My parent’s basement tells the tale of a budding hoarder…yes, I admit that I was (am)completely and utterly obsessed with construction toys and couldn’t get enough of them. Now that I’m out and about and my wife won’t let me have Lego’s laying about on the floor (I never learned how to pick up) I jumped at the chance to play with a new(er) construction set, Laser Pegs. After all it is “Work”–if I could only say that without smirking.
The people over at Laser Pegs® contacted me to let me know that there’s a new app that goes along with their construction sets and asked if I would like to check it out. YES! So before I go into the App, I want to go over my brief experience with this really cool toy.
I was given Bug Kit #470 to review (found exclusively at Target for $19.99) as well as a pendent (power source). The kit itself contains 20 assorted translucent pieces with the majority of them being lit with an LED. LED lights are known for low energy usage and a massive life span–so your child will probably have a child of their own before they burn out. How the blocks light up is genius, with one block connected to a power source (either Power Base or pendant) you connect another piece to it, the piece connected to the power source will feed it with low voltage current to light up that piece and so forth.
Initially, upon taking the pieces out of the box and connecting/unconnecting the pieces, they felt strange…these aren’t my Legos…but after a few minutes the ‘strangeness’ of something different vanished and I started to see the coolness and love the new approach to building with them (see the top pic and notice their uniqueness). The blocks feel pretty sturdy with the exception of the “wheel peg” which I instinctively handled more carefully. Before I move onto the app, anyone who has used construction kits will know that imagining and creating your own things is where the fun’s at and with the assortment of pieces in one kit you will have a good place to start.
Before I got my hands on the actual building blocks I spent some time with the app and was excited to see that it added an extra dimension of fun. In short the app lets you easily design your own creations by allowing you to place and connect pieces in a 3D world.
Spinning and navigating around your design works well as you slide one finger to rotate and pinch two fingers to zoom in/out. Placing pieces does feel a little odd at first and I might even say ‘clunky’. But after you understand and start using shortcuts it becomes intuitive-ish. One of the main short cuts available is that you can activate the linking key which will highlight all available studs on each piece. Tap on a stud (those bumpy connecting pieces) on one piece and than on another piece and they become instantly connected! Is the piece in the wrong direction? Tap on the rotate button and there you have it! Your piece is now in place. After you get the hang of this you’ll be blissfully virtually placing Laser Pegs pieces.
Before I go into the really cool feature of Laser Pegs (app), I’m gonna talk about another cool feature (confuse you yet?). While you play around with placing pieces you can tap on/off the light board which will render your model and show you what it will look like lit up with real pieces. You can snap a pic of your rendered model and send it to your friends.
This now leads into the “really cool feature” and that is that you can create manuals for your models. See! I told you that there was a really cool feature coming. If you snap pics after placing pieces here and there, you will be able to use these photos for your manual. Each photo that you take allows you to input directions (text) to go along with each step. Once you’re done you can store it in your manual library, mail it to friends, and even send it to Laser Pegs to have them check it out (no…I didn’t send them any of my manuals…mine were no way cool enough to share…yet).
The Bottom Line:
Toy wise, Laser Pegs is an awesome addition for anyone looking for new and different modeling blocks.
Techie builders who love coming up with their own creations will enjoy endless hours using Laser Pegs (app). This is a wonderful accompaniment from toy to iPad. I only wish that I had things this cool when I was growing up.