Back at New York Toy Fair, the LEGO Group unveiled the big new launch for 2019. LEGO Hidden Side takes the concepts that the company has been talking about for years, around fluid play, and puts them into practice. When the range launches in a few short weeks, an app will work in combination with the new models.
Having first introduced teased the theme during an interview at New York Toy Fair, Brick Fanatics sits down with Senior Product Lead Murray Andrews, this time at the LEGO Fan Media Days in Billund. Senior Model Designer Luis Gómez also shares his thoughts, providing insight into how the physical sets were designed.
What is it like designing with digital in mind?
Murray: That is a very good point because in the case of this project it was something completely new for LEGO. Everyone was working together with the people developing the game and the whole experience to come out with these attractive toys. It was a constant collaboration with the digital part because it needs to be seamless and fun for the kids.
Luis: What we are not trying to do is create another computer game, we always want to bring the kids back to the model, that is what LEGO is about. Often children will be operating the model with one hand so they can hold the phone, so we needed sometimes to solve the things in a different way. For example, if you are supposed to flip the back of the scooter in order to get a response. We just made sure it was using elements that move easily, we have tons of hinges, we use the hinge that has the least possible friction. It was finding solutions for making it easier.
How does the design and development process work between physical and digital?
Murray: It can be challenging in some senses, particularly as some of the digital partners we are working with are based on the other side of the world. But certainly from the core team I am from the digital side and Luis is from the physical side we all work together, we are in the same location in LEGO offices, it is really about having that communication right from the start.
We haven’t been in our silos at any point in this, we sit together, we talk about the theme, I give input on the physical side even though I am not a physical designer, Luis and his team give input into the digital side, and it is important that happens because it has enabled us to come up with this awesome combined experience.
Are the lead times on the sets and the app similar?
Murray: That is very different because from a digital side we don’t need to actually manufacture the bricks, so the physical models are locked down a long time in advance. For the digital side we can continue to develop all the way up to launch, in fact we are still making changes and iterations now to continue to improve it. It was certainly a new way of working for us but that is what we are trying to do at LEGO is explore these new play types and that is what makes Hidden Side so exciting.