The other day I stopped into my local GameStop to see if they had any of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive Funko Pop!s available. What I discovered when I walked in, however, was much more exciting. Recently, Mega Construx released a line of Pokémon-themed building block sets. Being the Pokémon fan that I am I was at first embarrassed that this line had completely flown under my radar when it was announced back in February, but at least stumbling on them the way I did was validating.
There were about twelve sets in total, roughly six larger boxed sets and six little minifigs sort of that come in a Pokéball. I bought a little Eevee Pokéball on the spot. I figured I’d get one of the small ones to dip my toe in a bit, see how I like them. When I got home, it took me about ten minutes to put together (which really only took that long because I kept dropping all the pieces.) Once the figure was complete, I was hooked. At first it looked a little janky with the thick little legs and awkward tuft of fur on its chest but eventually all that became part of its charm.
A couple of days later I went back to the store and pored over which of the larger sets to buy. What I like most about the line is there are a few different themes; besides the smaller figures, a couple of the larger Pokémon are represented, like Charizard and Gyarados. The line also includes the starter mid-evolutions, Charmeleon, Wartortle and Ivysaur as their own stand-alone sets. Each of the starters, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur, along with Pikachu are paired off for battle scene building sets.
After much, much deliberation, I decided to go with Charizard. I also picked up Abra and Magikarp, a couple of my favorites, from the line of smaller sets so I can display next to little Eevee.
Again, the little ones were quick to assemble; total time for both of those was about fifteen minutes. Charizard, on the other hand, took roughly an hour to build. The build instructions were slightly confusing as the way they’re drawn isn’t as clear as what you’d get from a LEGO manual. I managed, though, and I’m really proud of myself.
I’m also really proud of this Charizard, which turned out to be a nice display piece. A lot of the articulation is really good, especially around the head, legs and tail. I would have liked if there was a bit more articulation, like maybe if the arms moved a little better and get some moveable fingers and jaw in there but I also realize that those features would impact the price, which may turn off a few potential fans.
As far as quality, it’s easy to tell why LEGO is the cream of the crop. That’s not to say Mega Construx are bad; in fact, they’re intricately designed and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon they’re meant to replicate. However, the building aspect of the set was difficult at times. I found myself struggling to click blocks in place, having to rely on using my teeth to get the amount of pressure that I needed. This could have been due to some microscopic defect in the stud that made it just too big to fit. In fairness, though, it could have just been small parts and sweaty hands (it was a really hot day, you guys.)
If you do manage to get them clicked into place and realize you put the piece in the wrong spot, good luck getting it apart. Unlike LEGO, Construx don’t come with a handy separating tool so, once again, I lucked out that I had a mouthful of teeth to do the job. In fairness, though, I don’t fault Construx for this. It took LEGO years to realize a tool like this was a necessity and since they likely have a patent on it, Construx will need to design their own.
As I mentioned earlier, in addition to the larger sets, the series offers a few single figures, such as Pokémon’s mascot, Pikachu, and a few other fan favorites, like Eevee, Magikarp, and…Zubat. What I like most about these are the packaging; they all come in a plastic Pokéball that can be used as a display base once building is complete. And at around $7 each, they’re a pretty good deal. Considering LEGO minifigure blind bags can retail for right around $5 and only have about 5 pieces each and a substandard display, these Pokémon characters are basically a steal.
Even the larger sets are a good value. At this time, the biggest set was Gyarados, with a total of 352 pieces retailing for $30. Compared to some of LEGO’s franchised sets, that’s an amazing deal. The LEGO Batman Movie Riddler Riddle Racer playset has 254 pieces and is regularly priced at $35 (though was on sale for $24 at the time of this writing, for whatever that’s worth).
Then again, you get what you pay for. With LEGO being the Cadillac of building blocks, the Pokémon Mega Construx don’t size up to quite that level. Sure, the models are well done and really capture the likenesses of the Pokémon, but the builds aren’t as sophisticated as what one would expect from LEGO.
It was a great choice for Mega Construx to jump into the Pokémon arena, especially given the mainstream popularity of Pokémon GO. Building sets like these now appeal to a wider audience since they are familiar with the characters. Even though they aren’t perfect, they are fantastically modelled and offer great playability.
