All boxed in! – Frozen Storybook (43175) and Ariel’s Storybook (43176)

I’ve never paid much attention to the Disney Princess theme, but somehow this year a few things caught my eye that inevitably led to me buying a few sets. After the two mini sets for Moana and Aurora last time, here’s a look at the “storybook” line. Specifically we are going to check out Ariel’s Storybook (43176) and the Frozen Storybook (43175), but before we delve into the details, let’s have a generic glance at them from the outside.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176) and Frozen Storybook (43175), Comparison

Each book consists more or less of three large pieces plus a few additions. The front and back lid are held together by a spine piece to which they are connected using Technic pins with an axle holder head. Those come in either Pearl Silver or Perl Gold to match some of the other decorations. If you ever wanted them in this color, which I believe hasn’t been available since the Bionicle days, here’s your chance.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Front Right Side View

The spine is done in a different color, which in my opinion makes things a bit messy and less aesthetically pleasing as it could have been. I’m in particular miffed with the Lavender box for Frozen that uses Dark Azure when LEGO have three different lavender/ lilac/ purple colors in their portfolio. It didn’t have to be this way and the irony is that if you were to buy Mulan’s Storybook (43174) you could use it there to get a uniformly colored book. Go, figure!

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Front Left Side View

As far as decorations go, you only get the main plaque on the front and the printed lock hinge tile. That could be okay, but ultimately I think this should be overflowing with some golden embossing or at the very least have some extra gold elements thrown in in order to decorate the few visible studs. The lack of same makes the outward appearance oddly barren and pales compared to similar products from other manufacturers that are overflowing with glittery stuff and bling.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Box

Speaking of market competitors – this is of course LEGO‘s version of Polly Pocket and similar portable play sets based on microfigures. You’d have to be utterly foolish to not recognize the sameness. I don’t have any actual figures of the alternate product at hand, but I’d bet next to each other even the size and scale line up pretty well.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Overview

The figures themselves make an interesting point about themselves in that they are modeled in the minidoll style used in LEGO Friends and Elves, but somehow look a lot cuter. Funny how the same heads and hair pieces can give a totally different impression on another torso. Never having bought any of the older sets I also had my sights set on Sebastian and Fabius, which aside from generally wanting to check out these boxes provided additional incentive to buy Ariel’s Storybook (43176).

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Figures

On the inside it becomes quickly apparent that these sets draw quite some inspiration from the LEGO Ideas Pop-Up Book (21315). The effectively usable height/ thickness of the book or width of the spine is in fact identical at four studs. This of course also means that the same limitations apply to what you can build, even more so given the overall smaller size. There is naturally no actual pop-up mechanism, which compensates somewhat for the lack of space.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Front Left View

The main parts are all built onto the spine. That is they are not plugged onto it directly but rather are constructed on separate 4 x 6 or 4 x 4 plates that in turn are attached to the spine. This kind of allows to take them out for playing, but it’s really only “kind of”. I found it difficult to pull out the plates without damaging whatever is built on them and it doesn’t take much to imagine that smaller kids would not have the necessary strength.

One of the plates stuck so hard I was only able to get a hold of it after removing the pieces on it and then using a brick separator. My theory here is that the spine part is so stiff and rigid, it doesn’t bend and wriggle even the tiniest bit and thus the plates can “suck” themselves to the surface like they were glued on.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Top Down View

The slide, an inverted canopy part, uses the same pearlescent effect also already discussed on Aurora’s carriage. I maintain that this is simply a coating used universally on different base colors to different effects no matter how much New Elementary and other sites may obsess about new color codes and LEGO assigning new part ID numbers to those items.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Front Lid Inside

As you would imagine, with the center region being so decked out, the insides of the lids don’t leave much room to add more stuff or else it would collide and block with the pieces on the spine. There’s only a few extra leaves and my new favorite part, the 1 x 1 sundae swirl posing as clam shells in the front lid. The back one features even less and only has a generic 4 x 2 tile in the center and some round jumpers in the corners. However, it also has that large print of a section of beach.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Back Lid Inside

This being meant to be taken along when your kids visit their friends or you are travelling, there is sufficient provision for securing your figures on the various jumper plates scattered throughout. as shown in the below image. I didn’t think it at first, but when you get into the nitty-gritty you realize how well thought out this is. There’s a place for everything and everyone and unless you handle it very roughly nothing will come loose and clonk around in the box.

