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REVIEW -17101 - LEGO BOOST - Creative Toolbox I would call this more "My experience with Set 17101" than a "Review", and it's a funny story how I got the chance for this special experience. For those who couldn't remember, you can find the whole story here. This review took it's time, but it's about a great set, so it was worth it. Disclaimer: This set is my own. It's not my goal to promote this set. The opinion in this review is my own and is in no way linked to TLG. INTRODUCTION Now I'm here, in front of the big LEGO BOOST set 17101 and I'm somewhat excited. It's my first programmable LEGO set, but brick based instead of the technic based Mindstorms set. And now there are only two ports and two motors in the power brick. The ports are incompatible to PF and also Mindstorms, as far as I know. This was all I knew about this set, so I'm going to start with some facts. SET INFORMATION Number: 17101 Title: Creative Toolbox Theme: Boost Released: 2017 Age Rage: 7 - 12 Parts Count: 854 Box Weight: ~1.5 kg Box Dimensions: 54 x 28 x 9 cm Set Price: 149.99€ / 159.99$ Links: Brickset, Rebrickable, Lego Boost THE BOX The box has a nice size and a reasonable weight. The printing on the front is very colorful and suggests programable robot fun right in the logo. Below the five different models is the hint for required but not included batteries and tablet. I will write some words about the tablet requirements later in the app section. Backside The rear of the box shows detailed pictures of all models and below a small pic of the Boost Bricks: the Move Hub, the Interactive Motor and the Color and Distance Sensor. There is also a promise for 60 app activities. I really like Vernie, he's such a cute guy. It would be somewhat interesting to build him. CONTENT OF THE BOX The size of the box is not only for eye catching, it contains a big pile of numbered bags, a box with the Move Hub and some sheets. But no further instruction book, so all models - one at a time - can be build only by using the app. Sheets There is a really nice looking poster ... ... and a big playground carpet style cardboard mat, folded into four pages. The first page shows the first steps: download the app and have fun. The backside shows the parts list. You can find a more detailed list on bricklink, brickset or rebrickable. Bags There are eleven numbered bags and one plain. At first look I would say dark azure with orange and white is the dominating color scheme. HIGHLIGHTED PARTS Move Hub The main brick is the so called Move Hub. It contains six AAA batteries, has two independent build in motors and two ports for an external motor and sensor. There is also a build in gearing sensor and a status light that can switch it's color. And the On/Off switch of course. But there is no build in speaker or microphone. The Move Hub needs a Bluetooth connection to a tablet, or meanwhile a smartphone, to execute the program code and uses their speaker and microphone. Motor The so called interactive motor is a servo motor that can also recognize inputs. Therefore it can be precisely controlled and determine a turn on the input axle. Sensor The sensor is a combined color and distance sensor. Later in the programming you can use it for distance measuring or color detection. The plugs are incompatible to PF and Mindstorms. They look like the ones from Lego WeDo, but I don't know if the accessories are compatible. Could this be the future of PF? I hope not, while I don't like them! The plugs are hard to grab when plugged in the hub and they need a tight pull. So I unplugged them by just pulling on the cable. That couldn't be nice to the cable connection. THE APP As already mentioned, the app is absolutely necessary and can be downloaded for free. All I need now to start is a tablet. My first tablet was too old. But I have two tablets. And both are too old. After some research, I found a hardware compatibility list here. The app start itself is not the fastest, at least on my new tablet. But I think it's a problem with my hardware and not a software issue. However, the app needs Bluetooth to connect to the Move Hub and a new firmware will be installed. The app is self-explaining and comes without any writings. There are only few settings, such as volume or language. In addition to the tutorial and the five models, there is another program point, where more models and a complete programming environment can be found. Maybe I'll come back to this part later, that's going too far here. The process is the same for each model: Only the first part of the build is accessible, the estimated building time is previously visible on a small pyramid. After a building phase has ended, and the programming examples have been tried, you can go to the next. The new, model-specific commands go into the toolbox of the respective model then. There you can program and try out the model by yourself with an extensive range of commands. The handling of the app will be most evident in a video. Be warned, that the following content may include huge spoilers! TUTORIAL In addition to the five models on the box, there is another small model that looks like a mix of a stapler and a vacuum cleaner. The app directs my attention directly to a tutorial that consists three options, while two are locked. After I put the batteries into the Move Hub, it's finally time! Start Building Only parts from bag one are used to build some