Bottom line: I want more. Not just “I want to buy more sets,” which is definitely true. The low price point and great showcaseability really make these sets a good value despite their shortcomings. When I say I want “more,” I mean more sets. I want this line to do well so that Mega releases additional sets, like maybe the Generation 1 legendaries, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and Mewtwo. Even a tiny little Mew hovering over a Pokéball would be sweet.
Also, I want to see some from the later generations of games: Tyranitar, Hoot Hoot, Lucario. There are so many great Pokémon that would make amazing display pieces that this could go on forever…just like the games!
Who is to blame for Pokemon Go?
Perhaps you are one of the legion of fans gobbling up pokemon in the new mobile phenomenon from Niantic. I certainly have been addicted to it these last few months. Are you frustrated with the constant server issues, lack of information on updates, and occasional broken features? Me too!
Who do we blame for this? We could blame Niantic for not anticipating the huge success this game turned out to be. We could blame Nintendo for not helping to establish a temporary community team of contractors since one does not currently exist at all at Niantic. We could even blame ourselves for our avaricious need to be spoon fed information constantly instead of letting a company function on making its product. However, the person we won’t be blaming is the Niantic Marketing Manager currently on maternity leave.
Why is this? Because I would like to believe we are not
assholes misinformed individuals like this individual “journalist” at i4u.com who published this article late last month blaming Yennie Solheim Fuller for daring to have a life outside of her job. Because to quote i4u News:
“Why is Niantic basically silent throughout the turmoil of viral growth that cause all kinds of issues?
The person who is responsible for PR and Marketing at Niantic gave birth two days after the launch of Pokemon Go. Yennie Solheim Fuller is on maternity leave.”
There are so many flaws in this article it would take a book length response to list them, but here are a few.
- a Marketing Manager is not a Community Manager
- it is virtually impossible to plan life events around a launch
- it takes a team of people to handle a launch this big for Community, not one person.
- talking to players is not her job.
I’ll let you in on a secret of the gaming industry. Things rarely go on schedule. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to plan vacations, important events and personal time around a phase or launch date to zero success. Even if Ms. Fuller scheduled her baby’s conception down to the second to have ample time for launch, it would be unlikely to happen exactly on schedule. Even if this was an unexpected pregnancy, the company had 9 nine months to consider adding to their marketing team. It would be entirely her business to decide when to enlarge her family.
HOWEVER, Let’s take a second here and think. Their marketing was spot on since we all know about the game and are playing it. In fact, their marketing was so excellent that they garnered an audience far more than they expected – enough to surpass Facebook and Snapchat users as of this month. Great job marketing team! This is the result that companies dream of. Global coverage, eager players, widespread discussion.
This brings me to another important point – a Marketing Manager is NOT a Community Manager.
“A Marketing Manager is a person within a company who supervises and helps create the various advertising or merchandising sales campaigns the business uses to sell itself and its products. A Marketing Manager can be assigned to a single product, a product line, a brand, or the entire company.” (from payscale.com)
According to this definition, she created a buzz for the game, got the word out, supplied interesting journalists and media kits to cover it, all while preparing for the birth of her child and handing things like a boss. She excels at this.
Ask i4u.com why one should have an Accountant AND a Banker, they both work with money right? Marketing and Community is the same way, just with people.
Now dolls, I understand the disgruntlement with the silence from Niantic to your feedback and questions. For this type of help you need a Community Manager. Let me drop some knowledge on you.
“A Community Manager is responsible for advocating the brand on social networks. They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate the brand.”
Wouldn’t one of those be helpful?
So who do we blame for the widespread craze of Pokemon go spreading to all corners of the world? Yennie Solheim Fuller. Now let’s wish her a well-deserved rest.
And let’s hope that Niantic is as wise when they select a Community Manager and team to handle the rest.
Feel free to tell Luigi Lugmayr your feelings on his opinion about pregnant women and their responsibilities to the masses, even though it seems that he values his privacy enough not to have a twitter account. Sad that he doesn’t want to communicate with his readers. Maybe he needs a “Marketing Manager.”