(A report from my son and Lego maniac GeekTeen John.)
Last month saw the release of Hero Factory Recon, a subtheme of the popular “Design byME” service on the Lego website. Design byME is a way for kids and model-builders to design a set on their computer and be able to buy the parts and instructions directly from Lego. The new Hero Recon program is the same, but focuses on building new characters for the Hero Factory action figure line.
I tested out Hero Recon for a while, and it’s a fun site. You are able to create and share as many custom Heroes as you want with the option to buy any of them at any time. It’s easy to use, even for young kids. The skeleton of the Hero is already complete; only tools and armor have to be added. There are five stages of building a Hero, with each stage requiring you to put on the next part in order to continue. It’s a simple process and it’s fun to make dozens of Heroes to put in the gallery. For collectors, there’s also an exclusive silver and black chest piece (see my custom Hero) to make your action figure even more cool.
I have a couple of complaints about Hero Recon from a builder’s point of view. If you are looking to design a Hero from the ground up, the site will not allow you to alter the skeleton. However, Design byME has been updated with new parts from the latest Hero Factory sets, allowing builders to make a Hero Factory model there without the limitations you encounter going through the Hero Recon site. Another problem is that only parts from last winter’s wave of sets are currently available in Hero Recon. Hopefully, when new sets are released in the summer more will be added.
One of the big advantages of ordering your custom Hero through Hero Recon is that you can create a figure at a fixed price. The Hero Recon costs $12.99; depending on what parts you choose, building a similar figure through Design byME could run you much more. Also, when you order one of your custom creations through Hero Recon, the site lets you choose stats for your character, such as strength and intelligence. They’re included in the custom instruction printout that comes with your set.
Once I bought and paid for my custom figure online, getting it in the mail took a week or two. In person, the Hero Recon set I received was very impressive. The new building system for the Hero theme works very well, and is fun to use. Hero Recon parts are completely interchangeable with Hero Factory sets you find in stores. When it comes to designing your own character in the Hero Factory Universe, I think Hero Recon is better suited for kids. Serious builders will find more enjoyment using Design byME.