review: BrickStix – Zombies (1014)

1014-sleeve-frontStickers are nothing new to brick builders. It’s common practice for companies to provide a sheet of decals rather than directly print on set parts. They partly do it to give builders more options for their play. Simply removing the stickers (or not applying them in the first place) allows the parts to be used for other purposes. Mostly, though, it’s cheaper to print stickers than parts.

However, there are problems with stickers. If you’re a klutz like me, it’s torture to put them correctly into position. They tear when you try to adjust them. Forget about trying to remove wrinkles or creases from stickers. That goes double for trying to reapply stickers to new parts.

Enter (then nine year-old) Greyson MacLean and BrickStix. His brainchild was to make stickers for plastic building blocks that are not only removeable, but also are reuseable. The stickers have an adhesive similar to that found on Post-Its or sticky notes. It means that they’re tacky but won’t permanently stay affixed to an object unless that’s what is desired. They also come in a variety of themes, including the “Zombies” theme being reviewed today.

1014-both-sidesThe stickers come die-cut on a folded sheet. There are a mix of minifigure, property and environmental designs on each leaf. Some stickers (like the torso designs, the doors and windows, the “We’re Alive!” sign) seem to be really practical to builders trying create a terrifying zombie attack. The inclusion of other stickers is more questionable. Take the banjo, for example. What good is a banjo for battling an undead pandemic?

1014-stix-lego-comparedHere we have two structures that I quickly threw together for demonstration purposes. The one on the left uses BrickStix window and door stickers, while the one on the right employs traditional Lego door and window frames. As you can see, there are scaling issues with the BrickStix door and window. It would have been better if the stickers fit completely flush to the edges of the bricks.

1014-cell-doorOn the other hand, a BrickStix door doesn’t look half bad when used in conjunction with a Lego door frame (Hey, who left the window open…?).

1014-before-stixPerhaps the torso and face stickers will be of the most interest to builders. They allow you to take loose and old minifigure parts like these…

1014-after-stix… And transform them into a hardened, bat-swinging survivor of the zombie apocalypse! The face doesn’t look too bad. The stickers’ orange doesn’t quite match up with the orange of the torso.

1014-vest-stixWhile the torso stickers manage to adequately cover up the printing on standard Lego torsos, your mileage may vary when it comes to other brands.

1014-look-out-santaWhy, look everybody! It’s Santa Claus! What brings you to – Look out, Santa!

1014-lego-stix-zombies-3Oh, no! Father Christmas has changed into a zombie straight out of a music video! Mr. Thriller, here, shows one of the minor problems that some of these stickers possess. Sometimes the die cut is slightly out of alignment with the designs. No matter how many times you reposition the sticker, the front placket will never run down the center of the torso. The zombie faces have the look of minifigures that are “turning” – not quite human, but not entirely zombie. It’s okay, but it can’t help but pale in comparison to a Lego walker.

1014-last-stand-1Conclusion

One could argue that removable, reusable brick stickers are a product whose time is long overdue. While they’re nice to have, I must regretfully say that BrickStix are not yet the product that builders need. With a retail price of approximately USD $5, there’s just not enough value to justify the cost. As novel as they may be, they’re still only stickers (and still torture to apply). Structural stickers like the boarded-up door and windows can be useful, but many of the prop stickers are less practical. With enough ingenuity, builders can create their own propane tanks and fuel cans (or can of tomato sauce, I guess). Some tombstone stickers would have been really useful. Those zombies come from somewhere, right?

The face and torso stickers are appreciated, but only receiving four faces – two survivors, two zombies – simply isn’t enough. Aside from the mindless flesh-eating and near-invulnerability, the scariest thing about zombies is their sheer number. All good zombie stories are essentially underdog stories about the Average Joe overcoming (or even just surviving) unbeatable odds. Two-on-two isn’t scary. That’s a fair fight. If you’re going to print a set of zombie stickers, why wouldn’t you print an army’s worth of zombie faces?

Here’s the bottom line: If you have five bucks to spend on stickers, then you have five bucks to spend on building blocks. Building blocks are going to win out almost every single time in my book. It might be a different story if BrickStix had found a way to add extra value to the set (with simple building instructions for buyers to try, for instance). Only get BrickStix if you can find them at a deep, deep discount.

1014-last-stand-2

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