About a year ago, my girls got their first LITE-BRITE, which on the surface, I would've called "an upgrade" from the classic toy that Hasbro has been marketing in one form or another since 1967, if only because it borrowed styling from the iPad and called itself the "Lite-Brite LED Flatscreen." Thing is, while the nostalgia factor was certainly there, the version was clumsy, not as bright as it's old-school counterpart (remember the, big hot light bulb inside?), and the pegs were meant to fit within a flip-open storage tray at the bottom of the unit... one that didn't really fit all the included pegs, and to be stored in it's box, had to be folded flat - thus dumping the pegs. There were design issues (Amazon reviews have not been kind), but at it's core was the peg fun that generations have enjoyed, complete with black paper designs that were essentially use-once-then-toss, but as in the past - we kept them and made them work more than once. Fast-forward a year and the Lite-Brite has received a true upgrade, and what it appears to have taken is some fresh eyes on the project, these courtesy of Basic Fun, who have licensed the Lite-Brite brand from Hasbro and have run with it, sending us for review their first incarnation - The LITE-BRITE MAGIC SCREEN.
Zeroing in on modern kids by retaining some of that last-generation Hasbro design inspiration on the "tablet" note, the new version has cleaner lines and just feels better when you hold it. The storage tray is removable, and comfortably fits all the included pegs. By being flat on all sides, the design possibilities are greater (portrait vs. landscape).
For the first time ever, the Lite-Brite templates are reusable! Color-coded and pre-punched (no mess), they easily attach to the screen, and that's where the "magic" happens. Instead of being a grid filled with open holes that are only blocked by the paper template, the Magic Screen is essentially "self-healing" and allows light to shine through only when a peg is inserted. And the pegs? They got an upgrade, too - with the basic round pegs now accompanied by square ones and even fun shapes like wheels and animals.
In an age where digital entertainment is taking far too much priority for the little ones, it's always great to see how the classic toys still hold their ground, even when taking cues from the tech that now surrounds them. Lite-Brite is one of those things that should be around forever.
Plus, my Lite-Brite skills are pretty impressive, right?
The Lite-Brite Magic Screen is shipping to retailers now, and is also available via (my associates) Amazon and Entertainment Earth.
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.