21319 – Ideas Friends™

Review by Troy Chelin (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

Set number 21319 FRIENDS™ THE TELEVISION SERIES is #27 of the LEGO® IDEAS range and was released on the series 25th Anniversary. The first LEGO® Ideas or Cuusoo as it was known was released on the 17th of February 2011. This is not the first television series Ideas set to be released the first was The Big Bang Theory set number 21302 which is #10 of the LEGO® Ideas range.

If you are new to the LEGO® Ideas range it basically works as follows, you build your own LEGO® idea and share it on the LEGO® Ideas webpage, if it gathers over 10 000 supporters, it will then go to the review panel for approval and if your project is approved it becomes a new LEGO® product of which you get a 1% share of the sales.

Background

The American sitcom had 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004 following the lives of 6 friends who spend most of their spare time hanging out in a coffee shop. This set has many Easter Eggs hidden around the set. An Easter egg is an undocumented reference to popular culture or in the case of friend’s fans favourite television moments.

Box Art Work

The cardboard box is the standard LEGO® ideas box that flips open showing you the contents inside. The front of the box has the iconic friends TV series name with the full set pictured in the centre and the minifigures pictured below with their accessories. The sides of the box have fantastic graphics and drawings drawn in black depicting iconic sayings and images for the TV series with splashes of orange, yellow and blue on a white background and in the centre is the Central Perk coffee shop logo. The art work folds around to the inside of the box which is black inside. On the other side of the box you see the minifigures pictured in windows and again the white background with the black graphics and iconic sayings like “How you doing” a pick up line used by Joey with coffee cups, umbrella’s, Phoebe’s guitar, the fountain and taxi cab with the iconic orange couch randomly displayed in the foreground.

What’s in the box?

There are 6 bags in the box marked 1 to 6, 155 page instructions manual and with 5 stickers. This set comes with 1067 pieces and includes 7 mini figures. On page 4 of the instructions you will find a brief overview of the friend’s television series. On page 5 you will see photos of the 6 main characters in the set with background descriptions for each character unfortunately Gunther is not mentioned. On page 6 & 7 Meet the fan designer Aymeric Fievet from France who was full of joy and pride when his submission which he altered several times reached 10 000 votes. On page 8 & 9 you get to meet the LEGO® designers Milan Madge the designer and Crystal Bam Fontan the graphic designer and they share their thoughts via a question and answer session. On page 10 and 11 you get to see the how many bags there are and what bag completes the section of the build. From page 12 onwards the instructions begin all the way to page 149. Pages 151 to 153 are the piece counts and part numbers.

The Minifigures

In bag one you build: GUNTHER

Gunther is the manager of Central Perk coffee shop and a great inclusion in the set, he has a bright lime green torso with a colourful tie and black pants. He has a white hair piece and face prints on both sides which have been used before on Luke Skywalker mini figures. His accessory is a reddish brown push broom.

In bag two you build: RACHEL

Rachael is in her waitress outfit with a sleeve less light blue blouse with an apron print on the top half of her black pants. I do wish the apron was a cloth piece. The torso has nice lines for the back of the blouse. Her hair piece comes from series 17 the Veterinarian CMF mini figure series and it does justice to Rachel’s character. Her head has two different facial expressions, the first being her normal face and the other an annoyed smirk.  Her accessory is pearl silver serving tray and white tea cup.

In bag three you build: JOEY

Joey is wearing a red button up collared shirt with a very light red shirt underneath and it has pockets on either side which is a really good torso print with plain black legs. The black hair piece really captures Joey’s character well and the two different face prints are keeping with Joey’s attitude. His accessory is a reddish brown “mans bag” and it’s a reference to one of the episodes in the series were Joey carries the bag in hopes of it helping him get an acting job. The set includes food items for Joey of a pizza slice and box, which is a fan reference in the series. The pizza box is a white 2×2 tile with printed red and green stripes on either end with pizza printed in the centre. The pizza slice is a quarter round 1×1 stud tile piece with printed pizza toppings.

In bag four you build: Chandler

Chandler has a black waste coat over blue collared long sleeve shirt for his torso and tan pants for legs. He has a very Chandler face print and the alternate face print is of an annoyed Chandler. The brown hair piece has very good detail. Chandler comes with a black laptop which is difficult to open and close and I have a feeling if you open and close the laptop to much it will end up in two pieces. In my opinion this is my least favourite mini figure out of the 7.

In bag five you build: Phoebe and Ross

Phoebe has a lovely gold leafed vest torso with which sparkles in the day light. The vest design is based off an episode called ‘The one with the blackouts’. She comes with dual face prints, one of shock which really looks fantastic with her blonde hair that flows down from a pony tail and the other is a just breaking a smile. Phoebe comes with her guitar.

Ross features an exclusive dual printed head that really depicts his character well, with a concerned and smiling expression.  His torso print is a tan jacket with a striped tie with light brown legs. His black hair piece has good detail. Ross comes with a. Ross comes with a piano which was in one of the episodes that included Phoebe singing together.

