A whole New Price World – LEGO Disney, LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208)

As much as I try to restrain myself, I somehow always fall for the appeal of some of those Disney sets and that is no different here with Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208). I just couldn’t help it. The more I studied the images, the more I wanted the tiger and after a while there was no turning back because the thought had gotten such a hold over my brain.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Box

Contents and Pricing

Unfortunately this set once again proves that LEGO and Disney are no longer living on planet Earth and that their uneasy alliance is to the detriment of their customers. Yepp, this package is overpriced – hopelessly. There’s really no way around it and you can’t sugarcoat this as much as you may want to. Even if you account for the two large animals and some larger construction elements, the price to part ratio makes no sense. At a suggested price of 40 Euro for a measly 176 pieces it has been blown out of any reasonable proportion.

Now of course I’m “a man with a plan” and could justify a purchase to myself for the simple fact that this set contains a ton of useful parts (more on that near the end of the article), many of which are making their first appearance with this set. Still, even that does not justify the exorbitant pricing and if it wasn’t for some lucky circumstances we’d not even be here to discuss the set because I simply wouldn’t have bought it yet. The magic moment that made this feasible, after all, was once more Amazon matching the price of one of their competitors, so I could order this package for 25 Euro, equaling something like a 37 percent discount.

That still leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as ultimately I feel I paid too much even under those conditions. More or less those 25 Euro (or 30 Euro for arguments sake) should have been what this costs from the outset and then we’re talking, especially once discounts come into play. Sadly, that’s the tragedy of it: This could have been a great set, but it was ruined by shameless greed on the part of those involved.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Overview

The Model

While both Mulan and Jasmine have had their share of standalone Disney Princess sets, this is the first time they’ve been thrown into a box together. This caused a bit of an uproar from some self-proclaimed “purists” because it doesn’t make sense, but then again in this particular corner of the universe what does? Disney can do with their characters whatever they want and sometimes these experiments turn out well and open surprising venues, other times the results are terrible. This one isn’t so bad and if you bend reality just enough, it could even be plausible they could actually have met some day despite being from different Asian/ Arabian regions.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), TigerAs already mentioned, for me a big motivator for getting this set was Rajah, Jasmine‘s pet tiger. The interesting thing here is that it actually looks quite female here, though in the animated movies it’s clearly a male. I quite like this change, as the softer contours make it look even cuter. It’s also done really well with nice crisp prints and good coverage of same, including the two 1 x 2 curved bricks used for the insert on the back.

Mulan clearly gets sidelined in this set with her contents being limited to the horse and this small build of a shrine. It’s nice and all, but certainly there would not have been much harm in making it at least twice as big and adding a few more details like perhaps two more branches for the cherry tree and building it so that the shrine is an actual enclosure with a recess, i.e. add sidewalls.

The bulk of the set is dedicated to building a massively simplified version/ section of the Agrabah palace, residence of Jasmine and her father the sultan. This pretty much only would ever pass as one of the minor side entries into the palace, though apparently they included the balcony as a clear reference to the huge one where Aladdin is romancing Jasmine. It’s adequate for what it is supposed to convey, but my personal feeling is that perhaps they could have designed this more freely and been better off for it. A bit of garden around it and a less symmetrical layout would have looked more convincing, with the real point being that you cannot convey the enormity of the palace, anyway, unless you make it a 5000+ pieces set or something like that. Settling on a smaller segment might have been creatively liberating and had allowed to play around.

The parts that are there are okay, but barely provide any challenge or deeper satisfaction during the construction process. It is what it is – a set aimed at young children – and as such it relies on simple stacking and plugging on of large elements. The downside to that is that a) it takes forever before everything stabilizes and b) alignment can be tricky. Even for me it was a bit tricky to plug on the magenta plate without pushing the golden columns away. You really have to be careful here and meticulously align everything before applying the pressure.

Once completed, the palace looks okay and is actually quite stable, so it can be handled without too much trouble. The golden domes and the palm occasionally still come off, however, due to really only being connected with a few studs. The insides look a bit barren since there are not that many details and contrary to what you may think, this time it isn’t even to blame on my refusal to use stickers. There simply are none except for the purple flying carpet!

