Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Theory Crafting: Blizzard Blocks

As everyone knows, Mega Bloks was awarded the Blizzard World of Warcraft license. It came, it went...it fizzled out? The 2014 toy fairs have come and gone with no indication of new World of Warcraft Mega Bloks sets...perhaps in the coming Christmas season? Regardless of any forthcoming sets or not, Lego fans and many Blizzard fans, wanted Lego to have this license. Was Lego even interested in it? Is World of Warcraft kid-friendly enough for Lego? Did one party or the other bulk at the cost? Was accurate detailing a defining factor?

Lots of questions and no one is talking. I've tried to research this topic several times over the past few months and I just can't find any discussion at all. The only thing I can find are release notes from the first and second wave launches and some old discussion on the World of Warcraft forums...largely lamenting that Lego did not get the license.

So I have a theory...or two.

I think Lego wanted this license bad enough that they produced prototype molds. When the deal fell through, they reused the molds in the 2013/2014 line up.

The Lego Mixels have new tiny ball joints. Those ball joints turned up in a Chima mini line called Legend Beasts, which include minifigs...mounted on the small, highly posable beasts. A bird, an alligator, a gorilla, and a couple of felines, all offer themselves up as mounts for the minifigs. And as anyone in the know is aware, World of Warcraft is full of mounts for their characters to ride.

It is interesting to note that the ball joints that make these tiny mounts possible likely didn't exists until around the same time that Blizzard decided to shop around for a building block representation of their game elements. It wouldn't be the first time that Lego used something much later than the prototype was first leaked. I remember seeing a transparent skeletal horse a long time ago, then a few years later, I saw it in Lego sets with proper coloring. It takes time for a part or set to go from conception to shelf.

So, what if Lego had developed the ball joints for a World of Warcraft line, then needed to find something else to do with them? Another question might be, which came first, the Mixel or the ball joint? Perhaps the Mixel was just the result of a brainstorm session that Lego designers attended to figure out what to do with the molds from a failed product pitch to Blizzard?

When I look at the Lego Chima Legends Beasts, I see World of Warcraft mounts.

Likewise, when I see the Hero Factory Invasion From Below monster heads, I see World of Warcraft dragon heads. I suspect that with a little more investigation, we might find more recent molds that could have fit nicely into a World of Warcraft line.

But, what's done is done. If Mega Bloks is doing well, they will continue with the line for a few more years, if they failed, then Lego and Blizzard both would translate the failure to mean that there simply is not currently a market for Blizzard Bricks.

I'm happy with Mixels and Chima Legend mounts. But honestly, what could have been...might have been really awesome.

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