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April 21, 2004

{     LEGO Designer Set: Mini Robots (4097)     }    

Put simply: this set is precisely what a LEGO set should be. Unlike the company's recent crop of sets based on licensed properties or occupying specific thematic collections, the Designer Sets are a purer sort of LEGO building experience. Hearkening back to simpler times, when a toy needn't be associated with a major Hollywood blockbuster to thrive, the Designer series sets are less about accurate representation than they are creativity. Remember when a bucket of bricks came not with a specific set of instructions but merely an "idea booklet" that pictured several representational structures an enterprising mind might make with these parts? That's the sort of set these Designer Sets hope to be. Mini Robots comes packaged with a hefty pamphlet with instructions for 32 different little robots. Given the parts enclosed you can build between 3 to 5 of them at any given time. The designs range from the mighty combat-oriented creations pictured on the front of the box to quirky devices of debatable utility. By "debatable" I mean not that they are poorly realized and worthless looking, but truly "debatable" meaning a creative mind could imagine any number of interesting adventures for them. So far I haven only built the three robots on the box. All three have a similar construction, as if they were variations on the same make shipped from the factory to a range of different alien planets to serve vastly different functions. They all look fairly vicious, but with no small feat of imagination I've been able to give them all much less lethal an productive careers. While many of the robots pictured in the booklet appear to be designed as combat machines, as I think we'll all agree most robots should be, their true purpose is left to the builder. They also look so cute I'm considering buying a second (or a third) set just to explore the other LEGO designed creations or to make whatever my mind can dream up. This set is a steal at $10. Weighing in at 219 pieces (according to the box) this is one of the best deals you can hope to find when shopping for LEGO. These are 219 useful pieces too. While you'll never be able to build your dream home or a massive interstellar cruiser out of these parts, you'll find they're just what you need to soup up your own robotic constructions. Another aspect of this line I particularly love is the age restriction. Rather than set the age limits between the limiting ages of 6-12 or 7-14 or whatever range of ages one might find on a traditional LEGO System line the age limit on this set is 6-99. If LEGO continues to make sets this excellent I plan on enjoying them until I finally outgrow even this mammoth span of time.

     » LEGO official website

     » Buy it...



Posted by: Hayden at April 22, 2004 7:02 AM

Some home-improvement show recently featured a woman who was Lego-obsessed getting a home makeover. It was excruciating to see people moving, breaking and laughing at all the creations she had filled her home with. (clocks, entertainment center, flowerpots with Lego flowers, etc. etc.)
It inspired two revelations-
1. In order to do anything with Legos on a mass scale you need a literal dump-truck load just to have enough of the right parts.
2. If you're the kind of person who has a dump-truck load of Legos, you really shouldn't sign up for a home makeover.
Since I'm too lazy to ever collect that many Legos, or to sign up for a home makeover, I will just quietly enjoy the Lego aesthetic as applied in Douglas Coupland's coming-of-age-in-the-Windows-generation novel Microserfs.

Posted by: Adam at April 26, 2004 4:56 PM

Jesus. I'm glad I didn't see that. I probably would have had a stroke.

I mean, I would have the same reaction if the same thing happened to a guy who collected commemaritive Star Wars glasses.

As for dump-truck loads. . . I wish I could get my hands on a giant collection of plates (the pieces that are 1/3 as tall as your standard brick). Then I could really ramp up my home decoration insanity.

Posted by: benjamin at April 28, 2004 4:27 AM
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