It has been a long journey, but there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Almost 4 years ago I submitted my Labyrinth Marble Maze project to the LEGO Ideas website, with vague aspirations that some day it might be turned into an official LEGO product. Well, that day has finally come, or at least will be coming soon. On April 1st, LEGO set number 21305, Maze, will be available for purchase.
Even better than that, at least for me, is that I have received a pre-release copy of the set! I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’ve put together a video to give you a sneak peak at what’s inside and how it works. You can also read some more of my thoughts about the set below.
The set includes instructions for building two different mazes, though you can’t build them simultaneously, as they share many pieces. The ‘standard’ maze is the same layout as the original one in my project submission, and is actually quite challenging. I think it took me several practice sessions when I originally designed it before I was able to successfully make it to the end. The ‘medieval’ maze is inspired by my original submission, and includes two possible paths through it. It is a bit easier than the standard maze, but still provides a bit of a challenge, especially the final move to get into the castle. It is also a bit more visually interesting than the standard maze, as it includes more decorative elements.
The instruction booklet also includes photos of more inspirational mazes, which I designed, that can be built using the pieces in the set. Most of them are designed so that their level of difficulty can be varied by adding or removing the 1×2 log bricks used for walls. The photos are clear enough that you should have no trouble building any of these mazes, but I will be posting instructions for them in the next few weeks. I will also be posting instructions for more mazes which I have designed since then. You will be able to find all of these over on the Maze page.
Of course the real excitement of this set is the fact that you can design your own mazes, and as you include the pieces from your own collection these mazes can become more and more elaborate. I’m really excited to see what people come up with.
The frame is essentially a two axis gimbal, controlled by two wheels on adjacent sizes of the model. The internal control system is a linked set of control arms, and is largely unchanged from my original project. It is simple, robust and reliable. It is fairly straight forward to operate, but it will take some practice to develop the dexterity to finely control the movement of the ball. Keep in mind that a light touch will serve you a lot better than large, wild movements. Controlling the game is very much a learned skill, so the more you practice the better you will get at it.
The set includes 4 balls, which are stored in a small box that can be placed in one corner of the frame. When the box is put away, it snugly fits the space between the tilting frame and the base of the model. Combined with a block in the opposite corner which does the same thing, this locks the maze so that it cannot tilt, and secures it for travel.
There are a lot of small differences between the official set and my original model. I won’t be going into detail about all those differences here, as I will be dedicating another post and video to just that topic alone. Most of the changes made were structural, to give the model the strength and stability required to become an official set, and I’m really pleased with most of them.
One side effect of some of these changes is that the tilting is not uniform in each direction, which I illustrate in the video. As I mention in the video, this doesn’t really affect the game play, but it was something that I paid special attention to in my original design, and it’s hard to say if it will affect some people’s enjoyment of the set. So far in my tests I haven’t noticed it while I’ve been playing. Regardless, I will be putting together a tutorial for a modification for balancing up the tilting, which I will also be posting in a few weeks.
All in all, I’m very pleased with how the set turned out. I can’t really give an honest assessment of the set itself, since I’m way too tied up in it. I imagine your interest in the set will largely be tied to your interest in the game itself. At the very least, I think it is a unique entry in the LEGO universe, and a welcome change from the licensed products that seem to receive a lot of attention these days. I hope you enjoy playing with it as much as I do.