The wonder of Lego’s block building world isn’t just something for kids, but anyone with an imagination. However the latest type of Lego connects an app to your imagination, and turns you into a mini-fig music making superstar.
Despite the obvious age note on the cover of its boxes, you’re never too old to play with Lego. Even though most Lego boxes proudly tout “4-99”, it’s a toy that appeals to kids young and old and permanently young at heart.
Lego is one of those things you can enjoy as a child getting started with the larger blocks of Duplo, the smaller and more precise world of Lego as you grow, heading up to the various licenses with playsets that require skill to put things together as young adults, and right up to the art inspired and mechanical Technics models late teens and adults can fall in love with. Why, there’s even a variant of Lego made for programming, something that has arrived in various versions throughout the years, be it the robotics of Lego Mindstorms or the learn-to-code initiative that is Lego Boost.
Lego is for anyone and everyone, provided you have an imagination, though the latest take on Lego is asking for one more thing: a phone.
Yes, Lego and your phone are coming together for a new take on the toy, as Lego’s playsets and minifigs turn to augmented reality, and imagination gets an app.
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What is Lego Vidiyo?
A little bit different from your conventional take on Lego where you just build blocks and let an imagination take over, Lego Vidiyo takes that familiar Lego assembly and connects it with an app. You’ll still need to assemble your Lego minifigs and their little boxes, but once that’s done, it’s time to turn to the app for iOS and Android, Lego Vidiyo.
One part game, one part video maker, Lego Vidiyo captures an image of your Lego minifigs, as well as a sequence of tiles that you set up on the playsets, and that in turn unlocks an animated music video maker you can pitch in the real world.
The minifigs are clearly the characters you play with and the tiles become buttons you can press for special moves, but the idea is you can set up your characters alongside the special moves you want, and it will be translated to an on-screen controller to trigger the characters to play those special moves you want.
That happens inside the Lego Vidiyo world, complete with music tracks from Universal Music, with the goal making music videos of your characters in a special band, triggering moves from those little tiles — “BeatBits” — and recording them in the real world, with or without you taking part.
And it goes beyond the Lego sets that you buy and the tiles and minifigs that come with them.
It’s a bit like a video game in that you can earn points and an in-game currency to unlock parts of the game, such as clothing for your band, almost like downloadable content. However unlike games of today that include stuff you can buy, nothing in the Lego Vidiyo world costs extra, at least none of the digital things.
Rather, if you want more band members, you can Lego Vidiyo packs and assemble them, with a choice of either Lego Vidiyo kits, or a grab bag of minifigs arriving in a random “Mystery Box”.
There are quite a few of these things, and they range from a mermaid to a zombie queen to a fox to cheerleader. Lego also has some minifigs that can be unlocked in-game, as it does with the BeatBit tiles, too, so you don’t have to just buy the entire physical set, buying one or two and playing with what you earn for your in-game band.
What does it do?
You do need at least one minifig to start with, though, so grab one and you’ll be able to add them to an on-screen digital band, which the app will allow you to use once they’ve been digitised.
In essence, the physical Lego minifig characters and BeatBit tiles are a form of Digital Rights Management (DRM), because you need to scan one in to start the app experience.
Players can’t play the full Vidiyo app experience without scanning a Vidiyo minifig in, either sitting in its box or on its Lego pedestal, and your experience won’t start if the minifig in that band isn’t picked up, kind of like needing the game disc to play the game.
Lego Vidiyo won’t work with just any minifig in your arsenal, either; it only works with Lego Vidiyo characters, starting the digital band when one sits on a panel of three tiles, or surrounded by up to 12, six on each side.
You can, of course, set these up however you like, and they’ll be digitised on screen, giving you one minute to make a music video with your phone, moving it about, triggering the BeatBit animations, pausing and playing the camera, and making a clip with Lego characters the way you want to.
It’s a cross between a music video maker and a game of sorts, but it just happens to use physical pieces to kickstart the process, offering several tracks you know, plus some you won’t. There’s even a special musician made for the game, a character name L.L.A.M.A who will come with its own music.
Once you’ve recorded the clip, you can cut it into 5, 10, or 20 second music videos, and share it with the Lego Vidiyo platform, as well as seeing others who have done the same thing.
Is Lego Vidiyo fun for all ages?
