So, last monday the word began to spread around the inter webs:Lego (TM) Starwars (TM) Poe’s X-Wing Fighter(TM), free but only if you buy this month’s K-Zone.
For those without tweenage children, K-Zone is a magazine aimed primarily at boys aged 6-10, containing equal parts toy advertisements, movie ads (some veiled as toy advertisements), video games (some based on toys, some with toys based on them) and comics (based on the subjects of TV series, movies, or the toys derived from said licencees). It effectively retails for 6 dollars (cover price $5.99) and sits at the end of supermarket checkout isles, ready to trap unsuspecting mothers in a frenzy of uncontrollable pleading. I wish it was around at the time I was a boy. My mother is glad that it wasn’t.
For a brief moment I thought wait… that’s a saving of $AU124 of the RRP. Then it was pointed out that the set in question was 30278: A microscale polybag. Now, those of you with access to a Legoland, Lego retail store or the Daily Mirror may think ‘Meh, we get polybags all the time here.’ However, here in Australia we only really get access to them when there is a special promotion through Shop at Home, video game preorders or … months like this! [Note to Australians, these sets normally cost around $US4 in Lego brand Stores/ Legoland. Well worth bringing some home to use as party favours if you are travelling overseas.]
And then the crazy started happening. On eBay, some started popping up for $12 + shipping. I bought a magazine I might normally not worry about. It had an advertorial about the forthcoming LEGO Star Wars game in it. I will leave others discuss that article.
Lets Create-ah App
Do you see what I did there? 🙂
And then LEGO did something that caught me off guard. They released a new App. Now, I have a little form for reviewing LEGO apps. Some get a guernsey on other game related sites (many appearing to be unaltered press releases at best, or press releases reworded into the past tense (to read as if the game has been played), often with inconsistent results.) Excessive use of parentheses in the above is due to an unhealthy obsession with Maths in upper secondary school back in the 80’s, possibly at the expense of learning to write in a clear and concise fashion.
So… back to the App: my interest was piqued. Having just spent a little too long completing both of the LEGO Elves games (Unite The Magic and Elvendale) I was a little over the hunt and swipe approach to things. Its a Creator App. Hmmm…the themes keep changing, people are encouraged to build several different models, or even get creative and build their own. How are you going to make a game out of this, without it becoming Life of George?
But it wasn’t a game. Not entirely. I started it up and was confronted by the word ‘Creator’ Surrounded by a number of animated vehicles moving around on their own. Skynet? Perhaps not. But an important lesson for young players. And then the happy music starts. Its the same music that goes with the videos on the creator.lego.com website. It is long enough to not feel TOO repetitive. I would encourage you to make a choice as to where you want to go within 2 minutes however. The music and sound effects can be turned off in the options. I am yet to exercise this option. There is also a little button for adults. It is labelled ‘For Parents’ and gives you the information about Cookies, Privacy, terms use and the option to log in with you Lego ID, although just why you should do this is not entirely apparent at this stage… perhaps it links to uploading your challenge responses.
When you touch on the different letters, you are given different options:
Each section of the app provides clear instructions demonstrating the functionality of the section. This works really well for the Stop Motion and Turnaround sections.
Creator App and Polybag Action
So… Lets combine the Stop motion component of the App, and the build of Poe’s X-Wing.
I didn’t have all the pieces described in the instructions for building my phone holder, so I substituted some colors and shapes. Essentially it leaves a one stud gap between 2 groups of stacks of bricks. The iPhone 6 is a little wobbly in t
his holder, so you need to be careful how hard you touch the screen. Too much pressure and you change your angle a little. The other decision you need to make is whether you have your camera high or low. or down. I opted for low.
The polybag comes wrapped up in a plastic bag, enclosing the magazine and the polybag. Opening up the polybag reveals 64 pieces and an instruction sheet. The build is simple enough: rear of fuselage; front of fuselage, engines (love the trans magenta 1 x 1 cone here) and the wings. The wings feature the overlapping style seen in the new X-wing fighters. The studs face upwards in each wing. Ultimately the model is 14 studs wide and just over 11 studs long. It has a nice central point of balance, which allows positioning a spare 1 x 1 transparent plate in a way to encourage balancing and apparently floating in mid air. The wings open manualy, allowing you to lock s-foils in attack positions (individual definitions of the word ‘lock’ may vary).
Construction was made a little more challenging by using the stop motion program: you need to work hard to keep the fuselage in place as you add pieces. Fortunately the app does feature a single frame of ‘onion skinning’: this allows you to see the previously shot frame overlaid with the current camera vision. This way you can reposition the model to get it lined up after attempting to build micros cal with macro figures.
The final ship is sleek and quite ‘swooshable.’ My final movie is watchable, but silent.
The Turnaround is far more basic: it is essentially a 16 frame stop motion movie.
So in summary:
Shame about the waste generated by the magazine, but it’s a great model to be able to build. (in a recent poll, more than 2/3 of respondents said they would build it now, rather than keep it for later resale). Its great for the Star Wars fans out there. Its Lego, Its a simple X-Wing that could be built in under half an hour. What’s not to like?? I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 Arbitary Praise Units.
The App is neat: its aesthetically pleasing, but tries to be a little too much. I like the contest/challenge concept and the gallery can help wrangle the images and videos you create. The stop motion and turnaround sections are useful tools, and the videos section accesses the videos from creator.lego.com. This makes the app a nifty reference tool as well.
The goals of the LEGO Creator range are to encourage creativity, and recognise that the one set of pieces can build multiple models, and encourage development of your building skills. Look out for those hidden gems in the instructions. (neat parts usage, and clever building tricks). The App works to complement this role nicely. Integration with the online gallery would be fantastic: if you notice this working, please let me know, and I will spread the good news. The browser based galleries are moderated to ensure family friendly content, so updating is normally a little slow.
The design aesthetic of the app is pleasing, and the soundtrack buoyant (for the first 5 minutes at any rate). The app was heading for 4/5 APU’s, but the games drag it down in my eyes to a 3 out of 5 APU’s. The complete absence of games would have brought the score back up.
Both were worth my time. It certainly made for an interesting week. I’d love you to share your experiences, both with polybags and the Creator App.