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Why no more monorail?

13

Comments

  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 808
    ^ I'd be interested to know how the tolerances come out from .DAT to "real life". The real elements allow for a very small gap between elements, which isn't reflected in .DAT measurements-- IE, a 2x4 brick made from the specifications in a .DAT file would yield a brick that was just SLIGHTLY too wide and too long. Possibly too tall too.

    Also, monorail track itself is tricky. I don't have an LDraw part renderer handy to check, but looking at the Peeron image of the LDraw part, it looks like there are 40 teeth on the short straight track. But the REAL part has 41 teeth! And in case that wasn't strange enough for you? You'd think that the *long* straight track (being 4x as long as the short track) would have 164 teeth, right? Nope! It's got 163 teeth.

    That makes things difficult in the LDraw world. In LDraw, you're supposed to use repeated "primitives" for your parts, like the "standard hollow stud" primitive, or whatever. That way, if someone improves upon the "standard hollow stud", it filters down to all the OTHER LDraw parts. However, because monorail track doesn't follow standard spacing, it means the LDraw primitives for "monorail teeth" would have to follow different standards, and couldn't be repeated universally.

    Hence, I *suspect* (but I'm not sure-- correct me if I'm wrong), the part authors for the existing monorail track parts decided to just try and make it LOOK correct, without actually being perfectly accurate.

    Anyway, it's interesting in several aspects! I'm anxious to hear (and see!) more details!

    DaveE
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    ^ Interesting - I did not even think about the validity of the ldraw part. I didn't have a monorail short piece handy when I was ordering the part, so I couldn't verify the number of teeth. As I said before, the curvature of the piece might make it impossible to test properly anyway.

    I'll remember to take pictures of both of them together for your viewing pleasure.

    Shapeways is very vague on the actual tolerances, I suspect because they are marketing their stuff as "decorative only".
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ I would think it more likely that they are vague and market their stuff as decorative because the tolerances on their stuff aren't all that good nor consistent.
  • kufkuf Member Posts: 66
    Surefire way to get TLG to make monorails:
    Step 1: Write a successful kid's book series, where a monorail is a key plot element or a character.
    Step 2: Have it made into movies.
    Step 3: License it to TLG.
    Step 4: Monorail set is made for the hit books/movies.
    Step 5: Monorails are made and sold in such a high quantity they become profitable for TLG.
    Step 6: TLG decides to replace Star Wars sets with Monorails, they are so successful.
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 2,692
    Ninjago Monorail. That's all I'm saying.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    Monorail versus Train: Half as many rails equals half as much fun!
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 614
    ^Eye of the beholder...love my space monorail, don't have any trains (although I admit LEGO trains are pretty cool...)
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    I'm with @andhe - color the track Lime Green and call it the "Great DevoureRail", and it will sell it with the (MonoRail Themed) Ninjas, and they'll be flying off the shelves.
    Drop in a little flashback about how Sensei Wu used to be a monorail conductor, and you've got the TV show taken care of as well.
  • effalconeffalcon Member Posts: 71
    dragon shaped monorail, then we just MOC on the provided mechanism :D
  • StormsworderStormsworder Member Posts: 107
    I remember seeing the first Lego Monorail. I would have loved one, but at £90 (in 1987 money) it was way out of my price range and way out of the price range of birthday and Christmas presents. And that's just it. Monorails look great but they are expensive, and quite a lot of the money is for the electrics and so on. Sets like 6990 don't really have any more actual Lego bricks than a space set like the Blacktron 1 base. I think most kids would rather just have the space stations and stuff.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Monorails look great but they are expensive, and quite a lot of the money is for the electrics and so on.
    Just like trains then, and there are plenty of those.

  • StormsworderStormsworder Member Posts: 107
    But I think monorails are more specialised. Trains have a more mainstream appeal.
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    Blaine's a pain...
  • voidstarvoidstar Member Posts: 21
    I'm with @andhe - color the track Lime Green and call it the "Great DevoureRail", and it will sell it with the (MonoRail Themed) Ninjas, and they'll be flying off the shelves.
    Drop in a little flashback about how Sensei Wu used to be a monorail conductor, and you've got the TV show taken care of as well.
    A Ninjago monorail is a little far-fetched, BUT... if the major obstacle for a monorail are the costs for new elements, it might be possible to subsidize this cost if the new elements could also be used for some other purpose in the high volume sets. (Example: Fangpyre Wrecking Ball using tank treads, AC/IJ using narrow gauge track.) That at least might solve the problem with track, if not the motor.