In bag six you build: Monica

Monica does not have an exclusive head piece but it does justice to her character, she is wearing a white shirt with suspenders which also relate to her back with dark tan legs. The mini figure design relates to the very first episode of Friends where Monica reconnects with her childhood best friends while getting ready to go on a date and wearing a pale yellow jacket with suspenders and khakis, hey it was the 90’s. Monica has a chocolate brown cup cake piece for her accessory.

The Build

Central Perk is a coffee shop and what do you expect to find in a coffee shop but coffee and coffee mugs and this set does not disappoint with 15 in total, 3x yellow LEGO® mugs, 2x white LEGO® Mugs, 2x red LEGO® mugs, 2x pink LEGO® mugs, 2x transparent LEGO® mugs, 1x transparent pink LEGO® mug and 3x white tea/coffee cups. If you like the iconic LEGO® coffee mugs this is the set to buy. It includes 2 umbrellas a pink and a black one at the entrance of the shop and above the umbrellas is a red city workers cap.  

The coffee machine built with the gold pieces is very simple but very effective and fits in well with the well angled shop front counter with nice build for the cash register and the biscuits in the glass bowl are a cool addition. There is a print of the golden gate bridge in the back of the set which was also included in the Big Bang Theory set I think that’s a good way of linking Ideas sets.  

I like the carpet modules that you can pull out (look like islands) and place your mini figures where you want them and you can put it back or leave it in front of the set. You build the carpet inserts like a wall and lay them flat to place the furniture and figures where you can in relation to the studs that are placed in convenient places, you can customise this for better placements if you would like.

The iconic orange chair is a good build but you can only fit three figures and Phoebe’s mini figure’s blond hair protrudes out so you cannot sit her flush against the couch she has to sit one stud section out. The table that is placed in front of the orange couch as a nice use of tan and bright green with inverted studs to be able to put a newspaper, coffee cups, flowers and the reserved sign with black background and white writing is a sticker which is placed on a angle transparent piece and looks exactly like the TV series sign. Now we know how the Friends characters were always able to sit around the same table in busy New York City, maybe Rachel placed the reserved sign at the table?

The set has great angles and at the outside of the front entrance is a sticker placed on a 2×4 tile showing a advert that Joey worked on for a lipstick advertisement.  On the opposite inside of the wall is a sticker on a black 2×4 tile promoting Phoebe Live tonight! I like the arrow pointing to the coffee counter with a printed service tile. Another printed piece is the coffee menu with great pastel blue, pink and yellow colours which is representing chalk. The Central Perk logo is printed on a window piece and is a very nice addition.

In the area where Phoebe usually setup to sing is another section that can be removed and is secured in place by two black 1×1 clips. A red chair with brown sides and a round table with flowers are placed in this area and it includes a black microphone and stand for Phoebe to sing into.

My pick from the pieces for this set is #6289117 the dark green 2x2x7 lamp post.

Final thoughts

I really appreciate the time and effort the fan designer has put into the build of the set, he has really captured the iconic Central Perk coffee shop scene and has included many memorable moments from the ten year running series. I have read a number of other reviews where the reviewers are complaining about the lights on either side of the set; however you can remove those lights and the lighting grids if you don’t like the inclusion of the lights. You have to remember this was a TV series filmed in a TV Studio but I don’t think that this distracts from the set as they can be removed. This is a play or display set either way it’s well worth the money.

I did find one alternative build for this set which I thought was very interesting you can copy the link to find out more. https://rebrickable.com/mocs/MOC-33700/beewiks/LEGO®-frame-friends-central-perk/

4095 Room Copenhagen

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

If you didn’t know by now, LEGO® has a division called Room Copenhagen.

www.roomcopenhagen.com

They are a specialist within brand extension, who design and produce home, storage and lunch solutions on behalf of LEGO® and a few other companies.

This particular storage rack #4095 has three drawers in three different colours, which are semi-transparent. Each drawer has a 3032 black plate 4 x 6 in front, which if used for storage, can display the part in the drawer.

I think the purpose of this storage rack was to make it easier to build a set with the pieces being kept in the drawer, that way no pieces would fall on the floor. The storage rack also comes with a loose baseplate 32×32 which slots in on top of the rack.

I really like the idea of having this, but LEGO® could have made these stack-able, then you could have a few on top of each other. Perhaps they would look at this in future. Available in red and blue, though I have only seen blue available locally.

70423 Hidden Side Paranormal Intercept Bus

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

I was fortunate to get some of the LEGO Hidden Side sets, the Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 being the first I chose to build.

The set is an American Style School Bus with a twist. Even before getting these Hidden Side sets, I was looking forward to including it in a scene with my other Monster Fighters sets. These two themes will work so well together, I wonder if that was the idea for this wave.

Onto the build, firstly, the colour scheme is perfect!

Bag one has the portable toilet which changes into a brown-tile spitting haunted ghost monster and the pull out pull out command centre.

Bag two until five contains the bus build. There are many ingenious ways of using pieces for items like the mirrors of the bus and the massive exhausts. I can only imagine how cool it would be to drive a school bus with a turbo and these massive exhausts!

