I still don't really know if this whole thing is a good idea or not, but I'll admit that it's a lot more charming and cute than I was anticipating. So here are a few quick thoughts I've had on it while seeing how my 8 yr old uses it.
- This first one is going to be specific to my kid. He's very shy around new noisy toys. It usually takes an hour for him to get used to whatever the new thing is. However, with it being Mario with a smart device app - that barrier broke after less than 4 minutes.
- There is no traditional LEGO manual. You have to download an app for your smart device and see the build instructions there. Also there's a software update for the Mario. Because of course there is. Additionally, if your child is off busy playing with the parts you've completed so far, anytime you complete one part, you'll have to wait until their done playing for the instructions to come back on screen. You could in theory disconnect Mario (via Bluetooth) from your device but then your kid won't get the coins. So there's that. (No my kid's fine motor skills weren't up to the challenge of this particular set - so it was mostly me.)
- Speaking of stuff on the app, be prepared for your kid to say they're gonna play Mario and eventually switch over to another app. Kind of an obvious thing, but I wish this talked to the Switch as an option instead of just a smart device.
- The app does suggest a hand full of different layouts to try, so it kind of feels like one of their 3-in-1 sets but instead of starting over completely it's different challenges to run through. Kind of neat to have the suggested options. However it also advertises the other sets in this series. So be ready for "can we get Bowser's castle now? (it's a 100 USD set)
- The Mario in this set (and only in the 59.99 USD starter set - god help me if this gets lost) is both extremely haunting when it's in an off state, but incredibly cute when active. It seems to know when it's jumping around, on it's side, doing all sorts of different things that don't have one of the ID tags that it reads through its legs. Yea there is a light that constantly shines through Mario's legs to scan the environment color and bar code for different sounds/actions.
So if you place Mario on a red book, he thinks he's on fire. If you put him on a yellow post-it, he thinks he's in sand. It's a neat little thing.
- After two days it's still getting played with, and most importantly sparking the creative play of ignoring whatever format LEGO recommends and just going off on adventures through the bins of other toys and cars.
Will I buy more Mario LEGO? Yea probably. It's cute enough that everyone wants to play with it and sectional enough that you can't really "break" it.