    Once the parts are available, it's more or less the same marketing problem as doing a new train set. They may not be best-sellers but LEGO always has some trains and the big awe-inspiring layouts people make with them do get kids interested in LEGO in general.
  • StormsworderStormsworder Member Posts: 107
    Given the price of Lego trains I always wondered whether most of the people who buy them are kids or the rather sad type of grown-ups who like playing with train sets (like me, for example. I have several) :0)
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    @voidstar - sorry, my sarcasm isn't always obvious enough. I thought my "Sensei Wu: Monorail Conductor" comment would have given it away...

    From the comments I've read here, I would say that Monorail is basically dead to LEGO. If we AFOLS want more, we'll have to do it ourselves.
  • voidstarvoidstar Member Posts: 21
    No, I got it :) I just meant that half of the idea might actually be practical.

    Who knows, maybe monorail track would also make the perfect fangs for some giant snake thingy, or a dragon spine, or rail for some other moving feature. I'm always amazed by the creative ways a piece can be used other than the original way it was intended.
  • kufkuf Member Posts: 66
    Don't worry. I'm working on my "Mark the Monorail" kids book series. It's sure to be a hit, with movies to follow. Or maybe cartoons like Thomas the Tank Engine. With his "Henry the Helicopter" and "Andy the ATV" they fight crime. It's a sure win.
  • kufkuf Member Posts: 66
    The best part is I won't an illustrator, as I can just take pics of LEGOs for the book's images.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    Not getting into the fracas... but LEGO elements were made in Billund starting in 1949, but also in Oslo Norway from 1953-62, Helsinki Finland 1959-63, Stratford Ontario 1961-85, Wrexham Wales 1962-92, Loveland Colorado 1965-72, and Enfield Connecticut starting in 1972 until recent years. And of course Hungary and China now.

    But by the time the Monorails came out... LEGO elements had been made in many locations...

  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    Great reading here and priceless insights by Mark. Thanks!
    But I still want the monorail back into the shelves. :)

    I understand all your points and facts. I admit they might be valid, despite one or another inaccuracy or argument against.

    I've been playing recently with my huge set of monorail parts, bought from BrickLink since a long time, and just want to add that my 5yrs old soon loves the monorail.
    I've actually built a track layout over the dinning room table and everyday he asks me to put it working.
    His major entertainment is to spread minifigs over the tracks, to let the monorail throw down as it passes... :)

    One of these days, I'll show you what I've been building in this theme and guess most of you will like it! :)
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    edited September 2012
    As I told you above, I've been building a few monorails with different styles.
    I packed all these and submitted a project to LEGO CUUSOO, aiming to lead TLG to revive the monorail. It was meanwhile approved and published.

    Classic Monorail Revamp
    http://lego.cuusoo.com/ideas/view/25324

    Hope you find the models interesting enough and believe the proposal could help to turn our wishes into a reality, at a not so distant future. :P

    Let's show LEGO how many fans are waiting for the monorail return, and make them reconsider producing new monorail sets again, after 18 years starving. :)
    Please vote and spread the word among all your friends till we reach the 10.000 supporters goal. ;)

    You can also take a look at the full set of pictures, at the respective Flickr set below.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157631545074455/

  • Lego_MooseLego_Moose Member Posts: 36
    ^ Doubt TLG will revive it; but, supported anyways.
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    edited September 2012

    Thanks!
    We won't know if we don't try. :)

    Really wonder what TLG would do, if this project would reach the 10.000 supporters in a reasonable or even a short timeframe... :D

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,508
    I doubt it will make 10,000 votes. Even if it did, cuusoo is about suggesting novel one-off set ideas. It would be rejected at review stage straight away in my opinion. "Bring back" is not novel.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    ^ Technically, a monorail-project is merely reusing parts for which Lego already has molds. Just like any other project. So it should be fine in the "novel"-section, assuming that the overall model concept is novel.

    To put it this way: Lego has done and continues to do minifigures. That shouldn't automatically doom any project with a minifig in it to being "not novel".

    On the other hand, using monorail at least implies new molds because the Technology likely would have to be adapted to Power Functions standards, e.g. IR remote and such.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,508
    mressin said:



    To put it this way: Lego has done and continues to do minifigures. That shouldn't automatically doom any project with a minifig in it to being "not novel".

