In 1822, Augustin Fresnel invented a lens made of ringed prisms that could concentrate beams of light more effectively than reflectors or huge convex pieces of glass. These days, they’re used in spotlights and even most VR headsets. But originally, he designed them for lighthouses — it’s the invention that’s said to have saved a million ships — and today, Lego has announced a motorized lighthouse with its very own fresnel lens.
Make no mistake: it’s a toy — and, at $300 for the 2,065-piece set, a pretty expensive one, too! But Lego’s new light-up Motorized Lighthouse is packed with clever touches, like most of its modern sets aimed at adult budgets. It’ll go on sale on September 1st.
I’m particularly fond of how Lego recreated the vertical dome atop the lighthouse out of the sliding garage door elements I used to play with as a kid — it definitely brings to mind the one atop the Phare de Cordouan lighthouse where Fresnel originally installed his creation:
And while Lego’s fresnel-equipped lantern is one of the rotating types (thanks to a Lego motor) rather than the giant omnidirectional variety, I’m reading that ones like Lego’s were in place by the turn of the century. Here’s a neat vintage one on sale from Chance Brothers, a glassmaker that manufactured many different kinds of lighthouse lenses.
Below, find a handful of high-res images with more neat details, like the absolutely stuffed little lighthouse keeper’s house with a battery-powered light-up fireplace; a treasure-filled cave; and a tiny dock with a bird, cat, fish, and some transparent waves lapping up onto the shore.
This whole set began as a Lego Ideas fan submission by Sandro Quattrini, who goes by Roses Must Build in the community. Below, see what the original looked like in action, and here’s more of his work.