NEW YORK (AP) _ Steven Spielberg is teaming up with toy industry
giant Lego to create a digital movie-making kit that lets children
create and edit their own films.
Plans for the Lego Studios Steven Spielberg MovieMaker were
unveiled today, but it will not hit store shelves until November.
It is only the second time ever that Spielberg has lent his name to
an entertainment product.
The film-making kit is the latest example of Lego’s aggressive
move toward integrating technology with its classic building
blocks. It already has a number of popular CD-ROM games in stores
and also has had great success with its Lego Mindstorms, high-tech
robots that can be manipulated using microcomputers.
“Everyone in the toy business is looking for ways to keep older
kids interested in their products, and Lego has really done a great
job of using technology to do just that,” said Jim Silver, editor
of The Toy Book, a New York-based trade publication.
The MovieMaker set includes a digital movie camera, which plugs
into a computer port. The camera has Lego pieces on the outside so
that users who have trouble keeping a steady hand can build a stand
out of Legos and attach the camera to it.
The set, which will sell for $179.99, also includes an
assortment of Lego props such as buildings, houses and cars, as
well as characters including firefighters and dinosaurs and other
The set also includes a book of tips, tricks and challenges for
Moving clips or still images can be captured on a computer
monitor, and all the shots are recorded and stored on a hard-drive.
The set also includes a library of sound effects including
everything from an angry T-Rex to a kitten.
The editing software, which was developed by Lego and Pinnacle
Systems, allows users to save completed movies and send their films
to friends via email.
Starting in January, Lego will offer seven additional sets of
props and characters, including a bank, car stunt area and a
rotating city. The extra sets, which will cost between $69.99 and
$199, do not include the camera or editing software.
The MovieMaker has competition in the kid’s digital camera
market, including Mattel’s $100 Intel Play Digital Movie Creator
and Editing CD-ROM, which comes with a microphone and tripod stand.
The only other product that Spielberg branded with his name was
a 1996 CD-ROM “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair,” an
interactive, movie-making game put out by Knowledge Adventure and
DreamWorks Interactive and distributed by Microsoft.
“There is no bigger name than Spielberg when it comes to the
movie business and Lego is very lucky to have such a name
associated with its product,” Silver said.
All of Spielberg’s proceeds from the Moviemaker set will be
donated to two charities: the Starbright Foundation, which helps
seriously ill children, and The Survivors of the Shoah Visual
History Foundation, which preserves testimonies of Holocaust