LEGO Disney, Ariel's Storybook (43176), Transport Configuration with Figures in Place

There are a few minor issues with the coloring, though. Arguably there’s too much Coral to begin with and on the other hand where it would have made sense to use a consistent color, in particular on the large clam shell, it is messed up with Dark Pink and White pieces even if the parts in question definitely also exist in Coral as proven in other sets. This is usually explained away as a measure to provide contrast and distinction for kids following the instructions, but it always gets to me, feels unnecessary and looks iffy.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Box

The second set of my test selection, the Frozen Storybook (43175) follows the same pattern and only changes a few things around as needed.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Overview

The figures are okay, but Olaf looks quite creepy this time with his oversized head. It already feels sort of wacky as a regular minifigure and here just plugged onto a printed minifigure head element it looks even more disproportionate. There’s also one critical omission, of course: a reindeer is missing. Sure, there’s the scale issue for a genuinely large Sven, but new for this year we got a Fawn in the Elsa and the Reindeer Carriage (41166) set, didn’t we? It shouldn’t have been to much trouble to throw in that or re-purpose it in a different color.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Figures

The main build here is castle Arendelle in simplified form. As you know I never use stickers, so the shields with the triangular windows and any other element with a pattern you see are actual prints. For me the other interesting parts are the golden candle elements used to construct the columns. So far this is the only set they come in and I’m sure they might be useful for something. The gate tower uses an old, old space wing element on a hinge. I found it occasionally a bit difficult to fold it down when closing the box. It doesn’t quite fit in the gap and sometimes get’s stuck at the edges of the adjacent jumper plates.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Front Left View

The large print is on the front lid this time and features a paved court yard. The bridge is built from two car mudguard elements to keep things simple.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Front Lid Inside

The rear side of the facade doesn’t have much to offer. On the right side there’s a tiny piano, though. I just forgot to take a shot with it in an open position. With so little going on the back lid would have benefited fro ma large print on the inside as well instead of just the lonely carpet tile.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Rear Left View

Again everything can be stowed away neatly for transport by placing it on the corresponding jumper plates. The sleigh would more appropriately fit into the archway, but having it hang from the wall isn’t that bad.

LEGO Disney, Frozen Storybook (43175), Transport Configuration with Figures in Place

Overall these sets are quite nice for what they are intended and if you have a little girl at the right age that likes to carry around her favorite toys, this should make her happy. even to me the stripped down casings will still be of use for transporting minifigures and small builds inside them, securely tucked to the studs.

The only thing that doesn’t feel right is the price – as so often. For a handful of bricks and a few figures 20 Euro isn’t competitive if it’s indeed LEGO‘s intention to give Polly Pocket et al some heat. This may not be outrageous in the LEGO universe, but just look how much stuff you get in an average 15 Euro set from those other vendors! It’s only a good thing that thanks to the self-regulating powers of the free market you can get this for around 12 Euro on some occasions. This is much more palatable realtive to what you get in the package.

Belated January Princess

Our friends at Blue Ocean have decided that the world needs another LEGO magazine, so naturally I got a bit excited when first news came out late last year about the new LEGO Disney Princess line. As you well know I do have a soft spot for this girl-ish stuff in crazy colors and with the Friends magazine only coming out every two months in these parts I welcome every additional alternative.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, January 2020, Cover

The first issue actually already was released mid-January, but unfortunately they chose to only distribute it through some larger outlets for the time being in some sort of test drive. Therefore I was only able to catch it this week while I was on tour for a medical appointment in one of the nearby bigger cities. Here’s hoping that this will get popular enough that they decide to also pour it into regular channels and I can pick it up on my local newsstand some day.

Having only recently bought the pink carriage set, I of course had no urgent need or desire for the included Aurora figure, but it’s not that bad overall and should be of interest for your kids. beyond that I really only wanted to check out the magazine. As far as that goes, it’s pretty much in line with any of the other LEGO magazines and follows the same pattern. There’s some comics, a coloring picture, posters, some simple puzzle, some crafting activities in the form of instructions for a crown-shaped pillow and even an actual readable text story. Apparently I’m not the core demographic for this, but this seems okay.

I’m also pleased that there’s a lot of painted stuff. Admittedly a lot of it looks like digitally over-painted CG-renderings, regardless, but the natural touch and a few irregularities make it much more bearable and less creepy. It’s still kind of inconsistent, though, with photos, cheap CG, the mentioned over-paint style, the comic illustrations and then of course other graphics often appearing next to each other. this certainly could be smoothed out a bit, including better typography and font use. Sometimes it feels very lumped together.

