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We Go Up Close with LightZilla: Making Big Things with Light

by Paul Strauss
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We recently told you guys about LightZilla, a sweet giant-size Lite-Brite that I wish I could have in my game room. Alas, I can’t afford one for my house, but I did recently get a chance to play with a LiteZilla up close and personal, and it’s pretty awesome. I headed up North of Chicago to the awesome Abt Electronics to meet with LiteZilla founder and Chief Illumination Officer Adam Butlein to go hands on with the jumbo plaything, and to learn a bit about what makes the LightZilla special.

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While the first prototype of the LiteZilla was something Adam built for his own home, he quickly realized that he’d have to spend some serious time and money refining the design if he wanted to build something that could hold up to countless kids playing with it in doctors’ offices, museums, toy stores, and other public places.

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Rather than using plywood, each LiteZilla’s peg board is made from thick sheets of HDPE, a durable thermoplastic that can be cut more precisely than wood, holds up better to wear and tear, and can be drilled more smoothly. The latter is critical for preventing nasty splinters when a kid sticks his or her finger into one of the holes – which they surely will do. HDPE is also far less likely to hold onto germs, and is easier to clean than wood. Each hole is precision drilled using CNC machining, to ensure perfectly placed peg art every time.

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Behind the face sheet of HDPE is an impressively large light box, which perfectly diffuses bright white LEDs so each peg is evenly lit. Then there’s the pegs themselves. Each one is precision cut from colorful acrylic, then flame-finished so they transmit light smoothly from end to end. The result is brilliant, bright color from every one of each LiteZilla’s pegs, which can be made in every color of the rainbow, as well as neon colors and opaque black for blocking out light for design flexibility. The pegs are also big enough that they don’t pose a choking hazard for kids.

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Each LightZilla offers convenient storage bins at the bottom for spare pegs, and its power transformer is smartly placed behind a screw-off front panel, just in case it ever needs to be serviced. The whole LightZilla can be mounted directly on a wall using heavy duty Z-clips which are designed to take up to 4x the weight of the whole system, for added safety around kids.

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LiteZilla sells its sweet light-up pegboards in seven standard sizes: 4’x5′, 6’x5′, 8’x5′,8’x6′, 12’x6′, 16×6′ and an enormous 20’x6′ version. Prices start at $9,999 for the smallest model, and go up to a whopping $45,999 for the biggest one. I’m sure a big chunk of that cost is making thousands of colorful pegs. They can also customize the board with a company logo, and custom colored pegs to match your logo as well.

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At these kind of prices, the LiteZilla probably won’t find its way into too many homes, but it’s a great idea for public places of play and interaction. So far, the company has done numerous installations for doctors’ and dentists’ offices, churches and temples, children’s museums and they just did an amazing store window display for Hammacher Schlemmer in New York City, which is sure to draw lots of attention.

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If you’re looking for an awesome piece of interactive art for any place where kids of any age congregate, you should definitely consider a LiteZilla. For more information or to place an order, check out the LiteZilla website, or call them at 1-833-LITEZILLA.

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