LEGO Super Mario Starter Set

When I was a kid back in the early 80s, I loved going to arcades.  But I didn’t always have easy access to them or the games.  I might be able to see or play a game at a gas station or in front of a grocery store, but going to an actual arcade was a rare treat.  So sometimes when I was at home, I’d play ‘pretend’ arcade games.  One time I got a bunch of my dad’s dot matrix printer paper and spread it out from the front door to the back door.  On one side of the paper I drew a Xevious map, and on the other side I drew a Zaxxon map.  Then I got out my toy spaceships and played ‘pretend’ Xevious and Zaxxon with them.  Of course I got in a little bit of trouble for using so much of my dad’s printer paper!  Another time I cut out a paper chef’s hat and pepper shaker and played ‘pretend’ Burgertime around the house!  And I think that aspect of pretend play is the main inspiration for the LEGO Super Mario sets.  A couple of years ago, LEGO and Nintendo teamed up to make these, and there are tons of sets and expansions for them.  I got the LEGO Super Mario Starter Set for Christmas and finally got around to putting it together with my brother Jeff, so let’s take a look at it!

But before we get started, we have to take a look at the box.  I swear whoever designed this box must’ve been on medication.  Sure makes it hard to wrap as a present.

And here’s the back of the box.

The main draw of the starter set is the little LEGO man Mario that comes with it.  It requires two AAA batteries and when you turn it on, an LED screen shows Mario’s eyes and mouth.  On the bottom is a scanner and when you put Mario over certain barcodes, he’ll make a certain sound effect and sometimes display something on his chest area.  It’s pretty neat.  You can even shake Mario and he’ll make jumping sounds and even get dizzy if you shake him too much!  And when you turn him off, he’ll close his eyes and say, “See you later!”

And here’s what LEGO Mario looks like when he’s turned off, in case you need some nightmare fuel.

One of the complaints I have with this set is that while it does have a print manual for building Mario, you have to download an app to get the rest of the instructions.  And the app is like, more than a GB of data, too!  I imagine this is par for the course for LEGO fans, and it does have good animated instructions and all.  But I figured one of the purposes of this set was to give kids the fun of Mario without having to stare at a screen.  And some parents may be uncomfortable with their kids messing with their cell phone.  It just would’ve been nice to have printed instructions.  Oh yeah, and you have to press a Bluetooth button on Mario to update him as well, which I think lets him have new sound effects for new sets and such.

Anyway, the starter set has all sorts of other Mario related items to build, and I think the point is to connect them all with the included long flat LEGO pieces so you can make your own pretend ‘levels’ for LEGO Mario to tackle.  So let’s take a look at what you can build!

Here is a pipe, a Goomba, and a flagpole.  I think you start the level with the pipe.  When you put Mario on it, he’ll make the pipe entering sound and a bit of the Mario theme song.  A timer appears on his chest, and I think you’re supposed to try and collect as many coins in the time limit.  When you put Mario over the Goomba he’ll make a stomping sound, and you finish the level by scanning the flagpole and Mario will show you how many coins you got.

This one’s neat.  You can make Mario stomp a plank and flip over a fortress and Bowser Jr. on top.  Bowser Jr. has a barcode on his shell and you can put Mario over it to make more stomping sounds.

Next is some ‘lava’ Mario can jump over.  I wish they had a barcode on it so you can make Mario burn his butt!  Next is a cloud.  Put Mario on that to make him do flying sound effects.  There is also a question block you can put Mario on to get coins.  Do it enough times to get an invincibility star to appear on his chest and they play the music from that.  Next is a rotating platform.  Put Mario on it to play some of the castle music.

You know how in some levels Mario has to hop around on treetops?  Well here’s some of those plus an extra fortress.

And here’s a whole ‘level’ I made with all the parts.

And that’s the LEGO Super Mario Starter Set!  It was pretty easy to build, and would be good for beginner LEGO builders, too.  There are TONS of expansion sets, too, like Bowser’s castle and such.  I really wanted to get the Luigi’s Mansion sets, but in order to use those, you have to get the Luigi starter set, which is like 40 bucks, and then get one of the other sets, which run from 25 to 80 bucks.  So maybe I’ll ask for that for my birthday or Christmas.  Where were these kinds of toys when I was a kid?  I’d totally play with these if I were a kid, as well as the Hot Wheels Mario Kart sets.  Those are so cool, too, and I’d get them as well.  But the adult in me keeps me from that.  Anyway, let me know what you think of LEGO Mario, and tell me which video games would make good LEGO sets (I’d go for a LEGO Mega Man, Kirby, or Animal Crossing sets).

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