DOTS – Weird or Wonderful?

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LEGO surprised a lot of people this year with the announcement of LEGO DOTS. It was in some ways an evolution of what they attempted with Scala’s jewellery sets, but those similarities were fairly surface level. DOTS is something a bit different.

The theme is not just LEGO branded jewellery, it’s essentially a full range of art and craft projects that just happens to include some bracelets. There is a reasonably broad range of items on offer, all with the common denominator of being customised by LEGO elements.

It’s those elements that makes DOTS something interesting. Rather than featuring weird new parts the customisation and decoration happens primarily with a variety of 1×1 elements. There are 1×1 round tiles, 1×1 quarter tiles, 1×1 square tiles. There’s just a lot of tiny elements. Thankfully the larger sets include sorting trays.

To get enough of a play to really form an impression of the theme I got a collection of items: 3 of the bracelets (41900 Rainbow Bracelet, 41912 Love Birds Bracelet and 41903 Cosmic Wonder Bracelet), 3 packets of 41908 Extra DOTS, 41904 Animal Picture Holders and 41906 Pineapple Pencil Holder.

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RRP for the collection that I got is $107.92 but each part can be found cheaper than RRP pretty easily.

Bracelets

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One of the more interesting new items in the range. The DOTS bracelets feature flexible rubber bracelets, each with a studded area measuring 2 x 14 studs. The packets come with a selection of themed decoration elements.

41900 Rainbow Bracelet features some great rainbow related elements and some colourful tiles. All of the printing on these are really nice – there’s a few different rainbows including a happy little cloud tile. The band itself is a nice bright blue.

I am a big fan of 41903 Cosmic Wonder with it’s outer space printed elements. There are stars and planets and some nice colour combinations. This one also features gem elements that are a great pearlescent colour.

The third bracelet that I got is 41912 Love Birds Bracelet, which is probably my least favourite of the three. The bird theming just isn’t as cool as space or rainbows but that’s just my opinion.

The bracelets do not come with any instructions. This is all about creating patterns that YOU like. There is no right or wrong design.

When I was testing these out I let my young son decide how they would look. He combined parts included with each set with parts that I got in the 3 Extra DOTS packets. The Extra DOTS packets contain 79 tiles in 4 colours, 20 translucent blue glitter tiles, and 10 out of a possible 16 decorated tiles. There are some fun emoji prints available.

The end results probably don’t showcase the pattern potential as well as some more creative people but it’s all about self expression, right?

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I was really impressed with the clutch power of the bracelets themselves. They are nice and thick and feel like they will last well. The LEGO elements are easy to put on but they don’t seem to come off unintentionally. My son was wearing all three bracelets for a couple of hours and didn’t lose a single piece. He certainly wasn’t being careful with them.

Be aware that if you are an adult the bracelets probably won’t fit you. I kind of wish they’d release extenders or just slightly longer bands for AFOLs – yes I am an adult and yes I would totally wear a cool LEGO bracelet.

Pineapple Pencil Holder

The Pineapple Pencil holder is more like a regular set than the bracelets. It’s got all of the parts for decoration but you also get some more regular LEGO elements to create the two models – the titular pineapple pencil holder and the little watermelon container.

The pencil holder is created with a fairly simple four walled column, with plates attached to the walls. The decoration is then added directly to the plates.

The lid is a separate part, made with several layers of plates, a wheel and some palm leaves to form the top of the pineapple.

The included flyer hints towards adding a face to your pineapple, which is where I started. I had the idea early on to try and do a moustache and I’m super happy with how it turned out. This guy looks awesome.

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On the three other sides I went for a variety of patterns. Just whatever came to me at the time. I did a kind of gradient pattern, some colourful dots and on the 3rd panel I created what ended up being an homage to the vintage mobile game Snake.

The pencil holder is fantastic and big enough to actually be functional.

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The little watermelon container is cute but I’m not sure what you will really be able to put in it. The top doesn’t give you a heap of space to decorate but I still managed to get a pattern that I was happy with.

I’m a big fan of this set.

