Reviewed by Chris McGee (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)
Simple but fantastic…
A couple of years back I joined the LEGO® Ideas website to discover a wealth of great designs and builds. The main reason for this was due to the Ideas set 21305 which got me into the LEGO® lifestyle again and from the instruction manual realized that this was fan made and that more MOCs were on the site waiting to be discovered.
My first encounter was aimed at following JKBricksworks (fan designer Jason Allemann who designed the maze) and there I found and adored the pop-up book design. The design itself was basically a tan cover with brick built writing across the front and spine of the book. The book even contained a latch with which to keep it shut. The entry was a joint effort with fellow fan designer Grant Davis. Needless to say, I was hooked on the Ideas concept.
When I heard that the set had been selected to become a set, I was thrilled, and couldn’t wait to see the final product. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed when the set pictures were released, as LEGO® had gone an extra step, and given a wonderful colour mix to the book. They had also put in parts for an extra story, bringing the part count to a healthy 859 pieces, and taking the theme towards a couple of well known fairy tales. The price point then is very good, with nothing in the set needing to be licensed or any unique molds, and retails at R1,199.99.
I was sold instantly by the look and theme which reminds me of medieval times, and really hoped the build would meet the expectations.
The book part of the build has a lot of very similar pieces and colours, making the numbered packets very handy (packets 1 through part of 3 build the book cover and the tan ‘pages’). This build was not as repetitive as expected given the look of the book, and gave me enough turns to keep me intrigued. I would suggest that one avoids building the book at night as the contrast of the black and dark green pieces used therein can make you life a bit difficult in bad light.
The book is nicely designed to effectively open and shut without becoming misaligned after repetitive use. In fact, it almost feels simple in its construction, making me question why nobody has really done/attempted this before (from a LEGO® stand point). The exterior of the book is beautifully finished with a brown trim and great printed parts. The main front tile is just amazing with its ‘Once Upon A Brick’ title, and slightly gold printed detail. The inclusion of the fan creators names as additional tiles is also a lovely touch by LEGO®.
That then puts the pop-up mechanism up front, and this again is simple yet fantastic in how it opens up each time with such smooth, fluid movement. The pop-up displays are also nicely suited to the main colour backing being dark green.
The inclusion of two stories was a lovely touch. Little Red Riding Hood was the first within packets 3 and 4, and Jack and the Beanstalk coming in packets 5 and 6. Both have been carefully planned to fit the specifications that would allow for a seamless book opening and closing experience. The specs referring to the width (closed) as well as height and length for the movement and storage. The cottage is a more traditional scene, and also comes with some interior props to have fun with. The beanstalk though has an unusual mechanism, which again works excellently given its nature.
The colours across both the builds work well with the main book cover and given how these actually stand out, it is easy to understand why the dark green was chosen vs the original tan. Some special side builds are provided within each scene. The cottage gets a built bed and coffee table with a matching pink mug and teapot. The beanstalk scene gets a number of microscale builds (houses, trees, clouds and a castle in the clouds) all of which bring the giant to a more believable size.
Yep, we also get some great, and unique minifigures for this one and key characters for each of the story builds. Red Riding Hood, her grandmother and the wolf (wonderfully disguised in broken reading glasses and granny’s pyjamas)are provided to the cottage scene. Red comes with a lovely printed dress piece (same mould as the used for Minnie Mouse in the Disney collectible minifigure series), as well as a cloth coat piece, and a dual-molded hood in red, with a strip of hair across her brow. There are also some cookie printed 1×1 round tiles and a basket included for accessories to the scene.
While with the beanstalk scene, we get a great nanofigure representing Jack and then a standard minifigure as the giant, each with some great unique printing (keep your eyes peeled for the golden goose). Although no accessories are provided for these characters (almost wish there was a golden egg and/or something to represent magic beans in here), the figures provide a great ensemble to the micro-scale scene.
These are the type of sets which I really enjoy, as it effectively spawns creativity while building. Around halfway through building the cottage I was thinking of what I would like to do as a pop-up display, and my mind was filled with various ideas. Honestly, this ranks in my top 3 sets of the year that I have had the pleasure of building, and any items I have mentioned which have negative connotations, I see as ‘nitpicking’. This is a great set, and a must have for anyone, and if I may be so bold, an ideal set to get multiples of.