kind of a slider and two figures. The building itself is done quickly in 19 steps. But all electronic components are used. First Code The yellow starting block let the green motor commands run, one after the other. The other two options in the main menu of the tutorial are unlocked one after the other, but only contain more program examples. No more building at this point. The programs can be started individually, the new green start button starts all programs simultaneously. Please find also a short video: After this short intro, this thing really could get started. LEGO BOOST Model 1: Vernie the Robot (Build level 2/3) After I'm through with this dry stuff, can I please start building? Yes! THE BUILD The build is straight forward and very good color coded. The bags will be build by their number, so Bag 2 starts with building some blocky part that contains the motor. Next step (Bag 3)will connect the Move Hub with the previous build. With Bag 4 the head will be build. And that's a nice and interesting one. Vernie can imitate various facial expressions by moving his eyebrows. From the rear you can see that the two eyes are connected by gears. The eyebrows always move synchronized. Next, the head It is connected to the external motor and the previously built block. The gears for the eyebrows are driven by a linkage that connects the head with the shoulders. After Bag 5 comes the First Program, but first, the following happens: Isn't that great? Bag 6 Now Vernie gets his wheels. This is also interesting, because there is only one pair of technic sprockets used, the second one is built with system parts. I have chosen a page from the manual to show, that the instructions are only pictures. Too bad, just for this set, I would have liked Building Digital. Vernie gets a rear support and upper arms. The shoulder construction shows how rigid the whole model is. The upper arm is attached with a pin plus a 5 and a 8 studs long axle. After bringing up the chains from Bag 7 Vernie is mobile. The following programming examples then deals with the movement and the head. The purple commands are prerecorded sounds, special for Vernie. Bag 8 The final stage: Vernie gets his arms! As previously written, the arms are very stable. The axles go almost through half the model. Otherwise, they're quite flexible - besides to the shoulders - almost lifelike. Especially the hands look great. However, the hand and arm movement is possible only manually, they are not connected to any motor. The hand is opened and closed by pressing on the brown axle. ACTIVITIES Now Vernie is complete and can be discovered, and there are still some program points left. And many accessories for Vernie , build from the still sealed bags. The colored plates can be attached to the color sensor, which then executes various programs targeted. I do not want to go into too much detail. On one hand, there will be a lot, and on the other, I would not like to anticipate the joy of trying one's own. But I would like to show some more photos. Vernie learns shooting by his head, boxing and playing ice hockey. But the great strength of Vernie is the voice output and the ability to record your own sounds. Please find a short video, before I start my voting. RATING That's very hard, but I have to try it anyway. Vernie the Robot: 8/10 Model: 8/10 Vernie is so cool, he' s the star of the show! He can roam around , interact with you and even shoot. So why only 8 of 10? Because of his manual arms. They are well engineered and have clever mechanics. But they can't be used automated by a program, thanks to the limitation to three motors of the Boost system. This means, you always have to be around the model if you want to use it's arms. And this limits the autonomy of Vernie a lot! Part Usage: 9/10 Vernie needs almost all parts from the set and it's a great pleasure to build him. While most of the smaller parts are only for decoration, Vernie shows best what this set has to offer. Code Examples: 7/10 Okay, it's the first model, so the examples doesn't have to be too complex. Moving around and the pre recorded sounds may be enough for seven years old children, but I think, older ones would have expected a bit more "robot functions" from the set. Boost Factor: 9/10 The main interaction with Vernie is really cool. Thanks to his mimic and the build in gravity sensor. And the usage of the color sensor, to execute different codes, could make programing Vernie challenging. Even the sound recording function alone will give you a lot of fun. LEGO BOOST Model 2: Guitar 4000 (Difficulty 1/3) Vernie was real fun and makes me curious for the other models. From now on, there is no more building by numbered bags and the old model needs to be disassembled first. THE BUILD The First Chapter of the build has only 163 steps and is done quite fast, thanks to very simple instructions. So I made some photos at various points. The neck with a sliding frame will be build first. The colored plates are distance markers for the later attached sensor. The connection to the Move Hub shows again the rigidity of the Boost models. The corpus get it's shape. Attaching the motor ... ... and the sensor, and that's it. The First Program examples for the guitar are obviously sound snippets, varied by the distance sensor. But something doesn't sound right. I can't get into the rhythm. Okay, let's go to the Second Chapter. The guitar get's it's final shape and gets a lever as a kind