The Pieces

As mentioned earlier, this set offers a wealth of new pieces and recolors of existing pieces plus for me also simply a number of elements I did not yet have in my collection. The most apparent new addition is the huge 10 x 10 plate with the rounded end, a fusion of the classic 4 x 4 plates and a rectangular plate combined into a single solid element for enhanced stability. For sets targeted at children of a certain age this makes perfect sense and I’ve been critical of LEGO‘s approach to fragmented plates with insufficient stabilization (i.e. additional layers of plates and bricks) in Friends sets and such many times, anyway. Of course it’s a bit of a two-fer as well, as it’s not just a simplification of the assembly, but also a cost saving measure by not having to include more pieces and in the long run the cost for a new mold will pay off easily. The other piece in a similar vein is the 4 x 4 plate with the cropped corners, whose novelty (to me, anyway) I only realized when I tried to sort it into my stock and didn’t find a matching companion.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, Plates

The rounded pieces will not necessarily be “new” to many of you, but most of them so far have only been included in sets I never bought like various Harry Potter offerings where they are often used to build all those towers and spires.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, Round Elements

There’s a slew of other items as well and I didn’t even include the 6 x 2 arch in the photo because I only realized later that it’s the first time it comes in Dark Turquoise with this set. The brown “dinosaur tail” pieces are interesting in that I would have assumed the thin tip has been on the market for forever, but no, 2022 is indeed the first time it has been done in this color. The tapered curved stem, an element introduced last year, has previously been only done in Medium Azure (Raya and Sisu Dragon [43184]) and Olive Green (Gargantos Showdown [76205]). The rest is mostly “nice to have” stuff. One can never have enough gold decorations and color options.

LEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, OthersLEGO Disney, Jasmine and Mulan’s Adventure (43208), Pieces, New PinA literally tiny thing that stands out is the new Technic pin with the half stud end and a friction notch (I enhanced the image to make it better visible). The blue and grey frictionless counterparts have existed and been used for forever, but annoyingly of course pretty much everything you attached to it would swivel around or just not sit as tightly as you would have wanted it, making them less than ideal in some situations. With this small enhancement things should now be much better.


Concluding Thoughts

Regrettably I cannot really recommend this set and that is not because of its design or technical merits. While it feels a bit bland and lifeless in many areas, the construction and execution of the set and its components is just fine and you get a more than acceptable play set that doesn’t even look that bad, all things considered.

However, all those efforts go to waste once you begin considering the price point. That’s where all good intentions fall apart and this becomes a real headscratcher in the “What were they thinking?” sense. The problem really is that even if you get this package for a reduced price during a sale, you potentially still pay way too much. There just is not enough “bang for the buck” here. And it’s not that LEGO couldn’t have done something about it. Aside from lowering the price, they just as well could have gone the opposite way and bolstered the content. A bigger shrine would have been nice as would have been for instance an extra, more fully formed palm tree on a separate “island” (round plate).

If you can get this offering for around 20 Euro, it might still be worth picking up, but otherwise I feel that every penny you pay on top diminishes the enjoyment you get out of this to being utterly frustrating if you have paid the full price.

Blue Castle – LEGO Disney, Mini Disney Castle (40478)

I’m totally not the type for amusement parks since I don’t particularly like being stuck in large crowds nor am I particularly into the attractions, but there can be no denying that it’s big business and their parks alone make Disney billions of dollars every year (well, under normal conditions, not the pandemic). While they weren’t the first, certainly they changed the landscape a lot when they moved on from simple funfairs and piers to more elaborate parks with hotels, fixed entertainment venues and all that. A staple of this has naturally been their iconic Disney Castle, presented here in miniature form by ways of LEGO set 40478.

LEGO Disney, Mini Disney Castle (40478), Box

Contents and Pricing

Of course LEGO have had the “big” Disney Castle (71040) in their portfolio for several years now and at this point it is not foreseeable how many more years they’ll keep it around, as it still seems to be selling reasonably well, not least at all as a souvenir at the Disney parks themselves. However, there’s one caveat: As a 4000+ pieces set it doesn’t come cheap and not everyone is able or willing to spend those 350 Euro on top of an already expensive trip. It therefore seemed inevitable that one day they might need to come up with something more affordable and lo and behold, this happened in October 2021 when this here smaller version came out.

This set comes with 567 pieces and is sold for 35 Euro. On paper that’s not a bad price, given the parts/ value ratio. However, as so often you have to consider that many of the elements are indeed only 1 x 1 and the model is really minuscule, as can be seen when comparing it to the minifigure. If it wasn’t for several exclusive parts, most of the build could easily be bashed together from most people’s stock, assuming they regularly buy LEGO sets to keep up with new pieces that come out regularly and actually allowed the castle to be built in this form.

That said, undeniably and unavoidably those exclusive parts increase the cost, especially when used just in one set and that softens my stance on the price somewhat. Still, all things considered I think I would prefer if this cost only 30 Euro. In my view this would also be helpful to generate more spontaneous purchases once this set is also listed in Disney brand stores or their parks’ gift shops. That’s not to say that the current price isn’t acceptable, it just feels slightly odd.