This set has five minifigures, two of which have ghost heads. The minifigures are: The two heroes Jack Davids with a smart-phone and girl minifigure Parker L. Jackson with a smartphone. Tech genius J.B., workers Nanna and Bill, and David’s ghost-dog figure, Spencer.

Three things that I would change on this set, is to make the bus a right hand drive, more space for the bus driver and a way to access the pull out command centre from inside the bus. One thing that I did not like at all was the bus driver’s door, on a normal bus, the door folds into two, whereas this is just a normal trans-clear door.

I have not installed the augmented reality app on my mobile, but from the video’s I have seen, this looks to bring a whole new play experience to these sets. I also have not applied the stickers to this set as I plan to make some of the above changes before applying them. Overall this is an amazing build, the internal space in the bus has not been used effectively but the accessories on the bus make up for this.

Looking forward to reviewing the next set in this wave.

40433 Limited Edition 1989 Batmobile™

By Allan Taylor (SAFOLs Member, CapeLUG Member)

As a serious enthusiast of MOC building I am always hesitant to drop large amounts of cash on sets for display purposes only, my thinking being that I have so many projects that require bits and funding that it seems crazy to spend a large amount for parts that will never see the inside of my spares drawers… and then every now and then a set like this comes along and just blows my mind (along with my “budget”)!

Now, as if the heart stopping awesomeness of the larger UCS 1989 Batmobile (set #76139) wasn’t enough, our good friends at LEGO® have added a little extra magic to drive both fans of Batman as well as AFOL’s everywhere into a frenzy!

As part of the celebration of 80 years of Batman (thank you Bob Kane!) and the 30th anniversary of the original Tim Burton reimagining of our beloved Dark Knight for the big screen, LEGO® has released a smaller companion set (#40433) as a free gift when purchasing the afore mentioned budget destroying behemoth.

Being blessed enough to have gotten one of these at launch, let me share my thoughts and findings as I work through the unboxing and building of this great little companion whilst Santa (AKA my long suffering and very understanding wife) keeps a beady eye on the larger box under the Xmas tree. I have specifically avoided any videos or sites which cover the intricacies of this set so that it would be nice and fresh for me, and you, dear reader are invited along for the ride.

Looking firstly at just the box art of both sets, it immediately becomes apparent that LEGO® has hit exactly the right notes to achieve perfection of the “in universe” look of the Batmobile at both scales. Some interesting differences in parts usage is clear (and would be necessary considering the much lower part count of this smaller set) but I am personally quite keen to see how they have gone about recreating this masterpiece… TWICE!

My first impression as I open the box and lay the contents out is that it comes with a standard manual (as opposed to the swish manuals which come with the Ideas sets or other UCS releases for instance), a few numbered bags of mostly black bits and it seems very much like business as usual.  The only real unique “piece” in this set is the single large sticker which indicates some stats for the Batmobile, ala UCS style!  As I get started with the build I quickly get the impression that this model is intended to be used with a minifig, yet no minifig is supplied with this set (just saying).  Glancing back at the larger box and drooling over the three minifigs supplied with THAT set I must admit that they more than make up for the apparently “missing” figure.  Possibly this is intentional as the larger build is not minifig scale at all, and those minifigs are in fact meant to be used with the companion vehicle whilst leaving the larger model for display purposes only? Ahh LEGO®, how you amuse us with these distractions.

After the first few steps the genius of the LEGO® designers already becomes apparent, making excellent use of many small plates and brackets. Every single part is positioned to maximize structural integrity for the completed build.

Clearly these brackets exist purely for griebeling! Awesome!!

Bag 2 begins… and right away there is excellent usage of some of the newer parts in the form of black 1x1x2 modified bricks with studs on the side.

By the time I had worked through about half of the bag and had completed what is honestly a fascinating sub assembly for the front end, the true scale of the model is both very evident as well as somewhat surprising.  Even though it has been designed at a much smaller scale than its big, black, Batbro, this is no Speed Champion either!  Whilst most of the front end is a fairly standard 8 stud wide construction (my preferred width for doing movie cars personally) it does widen out to 10 studs for the back third, but this is balanced out perfectly with the surprisingly lengthy chassis which comes in at over 28 studs long!

Whilst installing the diff to the rear wheel axle, I glanced at the diff and then at the flame shooting out of the exhaust on the box art and realised the intended function.  MUCH excitement!

Once bag number two is complete, what you are left with is almost like a detailed cross section of the Batmobile with a lot of complete detailing running all around the thin slice of awesomeness that has been built.  At this point I am eagerly awaiting getting stuck into bag number three to start fleshing it out (or rather… up and down).

Spreading the contents of bag number three before myself, I scrutinise the parts and note that only one or two new elements have been used so far.  This is great news for anybody planning on building their own Batmobile with sourced parts.

Approaching the midway point of the third bag I am now so enamoured with this build that even thoughts of the future, larger build are temporarily pushed aside… more or less…

Even though there is a lack of a custom print for the 1×4 printed tile representing the dashboard, the standard print used does a fine job. As the cabin is more fully realised it becomes apparent how incredibly robust the structure is whilst achieving flawless angles and detailing.

