It was the year 1980 and an illness was spreading across the globe as people were hit with PAC-MAN Fever. Before Mario, Sonic or even Donkey Kong, a true icon of gaming was born and now it’s also inspired another epic gaming-themed LEGO® build. There are many stories surrounding the creation of NAMCO’s most iconic character. These include pizzas, an unfortunate swear word and even the humble LEGO minifigure. Now there’s a new footnote in PAC-MAN’s history as the arcade classic inspires the latest gaming-themed LEGO set. Here’s a closer look at the PAC-MAN Arcade set.
Take a trip back to the 1980s with this LEGO® Icons PAC-MAN Arcade (10323) building set for adults. Enjoy a rewarding project recreating the iconic maze-chase cabinet arcade game, considered by many as the most influential video game of all time.
Authentic detailing This LEGO replica is loaded with retro design details and fun features, including a 4-way joystick and an illuminating coin slot. Turn the handle to activate a mechanical maze that simulates the classic chase between your favourite characters or open the back panel to view the mechanical elements. There’s even a 1980s arcade scene to build, complete with a gaming minifigure and a display case with rotatable PAC-MAN, BLINKY and CLYDE figures.
- Set Name: PAC-MAN Arcade
- Set Number: 10323
- Theme: ICONS
- Pieces: 2651
- RRP: £229.99/$269.99/269.99€
- Number of Bags: Bags x 14 plus loose elements
- Stickers: Sheet x 1
- Minifigures: Gamer
- Instructions: Booklet x 1
- Availability: LEGO Stores & LEGO Online from June 1st (VIP Early Access) & June 4th (General)
Long before gaming at home took off, a trip to the arcade was the main way to get your gaming fix. At the time, Space Invaders was a massive hit and other gaming companies were looking for the next big coin-op hit. One such company was NAMCO. They had already released a string of games but they wanted to attract a new audience. Many of the arcade games at the time were focused on ‘violence’ or sports so Toru Iwatani set about creating something which would appeal to a broad range of people but also gobble up coins. Soon after, it would be a pizza that inspired the character of PAC-MAN and the rest is history. Much of that history is covered inside the set’s instruction booklet. This features an impressive amount of bonus content including the history of the game and some information from the set’s designer. Additional facts are also dotted throughout the build. Along with the instructions, inside the box, you’ll also find a large sticker sheet and a number of loose elements.
The first thing you build is a small diorama featuring three characters from the game. This is inspired by one of the game’s key features. If you’ve played PAC-MAN you’ll know that the focus of the game is to race around a maze gobbling up pac pills. All the time you are being pursued by four ghosts but if you chow down on a power pellet the tides are turned and PAC-MAN can also eat those ghostly foes. It’s that function which has been recreated with this little section of the build. A small rectangular box houses a simple group of gears which power three small platforms. Pushing in a lever at the rear of the box causes those platforms to twist around. In doing so it causes the 3D brick-built characters to flip direction. This changes PAC-MAN from being chased by BLINKY and CLYDE to chasing them. The two ghosts also switch colours from red and orange to blue. The twisting motion is very satisfying and to make sure they are lined up correctly, a collection of elements are used a hold the platforms in place. These pieces are then required later on in the build.
The rest of the build is focused on the arcade-like mini cabinet. It’s similar to the NES and Atari 2600 sets but isn’t a 1:1 recreation of the original game’s arcade machine. I hate to think how many bricks that would require. Instead, it’s around the same size and design as the tabletop machines you can get. This is built in three stages starting with the base of the cabinet. This is where you’ll find the faux controls for the game. These include a moveable control stock and a couple of buttons. These are all mostly for show but the stick can be wiggled and one of the buttons can be pushed to activate a light brick which illuminates the coin slot.
The next section is incredibly complex and recreates the screen of the game. This uses a pair of Technic pinboards and a heck of a lot of elements to create the iconic PAC-MAN maze. Not only does this form the game’s screen it also includes a clever working function. A gear system powers a pair of chains which recreate the chasing function of the game. Turning the handle on the side of the cabinet causes two different paths of chains to weave around the maze. These also feature a new chain link element, on which you can attach a stud and a printed 1×1 round tile featuring various PAC-MAN icons and characters. It’s a clever function and works really well. It’s a surprisingly simple system but the maze which surrounds it is far more complex. It’s layered in order to house the chained section and a series of pac pills, all 64 of them. On top of the structure which creates all of that a number of printed tiles are added to finish off the ‘screen’. just make sure the chains are full surrounding the various gears before added any further layers.
With the maze complete, it simply clips into the cabinet at an angle and then you added a few more pieces to link the gears of the maze to the handle. Again it looks complex but it’s a fairly simple system and very easy to connect all these pieces together. Sometimes builds which have moving elements can be a nightmare to construct but I had no issues nor did anything need tweaking to make it work.
With the screen in place, the cabinet is finished with another ‘working’ part of the screen. A smaller strip which sits along the top of the maze features the game’s score screen. This can be rotated using a gear dial with 4 different scores being able to be displayed in a small window on the left of the ‘screen’. With this in place, the cabinet is finished off with the game’s signage. Unlike other parts of the set which require stickers. The game’s retro logo is printed and it looks great against the black and yellow of the rest of the set. Once the cabinet is complete, there’s a space at the top to add the PAC-MAN diorama. Which makes displaying both sections way easier.
To finish off the set, you end by building a small recreation of an 80s arcade. This features a tiny PAC-MAN arcade cabinet, stool, trash can and bubble gum dispenser. All sitting on top of a jazzy 80s carpet. There’s also a gamer girl minifigure. The torso used for the minifigure is amazing and features a ghost and PAC-MAN pin badge. This little scene can be placed inside the back of the cabinet.
As a gamer, I have fond memories of playing PAC-MAN as a kid. My first experience of the game was on the Atari 2600 but I loved hitting the arcade when on holiday. So although I never played the game in its original form I appreciate it’s important in the history of gaming. Games have been portrayed in different ways when becoming a LEGO set and this is probably the most unique and complex. The shell of the cabinet is quite simple but the section which becomes the screen certainly takes some effort to create. I had no issues getting it to work but I will say you need to concentrate when building this part of the set. It requires a lot of little bits and they need to be placed in the correct way to make sure everything works smoothly. When you are piecing together large amounts of the same elements, it can become a little mind-numbing. But it’s totally it’s worth it. The recreated movement of PAC-MAN and the ghost is a very clever function. I’ve seen people note that for the same price of the set, you can get a similar-sized table-top arcade machine which actually plays the game. But where’s the fun in that compared to actually building the game with LEGO bricks? It’s a premium product for sure but it is a great set for fans of the original game or gaming in general and is a great companion piece to the Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari 2600 consoles. The set launches on June 4th, but will be available through VIP Early Access from June 1st.