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

We have seen some pretty incredible creations incorporating Lego Mindstorms over the years. A recent example and arguably one of the most impressive was this fully functional pinball machine made entirely out of Lego bricks.

The build featured more than 15,000 individual bricks and packed three Mindstorms NXT "brain" bricks used to control an array of servo motors as well as light, color and ultrasonic sensors. It took upwards of 300 hours to design, build and program and used no glue or screws.

Lego shared the Mindstorms news exclusively with fan sites. The announcement still isn't posted on Lego's website but has since been shared with other publications including tech sites.

Lego said because it now has several education and Build & Code experiences, it decided to move the Mindstorms team to other areas of the business. As such, current Mindstorms robot products and related elements will be discontinued at the end of 2022. The digital platform supporting Mindstorms, like the robot inventor app, will remain active until at least the end of 2024, we're told.

Lego added that it will continue to hang on to the Mindstorms trademark, leaving open the possibility of a relaunch at a later date. After the line reaches end-of-life status, Lego will support the Build & Code endeavor through its Spike Prime Set. Spike is similar to Mindstorms but exclusively targets the education sector instead of mainstream retail channels.

The Mindstorms Robot Inventor set (# 51515) is listed for $359.99 on Lego's 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 might be able to acquire a kit is through local retail or from a third-party like eBay, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.