You may remember I reviewed the book The Unofficial LEGO Minifigure Catalog in the summer and mentioned at the time that the author was planning to release an iOS version of the book, which I got very excited about at the time.
Well, in the intervening months, author Christoph teamed up with Brickset member Nic Jansma and together they've developed apps for both iOS and Android. The Android version is available in the Android Marketplace now, for the introductory price of $2.99 (£1.91), and the iOS version has been submitted to Apple for approval and should be available soon.
I've been beta testing both, on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and iPad, for a week or so and I'm pleased to say that they live up to my initial excited expectations and are excellent.
Both versions are pretty much the same in terms of look and feel and user interface and provide features to explore and discover the data and images in a way that just isn't possible in the book version.
The main means of navigation is via the Browse button that allows you to drill down through the 3655 minifigs, 658 heads and 9466 sets in the database, either by theme or year, until you end up at a page showing details like that for C-3PO above. Minifigs are labelled with their taxonomy (see my review of the book for an explanation) and also the equivalent BrickLink number. Clicking on the small thumbnail will enlarge it to fill the screen, although I believe you need to have an online data connection to retrieve the large image from a remote server, so while the app can be used offline, you won't be able to view the hi-res images.
One thing I particularly liked was browsing the heads by year. This is a feature that is not available anywhere else, to my knowledge, and illustrates well how their numbers have 'mushroomed' in recent years. From 1978 to 1988 there was just one minifig head -- the classic smiley. In 1989 Pirates were given beards and moustaches to bring the total number of variations to 7. Compare that to 2010 when some 99 different heads were made!
In addition to browsing, you can search for figs by name, taxonomy identifier or BrickLink number. I didn't see a way to search for sets, just minifigs. You can also mark figs as favourites and then access them easily via a button on the menu.
Last, and certainly not least, you can hook the app up to your minifig collection here at Brickset, download it and then see 'My figs' on your phone. You can modify your collection on the phone and upload the changes back to Brickset.
This is a very cool app and well worth the few dollars asking price. This first version is very functional but there are improvements that could be made to make it even more attractive and useful, and I'm sure that Christoph and Nic will continue to develop it in response to our feedback, particularly if enough people buy it!
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