The big picture: Lego has announced plans to shut down its Mindstorms line of programmable robotics after a 24-year run. Mindstorms debuted in September 1998 as an educational tool for children, but the product quickly gained a following among adult hobbyists and hackers. The unexpected support has reportedly convinced the Lego team that they have a winner on their hands and that they will continue to invest in the product line.

We’ve seen some pretty amazing creations involving Lego Mindstorms over the years. A recent example, and perhaps one of the most impressive, was this fully functional pinball machine made entirely of Lego bricks.

The build involved more than 15,000 individual bricks and packaged three Mindstorms NXT “brain” bricks used to control a set of servo motors, as well as light, color and ultrasonic sensors. It took over 300 hours to design, build and program and used no glue or screws.

Lego shared the Mindstorms news exclusively with fan sites. The announcement was not yet posted on Lego’s website, but it has since been posted shared with other publications including technical sites.

Lego said that because it already had some training and experience in building and coding, it decided to move the Mindstorms team into other areas of the business. As such, the current Mindstorms robot products and related items will be discontinued at the end of 2022. The digital platform supporting Mindstorms, such as the robot inventor app, will remain active until at least the end of 2024, we’re told.

Lego added that it will continue to stick with the Mindstorms brand, leaving open the possibility of a reboot at a later date. Once the line reaches end-of-life status, Lego will support the building and coding endeavor through its own Spike Core Set. Spike is similar to Mindstorms, but is aimed exclusively at the education sector instead of mainstream retail channels.

The Mindstorms Robot Inventor Kit (# 51515) is listed for $359.99 on the Lego website, but is currently out of stock. It’s unclear if it will return before the end of the year, meaning the only way you can purchase a set is through local retail or from a third party like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.