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Photo: Ina Fried

Toymakers have been trying for years to blend the physical and digital worlds, with far more flops than successes, but Lego has finally hit a combo that clicks with its new Super Mario offering.

Between the lines: Lego has made a lot of stabs at this, including its recent Hidden Side augmented reality sets that can come to life when viewed through a smartphone. Until now, the technology has often felt more like a distraction than an addition.

How it works: Lego Super Mario, much like the classic video game, has players move Mario around, stomping on villains, banging bricks and collecting coins.

  • The Bluetooth-enhanced Mario figure scans barcodes in the set's bricks, syncing with a smartphone app to record player progress and achievements.
  • The $60 starter set, which includes Mario, is, as the name suggests, the starting point.
  • Expansion packs bring in other characters and settings from the Mario universe, while power-up packs give Mario extra abilities and character packs bring in more friends and foes.

Who it's good for: Fans of Mario and Lego.

  • It's not significantly more expensive than other Lego sets or a single Nintendo Switch game and offers the best of both worlds. The set is easy to put together and the straightforward gameplay lets you really feel like you're inside Mario's world.
  • Yes, but: The costs can quickly add up through the expansion sets. Mario can also integrate with the new Lego Nintendo Entertainment System, which replicates the 1980s game console, its controller and an old-school TV (at a $230 price tag).

Who it's not good for: Kids who tire of toys quickly.

  • It's really a single-purpose toy. The expansion packs add new adventures, but the whole thing could eventually run its course.

Go deeper

Wisconsin recount reaffirms Biden's victory in the state

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

The two recounts in Wisconsin requested by the Trump campaign were completed Sunday and confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the state, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. Recounts in the state's most populous and liberal areas — Dane and Milwaukee counties — netted him an additional 87 votes.

15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional Hispanics want Lujan Grisham at HHS

Michelle Lujan Grisham arriving on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Hispanic lawmakers are openly lobbying to have New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham be named Health and Human Services secretary, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: These members are now following the example some Black lawmakers have used for weeks: trying to convince Joe Biden his political interests will be served by rewarding certain demographic groups with Cabinet picks.

3 hours ago - World

Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."