At first blush, Lego’s latest toy looks like the identical brick-building enjoyable you recognize and love. You observe the directions and construct a cute little field to hold round a Lego figurine. However then, issues get bizarre. You’re informed to snap an image of that figurine from the accompanying smartphone app, and, like magic, it involves life on the display screen, dancing and singing to the most recent pop tunes. It’s a dream come true: You’ve animated your plastic Lego character.
This new toy, Lego Vidiyo, hits cabinets March 1. Vidiyo, made in collaboration with Common Music Group (UMG), permits children to create music movies starring a brand new slate of quirky Lego characters. Geared towards children ages 7 to 10, it seamlessly blends bodily and digital play and is Lego’s newest effort to enchantment to a brand new technology of digitally native children.
The quirky, chaotic world of Vidiyo
In some methods, this new toy is a radical departure from the plastic bricks of the previous. After initially constructing the field and scanning the figurine, children will play nearly solely on an augmented actuality video sport. To begin with, they discover a enjoyable spot of their residence for a live performance and choose a tune for the figurine to sing. To take issues to the subsequent stage, they’ll even create particular results throughout the tune: One makes your figurine sound like a mouse, one other makes her play a sax solo, a 3rd creates a confetti bathe.
The app is free to obtain, and you may create a naked bones music video even with out shopping for the bodily toys—however the extra elements you purchase, the extra instruments it’s a must to create your video. While you purchase a starter set for $19.99, you get a field and a personality, like a mermaid who performs pop music, a pirate punk rocker, an alien into digital dance music or a raggaeton-loving llama. You should buy further bandmates that include particular results for $4.99.
If this looks like loads of shifting elements, effectively, that’s the purpose. Ross Haynes, a designer who labored on the venture, needed to create a toy that captured the core components of the unique Lego. Very similar to modular Lego bricks, which you’ll arrange into infinite configurations, Vidiyo can be a modular system: You choose the character, backdrop, music, and particular results to create a unique music video each time. “The Vidiyo is about designing one thing new and distinctive based mostly on a couple of elements,” says Haynes. “This was all the time on the coronary heart of the Lego expertise.”
For Common Music Group, this can be a strategy to get younger listeners into music. Joshua Burke, who spearheaded the venture as VP of world partnerships, says UMG’s focus teams have discovered that youngsters begin exhibiting curiosity in up to date music round age 7. The corporate curated 30 songs for the app that vary from music their mother and father love (like MC Hammer and Think about Dragons) to up-and-coming pop artists; extra songs will probably be added over time. Every tune is vetted to make sure the lyrics and the themes are clear, but additionally catchy sufficient to seize children’ consideration. “From a enterprise perspective, we will introduce rising artists to new markets, notably for the reason that sport will probably be obtainable world wide,” says Burke. “However extra broadly, we’re desirous to empower the subsequent technology of music creators.”
Innovating for immediately’s children
Lego has skilled loads of turbulence over the previous 20 years. In 2003, after years of progress, the corporate was on the point of economic collapse, partly as a result of children started taking part in with video video games extra, which created stiff competitors for analog toys. Lego scrambled to reimagine its toy choice: It created extra merchandise for ladies, partnered with in style film franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and even created Lego-based films and video video games. This introduced the model again from the brink. However then, in 2017, its gross sales dipped by 8%, the primary decline in 13 years, which pressured the corporate to chop 1,400 jobs, or 8% of its world workforce.
Across the time of this most up-to-date decline, Lego redoubled its funding in innovation. In 2016, it launched the Inventive Play Lab, the place toy designers provide you with new ideas. This was the place Vidiyo was born. William Thorogood, who helped launch the Lab and serves as VP of innovation, says that this new toy is designed to win over some children who aren’t inquisitive about constructing issues with old-school Lego bricks. In the meantime, many children are already into pop music, social media, and video video games. Vidiyo weaves all of those threads collectively. “This toy brings [a different set of kids] into the Lego universe,” he says.
Many mother and father are involved about how a lot time their children are spending on screens and fear about their security as they roam the web. The Vidiyo staff is conscious of those anxieties, and says it created an area that’s protected for teenagers. You’ll be able to add your movies to the app the place others can see them, however every consumer is totally nameless; all uploads and feedback are moderated earlier than they’re posted; and there’s a parental dashboard so mother and father can keep on high of their children’ exercise.
Thorogood says Lego has labored to make sure that the app isn’t purely passive, as children should manipulate the Lego items and select a setting of their bodily atmosphere to create the music movies. As such, the sport is supposed to be extra akin to academic platforms like Osmo, which blends digital and hands-on play.
However many mother and father is probably not so desirous to swap their old-school bricks for an augmented actuality video sport: In a toy market drowning in digital toys, many mother and father see conventional Legos as a protected, enriching exercise for his or her youngsters. This sport additionally deepens the digital divide between the wealthy and the poor, as a result of it assumes that youngsters both have their very own smartphones, or can use their mother and father’ for prolonged intervals of time. As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, many children don’t have entry to the web to do their homework, a lot much less play a high-tech sport.
What is evident is that Vidiyo provides children a platform to be inventive, very similar to the unique Lego toys. On an emotional stage, Haynes believes the rationale children resonated with Lego is the frenzy of satisfaction they felt every time they constructed one thing massive and spectacular, and will present it to their family and friends. “We had been centered on how we may unleash children’ creativity and creativeness in new methods,” he says. “We see this as a brand new approach for teenagers to specific themselves.”