Lego to launch hi-tech version for phones and tablets
Lego is giving children a chance to put their own blocks on the screen, with a new product that copies their creations into phone and tablet games.
The Lego Fusion line will launch in August in the US.
Each US$35 box (around €25) will contain about 200 bricks and a special plate to build on.
Creations made on the plate can be photographed with Apple or Android phones or tablets and imported into free, downloadable games.
There are several Lego-themed games already, but this is the first time it has blended real and virtual. Many toy companies are going down that route, trying to capture some of the attention - and money - being diverted from physical products to iPhone and Android games.
In Lego Fusion Town Master, children build house facades on the plates and import them into a game that simulates a small town, inhabited by Lego figures.
In Battle Towers, they build sections of a medieval-style tower and defend it against flying monsters.
In Create and Race, they build cars and race them on a virtual track. Different designs yield cars that differ in speed, durability and handling.
In September, Lego is following up with Resort Designer, in the style of its Friends line that is intended to appeal to girls.
The games are designed to force players to return to the physical blocks and rebuild their structures, said Ditte Bruun Pedersen, senior design manager at Lego's Future Lab.
But the the Danish toy company's research also shows that kids want to bring their physical creations to life, she said.
"Kids want to be this mini-figure and they want to be in this world they create," Ms Pedersen said.
The Fusion boxes are launching in the US only and will be exclusive to Toys R Us and Lego's own stores.