of a stroke, plugged into the external motor. This means, that the motor is not only an output device, you can also use it for input. The guitar is small but looks good and feels good in the hand. The rear view shows the well designed construction, same as the other Boost models. The next program examples then uses the stop. But it is like before, I can't get into the rhythm, too much delay. The guitar still gets a small knob for a delay and another lever. That's it with building. That was short. ACTIVITIES I failed with all the other exercises, the delay was too big. This is probably due to my new tablet, unfortunately I have no other to check it out. Of course that's no fun. The guitar still gets plenty of background music, but it's still not playing with me. So the report for this model is pretty short, I just did not enjoy it. I did a short video anyway. RATING Guitar 4000: 6/10 Model: 7/10 It's hard for me to rate this model, because of my inefficient hardware. I would like to give only 4/10, but I can imagine, that it could be fun with a faster tablet. The guitar looks cool and has a good handling, and the target audience for this set is 7-14 years. Having this in mind, the high rate got it's permission. Part Usage: 6/10 This model is build quite fast and has less accessories, but it's solid constructed and has nice details. Code Examples: 6/10 Even the program examples can not really satisfy me. They don't create satisfaction because of the delay, and I notice the lack of documentation for the program commands. Sometimes a function must be tried to get it, and sometimes they are difficult to distinguish. Boost Factor: 6/10 Personally, I would like to give only 3/10, but I'm not the main audience and I have the wrong tablet. LEGO BOOST Model 3: M.T.R. 4 (Level 2/3) After Vernie with his cool looks and his many possibilities, the guitar has been a rather boring model to me. Then a caterpillar is just right. THE BUILD Again, the complete build is separated into three chapters. First the vehicle gets his fork, then its tracks, and finally a pilot. The build is straight forward, mainly one or two parts will be added per step. And again, the instructions are very good color coded, it's almost impossible to use a wrong part. That makes every model so colorful. And, either the parts are well sorted in front you, or you have to search for the correct part. And that could take it's time, while there are so many small parts in this set. The model is again very rigid and good braced. The following code examples are only for the fork and unspectacular. They just teaches me, that I can get a short description for a command by holding it. But even then, it's hard to get it right at first try. I miss a closer code reference more and more. Meanwhile, I got this message. That brings me to the batteries again. The power consumption is quite okay, but batteries would be too expensive for a longer period and my rechargeables have the wrong size. I had to buy a new set of rechargeable batteries, quite another cost factor besides an up to date tablet. Attaching tracks and wheels is done quite fast and looks cool. The vehicle is front heavy and not really rolling on its rear wheels, so it's usual skid steered. After receiving some kind of a seat, the M.T.R. 4 is ready to play with. ACTIVITIES It's getting rough - the M.T.R. gets a hammer. And it learns how to shoot. Besides some strange looking figures ... ... there are a lot more activities for this model to be discovered and it has a large range of accessories. And the code is getting more complex. You can see how the sensor can execute specific code, depending on the detected color. And you can see how to create a random decision, executed in a sub routine. Again, please find a short video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d397qhw2Qrc RATING M.T.R.4: 7.5/10 Model: 8/10 The model is quite good and has a lot of possibilities. While it has more accessories than Vernie, a caterpillar isn't as cool as a robot. But this model has one great advantage, it can lift things. Part Usage: 7/10 The build doesn't get boring, while it's studded with code examples, but it doesn't need too many parts. And the accessories are really simple. Code Examples: 8/10 The examples are very entertaining. It's just fun, watching the vehicle driving and hammering all over the place. And the examples are as different as the accessories. Boost Factor: 7/10 A tracked vehicle, with a large range of possibilities, what can go wrong? I would prefer building Vernie instead of the MTR. The robot can shoot as well and his mimic is unbeatable. And he's even cooler. LEGO BOOST Model 4: Frankie the Cat (3/3) Meanwhile I have some routine in building the Boost models, I know the parts and find them quite quick. So let's go to the next model, Frankie the Cat. THE BUILD The build is as it was before, mainly only one or two parts per step, but straight forward. The First Chapter will decorate the Move Hub with parts, pins and axles and creating shape. But what for? After 50 steps I still can't say how this will become a cat. After 60 steps the sensor will be attached. Upside down. Even after 80 steps, when the motor is connected, this thing looks blocky and somehow confusing too me. After building a more technical sub model ... ... and adding more or less small studded parts for 100 steps, I really started enjoying the build more and more. To me it means some instruction