. Personally the issue with the PLA here is that it lacks snap, and is either a little too loose, or very gummy in it’s connections.
However overall this does sort of work within the system of Lego (although getting it to do more than what’s shown requires so weird piece orientation). However much like the maligned Lini – most of the usage for this is very limited, and often better resolved by other pieces in the system.
But hey Lego – feel free to use it and credit me I guess?