Thursday, May 17, 2007

LEGO goes Batty

Allan Varney has a great article on LEGO in this week's issue of The Escapist. He provides an overview of the history and development of LEGO--both as a company and as a toy brand--which then segues nicely into an exploration of the transformation of the brand/toy/game as it adapts to new cultural and technological trends. Varney writes:
To an extent, LEGO has always mirrored society. In the 1950s, the blocks were identical and interchangeable; in the '70s, you could buy mechanized kits to repurpose those blocks for many functions. Starting in the '90s, you could buy customized sets; now, there are online LEGO networks. We can imagine more innovation ahead, such as smart, networked, globally aware LEGOs with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking tags.

The article briefly mentions LEGO's most recent initiative to reproduce the success it has had with its Star Wars collaborations with Warner Brothers' Batman franchise. You can see the beginnings of this venture here, on the LEGO Batman mini-site. There, you can watch "webisodes" (ahem, ads) of particular LEGO kits in action...including The Batwing (TM), The Batboat (TM), and The Batmobile (TM); watch the TV commercials for kits available now; or catch up on your LEGO-ized Batman lore (the PG version). The LEGO Batman kits and mini-site have been up and running since 2006, but according to Varney, LEGO has much bigger plans in store for its Batman product line, including at least one video game to be made by the same people who created the popular Lego Star Wars games. In the meantime, you can check out their webcomics here to get a sense of their branding.

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