My excitement mounts as the bonnet comes together with just a few cleverly used curved slope pieces and that legendary and iconic shape starts to reveal itself!

The conclusion of the instructions for bag three leaves an interesting little pile of spares.  I’m not sure what exactly is up with the hinge… but I’m not complaining.

With my fingers all atremble, I reach for the fourth and final bag of shiny black bits. Finally! The GOOD stuff! Wheels and fins and bats… oh my!  Mid way through bag four all those classic lines start coming together in spectacular fashion.

While building, I mentally review some of the highlights of the construction so far, such as the extremely classy execution of the mechanism driving the rotating flame and the sub assemblies for the wings and…WHEELS! Is this extended rim a new piece?

The completed vehicle looks excellent and feels like it was designed to be played with.  It’s a rugged design which is exceptionally close, if not hundred percent, to minifig scale.  After a quick inspection Batman approves, and then it’s done… or is it?

Eyeballing the pile of remaining parts I realize that they must be for a stand. The curious little LBG dish which I have been trying to place throughout the build seems to indicate that the stand will have a rotation function. Even more excitement is greeted by confused looks from my wife and cats as I whoop like a mad man and cackle to myself. The construction of the stand is quick and easy. It makes superb use of Nexo Knights shield elements in LBG (Light Bluish Grey) to create an interesting texture and pattern to the underside.

In closing, here are some final thoughts…

Going in to this build I was very excited, assuming that it would be epic but thinking that at the very least I would be getting a little pre Xmas treat to tide me over until the “main event” when I build the larger version.  I am however very pleased to report that the mini Batmobile surpassed my expectations.  This build was both extremely fun and educational.  It certainly makes the perfect launch gift accompanying such an iconic vehicle. 

If I had to nit-pick, the only cons would be the “missing” minifig, but really, who doesn’t have a thousand spare Batman minfigs if you’ve collected any Batman LEGO® before?!?

Also, the price point is extremely high and not much of a heads up was given at all to the public, with the reveal and launch being so close together. This gave no time for fans to budget or save for this set. However if you are fortunate enough to claim this bonus set I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

If you enjoyed this review, then watch this space!  I’ll be documenting my unboxing and build of set #76139 once I’ve been given the all clear to unwrap it on Christmas Eve.  It may take several days as I intend savouring every moment, but I assure you the end result will be worth the wait.

10267 Gingerbread House

By Rakesh Gosai (SAFOLs Brick Deputy)

Just in time for the festive season, LEGO released this Creator Gingerbread House. I received this set for my birthday and I was excited to start building it!

Book 1 contains all the wrapped gifts and toys. These are small enough for the minifigures to enjoy. The gifts and toys consist of a rocking horse, four wrapped gifts, and a toy train. There is also a detailed Christmas tree with a lovely star at top of the tree.

Book 2 contains the Gingerbread House. I really enjoyed building the house because of all the lovely details inside and outside of the house. A few interesting things that stood out in the build were the gingerbread baby, the frosted candy-like roof. The interior has amazing coloured glitter 1×1 bricks, which really come to life when there is light shining through them. The upstairs section has a cosy room with a cute bath and toilet. The downstairs section has a cosy kitchen and lounge area complete with a fire-place with a light brick, comfortable sofa and kitchenette.

This set is definitely a favourite of mines. I was just a little disappointed because the set was smaller than I anticipated.

I also had a lot of spare pieces left over. From the official pictures, there was no red plate 1×1 on the door, however I put these on the door and it suited the theme perfectly.

Get it while you still can!

4002019 Christmas X-Wing (2019 LEGO® Employee Gift)

Reviewed by Chris McGee (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

LEGO® over the years has released an annual employee gift which will be distributed to all employees globally. Recently, the gifts have also been distributed to the LAN ambassadors (from recognized LEGO® communities such as RLUG and RLOC). The gift is typically Christmas themed and is promoted as a family build for the holiday season.

This set however, is the first licensed employee gift ever, and how fitting that it should be Star Wars themed, given that 2019 marks 20 years of LEGO® Star Wars as well as the imminent final Skywalker based movie.

Star Wars has forever etched itself deep into the hearts of so many people. Some of my favourite movie scenes from when I was a child came from the original trilogy films: the Death Star trench run; the battle of Hoth; the speeder bike chase on Endor, and with its success in Episode 4 against the Death Star, the X-Wing fighter became iconic, so what better spaceship to put together for such a set.

The build:

Three instruction booklets can be found within the set, each able to be built separately (great for a family build) and each one having a separate minifigure. They have been decorated within with small pictures of the representative minifigure, as well as some nice Christmas styled decorations. There is also a bar at the bottom of each page as a sort of progress bar with a candy cane filling to show how far you are with the booklet.

