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Author Topic: Lego and the web
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
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Icon 1 posted February 09, 2006 03:43      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have an eight year old son. Like most boys of that age that I have met, Lego is one of his favourite things, so over the last few years I have watched the changes in the way they sell their toys with interest, and in particular their innovative use of the web. Children love toys with a story behind them, because I think it gives more of a platform for their imagination when they invent adventures of their own, which is what is happening when, for example, you see a small child, eyes narrowed in concentration, as he pushes a model car slowly along the carpet. This is why the spin off toys from big movies are so popular. Lego has always sold quite a few of these, but over the last few years, and particularly after they made a bad mistake by paying far too much money for the rights to models from the second Harry Potter film, they have invested more and more money in their own lines and in inventing back stories for them. Initially this took the form of some small comics that they printed at the back of the assembly instructions, but over the last few years they have been spending more and more money on the web site which seems to double in size every year. It is now vast with all sorts of evolving content, hidden parts, easter eggs, games and interactive content to keep a child coming back. At times it seems almost as if they are evolving into an entertainment company, because from here it would only be a small jump for them to start producing cartoons or TV shows.

An excellent example of their innovative approach to marketing is the launch of their new range Exo-Force. On first sight you would think that it must be a spin off from a Japanese TV cartoon series/toy franchise, but to the best of my knowledge, it is Lego's own line, which they launched recently with a few TV ads and an enormous web site, with comics, cartoons, a message board and the beginnings of a game. Will it work? I don't know, but my own boy became obsessed with this range within days of the launch and his friends seem to be reacting in the same way. I suppose I should be slightly disturbed by the manipulation of his young mind by this massive toy company, but first I have to say that I think these Lego models are pretty cool, and secondly the Lego web site is by far the best pure entertainment site for his age group. All the other sites for his age that I can think of, have a serious educational purpose underneath the frippery, which makes them like educational toys, inherently unattractive to any boy with a mind of his own.

Are there any other web sites for children that you can recommend?

"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

Posts: 2922 | From: Brighton - UK | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
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Icon 1 posted February 09, 2006 06:32      Profile for drunkennewfiemidget     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't really have a site to recommend, but I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with what Lego is doing. They're giving kids ideas and a springboard for playing with legos and being imaginative. Playing with legos is creative, teaches various things, and is a hell of a lot better than sitting a kid in front of a TV and letting them stare blankly at the stupid box for hours on end.
Posts: 4897 | From: Cambridge, ON, Canada | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged

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Icon 1 posted February 09, 2006 10:00      Profile for RScottV     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I also get concerned about direct marketing to kids and usually handle it by telling my kids about how people are trying to sell them stuff. I love legos and my kids love them, so I haven't minded that their site is hawking stuff. My kids have demonstrated DNF's idea— they will often expand their play after they get offline.

In your neck of the woods, the BBC has a children's site that seems pretty good. My kids like PBS kids.
Their site has many educational games.

For safe browsing on a Mac, I really have liked Bumper Car from Freeverse Software

National Geographic has a pretty good website for kids.

Postopia , which is meant to sell cereal, but does so fairly benignly, has many web-based games that are (mostly) nonviolent. My son likes "Waffle Boy."

Posts: 211 | From: Saint Paul, MN | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged

Solid Gold SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted February 09, 2006 12:41      Profile for Rhonwyyn   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 

My brother has been playing the stock market there for years, and he's only 15. He's been able to apply it to real life, and wow, if he had actually invested money, he'd be rolling in it right now.

Other than that, it's probably not terribly educational, but the various games teach strategy and numbers and other fun stuff. Plus, it's downright fun! [Smile]

Change the way you SEE, not the way you LOOK!

Posts: 3849 | From: Lancaster, PA | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Geek Apprentice
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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2006 00:42      Profile for Spam   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
neopets is the site that comes to mind, but I'm just a johnny come lately in that regard.

I still play with legos. :^). I really like the Exo-force sets, and I'm hoping to get some for my 24th birthday in two weeks.

But these days I use them for war-games. Like warhammer, but with destructible terrain.

Legos are fantastic toys for children because it allows them to be creative and analytical. You have a problem to solve:
You want a goddamned helicopter. and you have a finite set of blocks to use to make it.

boom. If course it bothers me when they make specialized pieces... like helicopter blades, or plane walls. but that is the way things go.

[H]ard since '99

Posts: 48 | From: Los Angeles | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2006 11:40      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A fellow Lego purist! [Applause]

And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

Posts: 7670 | From: the lab | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged
Swiss Mercenary

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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2006 19:37      Profile for Swiss Mercenary     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh boy, do I remember Lego from when I was a child, I think I can even remember when they introduced roof bricks, now that was a revolution.

Sure I can sound like one of the Four Yorkshiremen and say that "when Ai was young, we didn't ha any 'o these fancy bricks. Noo it was all 6 bai 2 or 4 bai 4s. Kids nowadays don't know when they are well off," but I will not [Wink] [Razz]

Now where did I put all my lego bricks, I feel like building a Formula One racing car again.

Evil AI at work.
I am Swiss of Borg. Holes are irrelevant, cheese will be assimilated!

Posts: 2275 | From: All the way from the land of Chocolate, Cheese and Cuckoo Clocks. | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged

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Icon 1 posted February 10, 2006 21:01      Profile for Sxeptomaniac   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My brothers and I spent a lot of time playing with legos when we were kids, too. Our favorite game was building lego cars and crashing them to see who's would hold together best. Of course, it got us into trouble now and then when Mom would step on a stray brick barefoot. [Razz]

Let's pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere. - C. S. Lewis

Posts: 1590 | From: Fresno, CA | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Moe Monkey
Member # 1900

Icon 1 posted February 11, 2006 05:28      Profile for Moe Monkey     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Give me a huge bin of 8 by 2s anytime.

When I was getting just a little old for Legos (can you be that old?!), one of my favorite pastimes was to build multi-level mazes for marbles. I'm not sure if anyone else would have enjoyed them, it was more of a game to see if I could remember the internal construction well enough to get the marble through.

Posts: 145 | From: The couch in the living room | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
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Icon 1 posted February 11, 2006 06:03      Profile for Aditu     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Must admit that I still buy Lego's for my brother's stockings and the youngest is 39. LOL.

For finding good pages for kids, I like Berit's http://www.beritsbest.com/ She does a good job of making sure that it is all kid friendly and it isn't all commercially driven.

Posts: 1355 | From: Osten Ard | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged

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