Lego Digital Designer
There are few guilt-free pleasures left, but provided you can justify the cost to your significant other, Lego may be on your list. If your Mac has enough graphical oomph, there may even be a get-out clause to the price too: Lego Digital Designer, a freely downloadable design application. The surprisingly powerful interface is designed for eight year-olds, and eschews the Mac GUI for a full-on Lego aesthetic. The two different modes let you build your model in isometrics, and then review recorded building instructions in the traditional Lego perspective -a few bricks at a time.
A palette groups bricks by both type, and colour, with the bricks themselves assembled into Internet updateable themed sets. To add a brick to your model, drag it from the palette and place it on the building plane. Bricks will automatically snap together, and the application is smart enough to figure out when bricks won’t quite fit -showing them as transparent until moved to a place where they fit.
As you start to play around, a pop-up dialog explains how the tools are used. Unusually, this isn’t irritating: hints arrive just at the right time explaining how to orientate bricks before placing them, and how to use the group-select tool to select more than one brick at a time.
Once you’re happy with your design, you can upload it to lego.com, and share it with other Legoists. Even better, as the only thirty-something among pre-teens, you can choose to buy the bricks required to make your uploaded model, and have them shipped to you in a specially printed box.
If you loved Lego as a child, and daren’t walk through a toy store armed with your credit card, consider Digital Designer as the next best thing to rehab.