Incorporating one of the most beloved toys of all time — a member of the inaugural class of the Toy Hall of Fame — Belkin’s LEGO Builder Case for iPad mini ($60) is likely to appeal to kids and adults alike. It follows an iPhone 5/5s version that we liked, although this larger form factor makes more sense to us. The folio-style case’s plastic shell offers much more room for building, plus an iPad mini Smart Cover-style lid. It’s a good case on its own, and the LEGO features make it really stand out.
The case’s hard plastic shell comes in green, yellow, or red. Either generation of iPad mini easily snaps into it, although Retina iPad mini users will notice that there’s no opening for the rear microphone. Otherwise, there are clean holes for the headphone port, top mic, Sleep/Wake button, and rear camera, plus a gap for the side switch and volume buttons, and another for the speakers and Lightning port. Overall, it’s not the most protective shell available, but it offers an acceptable level of coverage.
LEGO Builder Case’s integrated lid, although it seems to be faux leather, actually feels somewhere in the middle between the polyurethane and aniline leather materials Apple uses for its covers and cases. Depending on which color shell you choose, the lid is either red or blue. It folds along two seams, which divide it into three columns, and magnets hold it in a triangle just like a Smart Cover. This means the case can take on viewing and typing stand positions without the need for extra accessories.
Of course the star here is the LEGO base plate, which measures 12 studs wide and 20 tall. Is it altogether necessary for actually using the iPad mini? Of course not, but it can be used in a lot of fun ways. For example, you could make a fun design, build a stand, or even put wheels on the back of the case. All that’s missing from the package is a small selection of bricks or tiles to get you started.
As a folio, LEGO Builder Case is rather expensive. Even putting aside its playful nature, it’s a good case with respectable protection and a lid that’s spot-on with Apple’s. The LEGO plate only adds to the appeal though, and sets this one apart from the very crowded field of competitors. It’s cool enough to earn our general recommendation; a lower price would definitely boost it up.
Company and Price
Models: LEGO Builder Case
Compatible: iPad mini