Welcome to my inaugural review for Building Up to Something, a new blog created for the purpose of examining some of the lesser-known and more offbeat plastic building block products. I thought I would begin with a look at a new product that was officially released in the United States this past week: Spin Master Sick Bricks.
Sick Bricks is Spin Master’s second attempt to penetrate the building block market after the apparently disappointing performance of their Ionix building system. The “sick” in Sick Bricks does not refer to “ailing.” Sadly, it seems as though “sick” is more contemporary in its usage, as in, “That double kickflip frontside 1080 was totally sick, bro.”
Taking its cue from Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Sick Bricks figures can be utilized to play a downloadable video game for iOS and Android devices. However, Sick Bricks utilizes optical recognition via the player’s tablet or smartphone camera to “beam” characters into the game rather than via NFC. We’ll only be focusing on the toys for the sake of this review. Character sets come in a variety of configurations. The most basic set is the Single Character Pack.
In an apparent push against the current trend of so-called “blind bags,” there’s a small window to allow buyers to see what figure they’re purchasing.
Each bag contains one figure, a 2×4 brick with the character’s faction printed on its side, and a checklist of available characters. As you may be able to read in the photograph, this particular character’s name is “Hiro Thunderbutt.” Yes, you read that right.
Here is Hiro in all his squat pudginess. I don’t mind the “chibi” caricature proportions of the figure. However, the paint application is a little bit lackluster. I was hoping the figures would have a glossier finish. I think that’s supposed to be a half-eaten turkey drumstick that Hiro is “holding.” Because he’s a fat sumo wrestler. Get it? Huh? Get it?
With the figure disassembled, we can see that the head and torso really are two sculpted 2×2 bricks, and the hairpiece is a sculpted 2×2 tile. Being constrained by the dimensions of a 2×2 brick unfortunately diminishes the figure’s details. The figure simply doesn’t “pop.” It just reads a little flat.
According to the official Sick Bricks website, these four characters comprise the Ninjas class (even though technically only one of the characters is an actual ninja). While three of the characters are rather generic, the Bruce Lee parody is a good example of the cornball “Mad Magazine”-style of humor in the line. It’s not necessarily a negative– the mini-Bruce is the main reason why I bought the 5-character pack.
As you might expect, parts are interchangeable between characters. In fact, combining characters is encouraged by the video game. You can also create completely new characters. I shall name this one… Belushi.
These characters belong to the Space class. Redzone Ranger is supposed to be a Halo-inspired character, I think. According to the official website, the character is also female. I’m not entirely sure why the alien has a lolipop for an accessory. Note how the manner in which the accessories are attached to Sick Bricks figures renders Redzone Ranger’s pistol utterly useless.
Speaking of accessories, it may be worth noting that Sick Bricks accessories are compatible with Lego minifigures. The pistol doesn’t look too bad in the hands of this ancient astronaut.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the other accessories. In addition, Lego accessories do not seem to work with Sick Bricks figures.
Spin Master takes a small stutter-step back from Ionix with Sick Bricks. The parody characters are mildly amusing, but the quality of the actual product leaves much to be desired. The paint application to the figures is somewhat slipshod, and the plastic itself feels a bit rough to the touch. The pieces lack the gloss that characterizes the major building block brands. The sculpting of features on the figures lack enough depth to make them really stand out. The modular nature of the system does allow for some degree of customization, but it’s just not enough to earn a full recommendation.
Of course, I’m coming at all of this from the point-of-view that it’s a bona fide toy line and not a line of video game accessories. There’s a highly unappealing, primitive aesthetic to the sets that actually contain more than one or two bricks. Just take a look at this set:
The crudeness of the designs might be intentional, most likely to evoke shades of Minecraft. It doesn’t do much to help me shake the feeling that the toys are almost an afterthought to the video game. Without the video game, what are you ultimately paying close to USD$3 for when you buy a single pack? Three bricks, plus an accessory of limited use. I would be so much more charitable if these toys came out of a dispenser at the supermarket. As it stands, I can’t say these Sick Bricks are worth the full price. Pick one up for the novelty if you must, but wait for a sale. Possibly clearance.