By Barry Kay (SAFOLs Brick Boss, CapeLUG EXCO, Batman … Ssshhhh!)
I have never really been into the Friends sets but have always like the parts and animals that came with them. I was privileged to get my hands on some of the summer 2020 range and have to say these builds have some great techniques and part usage. The sets are also designed in such a way that they are very playable and not only meant for display.
The target audience is definitely young girls who love to play with a dolls house type environment.
As with the new City sets, we see some of the great collaboration between LEGO® and National Geographic in this range.
Expert from the LEGO® press release
“Billund, Denmark, 25 June 2020: Today, the LEGO Group and National Geographic unveil their most recent partnership. New LEGO® City and LEGO® Friends sets have been developed to create awareness about exploration and the protection of endangered species in the world’s jungles and oceans. To support the launch and engage children even further, a campaign has been developed in collaboration with National Geographic to encourage children to explore the world and maybe even develop their own creative ideas on solving the real-life challenges our world is facing. The campaign site is now live in English on LEGO.com/exploretheworld and will launch July 1st in additional languages. The LEGO Group is also announcing a contribution towards the National Geographic Society to fund grants in ocean exploration and species conservation.”
Baby Elephant Jungle Rescue (41421) – 203 pcs / R349.99
The first of National Geographic sets in this range. In this set we have rangers Stephanie and Emma who need to rescue a baby elephant trapped in some rocks. The set has a charming little car and trailer that is nice and sturdy with great play / driveability. The rock trap is designed to slide open and closed so that the team can rescue the baby elephant. It is a fun and easy set to build.
Panda Jungle Tree House (41422) – 265 pcs / R549.99
This NG set features rangers Olivia and Mia and some really cute baby pandas. The tree house is a solid enough build that a child can play with the characters in and around it. They will have fun letting the pandas slide down the slide and having the Mini-doll wash the dirty panda that is cleverly printed with muddy patches. There is also a little seesaw to build that works nicely for the pandas to sit on and play. The set has some other clever details such as a pull cart, chains holding a tyre swing and computer with tea station in the treehouse. All in all another fun and very playable set.
Tiger Hot Air Balloon Jungle Rescue (41423) – 302 pcs / R699.99
The next set in the NG line has rangers Andrea and Emma rescuing white tiger cubs from a waterfall in their hot air balloon. The waterfall build is simple and elegant but still a solid play build. The curved trans-light blue parts give it a very unique running water look and feel. The balloon is very much like other we have seen. Easy build with a round basket and attachment box for the tigers being rescued one at a time.
Jungle Rescue Base (41424) – 648 pcs / R1,399.99
Another NG set with rangers Andrea, Mia and Oliva. This set has similar aspects to the 41422 Treehouse with great details and play ability with the ranger stations and fun slide for the animals. This set introduces a cute sloth to the mix of Friends animals. There are two included. The two treehouses are connected by a cleverly designed rope bridge that has 2×2 modified plates so the mini-doll can be played with walking across or standing on it. With more “technology” being used in the latest LEGO® sets, we see some solar panels and also get to build a drone with this set. It must be one of Olivia’s creations. There is a lot this set has to offer with regards to building and playability.
Olivia’s Flower Garden (41425) – 92 pcs / R169.99
Here we have a quick and easy build. It has a growing station with small potted plants. There is a unique quad scooter to build that Olivia can ride and transport her plants. A cleverly designed but simple to build farmer bot adds some extra character to the set. What would a friends set be without including an animal? We get cute squirrel in this one.
Heartlake City Park Café (41426) – 224 pcs / R349.99
This set is your basic dolls house playable type set. We have pastry chef Stephanie selling her goods at the café and Mia with her skateboard coming to buy. The shop setup it easy to build with some nice details like an ice-cream machine, waffle maker and display rack. The shop has large “glass” doors that can swing open and closed, and there is an outdoor eating area which allows for extra game play ideas.
Emma’s Fashion Shop (41427) – 343 pcs / R549.99
This set will go very nicely next to the City Park Café in the Heartlake shopping district. Also a dolls house type set, we have an easy to build shop structure with lots of extra details such as a changing room, upstairs lounge to play tea party with Andrea and Emma before shopping and trying on the clothes, which are provided in the form of additional torsos and capes.
Beach House Building Kit (41428) – 444 pcs / R859.99
Lovely easy build of a typical Friends dolls house type set. You can vacation with Mia and Andrea. Take them surfing or boating along with a friendly baby dolphin. They can relax in the hammock under the palm tree after a lovely burger and fries lunch in the kitchen. At night flip up the roof to reveal Andrea’s DJ station and party until morning. Other pieces of interest in this are the flamingo and buildable sandcastle.
Heartlake City Aeroplane (41429) – 572 pcs / R1,199.99
While Mia and Andrea are partying it up at the beach house, Stephanie and Oliva are jet setting elsewhere. This easy to build aeroplane has a removable cockpit, Cabin and storage area covers, so you can get Captain Ashely the pilot (who is also the ticket sales lady) into the cock pit, settle the girls into their seats in the main cabin, load the cargo hold, close up and jet off into the sky. The plane is quite solid when all closed up and has very nice swooshability.
Summer Fun Water Park (41430) – 1001 pcs / R1,699.99
Join Mason, Olivia, Emily and Stephanie for some water park fun. This set has a very fun design of a large swimming pool with different slides and the base is nicely rounded off. I especially like the trans-light blue tube slide which is quite different to your standard slides that they have in this set. There are lovely underwater details such as the coral decorations, fish tanks, a flamingo and sea horse. Along with the park itself you also get a little ice-cream van to serve the characters on the hot day. As with the other sets in this range, it is very easy to build and has great playability.