    It's not quite the same thing, since minifigs are still produced. A similar cuusoo project would be "Classic Homemaker Figures Revamp". Bring back the classic homemaker figures in a new set.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    ... and after checking out the link, I agree with @CCC: The project has "petition to bring back monorails" written all over it. I like the 6 studs wide city train, but it looks too close to the one in #8404. The other models look not so exciting, mainly on account of their 4 studs wide very futuristic shape.
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    Try to see it this way - TLG please release new sets with monorail reincarnation. It could be short, it could be long, 4w or 6w. It could use the old classic specific parts, new ones or a mix from both.
    But please give us monorail sets back! :)

    With their mechanical automatic functions on the tracks, I see them a lot more fan than than any 9V or PF LEGO Train. ;)

    I could try to rephrase some parts of the project, to make it more compliant with this simple idea.
    All the monorails shown are just examples anot a specific proposal to produce one or another.

    My main goal was to boost the the monorail interests with City examples.
    LEGO then decides what to do!

    I acknowledge this is very unlikely to pass the official review phase (even if it would get there...) but we won't know if we won't try.
    We won't pay to support any project, so we loose nothing in trying it!
    After all this what LEGO intends, that we try things an generate hype for them! ;D

    There are no definitive decisions for this kind of things. What it is true today, may not be tomorrow, and if we gather massive support, at least TLG will look at it once more. And we may have a surprise :)
    For now it just passed the first review and was allowed to get online for your support. It means it was not seen as a request to relaunch an old set, or an old them as forbidden by the house keeping rules of CUUSOO.

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,508
    Conchas said:

    Try to see it this way - TLG please release new sets with monorail reincarnation. It could be short, it could be long, 4w or 6w. It could use the old classic specific parts, new ones or a mix from both.
    But please give us monorail sets back! :)

    That is not a cuusoo project, it is a petition. A cuusoo project would be designs for a new monorail set, showing why it is interesting, what buildings / vehicles / etc are around the monorail. Not just give us a monorail. They have done monorails, so saying give us another one is not novel. You need to show your ideas for a set, and say why your idea for that set is novel.

  • LegogeekLegogeek Orange County, CaliforniaMember Posts: 711
    Regarding the Monorail proposal.

    It could be argued all day long with pros and cons and would not make a difference. The project is listed on CUUSOO and thus open to support. There are a lot worse proposals out there. I have supported the project even though it does not fit in with my own CUUSOO parameters. I do not think it will reach 10,000 and I don't think it will result in anything material for the time being. But it will show the LEGO team if there is, or is not, continued support for a monorail system.
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    I respect your opinion guys!

    But 'revamp' means renovate, do a face-lift, etc. on something that existed in a different form.

    Isn't it a modular system of longer monorails a concrete proposal for LEGO to take in? Even one way to drive profit by selling additional references with extra monorail cars, at higher margins (without motors, battery boxes and expensive track elements?

    A 6-wide monorail. Isn't it something LEGO never did before.

    3 concrete new monorail designs in one proposal for LEGO to work, analyze and decide. Isn't it matter for development?

    The suggestion of using a PF L-motor that attaches top-down into a new geared base, isn't it worth attention?

    As I said, it doesn't hurt to support and make TLG to rethink the topic. ;)
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,508
    Conchas said:


    But 'revamp' means renovate, do a face-lift, etc. on something that existed in a different form.

    Yes. So you could say revamp the Corner Cafe with different colours.
    Conchas said:


    Isn't it a modular system of longer monorails a concrete proposal for LEGO to take in? Even one way to drive profit by selling additional references with extra monorail cars, at higher margins (without motors, battery boxes and expensive track elements?

    Cuusoo projects are meant to be one offs, not ideas for themes. So extra bits are not a good idea here.
    Conchas said:


    3 concrete new monorail designs in one proposal for LEGO to work, analyze and decide. Isn't it matter for development?

    I would say pick one idea and concentrate on it, showing details as to why it is the best monorail idea out there.
    Conchas said:


    As I said, it doesn't hurt to support and make TLG to rethink the topic. ;)

    No. But I'm not sure cuusoo is the way to do it. cuusoo isn't about getting revamps of old lines. You really need to have a good project showing a (near) final product. Not just "make a six-wide monorail". I'm sure lego have done their research and know why they decided to no longer do a monorail line. Maybe the trains are better sellers.

    I'd get rid of all the history bit. If you are promoting a new idea, don't say they have done it before.
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    CCC said:


    I'd get rid of all the history bit. If you are promoting a new idea, don't say they have done it before.