build meditation: find a part, add it, move to next step, find a part, add it, move to next step, find a part, add it, ... And Voila: I received another strange structure ... ... which makes this build a cat! I want to show two steps of the instructions: Again, it's too bad, that the instructions don't use a digital building engine. Even zoomed in, it's sometimes not absolutely clear how to connect a part, a rotation function would help. And sometimes it's hard to find the placed part, an animated step would have been an upgrade. You can find the first programming example in the video at the end. Let's go ahead with the Second Chapter of the build. It's a mixture of studded and technic parts and results in giving Frankie a tail made of track parts. Too me, it looks like a very clever solution, while the tracks are connected in opposite directions. Two of these structures are connected on three points and give the tail a very good flexibility. The Third Chapter is about finalizing Frankie and giving him his legs. The build itself feels quite nice and is combining studded with technic parts. I really liked the building section. The build itself was quite satisfying and straight forward. The interruptions with code examples were short and useful. At the end stands a cute model which looks like a steampunk cat with nice functions and possibilities. To me, this model increases curiosity in programming the Move Hub by myself. Just cute. FUNCTION DETAILS Frankie is using the whole spectrum of the Move Hub: - the build in motors are used independent for leg and tail movement - the build in gravity sensor is used to create different actions - the external motor is used to generate the mimic of ears, eyes and eyebrows - the distance sensor find its usage in the mouth The Head The main head functions are realized by using the parts from picture 3 and 5. The ears from picture 3 and the eye part section from picture 5 are at the end of a technic beam, which is eccentrically connected to the motor. So the motor is shifting the beam left and right when turned. The Tail I really like the flexibility of the tail. Making if from technic track parts could be a necessary solution, because of part limitations, but to me, it looks really clever. The connection to the Move Hub is very strong and the tail itself feels solid and flexible. It's easy to catch this tiger by it's tail. The drive for the tail is also nicely solved. You can see the end of the red axle, connected to two bevel gears? That's the tail drive. Another pair of bevel gears are driving the brown axle, connected to the tail. The Legs From the opposite side you see again the red and yellow axles. The red one is driven by the Move Hub, the yellow one go through the body to the other rear leg. ACTIVITIES There are so many accessories. Beside some decoration is also a harmonica to play with. But the main aspect is the usual behavior of a cat. Not sleeping all the time, but being hungry or thirsty, want's to play and being stroked. And don't pull on its tail! Isn't that really cute? As promised, the video: RATING Frankie the Cat: 8/10 Model: 8/10 Frankie is really cute! Did I wrote that before? The mimic is quite nice, the mechanics are challenging and the behavior is very lifelike. But Frankie is not mobile because of the limitation to three motors. Otherwise it's a good looking, well decorated model. Part Usage: 7/10 The model doesn't need too many parts. But those are mainly small, used for decoration and connecting the system parts tougher. At the end it's a challenging build with many gears and axles. Code Examples: 8/10 The examples give the model a nice behavior and contain great sounds. The code is getting more complex and uses almost all possibilities of the Boost system. Boost Factor: 8/10 It's impressive how many details this model has to offer. It's pure fun to explore Frankie's possibilities and programing. To bad, he can't move around. LEGO BOOST MODEL 5: Auto Builder (3/3) A Lego model builds another Lego model? How cool is that? THE BUILD This model has difficulty level 3 out of 3. But as you can see from the first page of the instructions, the level of difficulty is not that high and appropriate for the target audience. The First Chapter builds a conveyor belt to the Move Hub. Also the external motor and sensor will be attached. The first program example then deals exclusively with the conveyor belt. But there are no more options than driving forward and backward. Unfortunately, again not all parameters of the commands are clear, it remains to try. Meanwhile I noticed two more things on the app that I do not like. Once, I have to constantly turn on the Move Hub if I want to see the instructions of an already completed section again, or if I want to study the programming offline. And for another Honestly? Why? The Second Chapter then builds the gripper arm for the builder. It actually consists of two parts. A simple rubber band gripper on which a thread allows the up and down. And a cage in which the gripper slides and is plugged to the machine. The programming then deals with the gripper. Means his up and down movement. In the Third Chapter, the machine is then finished and gets final details and decorations. Finally a kind of template table will be build, which is attached by an axle to the conveyor belt. But then the builder is ready to use. The construction was rather technical, but otherwise not very demanding. I had