LEGO Disney, Mini Disney Castle (40478), Overview

Minifigure

LEGO Disney, Mini Disney Castle (40478), Minifigure The single minifigure in this set is a version of Mickey as an usher/ guide in a tuxedo. I’ll leave it to smarter minds like Jangbricks to discuss the finer points of how period-appropriate the shape of the head and eyes are in relation to the attire, but I definitely share the feeling that perhaps he looks a bit too modern for this set.Other than that I’m simply disappointed by the poor printing. Not only are the colors on the torso not opaque enough but also the black of the “shoes” is aligned rather poorly. For such a prestigious set that might be many people’s only LEGO set they’ll ever buy this is not a good look.

The Castle

The castle is built on a custom base assembled from multiple regular plates. It’s 18 x 22 studs, translating to roughly around 15 x 18 cm. this makes for a very compact model and overall it looks rather small-ish. On the other hand it’s of course pretty tall at around 27 cm.

The compactness can only be achieved by massively using a number of new parts that have been created in the last two, three years such as the 1 x 2 half cylinder brick. Otherwise the model would have had to be considerably larger since several of these cheat techniques wouldn’t have been available. In addition to employing these admittedly clever tricks the model also uses a ton of SNOT building with nearly every layer you add featuring a bracket or brick with studs on sides somewhere to change building direction and attach stuff sideways.

Some people have taken issue with the colors not being correct, but the simple truth here is that LEGO just doesn’t have any correct colors that would fit here other than the ones used. Depending which version of the castle from one of the various Disney parks you are trying to emulate, you can only get it wrong. This is down to what’s known as the “scale effect” in scale model building such as I did in my youth for military planes, meaning that colors need to be either darker/ more saturated or brighter/ lighter than on the originals to give the same visual impression. had they opted to e.g. make the roofs in a different shade of blue, Dark Blue would have looked way to black-ish. Conversely, even the already pale Bright Pink would look much too intense still. At this scale even Tan would like a bright limestone yellow. This list could go on and on, but you get the idea.

As you know me, I always have an eye on new elements in new colors and when it comes to that, this set offers some nice surprises. The most eye-popping one are the Trans Dark Blue elements with the iridescent effect. The effect coating at this point is nothing new, it having been used for waterfalls and ice effects in other sets already, but personally I was really surprised how well it works when set against this dark color. The other big “Wow!” moment are the 2 x 2 round plates in Pearl Gold. At long last LEGO have found it in their hearts to produce this critical element in this color! in fairness, though, of course they had this trend for a while. There’s several golden elements in Ninjago and Super Heroes sets that just didn’t exist in this colors two years ago. That consistently golden mech may not be too far away, after all…

The interior of the model is mostly reserved for structural stuff, but the designers have at least added some details at the central gate/ hallway. It’s barely discernible, but there’s some nano figures standing in for visitors and two printed tiles as paintings on the walls. Speaking of which: The only new printed element is the shield tile above the gate and there are no stickers, either.

LEGO Disney, Mini Disney Castle (40478), Front View


Concluding Thoughts

If it wasn’t for the price being slightly too high, I’d almost give this set a full ten out of ten. It really captures the shape and overall feel of these castles nicely and looks rather elaborate. Even if you don’t care for the Disney part, this is just something nice to put on your shelf of showcase.

However, there are certainly a few quality issues with the prints on the figure and the build itself is a bit tedious and repetitive with many identical or very similar sub-assemblies. This also requires a lot of attention during the construction and it’s not the most relaxing LEGO model you can find. For these reasons I would more likely give it an 8.5 out of 10.

A major plus is the potential this set offers in terms of exploiting both its construction and the new and unique part. With the Disney castles taking heavy inspiration from Neuschwanstein Castle and that one just being a wild mix of ideas and styles cobbled together from other European castles, the immediate direct link is there for you to exploit. Some of the stuff would certainly be useful for building your own MOCs, real or fictional.

More Magic – LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202)

I certainly don’t go out of my way to be a completist when it comes to buying every set in a specific LEGO theme or sub-series of that theme nor do I have the money for it, anyway, but occasionally I do try to “catch them all”, as they say in Pokémon. With the Disney Encanto sets that is easy enough, as there effectively only are three – the “door” sets I showed you last week and now this little gem, The Madrigal House (43202).

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Box

Contents and Pricing

The set retails for 50 Euro, and yes since this review is still pretty close to the release to its initial release on December 1st, I paid way too much, meaning full price. During pre-Christmas season one has to keep one’s expectations low, anyway, as due to demand and limited availability discounts aren’t as massive as other times of the year. That and you inevitably always pay a premium on those licensed sets to begin with. Once this craziness is over you should expect this set to be available for around 35 Euro pretty steadily with occasional dips to 30 Euro or even lower.

