LEGO has been on top of licensing its brand into video games, something that could have ended in disastrous shovelware but instead has lead to some pretty great titles. (And fingers remain crossed for LEGO Universe, the upcoming MMO.)
Now LEGO is trying their hand at board games. And while I haven't played any of the games yet and can't vouch for the gameplay, LEGO plus tabletop gaming seems like so natural a fit I'm surprised they haven't done more with it in the past. (There have been chess sets, I recall.) The "Minotaurus" game in particular makes me think how much I'd like to see LEGO partner with Wizards of the Coast for a Dungeons & Dragons-themed tabletop set. I guess it might be difficult to do hex with LEGO.
Of all the new LEGO board games, "Creationary" seems the most LEGOy. It's essentially Pictionary but with LEGO blocks. What's not to like?
Each of the LEGO board games come with this somewhat silly, somewhat charming build-your-own LEGO dice.
LEGO started pushing out a minifig-scale farm series last year and I'm not ashamed to say I've bought nearly every one. (I skipped the core "Farm" set, though, because I didn't want to spend $US90 basically to get a cow.
But this year's new "Pig Farm & Tractor" set, complete with three pig minifigs (minipigs?) and a nice little tractor for $US35? Sold.
One of the new line-ups this spring is a Prince of Persia theme, designed to complement the upcoming movie. It's nothing particularly special, although it does include scimitars and hand-blades that might intrigue a few. (The swords are the same from the Ninja sets of years past, I believe.) But the sets do bring two new animals into the LEGO library, the first of which is seen here: the LEGO camel. Is it worth $US30 just for a camel? Probably not. But if you like the rest of the elements...
But forget the camel! "The Ostrich Race" is hands-down the best new LEGO set of the year. And it's only $US20. That's just $US10-an-ostrich!
Pink and pastel elements have always been at a premium, especially if you're the sort of person who likes to use the expanded palette in less-than-girly applications. So ignore the recommend cutesy builds and just drop the $US30 to get the "Pink Brick Box Set". You may not know what you'll use them for now, but down the road you'll be glad you have them.
The LEGO Creator series has had some of the best kits of the last few years, harkening back to LEGO of yore: clean, simple and extremely remixable. I think this "Apple Tree House" set might be the best yet. There's not a minifig in sight, either, which somehow gives it an even more classic look.
There are two new additions to the attractive, expensive Modular Town buildings this year. This is the first, a "Fire Brigade" built in 1932 (according to its inlay). It's $US150, which is about what all of these units have been. I have thus far resisted getting heavily into Town System sets, but things like this make it difficult.
The other new addition to the Modular Town series is this "Grand Emporium", a three-storey corner building that features "many authentic details", whatever that means. I do like the signage built from elements. It makes me wish that some crazy AFOL could dig into their buckets and start putting together a minifig-scale block of early 19th century New York tenements.
I'm just as over Star Wars LEGO as the rest of you, but if I had to pick one set this year worth grabbing, it'd be this "TIE Defender", which I last saw in the old TIE Fighter PC space dogfighter, but perhaps has been absorbed into the extended universe canon.
Seriously, though. I'm done with Star Wars LEGO. Bring on the Star Trek sets!