imagined it would be more difficult or longer. Let's see what the programming does. After loading the table as in the example ... That was really cool, wasn't it? ACTIVITIES Well, the Builder does not have much more possibilities than building one single model. So the following activities are also limited. This is understandable on one hand and opens up possibilities to own designs. But on the other hand, a huge opportunity was missed to highlight Lego Boost as a robot system. Finally, another video showing the building process again: RATING Auto Builder: 7.5/10 Model: 8/10 I really like this model. It can only build one other Lego model automated (!), but this is done surprisingly well. I had only a few fails and I could watch the building process again and again. Part Usage: 7/10 The estimated building time, or any level, is set to 3 of 3, but there aren't any difficult steps and the build is done quite fast. Therefore the parts are efficiently used and shows the good part selection of the Creative Toolbox. Code Examples: 6/10 There can only be one model be build automated. Still impressive, but there are no more possibilities than changing the order of the parts. And the precise function of a command stays quite often unknown. Boost Factor: 9/10 I could watch the building process again and again ... LEFTOVERS So, after the models, I think I'm almost through with this review. Thought so, but there are more things to discover: There is the Programming Environment to create your own code. The shown example displays a joystick button and switches the light of the Move Hub to red or green each time you push the button. The selection is done by a random generator. This couldn't be a tutorial or even a command reference, that would be too much. But, please find a video that describes the shown example a bit more. And there are More Models with instructions and specific code, but without examples. The additional models are quite well selected: There is a walker, a steered car and a moving play scene. The simplicity invites to mod the models, the missing examples makes it necessary to create your own code and enhance the models possibilities. Great fun! The model in action: FINAL THOUGHTS The second name of the set is Creative Toolbox. And as usual with Lego, the creative playing starts, when the instructions close. Here, we have five models that look like from a Lego movie. They are colorful, well detailed and even move. And they really pray for more. Fortunately, the set offers a wide variety of different parts, that are well-chosen and distinctively color-coded. Unfortunately, the set offers a wide variety of different parts. Many different parts. Many different small parts. Many different small colorful parts. During building, I noticed that many different small colorful parts need a lot of space. This is my first Lego set, where I don't want to mix the parts with my collection. So I will have this set ready to start and I don't have to search so hard for the parts,. I can get started right away with this toolbox. Of course, this requires the discipline to always sort the set sensibly and restricts the possibilities of Mocs a little. But due to the wide variety of parts, there is almost always the right one and I can concentrate more on programming. And again I remember that I really miss a code reference. I got a new tablet, specially for this set. But that's small and slow and it's just annoying to program with it. Especially since the handling of the app as a programming environment is somewhat cumbersome. If the hardware requirements for the app were not so high, I could also use a second tablet as a reference or test environment. I have to get that Lego Boost Programmer's Guide ... Right at the end of this review I got the meanwhile known message: That brings me back to the power consumption: In the beginning, I used batteries and they were empty quite fast. So I changed to rechargeables, they last much longer. But that's another cost factor. At the end, I needed a new tablet, a new set of rechargeables and a storage system. That would be a nice present package for a 7-14 year old kid. SUMMARY The App: 7/10 The software is solid standard, but is lacking a Digital Building engine. Tutorial: 8/10 The tutorial is short and precise, but a few more explanations would have been nice and would have satisfied my curiosity a bit better. Models: 7.5/10 There is shining bright light, but also some shadows in the selection. Program Code: 7/10 The programming is okay, but I really miss a detailed command reference. Boost Factor: 8/10 That's still hard after all. How much Boost is in the LEGO BOOST set? I'd say: A lot! It's really cool to bring the models to life. Final Rate: 7.5/10 I'm somehow undecided. On one hand, the set is really big fun. There are a lot of parts for a reasonable price, nice and different models to build, and on top discovering the behavior of a model at certain command codes. But on the other hand, there are so many small parts, that it's hard to keep them together and have them ready to build if necessary. And the need of an up-to-date tablet - to run not up-to-date building instructions. Besides that, i really enjoyed playing around with this set. Building was simple but effective and the code sometimes surprising. Good package. That's what I wanted to say about my experience with my own - now well earned - LEGO BOOST - Creative Toolbox. Thank's for your attention.