I recently participated in the pre-launch demonstration of a very interesting new website called ToySphere that is attempting to revolutionize the way we browse the internet, search for information, and shop for products. It was developed by Sphere Research Ltd, a web development company based in the UK, who’s founders also happen to be passionate LEGO fans. Below, I have included the press-release as well as other information from the pre-launch event.
Sphere announced the launch of LEGO ToySphere, a completely unique and immersive format, reimagining shopping for LEGO and allowing fans to view the last decade of LEGO sets like never before.
Lifelong LEGO fans Olly Treadway and Warren Minde have come together to build ToySphere – bringing the excitement, playfulness and immersion of a trip to a real LEGO store online. Pouring time and passion into building this awesome new way to explore and shop LEGO, the team has spent the past six years on this epic fan project.
Combining Olly’s tech wizardry and passion for LEGO, with Warren’s years of experience consulting to the LEGO leadership at their HQ in Billund, Denmark, this is LEGO as you’ve never seen it.
“Our vision is to radically change the way people discover, curate, and buy content on the web by bringing wonder , simplicity, and intuition back to the browsing experience. There’s no better product than LEGO to showcase this.” – Olly Treadway, Founder, ToySphere
“At a time when we are all missing the playful world of discovery that is a real life LEGO store, we hope to bring a little of that joy and humanity to the online experience with ToySphere. We really hope that AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO), parents, and kids enjoy exploring and playing in the Sphere.” Warren Minde, Chief Strategy Officer, ToySphere
LEGO ToySphere launched to the public at the end of September, with access to the LEGO Star Wars, LEGO City, LEGO Architecture, LEGO Minecraft, and LEGO Technic Spheres. The site will be continuously updated as new sets are released, and exciting new Spheres – including LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Jurassic Park, LEGO Super Mario, LEGO DUPLO, and LEGO Creator – will be launched over the coming weeks.
Ready to think outside the blocks? To explore ToySphere and immerse in the new LEGOverse, visit Bricks.ToySphere.com.
As you can see from the press-release, Olly and Warren are attempting to recreate the atmosphere of a physical LEGO store combined with the; the bright colors, the amazing displays, the LEGO sets stacked up on the shelves. When you go to the ToySphere website, you will be greeted by a cluster of planets or Spheres representing various LEGO themes.
As noted in the press-release, not all spheres are live yet, but the ones that are available are clickable, and you can enter to browse all the sets in that theme in a three dimensional panoramic view, as well as related videos, information on each of the sets, and links to purchase the sets directly from the Online LEGO Shop or eBay.
There will be other features added as well, like being able to browse sets by year released, see all the parts in a set, and more. Think of it like the Brickset database, but more visually dynamic. The founders also have ideas of how to integrate the site with the BrickLink database and marketplace. In the video below, Dr. McBrick, who also participated in the pre-launch demonstration talks about the site in more detail.
It’s interesting to think about the implications of this type of visual and unrestricted three dimensional browsing technology not just in the LEGO hobby but in other industries as well. Imagine being able to browse music, books, games, toys, cars, restaurants, and fun places to visit in a similar way. And how about education? Teachers could really put students in the front seat to experience and learn about different fields of knowledge.
No need to scroll endlessly through Google search results, web pages, textbooks and indexes, but instead you are immersed in an environment that’s similar to interacting with objects and information in the real world. It’s like putting on a virtual reality headset! And in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two technologies merge together in the future for a truly immersive online browsing and shopping experience.
What do you think? How do you like the idea of turning the internet into immersive Spheres? And how do you like ToySphere so far? What other features would you like to see implemented at the ToySphere website? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
Great concept but the motion is unsettling. Why not just use straight line lists with straigh line scrolling like a catalog. The click and hold is distracting and some of the images are too small to see on a phone or tablet. I would advise turning it into a traditional appearing site. All the extra fluff is unnecessary. Browsing a site should not be the same as viewing a 360 degree image.
It looks cool, but I wonder if they are trying to do too many things and end up not doing any of it well.
Shopping for Lego, I always go directly to Lego’s shop or to Amazon or Bricklink. I don’t need an affiliate site for that. For an accurate database, I go to Brickset, and for database of parts I go to Bricklink.
I think it might be better if they would team up with one of the established sites like Brickset and Bricklink rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Heck, even Lego may be interested. Their website needs an update anyway.
I think this site is trying to attrack casual shoppers and browsers. Not the hardcore afol. And yes, an update like this might not be bad for Lego’s site. Kids would love it.
I was on presentation too and I think that is a very interesting concept and something with a bright future! Can’t wait to see how the team update the site!
I tried this on my tablet, and this is so cool. I think this might appeal more to younger people who are used to gaming and other visually dynamic experiences.
It’s certainly interesting, but I’m not sure if I would use it. It seems to be for the casual browser rather than the afol who already knows what they want.
They should also link to Amazon and other retailers as they usually have better prices then what you can find on ebay. Plus, there are less scammy.
I have been missing the ability of browsing catalogs that companies used to send out before Christmas. It seems that every year we get less and less. I know that I can find all the same stuff on their website, but there is something special about sitting down with a catalog and browsing through it. Thsi website reminds me of browsing through the pages of a catalog.
Man, I would love if they would make the Lego site like this! Almost everyone is using touchscreens nowadays, and this is perfect for touch-based navigation. I hope they can add all data from the last ten years, like they said. I love browsing old sets!
I’m not, I’m mostly using a laptop… I might be a geezer luddite, though…