Children, and not unlikely their Lego-crazy parents, will get a kick out of Lego Fusion, a new series of play kits announced by Lego's Future Lab that lets them create their own virtual worlds by first building them in real life.
The new series gives a whole new meaning to the word "fusion," as it combines real-world creations using Lego's classic plastic bricks and digital technology that brings life to these creations so that their creators can interact with them. Lego has initially introduced four play kits: Town Master, Battle Towers, Resort Designers and Create and Race. The sets include 200 individual bricks, an accompanying app for iOS and Android devices and a special plate that can capture creations into the digital world. Lego says the kits are designed for children 7 to 12 years old, but they sure look fun even for not-so-young Lego fans.
Here's how the play sets work. In Town Master, kids build a 2D façade of whatever they want to import into their towns and place them on the special capture plate. They then take a photo of their creations using their smartphone or tablet and the Fusion app takes over from there. It'll be a hoot for kids and even adults to see a team of Lego construction workers appear onscreen to construct a three-dimensional building they designed.
But the fun won't stop there. Once the first building is complete, children will have to finish a series of missions, such as putting out fires, capturing robbers and, in general, making the townsfolk happy. That means kids will have to build them a newspaper office once the citizens start clamoring for a way to read the news. They will also be able to visit other friends' towns by logging in to the Fusion platform with a Lego ID.
In Battle Towers, kids build a tower and choose from a variety of citizens, who run the gamut from wizards to archers, to defend their tower from virtual air attacks. If one part of the tower gets damaged, they will have to repair it in a timed damage-repair challenge using the physical bricks.
Create and Race is a little bit different. Children get to design their race cars on the app first before they receive instructions on how to build the car in the physical world. For example, if players want a faster car, Fusion might tell them to use red bricks instead of a blue one. Once the cars are up and running in the virtual world, kids can race against their friends' cars on the Fusion platform.
Town Masters, Battle Towers and Create and Race will be available in stores for $35 next month. Lego Fusion will also release a fourth set in August, which will be targeted at girls and works pretty much like Town Masters, except kids also get to design the interior of their beach resorts.
"In our research, we heard repeatedly from parents that they are constantly battling 'zombie gaze,' the experience when their children are immersed in their device screens for large blocks of time," says Ditte Bruun Pedersen, senior design manager at Lego Future Lab, in a statement. "We developed Lego Fusion with this challenge in mind, creating a play experience that keeps children entertained with the kind of app gameplay they love while giving real reasons to return to the brick pile to creatively build."