If the remarkable popularity of figurines like Disney's Infinity or Nintendo's amiibo have proved anything, it's that kids still love to collect things, and today's kids love being rewarded for those collections. So is there room for yet another collectible series of figures in kids' hearts? Of course there is. Especially when Spin Master has managed to blend building blocks, mobile gaming, and childish humour into its new toy line called Sick Bricks.
In the same way the Power Rangers' Zords all came together to form the unstoppable Megazord, Spin Master has combined the best elements from toys like Lego, fads like the Garbage Pail Kids, and the endless run of mobile games found in the iOS and Android app stores to create the Sick Bricks. There's something here to appeal to almost every kid, whether they're into toys, collecting, mobile games, laughing uncontrollably at burps and farts, or all of the above.
Meet the Bricks
On the toy side of things, the Sick Bricks are tiny figures made of simple building blocks that come in a wide variety of characters from all walks of life. There's monsters like Harry Fangface (a werewolf) and Vlad Von Vein (a vampire), more human-like characters such as Smokey Burns (a firefighter) and Officer Kuffowitz (a police officer), and of course a ninja called Silent Shadow -- because every toy line needs a ninja.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. At $US2.50 for individual figures, $US4 for two-packs, and $US9 for five of them, it won't take long for kids to collect all of the Sick Bricks characters initially available at launch. So there's lots of room for Spin Master to continue expanding the line and introduce an endless run of new characters.
In addition to the individual figures, there are also Sick Bricks sets that introduce larger monsters like aliens and sharks, playsets, and vehicles that can be assembled or customised however kids please. They range in price from $US7 to $US17 depending on the size, and give kids more inspiration when playing with the Sick Bricks figures in real life. But collecting and playing with the toys is only half the fun of Sick Bricks.
Welcome to Sick City
Also available at launch is the free Sick Bricks mobile game that's compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It introduces Sick City, where the Sick Bricks characters call home, and which is currently under attack by a character known as the evil Overlord Omega -- the leader of the bad guys.
The game features various levels to explore and unlock that are full of both indoor and outdoor environments populated with digital versions of the Sick Bricks characters. Gameplay is similar to the endless Lego video games as you hack, slash, burp, fart, and puke your way through enemies, building additional tools and vehicles along the way to help reach your goal in each level.
What makes the Sick Bricks unique to the Lego games, though, is how the app handles unlockable content. Players who choose to stick with just the game can advance their way through the levels, and unlock new characters, powers, weapons, and abilities by simply working through the various missions. But there's a fun shortcut that kids who collect the Sick Bricks figures can take advantage of.
From Physical Toys to Digital Characters
Just like with the collectible figures for Disney's Infinity and Nintendo's amiibo, the real-life Sick Bricks toys can be brought into the game. But instead of using NFC or other wireless technologies that require special hardware (you'll need the new 3DS or a Wii U to access your amiibo figures in games, for example) the Sick Bricks can be imported using technology that every supported mobile device already has: a camera.
In the Sick Bricks world the process is referred to as the Optical Beam, but in essence the game uses very clever image recognition to let kids import characters, monsters, vehicles, and even playsets they have bought in real life. The process is as easy as ensuring the Sick Brick figure is sitting on a high-contrast background, pointing a smartphone or tablet at it, and then lining up the figure with an on-screen outline. Once the app recognises the Sick Brick toy, it's automatically made available in the game where it can be used to upgrade characters, reach new levels, or unlock other powers and abilities.
But Sick Bricks takes things one step further. Since the actual figures are made up of tiny plastic building blocks, they can be interchanged and even stacked to create bizarre new characters and monsters. And the Sick Bricks game is not only smart enough to recognise those custom creations when a figure is beamed in, they will actually unlock even more secret content. So besides having bragging rights on the playground, there are other good reasons for kids to try and collect all the Sick Bricks figures so they can progress through the game faster than their friends.
The Sick Bricks toys will hit store shelves in the US starting on March 12, but they will actually be available in Canada a few weeks earlier starting on February 19. So in addition to cheap prescription drugs and bagged milk, there's another good reason to head north of the border. The mobile game should also be hitting the iOS and Android app stores around the same time. So if you're having trouble finding the one Sick Bricks figure missing from your collection, at least you can pass the time playing the game while you wait for stores to restock. [Sick Bricks]