For years, one of the most marketable things about LEGO sets has been that you can use their pieces in your own ingenious creations. They’ve taken it a step further over the last few years, and now fan creations have the chance to become actual sets!
The Ecto-1 from GhostBusters, the set of The Big Bang Theory, a collection of noteworthy female scientists… these are some of the awesome sets that were designed by amateur builders, voted on by LEGO fans, and approved to become marketed LEGO sets.
And the latest edition to that fan-created line of specialty sets is one of the puzzliest products they’ve ever sold: the LEGO Maze.
Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks created the original design, which was voted on by fans, approved by LEGO, and then improved upon by professional LEGO model designer Steen Sig Andersen.
It’s based on classic wooden marble mazes; the goal is to tilt the board with the two dials on the sides of the maze in order to navigate your marble from one end of the maze to the other without dropping the marble through one of the many treacherously placed holes.
In the LEGO maze, those holes are replaced by black depressions in the maze that trap your marble without dropping it out of sight. (Though I’m sure amateur builders are already designing their own maze layouts that incorporate actual holes just to up the challenge factor.)
[The medieval layout included in the instructions.]
Oh yes, there’s not just one layout. As you can see, the set includes all sorts of pieces with which to create numerous possible layouts from basic ones to advanced. (I’m currently working on one of my own design. Maybe it’ll pop up on Instagram soon!)
The adaptability of the maze layout is one of the highlights of this set, encouraging the same entrepreneurial building spirit that inspired the set in the first place.
And speaking of the set, the design is pretty impressive. It cleverly allows you to lock the tilting maze in place by using the storage box for the marbles as a stabilizer, and you can remove it just as easily. (Remove one piece — and the travel lock under the opposite corner, and you’re ready to play!)
Replicating the full range of motion cannot have been an easy task for either Allemann or Andersen, and that leads to the only negative aspect of the set. I was a little underwhelmed by the control offered by the two dials. Each tilts more toward one direction than the other, so you don’t have the full range of traditional marble mazes. (I suspect this could be remedied by a slightly shorter rod connecting each dial to the two frames allowing you to tilt the maze more in the opposite direction.)
That being said, it’s a minor quibble. On a perfectly flat surface, a steady hand will lead you to victory, if you’re patient enough.
[The build in progress…]
As a long-time fan and builder, I enjoyed both the simple and complex aspects of the building process, and I was surprised that they didn’t number each bag of pieces, as they’ve recently started to do with their higher-end, more complicated sets. That might put off a casual builder, but as someone who enjoys the additional challenge of digging through a pile of pieces looking for that one particular piece, I didn’t mind at all.
LEGO has really been pushing the boundaries of what you can accomplish with these classic interlocking bricks, and the LEGO Maze is one of the most inventive and impressive designs I’ve ever seen.
[The LEGO Maze is available from LEGO.com for $69.99.]
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