Each year I like to highlight a new toy which I believe will be on the top of many Christmas wishlists. Back in 2015 it was the water bomb fun of Bunch’O’Balloons. Last year saw the re-release of my childhood favourite Fashion Plates plus the cool LEGO Minifigure Alarm Clocks. So which toy will feature at the top of wishlists this year? The clever folks at LEGO have the answer.
With schools, parents and toy companies heavily focusing on all things STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Maths), the release of a supercharged building and coding set that helps kids bring their LEGO creations to life was only a matter of time.
Designed for ages 7 and older, LEGO BOOST introduces kids to coding through a free downloadable app that contains the guidance, building instructions and simple coding commands to bring five LEGO creations to life: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4), and the Autobuilder.
Much like building with LEGO bricks, kids build behaviours and actions by linking digital coding blocks in an easy-to-understand horizontal layout within the app. LEGO BOOST also lets kids record voice effects for their creations, adding personality without requiring spelling and typing. The LEGO BOOST app includes more than 60 activities designed to inspire additional building, coding and play.
Check out Simon, the LEGO BOOST lead designer, introducing the set in this cute short video below. As cool as that guitar is, I have a soft spot for Vernie (memories of Number 5 in Short Circuit are flooding back!).
Once kids have become familiar with building and coding the five main LEGO BOOST hero models, they can add movement to any LEGO creation through the app’s “creative canvas” feature that includes basic building instructions for two simple base models, which kids can use to customise their own LEGO creations: a walking base for making animals like a dragon or a pony and a driving base for building vehicles like a dune buggy or rover. Clever stuff!
First unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2017, LEGO BOOST is finally available in Australia from major department stores and toy specialty retailers. At around $250, it’s more expensive that your average LEGO set however the potential is impressive. Through simple coding language kids can add movement and personality to their entire LEGO collection. Budding designers and engineers will have this at the top of their wishlist. I know a few big kids who will have this at the top of their wishlist too!