The new LEGO Super Mario: The Mighty Bowser has everything it needs. It looks just like Bowser. The King of Koopa’s proportions are ideal for LEGO-ization. The final build is sturdy and imposing. Bowser can be moved and played with without fear of anything snapping or falling off.see it at Amazon).

It is comprised of 22 steps. The build process is similar to other LEGO humanoids with this scale and scope. The skeleton is first built. This is the mesh of LEGO Technic pins and rods, as well as the bricks that attach and interlock with them. Then, you add bricks and plates to enhance the skeleton’s features and definition.

LEGO can sometimes get so focused on the skeleton that they don’t even finish it. Then they move on to the next, more visually appealing phase. Mighty Bowser is a clever way to break down the build by body parts. You cannot go back to an earlier part of the build. After you have built one section of Bowser you can move on.

LEGO Super Mario - The Might Bowser

You must first build the torso. Next, add the legs. Then, the head. The spiked shell is next. The arms are last. This allows for small victories as well as feelings of accomplishment on the way to completion. Most of the limbs were secured using sockets and balls by the designers, making them strong and fully articulable.

You must first build the platform Bowser stands upon. Two collapsible towers flank the platform, one of which conceals a POW-block. A barcode is visible when you open a small drawer at the front of the building. This makes Mighty Bowser compatible for the LEGO Super Mario Playsets. If the starter set is purchased, you can use the LED Mario Figure to stomp at the barcode. This will trigger a boss battle between you and Bowser. Bowser can be stomped on multiple times until you win. “defeat”He can earn coins to trigger the victory song.

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This playset compatibility is a non-obtrusive element of the build—it is not required, by any means, to buy and enjoy this set. This feature should be considered a bonus, not a main function. LEGO intentionally removed the emphasis on the playsets in order to highlight the build’s other features. We’ll talk more about that later.

Bowser can also use a fireball to insert into his mouth. When you pull a tiny tab underneath the shell, Bowser’s mouth opens, and launches the projectile downward—presumably, to where Mario is standing. Bowser can turn his head from left-to-right by using a lever function.

One thing that really stands out while building Bowser—and Bowser, were he real, would hate to hear this—is how cute he is. He has a rounded body and chubby legs, which are similar to an infant’s. His final build is very huggable and plastic-like.

Bowser’s shell is my favorite part of the build, due to its cumulative effect. Each plate of the shell is built individually. Then you connect three of them together to make a straight chain. Next, you place them at an angle to create curves. Lastly, you place this curved piece on Bowser’s back—three of them in all—to form the shell. The shell looks cartoonish and exaggerated, with its chunky features, single-piece spikes, and large, cartoonish details.

The Bowser set represents, to my mind, a shift of prioritization and theming. In 2020, Nintendo and LEGO forged a partnership that was not as expected. They actually took two paths.

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The first path was a long, continuous series of interactive sets that allowed builders create their own Mario courses. It included enemies, jumps and powerups. First, you bought the LEGO Super Mario starter setThe package included an interactive LED Mario character. Then you purchased the expansion setsThis gave you more design options as well as bad guys to stomp on. Every enemy and obstacle had its own barcode. You could touch the LED Mario against it to make a sound and sometimes give you a coin. You could sync the level you made to your smartphone, which tracked your progress as well as tallied how many coins you earned in one run.

This first and ongoing path is a strange, dissonant mix of digital and physical play. It requires that the builder pretend to be using physical toys for the sole purpose if earning digital coins through an app. It’s entertaining, but it never works. Based on the simplicity and marketing campaign, the play is targeted at elementary-age children. These sets are a favorite of my son, who will be eight next month.

The first path was childish. The second was adult-oriented almost to the point of being dangerous. Nintendo and LEGO created a replica NES console complete with an 80’s era TV.see it at Amazon). You could turn a crank to see an 8-bit Mario scroll across the TV’s display. Another set was a huge Question Mark BlockUpon opening it, you could see four tableaus each, each inspired from a different stage in Super Mario 64.

Both of these adult sets honored Nintendo. They did so from a distance, showcasing Nintendo’s history and legacy but not fully engaging with the creative properties that have built that legacy. They were conversation pieces, lacking a certain kind of unbridled childish joy. What LEGO needed was a reconciliation between the two paths—a more advanced, complex set that also centered around the characters and the immersive gameplay. LEGO needed something that would appeal to an adult audience and allow them to interact with the set instead of just looking at it from afar.

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This brings us back to the Mighty Bowser Set. It’s as perfect as you could hope for a merging. This would be the beginning of a series known as ‘third paths’ that will recreate the gameplay, characters and atmosphere from our childhoods. It’s not just Mario. Zelda? Or Metroid? Or Pokemon? There are many options.

LEGO Super Mario: The Mighty BowserSet #71411, available for purchase at $269.99 It is made up of 2807 pieces, and was designed by LEGO designer Carl Merriam. It is now available at the following retailers

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