TikTok has become the quickest way to make it big with a well-choreographed dance routine. The platform makes it easy to create and share fun videos, but as we’ve discovered with every social network to date, it’s not the safest place for kids. Lego wants its new Vidiyo experience to be a child-friendly alternative to TikTok—except instead of giving kids the ability to star in dance videos with their friends, Lego has made its minifigures the stars of the show.
Lego has remained a popular toy brand among kidsears for nearly 90 y, but a large part of its success has been finding ways to stay relevant. In 1999, the company released the first Star Wars-themed sets, and after, made the very profitable decision to create sets based on popular licenses like Harry Potter and Marvel Comics. Lego has also successfully embraced video games, and in more recent years has acknowledged that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are a big part of a modern kid’s childhood with Lego sets that bridge the physical and digital worlds of play. Those sets include the company’s Hidden Side line and, more recently, its collaboration with Nintendo on Lego Super Mario.
But unlike Lego Super Mario, in which the goal is to use physical Lego bricks to create a playable Super Mario Bros. video game level in real life, Lego Vidiyo focuses more on the digital side of play, using augmented reality to bring a collection of new Lego minifigures and accessories into an app that simplifies the music video-making process.
When the line officially launches on March 1, the physical side of Lego Vidiyo will include six $20 BeatBoxes, which are literal small plastic boxes you can build to store and display your collection. The boxes come with a Lego minifigure representing a specific genre of music, a special “scanning stage” which a smartphone or tablet camera uses to bring these toys into the app, and 16 themed tiles Lego calls BeatBits that give access to special effects, dance moves, and filters.
The BeatBits are mostly randomly distributed in the BeatBoxes sets (each one contains two that specifically match the musical genre) and Lego is promising 130 will be available throughout the first year. You can choose which of the BeatBoxes to buy to match your musical preferences or style, and the Vidiyo line also includes 12 additional Bandmates minifigures that can only be collected through $5 blind bags.
Except that while the Lego Minifigure collections and the collectible Lego Super Mario baddies come in literal plastic bags, which allows collectors to squeeze and feel the parts to discern which character is secretly inside, the random Vidiyo Bandmates come in small boxes, so finding all 12 could get expensive. The thrill of opening blind-bags doesn’t outweigh the disappointment of ending up with five of the same minifigure, and I would love to see Lego abandon this approach altogether.
There are two sides to the Vidiyo app: a social media-like feed featuring short music videos other creators have filmed and shared, and the actual music video creation, which starts with choosing a song. Lego made a big deal about its partnership with the Universal Music Group for the Vidiyo experience, but at launch there will only be about 30 tracks to choose from, including more recent hits from Taylor Swift and The Weeknd and classic jams like MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”
It’s an underwhelming selection, but Lego has promised continuous updates to the app, so hopefully the music library will be greatly expanded in the coming months.
Once you’ve selected a track, the Vidiyo app then has you scan in your selected Bandmate and at least three of the BeatBit tiles using a small stage that comes with the BeatBoxes. It’s an easy enough process, but I did find that when there wasn’t enough light, the app would occasionally not be able to identify all of the BeatBit tiles I’d chosen—something that could potentially frustrate a child who hasn’t experienced augmented reality tech.
Vidiyo is like being in the control room during a live on-stage performance of a song. The scanned minifigures, including additional performers, appear in the real world setting a device’s camera sees using augmented reality, and while their movements and dance moves are synced to the music—which is part of the reason the current track selection is so limited—and additional dance moves, video filters, and special effects, like falling balloons, pyrotechnics, costume changes, can be triggered by pressing on the BeatBits tile on either side of the screen.
It’s more about the performance than anything, because there are no editing capabilities in the Lego Vidiyo app at all, and Lego has no plans to add them. If you don’t like the music video you just created after watching it, there’s nothing you can do to change it except take it from the top.
The simplicity of Lego Vidiyo makes it an experience squarely aimed at kids—Lego suggests 7- to 10-year-olds are the ideal users—and older fans of the building toy won’t find much novelty or replay value after a couple of music video-making sessions. But if you have kids at home who seem to gravitate toward apps like TikTok despite your attempts to steer them away, Lego Vidiyo could be a safe alternative. Not only is the app full of illustrated warnings designed to keep kids out of harm while shooting videos, Lego also fully moderates all the music clips and content shared to the Vidiyo social feed to ensure they’re all safe for children and are also free of any identifying details or information that could compromise a child’s privacy.
I can’t see myself returning to the Vidiyo app on a frequent basis or trying to hunt down every last minifigure in the new collection, but there’s a 5-year-old in my home who has so far devoted several hours (yes, I know, but the last year has all but rewritten the screentime rules in our home) working to become the next Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry. Vidiyo probably won’t be an AFOL’s (adult fan of Lego) next obsession, but it could potentially be a great distraction to keep little ones away from your $800 Millennium Falcon.