Animal Photo Holders

This set gives you the parts to build 3 photo holders and as you’d expect – a heap of parts to decorate them. The parts, set name and the included flyer all show that you are meant to turn your photo holders in to animals.

The photo holders are also pretty simple builds. 4 walls with plates attached to the outside and a lid. The new photo holder part provides a clip on the back of each build. There probably isn’t much use for these parts outside of a picture holder.

You can technically put stuff inside them too, but you aren’t going to get much in there.

The included parts will allow you to build three different coloured holders – grey, white and tan. If you wanted to you could probably mix up the parts, but most of the detail comes from the decorations anyway.

You get quite a good range of different colours to work with for your decorations; Aqua, Tan, Bright Purple, Bright Yellow, Cool Yellow, Dark Stone Grey, Lavender, Light Purple, Medium Azur, Medium Nougat, Medium Stone Grey and White. There are around 12-18 of each of the different tiles for decoration. The only printed elements are the 1×1 round black tiles with a white dot print that are used to form the animal eyes.

The first creation I made was a cute little puppy. I then added the quarter tiles as eyebrows and made it look a little more grumpy. For the remaining sides I decided to use the blue and yellow tones to create a few different patterns.

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The second animal I did was another dog. I took advantage of having multiple greys to create a two-tone face. Using the quarter tiles I did a scruffy fringe to add a bit of personality. I stuck with blue, white and grey for the remaining patterns.

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My final creation is a white bunny. The ears are a bit short but I didn’t want to dig in to my collection of other parts. I think what I did works well enough. For the 3 other patterned areas I used pink, purple and white.

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I opted to only use a few colours per cube, but you don’t have to. There is really no right or wrong way to do this.

Overall Impressions

I was a bit sceptical of DOTS when it was announced. It seemed like a weird idea for a product range. Now that I have actually had a chance to get hands on with a few of the products? I am a huge fan.

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I really like sets that give you enough direction and tools to be creative in your own way, without it feeling overwhelming. The included material in all of the DOTS sets shows you examples but it’s never “This is how you do it”. I spent a decent amount of time adding tiles and then pulling them all off and trying different combinations. When I was doing the animals for the photo holders I was surprised at how much difference it made to turn a piece a different way.

My only complaint would be that I wish these were slightly less gendered than they are. I get that LEGO probably spent a lot of money developing their strategy for this product, with researchers and focus groups. For me though I don’t need to see pictures of pre-teen girls on so many of the products. It just screams “THESE ARE FOR GIRLS ONLY”. The product itself could easily be enjoyed by all kids.

I am going to keep an eye on the DOTS range and definitely look at picking up more in the future.

Have you got any of the DOTS products? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The products featured in this post were provided to me by LEGO at my request. Opinions are my own.

4 Responses to DOTS – Weird or Wonderful?

  1. Andrew says:

    I bought one of the sets and a bracelet for the five year old in our family. She’s a Lego veteran, and already familiar with Friends, which she loves. We built the set together and she had to be dragged from her dotting it two hours later at dinner time. A huge hit. Lego have done their homework on this. More sets already purchased ;) .

  2. Jason says:

    My boys have seen these in shops and Master 7 thinks that they are ‘for girls’ Master 4 1/2 probably wouldn’t care, but if Big Brother thinks that they are for girls, then so does he.
    I ordered a blue and teal bracelet only in a recent PaB order, so we will see what they think of them. (as an aside, the bracelets do fit my wrist on the largest setting)

  3. Chloe says:

    I bought my two older sons (4 &7) DOTS Mini Frames to give to their grandmothers for Mother’s Day. Both Grandmas loved them. The kids had fun making and decorating them, but I don’t think we would buy any DOTS sets for ourselves.

  4. Charlotte says:

    My sons like the space and rainbow bracelets, I’m big into telling them there is no such thing as “girls toys” or “boys toys”, they can play with whatever they like, but I think I’m fighting a losing battle against opinions that come home from school. But on the flip side, I love the bracelets and they fit me (an adult) on the largest setting and I wear my lego bracelets often. Haha! I have managed to lose a piece off mine tho, a rainbow poop fell off and that made me sad. Lol!

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