    I somehow agree with this! :)
    Maybe I'll remove that part in the description some time ahead, as I'll add more content, like the videos that I mentioned.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,508
    ^ I think for anything like this to get noticed (and get votes) you need a positive outlook for this amazing new design that people will love, rather than a negative give us another one of these that you haven't made for 20 years. You still need to get votes which is going to be very hard without a wider non-lego fan monorail loving community.

    Good luck though!
  • ConchasConchas Member Posts: 7
    Let's say that I'm not glued on screen waiting it to reach the 10.000 supporters. :)
    Like most of the other CUUSOO projects, this one may also never live a big furor.

    However I'd be happy if it can generate again some hype around the monorail cause.

    Let's start appealing to those missing the monorail from older times, and then try to appeal those seeking only for positive and colorful messages. :)
  • gifinimgifinim UKMember Posts: 174
    As much as I love the old school monorail I can't see Lego ever making it again, which is why I like Hidakas project on Cuusoo for a standard brick monorail

    Normal, cheap bricks for the track so it's easily extendable and simple parts for the trains. It even looks more like modern monorails than the old one did - it wouldn't take much to make it look like the ones Disney use in Florida.
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    @bigshum sent me a PM to remind me that I promised pictures of the Shapways SLS-prototyped monorail piece.

    So, only 5 months late, here's some pictures (click through for the whole set in flickr):
    image

    It's certainly not ready for prime time, the piece itself wasn't totally straight, and the clutch isn't fantastic. I'm not convinced it's durable enough to withstand constant use. I'm not too keen on trying to connect it to my monorail track and running it, and none of the other LUG members wanted it near their monorail motors...

    Hopefully, in 5 years or so the materials & process will improve such that there's less bending, tighter tolerances, and a better finish on the materials.

    Either that, or SLS is simply the wrong process to use to make one of these things. I wonder if an additive process would work better...
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,402
    @jwsmart How much did that piece cost all told?
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    ^ price is mentioned on Flickr, 13 $

    ^^ very impressive. Would be interesting to see a longer piece. But the material is too soft to run a train?
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    @oldtodd33 - it was about $13 if I recall correctly (it was 5 months ago).
    @mressin - the biggest problem is that it doesn't fit properly. I suspect it wouldn't last too long though, given how soft it feels.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 500
    reading through most of this thread... for a while, I just couldn't stomach parts of the discussion. I wanted to thank @LEGO_Nabii though, for incorporating the narrow train tracks into the mother ship design.

    I also was wondering about if TLG, when asking children about monorails, only explain the concept for feedback, or actually set up monorails to see if children will play with them? I only ask because the maker/inventor of erector almost stopped trying - until he set erector up for kids to play with. Changed the whole understanding about if children would/would not be interested in the product.

    To be honest, when the monorails were available, the size of the sets were out of my family's price range. I wanted those sets more than anything! But I knew from the size of those sets that it would not happen. Now that I am out of my dark ages, I will eventually begin purchasing monorail pieces on bricklink. I have not lost the dream, from simply seeing a lego monorail set up just once, I have not lost the dream of building one (even if I do not have a powered vehicle to drive on it). Along the same lines, my family could not afford trains back then, either. Now, I own many of the Lego trains (some in duplicate).

    As a teacher, I know that visualization is often a challenge for young children. This fact is also a reason why I ask if TLG only asks children if monorails seem interesting, or if TLG displays monorails while carrying out market testing?
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,250
    edited September 2012
    I think it can be debated over and over again in this thread why LEGO will not do this and I think that there are members of this forum that simply refuse to read, or maybe ignore, the previous posts as to the reasons why LEGO would more than likely not do the Monorails again.
    One is the Molds.. as many others have stated.. the molds are used until they can no longer be used then I believe they either are destroyed or otherwise unusable (obviously there are exceptions to the rule other there would be no brick, roofing slopes, etc) but it sounds like the molds are LONG gone from LEGO and it sounds like they do not want to bring them back.

    The other is cost I believe.. sorry but ten thousand people is NOT going to be enough for LEGO to justify the cost it will take to make one of these sets to placate 10000 supporters for the amount it will cost to make all of the components IMO.
    I'm guessing such a set would be 200-300 dollars considering how much the monorails used to cost (I believe they were pricier than trains in some cases and that only means that now they would most likely be priced in the 200 range.)