It remains to be seen how this develops and stabilizes, but if you get a chance there’s no harm in picking this up. I’m already looking forward to the second issue which is due mid March and will contain some actual buildable pieces to create Aurora‘s bed. I just hop that I’ll be able to get my hands on it without that much of a delay and hunting it down will not be so complicated as the first time…

Today I’m a Princess! – Moana’s Boat (43170) and Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173)

We all have our favorite animated Disney movies and while my most beloved ones have little to do with today’s modern takes on the subject nor in some way the more kitschy older ones I still enjoy even those for what they are when they run on TV or I can snatch them up on a cheap DVD/ Blu-Ray. That being the case I was, odd as it may sound, pleasantly surprised to see that there would be new Moana sets as well as a few others lined up for this year. Let’s begin with Moana’s Boat (43170)

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Box

I have a funny relation to this movie. I loved the original trailer way back then (the one with the flashbacks also used in the film where she’s a toddler), but to this day never got around to actually sit through the movie from beginning to end. I know bits and bobs and some larger sections even, but not the whole story. That’s perhaps one of the reasons why I never had much interest in the original, way larger sets. It’s not that I feel I missed out on something special, but I always wanted the little pig named Pua in my collection. The new release makes this easy enough, with this being a 10 Euro set, often sold for 7 Euro.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Overview

Given the pricing of course one shouldn’t expect anything miraculous to be included. The buildable components are very simple and just enough to allow to re-play some scenes from the movie, but far from being super-realistic or proportionally accurate. naturally there’s Pua the pig which I was so keen on and then a Moana figure as well. Here in Germany she’s called Vaiana, by the way, due to some other pre-existing registered trademark having foiled Disney‘s marketing plans.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Island The small island has been reduced to the bare minimum, but to me is still enticing. Not only does it contain the triple leaves element in Lime Green as a new color for this year but also the “poop” swirl 1 x 1 round plate introduced with the Dog Sitter Collectible Minifigure last year, but this time in white. If you know my obsession with LEGO Friends and baking you know that this will make a perfect piece for Sundae swirls or any other similar cake decoration while here in this set of course it stands in as a shell housing.

 

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Left ViewThe boat/ canoe is an equally simplistic build, but is sufficient for the smallness of the overall set. I could be critical of the construction, but for the most part it will be just fine for kids. My only serious concern is the lack of an extra axle/ beam to support the auxiliary float, as indeed it’s only connected via the arched slopes. Similar to the island however there is a lot of value here if you are hunting for specific parts.LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Right View 

 

First, there’s the two inverted curved slopes in Reddish Brown for the first time ever. Yes, one would think that such a mundane part had been done in this color a long time ago, but while I don’t always trust Bricklink 100 percent (they do get information wrong at times despite peer reviews), it seems true. Similarly, the bar used for the mast, an almost 30 year old mold, is premiering in a brown color in this set as well. And finally, there’s the new 2 x 2 x 1 container only introduced in 2019 (under the lid with the flower).

I almost struggle for words to describe how awesome it actually is that they crammed in so many “new” pieces into such a small and affordable set. Buying a second or third of these sets doesn’t seem like the worst idea, especially if the price drops even lower during some special promotion.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Box

Moving on to Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173) I can barely contain my excitement, either. Initially the only reason I so wanted this set is the owl. Yes, it may seemed stupid, but when i first saw pictures of this little critter and its dumb-founded look I laughed my bum off in the real LMFAO sense. Even now when I look at it I can’t help but grin and giggle. It pushes all my buttons.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Overview

The little side build with the table feels a bit superfluous and doesn’t do much for me. it doesn’t even have a genuine candle and the least they could have done to make this more interesting is to include the new “dripping icing” 2 x 2 plate found in the just released baking-themed LEGO Friends sets. A real wedding cake would have been even better. Other than that the set is again overflowing with pieces in previously non-existent color variants. Those include the bracket used for the seat, the modified plate with a single clip, the slope and there’s also the three to two jumper plate and the stairstep bracket, both of which however were already introduced in these colors for The LEGO Movie 2 last year.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Left View

There could be some debate on the modified tiles with the wall panel, though. New Elementary has a whole article on the subject, but I honestly think they are over-interpreting this and make things way too complicated. Point in case: The only reason why they all get different numbers is because LEGO counts them as special/ custom-produced one-off parts tied to specific sets or series. Other than that it’s presumably always the same coating that just looks different depending onto which base color it is applied. That’s in fact perhaps the most sensible theory to begin with. While nothing speaks against it, I don’t consider it likely that LEGO would try out a ton of different coatings. That would make things way to convoluted for mass production.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Aft Right View

All things considered, I really like these two little sets. They offer great value for little money and just feel useful to me. I even almost like the minidolls. The ones used in Friends have definitely improved in terms of showing different prints and colors, but these two models show how further modifying them with different types of skirts and perhaps a different hair piece can further enhance them.

The models themselves are also robust enough to actually be played with by children. I accidentally dropped the storage box where I keep those things in during the photo shoot and aside from a few pieces that you would expect to come off such as the palm leave on Moana‘s island or some of the golden swirlies on the carriage nothing broke. It should be safe even for three-year-olds. If your kids are into any of the movies, you should definitely consider buying those sets.