Whether or not you played with LEGOS growing up, (and what designer didn't) large scale LEGO constructions always capture the imagination of both children and adults. Early last week, LEGO opened its first NYC flagship retail store in the heart of Rockefeller Center, greeting customers and tourist passersby with the opportunity to help construct a 15-foot-tall model of a Big Apple near its entrance. The large scale model is just one of many NYC-themed constructions and vignettes designed and assembled by LEGO Master Builders exhibited throughout the store. This weekend we got a chance to take a closer look.
Upon entering, the first thing you notice is not the swooping LEGO constructed dragon that winds itself throughout the store, or even the larger than life LEGO brick lighting fixtures above, but a multi-colored wall of brightly lit containers each holding a specific style of LEGO piece for your consumption. The buffet style "Pick a Brick" station offers customers the chance to fill either a large or small plastic cup ($14.99 and $7.99, respectively) with as many LEGOS as they can fit and still close the lid. The bricks--many stock elements in just about every color and size--also include a variety of harder to find esoteric pieces (think tree branches, handles, ladders, and the like) making "Pick a Brick" an inspirational planning ground for any builder.
Complementing "Pick a Brick" is the nearby "Build a Mini" station, which consists of figural components that allow you to custom configure mini LEGO people to inhabit your world. With multiple combinations of facial expressions, clothing, hair styles, and headgear, the possibilities seem endless. Want to create a grumpy fireman wielding a shovel and pirate sword? They've got that.
Rounding out the hands-on shopping experience is of course every LEGO construction set imaginable. There are kits for everyone including jumbo Duplo blocks for toddlers, Technic and Mindstorms systems for young engineers, and for fanboys in every imaginable category kits of the popular thematic worlds of Star Wars, Bionicle, and the new Architecture series by LEGO artist Adam Reed Tucker.
We also couldn't help but notice some of the high tech approaches the store was taking to pique customer interest. LEGO video games were begging for attention at a series of computer kiosks while a few clunky mobile check-out devices seemed to be abandoned by store employees. There was one engaging station, however, that had us grabbing LEGO sets off the shelves to try. Digital Box, is an "augmented reality" kiosk that allows customers to hold up select LEGO City boxes to view on-screen animated versions of their contents. When it worked (employees said they're still working out the kinks) it was both surprising and delightful.
Check out the LEGO Store--and a quick demo of the aforementioned Digital Box kiosk--in our video of the new flagship.
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