The first booklet deals with the transport / sled which is a nice small build with some added presents for transporting to the X-Wing. It sits on some skateboard wheels and moves around very easier and has some play value. Two of the gifts come with a small toy inside. A pearl gold statuette “action figure” and flat silver roller skate piece “toy car”. R2-D2 is included within the first section and is a nice inclusion for the purposes of helping run the transport as well as go into the X-Wing, but I am sad he didn’t get a special paint job for the holidays, or at least some reindeer antlers as he had from the advent calendar.

The second is a great little build for a workshop based in a sort of igloo. The different slopes and curved parts have been used nicely to give it a good shaping and texture to give the impression of an igloo (or even liken Yoda’s hut). The inside is fairly empty, but it does have a sort of pressing machine and some toys to make further deliveries later. The inclusion of the rubber duck and blue roller skate is for the other two gifts which were empty and gives some play value. A Christmas Yoda is built within the second booklet. He is not intended to replicate the Santa Yoda we got in an older advent calendar, but he appears to be helping make the toys in the workshop. The newer Yoda head is used along with nice Santa torso (candy cane slotted into his back belt as a print).

The third booklet gives us the X-Wing and the exclusive “Yuletide Squadron Pilot”. The pilot minifigure is an interesting inclusion as expectation would be to include a Christmas Luke or Wedge, but given the final result I am actually happy that it is an unnamed character (read on for why). The printing on the figure is good, with it sticking to the main colour themes of red, white and gold accents of the main ship.

The X-Wing itself is very similar in build to the set we got in 2018 (75218), with just some exterior design being made to look more festive, and to take away certain weaponry. The side cannons being replaced by some space for the gifts to be attached to the sides and can be dropped off on your way as a delivery mechanism. The ship also has the ability to open and close the wings as with a standard X-Wing build these days, along with a smooth and sturdy mechanism to control the positions.

The final product:

Everything comes together so wonderfully in this set and really just makes sense. The workshop is able to play as a stand for the flying X-Wing, which on display looks phenomenal.  Why a cross over like this hasn’t happened before is beyond me considering how big a Christmas themed product can bag cash (advent calendars aside). I guess that is what makes LEGO® such a renowned company. It’s not about the quick buck, but they have rather left such a special and unique set as their gift to their employees. Also considering they would have spent license fees, and gotten over brand management humps to make such a set, it is quite brilliant.

Therefore, I found myself torn in two as I was writing the review up. On the one hand, it is the near perfect celebration for the employees of LEGO®  for keeping a theme like Star Wars going all this time (even without the movies giving it legs during many years). On the other, it is basically a re-skinned version of the original trilogy X-Wing fighter we got in 2018 with a Christmas theme. Nostalgia vs logic… Fandom vs wisdom… Heart vs head.

So I thought about it in a more practical sense: (a) would I have bought this as a set (as is) from a store shelf, and (b) would I recommend for someone to buy it as a set from the likes of Bricklink / EBay?

To (a), it was a ‘heck yes’. Mainly because I am a Christmas fan and something like this would still play on the heart strings as a fan. A lovely take on something so iconic, with a hint of humour in tow, celebrating the 20 years in an awesome way.

For (b), given I am pretty sure that the cost of trying to get one on the aftermarket would be exorbitantly high, I would say ‘rather not’. Main reason is that you could probably piece it together using Bricklink to buy the parts themselves. And what is left is a single minifigure (not based on a main character) and a printed tile. The instructions and box then bring up additional exclusivity. So rather piece it together.

The exclusivity factor is reduced enough in my mind to at least limit the amount of resellers this would bring forward and I am happy for that, as it means many more people will be using this the way that LEGO® intended, through building, display and play. All too often, I fear that the ‘value’ motive stops people from enjoying something that made to be built.

Overall, what a great gift, and I am very grateful that the LEGO® Ambassador Network exists and that we as AFOLs are able to be seen as part of the machine through the recognised user communities. I am also very lucky that my wife, the ambassador who received this, agreed with my sentiments.

As we head towards 2020, I wish all the SAFOLs a great festive season, and hope you enjoy the new Star Wars movie. May the force be with us… always…

21318 Ideas Tree House Review

Reviewed by Chris McGee (SAFOLs Member, jhbLUG Member)

A breath of fresh air…

The idea:

LEGO® Ideas has come a long way since its inception and this set has now become the largest set made from the theme (piece count wise). The range now boasts some of the most vivid and unique models within the LEGO® portfolio, with such memorable non-licensed sets such as the Maze (21305), Pop-up Book, Ship in a Bottle and Old Fishing Store alongside the great licensed sets we have as well. The 21318 Tree House adds something different to what has come before, and after having built it, I wonder why this hasn’t been done before now?

Its roots:

I am not saying that there are no LEGO® tree house sets out there, but they are normally quite timid and lack the actual foliage to really sell it as a tree rather than being a small shack on a trunk (although special mention to sets 3065 and 31053 which are good in their own rights). So it’s difficult to sell the idea as original, but then the new tree house puts itself well above any that has come before and I feel can enjoy the brand of ‘unique’. It should also not surprise us then that the idea itself got its 10000 votes so quickly given what has come before.

