Does making snappy construction blocks lo-fi give them an advantage? The hecka successful Pixio Magnetic Blocks over on Kickstarter think an easier connection might make blocky creativity even better.
The blocks' design hinges on cubes of ABS plastic, each face fitted with four neodymium magnets (N52), arranged to make assembly as easy as putting a magnet on your fridge.
At first glance, the Pixio project seems too pared down to offer obvious benefit over familiar block brands, but like pixel art itself, there are unexpected charms to the clunky shapes. The range of colors and small size (8mm dia.) make them good for figurative and artistic work where other blocks falter.
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The team is also putting together a cool app for design recipes and how-tos, with exploded diagrams that are incredibly satisfying to look at even without fun haptic toys in hand.
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Not into nostalgic art for its own sake? Same here, so I got a bit more interested when they spelled out all the other uses that set a magnetic set apart. Use as magnets is a visual update on fridge poetry or a 3D way to personalize office equipment. The possibilities for animation and other minimal character design are open.
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The kid appeal is also real. While creative games like Minecraft support spacial thinking in players of all ages, getting time for hands-on tinkering is crucial for young brains. These might increase the choking hazard, but you shouldn't leave your baby near your block bin now either.
Even if you have few block based interests, Pixio's success is a nice reminder that stripping out functionality is sometimes good—or just a good way to reconsider what your product really does.