Toys! It’s time to look back on our childhood and then piss and moan about how toys are SO much cooler now than they were when we were kids. LEGO is going all out for its young horror fans this year with its Monster Fighters theme. The sets, which feature vampires, zombies, werewolves and more, kicked off this summer and will continue to grow just in time for Halloween. Yeah, back in my day LEGOs were nothing more than bricks of primary colors, now they are vampire castles and ghost trains!
Since the summer, nine Monster Fighters sets have been released, from a Vampyre Hearse and Ghost Train to the Vampyre Castle and the newly released Haunted House, which has its own spooky butler and zombie chef.
And it doesn’t stop at LEGO bricks alone. The free LEGO Monster Fighters Race app lets children defeat the evil Lord Vampyre with their favorite Monster Fighter on an iPad or iPhone. And last week in New Orleans, LEGO fans of all ages came out for an all-night build of a 10-foot model of Lord Vampyre near Jackson Square. A 10-foot LEGO vampire!
Vampires have been popular with adults and teens for a while now, and LEGO knew that the addiction would spread to the little monsters as well, according to Matthew Ashton, a LEGO vice president of design.
“Younger kids look up to older kids and want to be part of what they are engaging in,” he says. “We have dabbled with a few monster-based products in the past, but we really wanted to dedicate a whole line to this theme so kids could play out multiple adventures with a deeper story.”
Instead of just going with classic monsters and nothing more, Ashton and his team added something extra to the line to give it more depth and a greater purpose for battles between the monsters and the hunters. Lord Vampyre hatches the evil plot to create a total eclipse and plunge the world into darkness so he and his fellow monsters can rule the world. Ashton’s team also added in moonstones, mystical crystals that can be collected by Lord Vampyre but also had glow-in-the-dark components for extra kiddie fun.
The easy part was the monsters, according to Ashton, the monster hunters were a challenge.
LEGO tested an assortment of different ideas, like teens armed with makeshift weaponry and a uniformed monster “pest control agency” but the youngins didn’t care much for them.
“What we needed was a team of heroes that looked like they had been fighting monsters for years — a rag-tag team of distinct individuals whom you could associate unique monster-fighting skills with,” Ashton says.
So an older team of bowler-hatted leader Dr. Rodney Rathbone, rebel biker Frank Rock, Scottish lumberjack Jack McHammer, weapons expert Ann Lee and hunter Major Quinton Steele was created and given a few battle wounds.
“We went so far as to give them some replacement bionic body parts,” Ashton says. “This allowed the kids to imagine that these characters were stronger both physically, with their specially made mechanical limbs, and emotionally, giving the team that extra determination they’d need to defeat the monsters and save the world.”
The wide range of characters on both sides gave the LEGO guys a chance to branch out and create extra goodies for the swamp creature and wings for the vampire bats, as well as some fun items for Ann Lee, the Zombie Bride and a female vampire.
Ashton added that while not all horror is for kids, being scared can be really fun if done right.
“An image of a werewolf or a vampire in a kid’s head could potentially be quite terrifying,” he adds, “but once it has been squeezed through the tongue-in-cheek LEGO filter and lovingly applied to a blocky little figure with a trapezoidal torso, and given some oversized comedy fangs and claws, suddenly something scary becomes something fun.”
I agree, and I wish I had these toys when I was little.
For more info on the Monster Hunters line, check out their official website.
What do you think of LEGO’s horror themed sets?