San Diego Comic-con got wild for the Legends of Chima panel! LEGO Design Lead Phil McCormick, Development Producer Tommy Andreasen and Writer John Derevlany talked about the origins of Chima, the world they created and the magic of working with animal characters.
Legends of Chima was inspired by an earlier line of LEGO toys in 1978 that features figures with animal heads. These were some of kids’ favorite toys at that time, and LEGO decided to bring them back for a new generation. But the team wanted to update them, make them cooler and create a new world and characters to make the toys exciting and inspire kids to play out their own stories.
The team likes to flesh out the world with images before building it with bricks and we got to see their amazingly detailed concept art from Chima’s earliest designs. They get a lot of help from kids when building a world to figure out the most important parts of an idea. When they created the power of Chi for Chima, they made a long explanation for how it came to be. But the kids were more interested in keeping it simpler. They’re happy just knowing that it looks valuable and can give you extra powers when fighting. Since the Chi enhances animals’ natural abilities, there was also a lot of discussion about how it would affect the Skunk Tribe.
Kids helped to develop the characters on every step of the way. The LEGO team would talk about the story behind Chima with kids, and they would fill in the blanks, defining who should be good the good and bad guys, and what would kinds of personalities make sense for each animal tribe. This helps them come to a common understanding of who these animals are and then give the tribes their own unique characteristics: The rhinos are big and dumb, ravens will steal anything, gorillas like say “dude” a lot.
How many episodes of Chima do you have planned?
We have episodes coming out until the end of the year and hopefully farther than that.
How do you feel about switching from Ninjago to Legend of Chima?
We learned a lot from Ninjago about how to translate a big story across a toy line and a TV show. That experience also helped us work more efficiently than we did before. But you haven’t seen the last of Ninjago on TV either!
Will Laval and Cragger ever be friends in the future?
There are always possibilities in the future. The characters and friendships will change over time.
There was a snake in the concept art, but they aren’t in the show. Why’s that?
We put snakes in the first drawings, but kids told us that they had just seen a bunch of snakes in Ninjago, so we should do something different in Legend of Chima.
Why are the crocodiles the only ones with tails?
Only the royal Crocs have tails to make them seem a little more special. We put tails on animals in the scripts, but we can’t make the figures sit down if they have tails!
Why are there only a few animals? You should add more, like tigers.
We love that there are so many possibilities when you are working with animals. We already introduced beavers and we will see more animals in future episodes.