Opening the whopping 428 page instruction manual showed perhaps the main reason for LEGO® accepting this recent attempt, which is the ‘Plants from Plants’ initiative started in 2018 whereby all botanical elements in the set are made from plant-based polyethylene plastic, produced from sustainably sourced sugarcane. These make up just over 180 of the 3036 pieces in the set. The 21318 Tree House contains over 180 botanical elements. So this set is the perfect platform to boost awareness of the campaign and get everyone on board with the new direction of the LEGO® Group which is to be making all their products from sustainable materials by 2030. I couldn’t see or feel a difference in quality while building so I am happy with the results.

The figures:

The set comes with 4 minifigures, which is basically a simple family with a father and mother, daughter and son. Based on the build, the tree house appears to be their actual home (or at least a holiday home). Each figure is identifiable and thankfully does not carry any repeat parts, and each have a unique facial print, mainly with happy expressions. It was nice of the design team to add an additional hat for you to swap out amongst the family.

The build:

So the designers clearly had some long thoughts on how to build the tree itself. The build of the trunk was very cool and chose to build on a frame which is both technic and system brick bound. This is really well bolted into the base to make it easy to carry. Plates are connected around the trunk frame to give a rounded feel and with the studs being on the side, it aids in giving texture to the tree. The trunk is immensely strong and I could give a healthy grip for carrying and almost swooshing it about (swooshing not recommended once the cabin roofs and top section of the trees are on the model).

The cabin sections themselves are slightly repetitive but not enough to take the attention away from the build. There are 3 sections to the house, each with a specific purpose, the bedroom, bathroom and what seems to be a research room. Each room has a lot of detail crammed into it and the designers did a nice job to still make it feel cozy. The roofs for the sections are different compared to the normal builds I am used to from LEGO® sets, and reminded me more of ‘MOC’ building. They are not joined via studs but rather rest securely on top of the rooms for easy removal and play access.

Above the cabins are the leaves and adjoining tree top. This is the most repetitive build process within the set, but honestly, I didn’t feel like putting it down. The sheer number of limb / leaf pieces in the set just had me intrigued and wanting to see the finished product. I initially built the autumn scene as I have always enjoyed the colours it displays (I have since changed to the green variant heading into the summer months). The top section or the tree can be separated easily to gain access to the cabins and perhaps the leaf areas are a bit thin when viewed from directly from side on, but the magic is just taking a look through some angles from slightly below or above the initial line of leaves, and the tree appears full of life.

As noted above, the build has 2 different colour schemes of leaf elements, which is great for those wanting to represent a favourite season or change it up a couple of times a year to bring in the new seasons. A dark yellow which is a new colour for the part and dark orange make up the autumn colours along with bright and dark green for the spring / summer colours.

The final product:

With a large portion of the submissions on the LEGO®  Ideas website being focused on licensed properties these days, I really appreciate that process allows a healthy release of non-licensed sets such as this, because the fully built treehouse is a fantastic set, both in build and in the aesthetics. The playability is also there with the underlying grass area, the internal house spaces and the winch for grocery movement. When looking over it, the vibrant colours pop and provide a great representation of something that as kids we probably always wanted.

The verdict:

Although I really loved the display value of the Ship in a Bottle (21313), the various possibilities of the Pop-up Book (21315) and the challenging fun of the Maze (21305), this is definitely my favourite non-licensed Ideas’ set (the Ecto 1 still holds a special place in my heart), and well up there in my top 5 sets for 2019. Even buying multiples is a great idea, since the pieces are so usable in other layouts such as city building and general ‘mocs’. Highly recommended purchase if you still haven’t gotten one since it was released (set retails for R3499.99).

Press Release Photos:

40158 – Pirates Chess Set

Review by Jonathan Lewis (SAFOLs Members)

I have 3 main hobbies in life: LEGO®, chess and photography. So this seemed like a good place to test the waters at writing a review.

I had to purchase this set from Germany as I could not find it on sale locally.

The first thing you notice about the box, which you may only notice if you actually play chess, is that the board is set up incorrectly. The bottom right square (A8) is supposed to be white, and the white queen is sitting on a black block! I’m not sure who should get a reprimand at LEGO® for letting that slip through. If you can forgive that minor fault, then you can move on to the set itself.

The box is packed with over 850 pieces, including 20 minifigures. I must admit, there is not a lot of variety in the pieces, as the chess board is, well, a chess board and you will be getting a lot of black and white! Pieces are packed in several individual bags.

The build starts with creating a very stable base for the board, which is also used as storage for the pieces when not in use. The pieces unfortunately do require some disassembly in order to fit into the base. Nothing particularly complex in the build process. Building the tiles for the board is a very repetitive process. I tried to found ways to make it more interesting, such as building only one edge of each block, forming patterns etc., until the board was complete.

The board includes some decorative sections on the sides, a beach for the Pirates and a fort for the Blue-Coats, which make the whole board a lot more interesting to look at, and add a lot of play value, for when you are not playing chess. More on that later…

The board is built in two halves, held together by technic pins. The extra sections connected in the same manner. They all dismantle and can be easily stacked, if space is limited, to leave the set out on display. I won’t say they can be easily transported, as the palm tree and lanterns are easily damaged. If you just want to carry the two board sections around, those transport very well.

