Some sets have an amazing longevity and are around for years, so it becomes hard to imagine that there was ever a time when they didn’t exist. Such was the case with the old Heartlake Hair Salon (41093) from 2015 that in fact was available until earlier last year after having been EOL‘d in late 2018. Someone at LEGO must have missed it a lot and here we are with a new Heartlake City Hair Salon (41391) pretty much only one year later, effectively.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: While the details are different enough, the similarities between the old and the new set jump in your face right away. To say that somebody drew a bit of inspiration would certainly be an understatement. The most noticeable change is the reduced base area no longer using a large 16 x 16 studs plate and instead being adapted to the contours of the building using round plates. Likewise, there is of course only a single rounded window here instead of two.
The extras included in the set include a couple of wigs/ hair pieces, some accessories and the necessary tools and utilities for the coiffure, but regrettably no longer include the old “hairdresser utensils” sub-set. I’m all for things like building things like the hair dryer from pieces instead of relying on large compact single-mold pieces, but in light of the fact that there are no alternatives to some of the other elements like the hand-held mirror or even the star “broach” this diminishes the set somewhat. They should have included these bits, regardless.
The main building is as simple and straightforward to build as you might want to imagine. Just a bunch of panels and a few elongated bricks plugged side by side like a child might build it if it had the parts. Funny enough, the building instructions again make this more complicated than it needs to be because somehow instead of focusing on stability first it asks you to build this layer by layer from left to right, with a bit of jumping over the place to occasionally place a single element elsewhere. Who even comes up with such nonsense?
Personally I also regret that the large window is done using a transparent panel, not the new actual 6 x 6 window with frame introduced last year on the Lighthouse Rescue Centre (41380). This would have clearly amped up the value and made it worthwile to perhaps even buy this set a second and third time just to scalp the part. Alas, t’wasn’t meant to be. 😉
Interestingly enough in comparison to the older set the exterior looks pretty lively, despite the trimmed down plates allowing for fewer options. Of particular note to a parts-obsessed guy like me are once more the new Lime Green leaves elements also found in the Moana set I reviewed recently and the single Dark Pink 1 x 2 plate with round edges holding the barber pole.
The life saver ring/ toilet seat element used for the eyes of the scissors is also included in Medium Azure for the first time ever and could make it worth buying this inexpensive set if you plan on e.g. creating a nice bathroom in your custom building with a consistent Caribbean blue color theme.
The interior feels very uncluttered despite the limited space, which perhaps is one of the biggest improvements over the old set. It goes to show that within only a few years and new/ different pieces becoming available it can indeed help to improve things and not just be a means to reduce the overall parts count (while keeping the same price) for LEGO.
This becomes most apparent with the seating where this time they went for the “heavy old leather armchair” look. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but feels very 1960s American and/ or (male) barber shop. It’s definitely not as common here in Europe, or Germany specifically. This is also one thing I would definitely have changed. Not so much the shape and construction, but the color.
In my opinion the whole set is drowning in way too much Magenta and Dark Pink and thus looks a bit dreary. Ideally I would of course have preferred something like Dark Orange or Medium Dark Nougat for that genuine leather look, but in fact I’m inclined to think that this screams for Bright Light Orange to lighten the mood.
On the subject of screaming I once more could also yell at someone at LEGO for not including more prints beyond the standard greenback piece, the dime and the cash register. This is ridiculous, given that there’s a dozen variations of different newspaper tiles at least and clearly in the digital age it also wouldn’t hurt if they came up with a bunch of standard newscast or info screen designs for 2 x 4 tiles used as LCD screens. This just is too obvious.
Overall I think this is a nice little set and with a few modifications or building a larger version from multiple sets it might even not look half as bad as an annex to a building in your city. It’s very typical Friends, though, and thus the coloring may not be everyone’s kettle of fish. I also don’t see where the original 20 Euro price is coming from. It’s definitely not worth that. the good news is that this can be bought for around 13 Euro in many places, which makes much more sense.