So, LEGO just showed off the Nintendo Entertainment System™ and it’s pretty much perfect.
It’s everything you wanted in a LEGO set that replicates vintage consoles and more. Jonathan Bennink, Lead Designer for LEGO Group, and his team, went all out with this set. Not only do you get the console, you get a controller, you get a Super Mario Brothers cartridge, you get a TV with a rotating SMB game playing on it. And if you have the Super Mario set, you can connect that to work with sound effects.
If you watch the video, they do a great job on showing you how the mechanics of this set works. It replicates the entirety of the system (oddly enough the system doesn’t have wires that connect to the tv), from connecting the controller to inserting the cartridge and manually playing the game, this is more than just a collectors piece, it’s an experience.
Not going to lie, this set is way out of my price range, but much like the LEGO Voltron set, I’m amazed on the design and engineering these designers came up with. From the extreme usage of plate pieces, to how the set moves and interacts with other sets, LEGO designed a piece that appeals to collectors and nostalgia, but opens up a door for a parent and child to connect with.
This goes into a trend that has been hitting the design and marketing world. Nostalgia. I think Jessica Helfand, founding editor of Design Observer said it best… “Nostalgia is fuzzy and Utopian, privileging an imagined past over a real one. And indeed, nostalgia can be kitsch — playing on the collective recollections of a generation and teasing the psyche through the occasional retro replay – “. Nostalgia is triggered by your olfactory senses, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. The LEGO NES hits all of that… minus the smell, but plastic is plastic right?
Nostalgia design works for this because it’s two companies with iconic brands and merchandise. Lego sets and vintage consoles. Someone in their mid-to-late 30s probably played with Lego and a NES at the same time. Conversely, if a company like Apple released a mini Pippin, I don’t think that nostalgia psychology would hit as hard. It’s the reason why people are going crazy over the new Bronco, or why Nokia is releasing vintage inspired phones and why Vaporwave, a video we did a little while back, became such a hit. My generation is desiring those old days, those days meaning the early 80s to mid-90s, when marketing was at an all time high. And has stuck with us throughout all those years. Almost like a sleeper agent, waiting to get triggered by the next old-new thing.
Who is this for?
While LEGO has created other adult sets, they’re never exclusively marketed toward adults. Like their figures, their marketing is pretty ambiguous regarding whom they’re trying to sell to. One of my favorite sets, Women of NASA was pushed for a younger crowd, but a lot of older people picked that up as well. So, this is actually a great set to bond with your child over. Especially now, when people are with their children most every day. This is a great way to do something new, talk about the past and maybe dust off that old NES (if you still have it). Granted, with the unemployment rate as high as it is, this isn’t a luxury most of us can afford. But if you can, you should definitely pick this set up.
Not a new idea
Now that’s not to say this hasn’t been created before, Brandon Jones on his YouTube channel made a TV about a year ago that did the exact same thing. Only his was powered. Admittedly, not as refined as LEGO’s own set, it’s almost a blueprint of what LEGO used to create their own.
Chrismcveigh.com also has instructions to create miniature sets, which includes the NES and TV. Almost Gashapon-style pieces, these are great to build your own multiple mini sets.
Finally, a YouTuber by the name of SykoYoda created a very similar styled NES controller.
So, the LEGO Nintendo Entertainment System™ for over $200 bucks, will I buy one? I would like to, but as was the case with the NES Classic and all those micro consoles, I don’t need it. Plus, it’s way over my budget to purchase something just because of those nostalgia vibes. Is it a great design? Of course! Is it devious marketing? I’d say it’s strategic. … must …. put… the…. wallet…. away! If you wanted to pick one up and you’re financially stable enough to do so, I say get it ASAP! Lego sets usually never go on sale, never go down in value and can triple in value in a manner of weeks.