This is the new Lego Fusion, three new sets designed to let you build Lego worlds inside your tablet or phone by using physical bricks in the real world. Build something, capture it, and it becomes a 3D object inside a virtual universe. And then you can play with it just like in a Lego Star Wars game. They are super-fun.

The first set is Town Master, which allows you to build a SimCity-like town. You can build homes, coffee shops, restaurants, and anything you'd like to build out your little town. Each of these sets comes with around 200 bricks and a custom "capture plate," which is the sensor-filled base for each of the structures that has Qualcomm Viewforia technology inside it.


The tech allows the app on your iPad or Android tablet to recognize your structure, so once you've built something, you can take a picture of it with your tablet, then it will be a permanent part of your virtual Lego town. Then you can destroy the physical one, build another house, and put the new construction in your app. That's how you build out your infinite virtual city one step at a time. It's very clever. I can imagine them releasing new sets with new bricks and special abilities that kids are going to want badly.

The other sets are the same ideas, rooted in different themes. For example with Fusion Battle Towers, you're building and defending Medieval battlements. Or with Fusion Create & Race, you're building and racing cars that you can enter into your virtual NASCAR track and race and such. Those three are out in August for $35. There's also Resort Builder, out in September for the same price. As you can imagine, this one lets you be your own hotel tycoon.

The sets were dreamed up by Lego's Fusion Research Lab, which studies just how kids like to play. They found that even though kiddos are whizzes on iPads and whatnot, they like to play things that have a physical element, too. Imagine that, even in 2014. But it makes sense! Who wants to take a bunch of Lego out to a restaurant, or on a plane? Most parents don't, which is why these virtual/physical sets are landing soon.

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