    Now all of this is speculation and you can never say never with LEGO but I just do not see the demand for these types of sets (which is why the 3 sets now are in high demand)...
    It is kinda like the Pirate (not PoTC) line.. everyone clamored for that line to come back, and it did, and I do not think it sold like LEGO was expecting it to sell, but yet on the secondary market is always seems to do well.
    Bottom line is LEGO is not constructing sets for the secondary market....
  • MrBerreMrBerre Member Posts: 246
    I got a couple of LEGO books for Christmas from my brother and sister (did not expect that at all BTW), and I was browsing through one of them while my brother in law sat next to me. I mentioned that some old sets are now really sought after, like the space monorail, to which he replied "Oh, I've got that one at my parents' place".

    He's retrieved it, and I got to see it IRL yesterday, but unfortunately I couldn't set it up and watch it in action (he'd already tested it and said it still worked; it should because it was in just about mint condition). I'm now thinking up an excuse to go visit him again. ;-)
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,947
    edited January 2013
    Perhaps the only viable way of relaunching the monorail concept is to produce a set that uses the existing track moulds used by standard trains and marketing it as a "twin monorail racing set" :)
  • crazycarlcrazycarl USAMember Posts: 392
    edited January 2013


    Reinventing a monorail Lego is pure gold. I believe Lego is missing an opportunity in creating something that the public dearly wants.
    I'm sorry, but there is no evidence of this, all of the testing, all of the market research and all of the kids I talk to at events have no interest in monorail. I'm not joking about all previous monorail sets failing completely and losing money, even with full marketing campaigns, cool sets, both earth and space based and when monorails where still sci-fi rather than airport and themepark rides no one bought them. That's one reason they are so rare!

    I do hear a lot of adult train fans and some space fans who are pretty vocal about returning monorail, but as I said above, there just aren't enough to justify it. I would like a new monorail, but I have to be realistic with you, sales history and market research are both against this idea.

    No I don't work in the 'trains department', as we only do a train every two years or so there is no such department. I know how tough it is to hear but there are barely enough sales to justify trains sets let alone an even more niche product like monorail. A fully supported play theme like monster fighters would be lucky to get 6 new molds for the whole line, monorail would have to somehow become a full six/seven set theme that tested better with kids then any of the other ideas being tested against it and that's before the difficulty of affording the electronic components. The safety testing of these alone is astounding.

    Also, there are just not enough AFOLs to justify the new molds, AFOL sets like the Emerald Knight number in the tens of thousands of units, Ninjago mid range sets are over a million sets produced. Jamie put a lot on the line to push through the big train wheels and that's just one mold. Until there are hundreds of thousands of Adult train fans demanding monorail it's going to have to appeal to the kids, and believe me we've tried, it really is either just another train and therefore boring to them. I wish it wasn't, I'd love to design a monorail set, I actually think it would be possible with the existing motors and just 2 new elements, a straight track and a corner track and a bit of funky building.

    I recommend you keep asking just to make sure one dept or another tries it every few years, but baring some new monorail revolution in public transport don't hold your breath.

    I agree with all of this. They would have to charge $300+ to break even on a kit like 6399 now days. I still have my 6399 complete with manual cause it took my mom a full year to save up for it in 1989-1990. $140 was alot of money in those days. If Lego group lost money on it then why would they bring it back at all? Unless AFOLs can get enough people to pay $600 for the kit so Lego makes money on their design I don't foresee another one. Ever. Sucks for sure but you can always find some old kits used. I've seen 2 listed in my area craigslist last year for non-collector pricing too. Just gotta look.
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,096
    I wonder how many of the monorail sets were sold dirt cheap either in Kmart clearance aisles or garage sales during the 90's? My guess, quite a few. I enjoy looking at the for sale ones on ebay, especially the ones with intact boxes that have original price stickers on them.
    Aanchir
  • jockosjunglejockosjungle Member Posts: 701
    Probably because nobody has seriously considered a monorail as a form of transport since the 60's and having travelled on them, its pretty obvious that balancing on one track is not the future of train travel. So aside from some sort of "this is waht we thought the 1980's would be like in the 1950's" theme, I don't see what theme a monorail would be in. Not City as they're not current, nothing futuristic as they wouldn't use them.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited January 2013
    ^ It depends how accurately you want to refer to 'monorails'. Gatwick Airport in London has a very new system which people call a 'monorail', although technically its not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatwick_Airport#Terminal_transfer

    If I were to raise this again I'd not talk about monorails but 'monorail-like short distance trains which are raised up off the ground and are at a smaller scale than trams'. There are plenty of modern ones and they don't have a Lego equivalent.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited January 2013
    ^ It is catchy.

    The trouble I would see is any look at that kind of train would lead towards a MagLev - which would be awesome but probably beyond TLG's ability in a reasonably priced set.
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