Just before Christmas, my son came home and asked for a game called “Roadblocks.” After some fruitless searching, down some baffling dead end routes, I finally worked out he was talking about Roblox. This won’t be the last time this duffer dad misunderstood some gaming terms his children were talking about, but I’m fairly sure it’s the first.
Roblox, if you haven’t heard of it before, is already played by 44 million people worldwide. It is a sandbox environment where users can create games and customize their characters, avatars, and frankly just about anything else they want. We installed Roblox on a few of our devices, and it has become an alternative to Minecraft for the family’s digital entertainment. Parents wanting to know more about Roblox, click here.
I have to be honest; I’m not completely sold on the microtransaction model it uses, but there is a huge amount of functionality within the Roblox universe that can be played for free. So far, my children have played with minimal complaining that they can’t win something because they haven’t spent enough money. I do like Roblox‘ sandbox approach and the fact it fires imaginations to build.
Perhaps a true mark of the success of a digital franchise is whether it can transfer into the physical market. These types of products have had limited success in our house. Angry Birds telepods were warmly received but barely played with. A Megablocks Angry Birds set wasn’t even warmly received. My boys love their Minecraft apparel but have barely used their Minecraft LEGO. What would they make of the Jazwares new Roblox toys?
I figured we were onto a winner here. Not only is Roblox the app of choice at the moment, my seven-year-old loves to play sprawling battles with LEGO Minifigures, Space Marines, and just about any other figure he can lay his hands on. The 6-pack of “Champions of Roblox” slotted right into his games. For a start, they have weapons! And to follow up, they have interchangeable parts. He’s had great fun putting together his own combinations.
Of lesser interest to him was the collectible figure. This comes sealed in a box, definitely a more interesting package than the typical foil bag. The boxes, if you have enough, can be assembled to form the word Roblox. A nice touch, but speaking as a parent, 40 to collect in Series 1 is too many. With 40, duplication is initially less likely, but trying to find the elusive last ones on the list will inevitably mean visiting eBay and facing the possibility of price gouging. Even if we did get all 40 without duplicates, at the current Amazon.com price of $12.80, that’s an eye-watering $512.
The collectible element of the Roblox toys is prohibitively expensive. Despite the check sheet that comes with them, I imagine they will mainly be purchased sparingly to flesh out the much more reasonably priced base sets.
The Roblox High School is a popular setting from the digital game, and the set comes with two characters: the “Cool High School Gal” and “Cool High School Dude.” I’m not quite sure what I make of those names, but the set comes with lockers and skateboards and is a good jumping off point for some imaginary play. Mostly, it seems, the High School being set upon by Ninjas!
As GeekMom Kelly mentions in her Roblox review, the packaging for these sets is a dream. Hard plastic, but easy to open, with no risk of cutting your fingers on either cutting implement nor jagged packaging. The figures in the High School set and collectible boxes are different to those in the Champions of Roblox set; their parts aren’t interchangeable. A missed opportunity, perhaps? (Note: This turned out not to be true. After writing this piece, I discovered that the High School Girl just had quite stiff limbs, and I hadn’t pulled them hard enough to make them come off. – There’s a sentence, I never thought I’d be writing. The upshot of this is that no opportunities have been missed. Everything is interchangeable!)
All the sets come with scratch codes for exclusive digital items that are playable within the game. It wasn’t entirely straightforward how to redeem the codes from just the box, but the Roblox help pages were very clear and easy to follow, and soon the boys were playing with their virtual items–new items of attire for their avatars.
There is always a trade-off with computer game based merchandise. It often needs to be rushed out in order to capture the wave of popularity. Roblox seems to be growing in popularity, so I would expect the toys to be around for a while. The available range appears to be well thought out and is of a decent quality. It has some meaning within the game context and enough functionality to be interesting for physical play. These Roblox toys are not going to end up in the trash, broken, or forgotten almost as soon as they have been opened.
Disclaimer: I was sent the Roblox figures mentioned in order to write this review. Roblox toys are available on Amazon.com and at major toy stores including Toys R Us.