Hands-on: LEGO Forma Koi Fish makes a splash as the company’s first crowdfunded set

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LEGO Forma Koi Fish front

Back in September we covered LEGO Forma, the company’s first attempt to crowdfund an entire line of new kits. After facing shipping delays, the LEGO Forma Koi Fish has finally arrived. Stacking up to one of LEGO’s first kinetic sculptures, the kit is an enjoyable build that stands out from the entirety of the company’s lineup. Head to the depths below to check out our full hands-on review.

The first LEGO Forma set has been through a lot since it was announced in the fall of 2018. Soon after launching on solid buy at $45, it blew past the initial campaign goal and locked in the required funding. Then production had some hiccups, as flooding damaged some of the completed kits, which ultimately resulted in shipping delays. Now four months after we first got wind of the LEGO Forma Koi Fish model, we’re getting a hands-on look.

LEGO Forma Koi Fish Build |

At first glance, it’s hard to tell that the LEGO Forma model is in fact technically a Technic creation. In fact, there isn’t a single traditional System brick in the whole batch of parts. The kinetic sculpture stacks up to two different elements; a base mechanism and the fish itself.

The bottom half of Koi Fish assembles a display stand which houses the mechanism which allows the build to move. It relies on a few different Technic gears, a hand-crank mechanic and several beams which all work in tandem. Next you’ll find the fish, which sits atop of three Technic beams that are connected to the base. It’s comprised of four different sections and is effectively just a frame for the exterior skins be applied to.

Kinetic Sculpture Movement |

The LEGO Forma Koi Fish’s main feature is that it moves in a life-like motion to mirror how a fish actually swims. Some say that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication, and that sentiment rings true here. Even though the internal frame and mechanism aren’t overly complex, the combination of both result in a fluid movement.

Saying it’s 100% lifelike is a bit of an over exaggeration, but the designers responsible for creating the Forma Koi Fish’s inner workings definitely pulled off a notable feat. Assembling a build like this that moves with a simple hand-crank is a noteworthy in its own right. So the fact that it resulted in an end result like we got is no doubt impressive.

Exceptional Printing |

The real star of the show for the LEGO Forma Koi Fish is its included skins. There are four different designs to wrap the sculpture in total. You’ll find three different Koi fish as well as a shark. The skins themselves are comprised of a thin flexible plastic-like laminated paper. It’s heftier than materials we’ve seen included in previous sets. Spead out over two sheets, each fish’s shell is broken into nine different pre-cut pieces.

The colors and level detail that LEGO was able to print onto the skins is really just unparalleled across past releases. While I’m particularly partial to the Splash Koi variant, all four bring a new level of polish to the kit. Ending up with a final product like this was a big gamble. Had the skins not have been as well-made, the LEGO Forma Koi Fish set definitely wouldn’t receive as much praise.

I love that the company was able to pull off such an exceptional execution here, but it makes me a bit salty we haven’t seen it in the past. In just about every one of our past reviews, we lament over the inclusion of stickers instead of printed elements. The LEGO Forma Koi Fish is proof that there aren’t physical limitations to the company’s printing capabilities. So going forward,  this release gives me hope that we’ll see more ambitious printed elements down the road.

LEGO Forma Sink or Swim: Final thoughts |

As the first set funded entirely through an outside source, the LEGO Forma Koi Fish enters as one of the most unique kits to date. In a lot of ways, it servers as both a proof of concept and market research to see how more adult-focused sets do. But if you forgot everything about the origins of the kinetic sculpture build, you’d be hard pressed to find evidence that this isn’t a mainline LEGO creation.

For me this set an instant buy, something I don’t regret in the slightest. It’s an easy recommendation to anyone who fancies enjoyable builds and display-worthy models. Well, that is if it ever comes back in stock. As of now there’s unfortunately no way to officially purchase the build from LEGO. Hopefully the initial reception will be positive overall, and LEGO will re-release the set sometime in the future. If not, the LEGO Forma Koi Fish will go down as a unique, must-have addition to any fan’s collection.

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