As far as the actual chess pieces go: Each side gets 7 regular pawns (soldiers/pirates), and one eccentric foot soldier, wielding either a banana or a loaf of bread. You know what they say, “don’t bring a banana to a gun fight!” These 2 pieces have double printed heads, so you can take a normal face, and arm them with a proper weapon, if you take your chess that seriously. It makes you feel a little guilty if you want to sacrifice that pawn, though! An admiral and pirate captain, and their respective lady halves, bring the minifigure total to 10 for each side.

The back line can be a little confusing – Blue coats get a nice defence tower looking piece for a rook, Pirates get a barrel with a parrot on top. While they have a stone statue of a skull as a knight. I have often swapped these out and used the stone skull statue as the rook, it just looks more the part. Also, Blue-Coat’s nights and bishops are very similar in size and build, just try to remember that the bishops hold weapons (either a sword for the Blue-Coats, or catapult for Pirates), while knight has no weapons, just a map.

For playing chess, it looks very good all set out to play. But it requires a lot of concentration to keep track of what pieces are what, it’s a bit less of a headache to just play on a regular chess board.

For play-ability (not specifically just Chess), there many possibilities. 20 minifigures for a start, that’s great for battling it out however you want to arrange them. Spreading out onto the little island on one side, and the fort on the other, it’s a great place to develop a story. My kids have had a lot of great times, often adding in knights or pirates and princesses from other sets to really get a story going. A little chess diorama:

In summary: The building is a bit monotonous for the board, but it makes a great display piece, and an even better play piece, just maybe not for playing actual chess!

Perhaps Metalbeard thinks it should rather be used for checkers?

70702 – Galaxy Squad Warp Stinger

Review by James Burnett (SAFOLs Members, CapeLUG Members)

In 2015 I emerged from my personal Dark Ages and rediscovered the joys of LEGO® and for the next three years I focused predominantly on the Castle and Pirates themes. Then in 2018 I came across an advert for the 2013 Galaxy Squad set (70702) called Warp Stinger. Until this point I had never heard of this theme. I was immediately drawn to the unique colour combination of dark red and lime.

The theme is centred on humans and robotic sidekicks that are protecting worlds against an invasion by an alien insect-like race. The humans are divided into four teams, each with a unique colour (red, blue, green and orange) and speciality. The humans have various vehicles designed to survive in outer space. The vehicles of the aliens look like animal hybrids.

The Build

The build starts with the small fighter craft of the red team. Even though it is a small build, the use of parts is creative and the end product is a realistic fighter. The only critique I have is the lack of the control dashboard, as only a plain white 1×2 cheese slope is used.

The first part of the alien vehicle (known as the Warp Stinger and looks like a giant mosquito) that you build is the head. It is a fun build that makes use of a lot of interesting building techniques. I particularly like the large trans-red windscreens used for the eyes and the trans-purple containers that represents an egg-sack structure.

The next part is the body and tail. Slight variations between the different sections of the body prevents the build from becoming monotonous. Lastly you build the long slim legs of the Warp Stinger. I found it surprising how delicate the legs appear, but they are sturdy enough to keep the build upright.

The Minifigures

The set comes with three minifigures. The first is Billy Starbeam. He comes with a nice torso print (front and back). I particularly appreciated his alternate face with the mask.

The second minifigure is a red robot sidekick. The minifigure does not have a traditional face, but rather the helmet serves as the head. The jet-pack on his back is interesting and succeeds is being a realistic jet-pack.

The third and last minifigure is the winged mosquitoid. While his vehicle is mostly dark red and lime green, the mosquitoid is dark red and olive green. The trans-bright green wing accessory creates the look and feel of real wings.

Conclusion

Overall it is a fun and interesting build. If you are a fan of the more well know space theme then this theme is definitely for you.

70418 – Hidden Side – J.B.’s Ghost Lab

Review by Troy and Callum Chelin
(SAFOLs Members, jhbLUG Members)

Set number 70418 J.B’s Ghost Lab is the first of 8 sets in the 1st wave of the Hidden Side theme. This new range uses AR (Augmented Reality) via LEGO’s APP to make your playing experience come to life. For those of you who don’t know what (Augmented Reality) or commonly known as AR for Short, it is computer-generated content overlaid on a real world environment, commonly used in video games and Television. We will get to the APP and AR experience later in the review.

Background

The Hidden side is based around the town of Newbury where you need to solve mysteries and turn a haunted town back to normal. J.B’s Lab is where you build and invent new gadgets to be able to catch the ghosts. You can explore the hidden side with your phone and catch all the ghosts to add to your ghost collection. You can get help from J.B’s Ghost lab and find objects to help you catch the ghosts in the hidden world.