While it’s clearly built for older kids who have a phone or tablet in their lives, Lego Vidiyo can be used by kids, too, provided they have access to a phone. In fact, it’s almost as if kids are the primary target, because if you want to share your Lego music video experiences, you’re encouraged to do it on Lego’s social network.
It’s a unique take on a social network that is entirely controlled for kids, complete with moderators found checking each video which Lego’s team says will happen within 15 minutes of each upload regardless of timezone. They’re essentially making sure there’s nothing naughty in each one, and so the Lego social network stays positively PG, but probably closer to G.
Adults can use it, too, mind you, but keep it clean otherwise don’t expect to be able to share.
One curious thing worth noting: people regularly poke fun at the Lego “4 to 99” bit on the front of Lego boxes, with older Lego fans just missing out. It seems as though the joke on that continues in Lego Vidiyo, because the age requirement goes back to 1921 at the earliest, effectively supporting 100 year olds, but no one older.
What does it need?
Most people who sign up will find their age supported, and they can share to the G-rated Lego social network fairly quickly after they’ve gone through either a credit check or a license check, with the brick makers basically looking for some proof you’re an adult of some kind to join.
Lego told Pickr that you’ll be able to later on extract those videos and images that you’ve captured in the Lego Vidiyo AR app and save them to your phone for sharing outside of Lego’s network. In the pre-production app, that wasn’t possible, but we’re told it’s coming, suggesting our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds will likely be all abuzz with Lego animations in the very near future.
You also can’t mix and match Lego outfits for the minifigs in the set, as the app pretty much only scans in what it recognises. It means if you get the unicorn and want it to wear the body of the cheerleader, you can do it, but the app won’t recognise the character at all. The Lego Vidiyo app is built to have an imagination, but it can’t share your imagination, or even unlock the game using your imagination. Not yet, anyway.
We’d also recommend not losing the minifigs, because while you can’t unlock the music video maker using a mixture of minifig parts, you also can’t unlock your band unless you have at least one member standing on a platform. Essentially, the warning is don’t lose the minifigs or you can’t perform using your Lego Vidiyo band.
However what it also might need is something Lego hasn’t actually considered yet, something we found out when we asked this question to the Lego team overseas: will Lego Vidiyo see artist likenesses in Lego minifig form?
The answer was that Lego hadn’t thought of it yet, but it makes sense: if you can earn a Lego version of The Weeknd or Taylor Swift or Marshmellow, all of which have songs in the Lego Vidiyo app, that would be something a little bit cooler.
Is it worth your money?
But even without musical likenesses, the Lego Vidiyo playset offers some solid fun, both for people who love assembling the little playsets and figurines, and for people keen to see those experiments in real life.
Much like a Lego video game, the app delivers animated characters with Universal Music tracks, allowing kids, adults, and anyone with a love for Lego or music to make their own video clip.
And at $26 per Lego box, it’s not a bad deal all round, though you might be able to get by with just one of the $6 Bandmate Mystery Boxes.
Officially, there are 12 of the $6 mystery boxes, but because each box is a mystery, it might take a few tries to get the entire set. The other boxes are dedicated characters with Lego stages and holders, plus extra BeatBits, the little tiles that allow you to trigger the special moved and animations.
You don’t need the entire set to play, with just one Minifig seemingly being needed to unlock the levels and play the game. Essentially, it’s the cost of a small Lego set that merely happens to come with an app, which doesn’t seem like a hard ask overall. Granted, it’s not a brick-based playset like others are, but you get an app, and the app delivers an experience of sorts that you can keep playing.
We’d say that’s a decent value overall, sure.
Yay or nay?
Priced between $6 and $26, Lego Vidiyo is a lot of fun, particularly if you have kids or kids-at-heart who yearn for more ways for Lego to be interesting.
The price is part of what makes Lego Vidiyo compelling, too: while video game hardware can be expensive, and video game titles pricey, too, the app for Lego Vidiyo is free, and the Lego boxes that allow the title to work are all under $30. You really only need one, and you can create your own Lego music video experience.
For folks looking for a taste of what physical Lego can do in the digital world, it’s a cute play, though may not hold everyone’s attention. However at under $30, it’s not like you may need it to. And for everyone it does, the music video creativity might just be enough to keep them engaged with something fun and playful in those times when they’re struggling to come up with something to do.
If anything, it’s probably the craziest toy tie-in we’ve ever seen, and at the price, pretty easy to justify. Worth checking out and recommended, just don’t lose those minifigs.