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May 19, 2004

{     LEGO X-Pod (4346, 4347, 4348, 4349)     }    

A LEGO X-Pod is a small set with an assortment of bricks linked by thematic function and hue that fits in a small case a bit larger than an average yo-yo. The case itself is also made of bricks and can be used in your creations (I can already foresee the pods showing up prominently in the models of "adult LEGO fans":http://www.lugnet.com). There are four different X-Pods in all, each designed to make a certain class of model. The green Robo Pod (4346) contains green and tan hinges, clips, and bricks useful for creating vaguely humanoid creatures. The blue Auto Pod (4347) contains blue and gray axles, slopes, and windshield bricks to make a number of simplistic automobile models. The yellow Aero Pod (4348) contains yellow and black wings, engines, and rotors to make jets, spaceships, and helicopters. The red Wild Pod (4349) contains red and orange bricks with something of a mixture of the Robo Pod and Aero Pod bricks to make birds, insects, and fish. Of course, those are only the company's suggested designs. You are free to make anything you can imagine. The X-Pods fall under the same "Designer" theme as the Mini-Robots set I reviewed a few weeks ago in this space. Like that set each X-Pod comes with an Idea Book containing step-by-step instructions for a 6-7 different models and an equal number of completed models with no instructions as inspiration. Each pod holds 35-50 pieces, which may not seem like much, but these are some of the most highly useful pieces LEGO has produced. One can _never_ have too many "1x2 plates with handle":http://www.peeron.com/inv/parts/2540. LEGO has also created a surprisingly deep board game for use with these X-Pod sets. Unfortunately titled the "LEGO X-Pod Play Off":http://www.lego.com/eng/create/activities/playoff/default.asp, the game is played as an amalgamation of checkers and Warhammer. Using the bricks from a single X-Pod set each player creates several units each with its own special abilities. Some units can jump over obstacles, others can destroy opposing units. Because you are limited to the pieces in your pod several layers of strategy arise. Winning the game requires moving three units to the opposite side of the board at which time you place one of your remaining stock of pieces into your score, removing it from play altogether. Picking the wrong piece to keep score can be devastating if you happen to need that brick to create a new unit. Careful use of the deconstruction ability can cripple an opponent in the same way. By partially destroying his pieces and leaving them crippled a smart player can do more damage than destroying them altogether. Each color pod has a different mix of abilities and its own set of strengths and weaknesses. LEGO has released a handful of board games with little more strategy than Candyland, so I was pleasantly amazed to find such a gem on their website. My favorite thing about the X-Pod sets is they remind me of my childhood LEGO experiences (as do all of the Designer sets for that matter). Back before I had a collection of sets that simultaneously wowed and embarrassed strangers I had to make do with the pieces I had. Those limitations, coupled with a youthful exuberance for imagination, turned two sets of wheels into a cannon and anything with a few plates sticking of the sides into a airplane. The creations you design with one of these sets are less about what they look like to others and more what they look like to _you_. Small manufacturing details such as the little tab on the underside of reverse slope bricks become essential design details when you're building a little red frog and it just so happens to look like a tongue lying in wait for some tasty flies. Those handful of bricks may not look like a duck, a robot, or a starship to me, to your girlfriend, or to your co-worker in the cubicle across the way but you aren't playing with a children's building set to impress, now are you?

     » Buy all four LEGO X-Pod sets (individual sets available as well)
     » Download the rules to the LEGO X-Pod Play Off

Comments

this is cool

Posted by: josh at May 29, 2007 11:01 AM
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