One of my more popular articles on this blog was this one on Legos. My kid still is nuts for Ninjago (and has inspired a little work idea that colleagues have chuckled at but been motivated by (feel free to comment readers that I work with :))) and yet, around Christmas, I started hearing of “Chima” and thought “oh shit, did they ALREADY start something else those guys at Lego?”. Actually, yes, they did. Legends of Chima already has about a dozen or so playsets and a TV show on Comedy Central (just like Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu) with three episodes as of today. I watched the first two with my sone but personally find the story a bit wanting on several counts. Perhaps, I was spoiled by the richness (bear with me now) of the legends surrounding the origins of Kai, Cole, Jay, Zane, Sensei Wu, and Nya as well as the many themes of family, friendship, fidelity, etc that were part and parcel to Ninjago. Here in Chima, it is lions vs. alligators (what is it with bad raps on gators? Its like some kind of racism in the animal kingdom or something – need a bad guy, go see a gator. Remember Peter Pan and The Rescuers? Argh) and the number of characters with a minimum of development is limited to Cragger (the bad gator) and his best (ex) friend Laval (the lion). There is a whole thing around some magic balls, or “chima” that have some special power “chi” but that obession with this power can turn you into a psycho (like the Ring in the Tolkein stories). Worse, in the second episode there is this whole Aslan/Lion King episode where the (poorly named) Lion Legend Beast comes out of nowhere to save the day (naturally saving Laval’s life and carrying him on his back). OK, so it is written for kids and my kid loved it, but I could actually watch Ninjago mostly without flinching, but Chima didn’t do it for me. The crazy thing is that Ninjago lasted barely two years and is nearly forgotten already. The sets already look pretty dated and my kid has lost complete interest in re-watching Ninjago episodes – only Chima from now until the next thing comes along. These Lego guys have gotten REALLY good at marketing to kids and it is SCARY.
The toy sets are pretty cool though. My kid got three of them for his 6th birthday earlier this month. They feature one of the principal characters and a cool 1-wheel motorcycle thing called a Speedorz (a change from the variations on tops in Ninjago and BeyBlades). There is then some kind of obstacle course for the characters – in the case shown here there is a “ring of fire” but we also have a sort of pile of balls to knock over and a cup of “chi” to spill as well. There is also a set of cards for a game which I have a real hard time understanding as being a 40-something, I missed completely the whole Pokemon generation and so the myriad of symbols just seem so incomprehensible. I mean I’ll make an effort…
Speaking of Pokemon, I learned today – much to my dismay – that you need 60 cards as a minimum to play Pokemon. Did you know that? My kid has been collecting these cards for over 18 months and only has like 53. And there is pathetic dad (me) saying “wow, what a killer collection – some even say “Energy” on ’em!” and then having my bubble burst by the 8-year old son of a friend who said that we barely had enough cards to begin to play. Crestfallen I was. Bloody hell. It was earth-shattering.
OK, so back to Chima. This time around, it seems that Lego wanted to play off the various animal kingdom rivalries to feed our kid’s passions and greed and it seems to be working. I just wonder where the hell my kid heard about this first. The playsets were not available until mid-January I believe and the show only started in early February and yet I am almost positive that I heard my kid mention it sometime around or just after Christmas. How does that work? If only messages like “clean your room” or “don’t eat with your fingers” spread like so much wildfire and had as profound an impact on their little spongelike psyches.
- 3 Lego Chima Games for 2013 (wired.com)
- ‘LEGO Legends of Chima’ (ALL) Titles Announced (worthplaying.com)
- Lego Launches Lego Legends of Chima (shoppingblog.com)