Box Art Work

The artwork is not your typical art work which LEGO usually adopts and it works well with this theme, as you see Jack using his phone to spot the hidden ghosts in the built LEGO set. This set is a 7+ build and if you turn over to the back you get to see what you would normally expect on the front of a LEGO box, showing the built set and some of the close up areas of the set, zooming in on areas of the building for more detail. Some APP details are given at the back and you can follow the links and check if your devices are compatible. Note: my iPhone 6 does not support AR.

On the sides of the box you get to see all the mini figure characters with their names and what ghost you can expect to see in the set. In this set the ghost is DR. Drewell.

What’s in the box?

When Callum opened the box he found 2 poly bags marked 1 and 2, the instruction manual and the sticker page with 7 stickers and Callum mentioned that no ghost escaped or flew out at him when he opening the box.

There are 174 pieces in this set which includes 3 mini figures and a dog which is really great to get more than one mini figures in a small LEGO set and to get four I think is always awesome! Having seen all the Hidden Side sets they all come with over 4 figures each so defiantly no shortage of mini figures to add to any collection.

The Minifigures

In bag one you get 2 mini figures Mr. Elton, J.B and the third figure is Spencer the dog. In bag two you get to build Jack. Spencer is our favourite figure in this set.

SPENCER

Spencer the dog is white with a translucent tail and legs, Spencer uses one stud to stand on, we both thought that Spencer would glow in the dark however to our disappointment we found he does not. Spencer is Jack’s best friend who unfortunately passed away in a traffic accident and returned as a ghost.

MR ELTON

Aka Douglas aka, El Fuego in his human form has a great hair piece with really cool alternate faces. Callum’s best feature is his gray hand pieces. The detail in the torso is really good and the writing in the name bag says DIAZ with black writing on a silver background really stands out in the light. The knee pads on the legs are really well placed with the tools hanging off his belt and a rag in his pocket. The light lime green hair piece is made well and suits the translucent head piece. The play ability of this minifigure is really awesome as you get three different possibilities in one figure. 

J.B.

J.B. is the Scientist behind the ghost hunting operation who loves her coffee. The best feature is her light purple hair piece with the moulded goggles. Her white torso is designed well with what looks like a Frankenstein mini figure head on her shirt with a USB stick hanging off a keying. J.B. comes with an alternate head which looks as if she made a mistake in the lab and had something blow up in her face. Her legs are white with a name tag hanging off her belt. Callum and I both liked the light blue for her hands

JACK DAVIDS

Jack’s is new in town and his dad is the new high school headmaster. Jack joins Parker and scientist J.B. to hunt ghost and explore the Hidden side, He loves video streaming and often get court up in his video chats and forgets to chase the ghosts. The best part of Jacks minifigure is his white hoodie moulded over his red cap, he comes with an alternate face and has a white torso with red claw marks across it and black pants. He carries his black phone where ever he goes.

DR. DREWELL (in APP game play)

Known hang-out: J.B.’s Laboratory Soul Artifact: Erlenmeyer flask

Dr Drewell was a brilliant scientist working on experiments for the pursuit of eternal youth, however things don’t always work out in life as planned.

The Build

Callum (7) built this set on his own starting by building the colour scanner which you use in the APP, each colour gets scanned to get the ghosts to come out of hiding, three stickers are used on the scanner, two arrows to show the turning direction and a small sticker with a meter on it. You then fit a sturdy octagon plate to form the base of the Lab, a 6×6 plate is used next to the octagon base for the rest of the lab floor and the walls and the basic shell of the Lab is built with a large sticker placed at the back of the lab which has some sticky notes and some x-rays of a skull and the cross section of a Brain. Callum and I really liked the use of the silver grate pieces for the step up to the white chamber and the use of a yellow 1×4 warning tape printed tile.

Bag two is where the real fun begins as you get to add all the detail onto the build. In the laboratory area there is a computer screen with a sticker added for the display and the keyboard is a printed piece, another printed piece is the pizza which is a nice addition to the set, however as J.B. is a lover of coffee we were expecting the iconic LEGO mug. Next to the keyboard are a spanner and camera, the 3D printer with the translucent front piece is a fun addition to the side of the computer. Above the computer screen are different colour jars that are used in the APP to find gloom however this changes with ever opening of the APP.  A great piece to have in this set is the clear lime green pipe connecting the selector to the chamber. Above the chamber are electric rods which conduct electricity, they have used two round tiles with stickers to represent sparks or burst of electricity. It took Callum one and a half hour to build this set with a break after bag one.

The APP

We struggled with the APP at first, there is a bug which LEGO is aware of which they are currently working on for the IOS user in South Africa, and you will need to change your region to United States before you can download the APP and open the program.

When you open the APP you need to select the Ghost Lab and place your phone screen onto the outlines of the Ghost Lab and before the AR begins it does show you to. Play in a well lit area, play on a clean, flat surface and avoid patterned and reflective surfaces. Once in the game the AR will direct you to where you need to scan to find Ghost, it does help if you can read and small kids might get frustrated as the AR does prompted you with messages on the top of the screen.  Some guidance will be needed for young children. Once in the APP you need to collect as many ghosts as you can. Happy ghost hunting!