What kid wouldn't want this little plastic angel of death?
In this month's issue of Wired, editor Chris Anderson has a great piece on what he calls the new industrial revolution. Using a variety of small-scale manufacturers, including himself, making everything from custom cars to pilot-less drones, Anderson makes a persuasive argument that the open source transformation that forever changed the digital world is now having the same effect on products in the real world.
Or, in his words, atoms are the new bits.
As Anderson shows, manufacturing no longer requires a big warehouse, assembly lines and shipping routes. All it takes is a good idea. And to prove his point, he visited the Redmond home of Will Chapman.
Anderson uses Chapman as an example of what he calls "small batch" entrepreneurs: people who get into a field not because of the potential size of the market, but because of their passion for the product. For Chapman, that product would be Legos. And that passion would be making really kick-ass weapons to be wielded by those Legos.
Working out of a small industrial space, Chapman created BrickArms in 2006 when his youngest son (then 9) asked his dad for World War II weapons for his Legos. Today, BrickArms has resellers in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Canada, and Germany. And the business is so successful that Chapman quit his job as a software engineer in order to exclusively mold, package and ship out miniature M41A pulse rifles to other geeks bitten by the same bug.
The entire article is a great read. And just in case my attempt at an explanation wasn't sufficient, here's video of Anderson explaining the concept.