Aside from the main building the set does not contain much else except the figures, which for me is a good thing. I really do not like LEGO wasting too much of the parts allocation on weird side builds and much prefer that every brick and plate goes into a more decked out main build. Others may have a different opinion on that, of course. That being the case I’m not too upset about having paid full price. Shaving off those 10 or 15 Euro would have been nice, but at least everything goes into a single model that feels decently “weighty” in terms of what you get. If it wasn’t for so many 1 x 1 pieces gobbling up a good part of the budget it could have offered even more value and been bigger.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Overview

Figures and Stickers

There are only three figures in this set with Abuela, the grandmother, and Mirabel being presented in minidoll format and Antonio as the youngest and smallest child appropriately being a micro doll. It might have been nice had there been two characters more, as my impression from the movie snippets I’ve seen is that this house is just bustling with activity. In particular one of the other male characters might have been interesting. and yes, undeniably I can only reinforce my point about the Capybara having deserved its own new mold instead of being a hamster in disguise.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Figures

The figure line-up also already illustrates one of the reasons why this set attracted me – a slew of elements in new colors and some exclusive prints. This is not least illustrated by the matriarch’s timepiece, Mirabel‘s accordion built from a Bright Green corrugated brick and some printed 1 x 2 tiles and then there’s the small 2 x 2 brick-sized container in Dark Turquoise for the first time as well.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Stickers

There’s a sizable sticker sheet and while none of the pieces are essential, it would have been nice to see at least one ore two of the more reusable patterns as an actual print like the gift packaging for the small box (no. 10) for instance.

The House

Naturally, the main attraction is the house itself and its over-the-top colorfulness certainly plays a big part. The structure of the building is not an exact replica of the movie version. Technically it can’t be, anyway, as the house due to its magical properties keeps changing and shifting around. So rather than trying the impossible, this tries to capture the overall feel and spirit more than specific details

The house is relatively compact, which is both a positive and negative. It’s a bit on the bad side as it doesn’t come anywhere close to representing the impressive size of the building in the film. The good thing about it is that the proportions are nice and unlike for many larger models where eight studs of depth would appear too shallow, here it just feels right. Could and should everything have been larger? I definitely think so, but overall this just feels right.

Delving into the details, there’s tons of interesting things to discover. The most apparent of these are the various roof elements, for which the 1 x 1 curved slope is introduced in Dark Red for good effect. This no doubt will become popular for all sorts of people building houses. A small annoyance is that most of the roof segments are attached with hinges, but not all of them have actual stops. this means that it’s easy to accidentally put them at a different angle and you often have to correct this for a consistent nice look.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Detail Door

One of the many new elements making a first appearance in the LEGO world is the new 3 x 3 quarter round tile, used to good effect as the arch on the door frame. It can also be found in the rainbow on the turn-able chimney in the images further up. The door, on the other hand, is one of the few real gripes I have with this set. It’s not the arch in fact, but rather the pillars. They are stacked up from three 1 x 1 x 1 bricks each, but have no further anchorage on the wall, which makes them very wiggly and flimsy. It’s simply not safe for kids to play. This is even more frustrating as there would have been ways to integrate extra brackets or build the frame entirely with studs-on-sides techniques directly on the wall with only minor changes.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Detail Escape HatchNot knowing the actual movie, the functionality of the escape hatch and the associated tilt-able bed on the inside eludes me, but I’m pretty sure it has some important role to play or else they wouldn’t have bothered with re-creating it.

 

 

 

The house follows a modular approach and thus each level can be separated and is built individually. The downside to that is that each of the blocks is in itself not the most stable until you actually cap it of with a layer of tiles. As you well know, this is one of my biggest frustrations with many Friends sets as well. If I had one free wish, I’d really ask LEGO to come up with a better solution to this dilemma. in the end, everything works, though and if you’re careful it is manageable to handle the modules without breaking them apart again.

The ground floor has some fake tiling with 2 x 2 jumper plates, providing ample space to place your figure in the kitchen area it’s supposed to represent. Otherwise there’s nothing all too fancy here. It really just is pretty much standard fare that only gets elevated by the unusual color choices.

This is pretty much continued on the first floor, only that it isn’t tiled over. I found the new watering can to be a nice addition (you will encounter it also in many Friends and City sets next year) and the couch has two of the new 1 x 2 inverted arch bricks only recently introduced on the Fender Stratocaster (21329) and giant Titanic (10294) in Reddish Brown.

LEGO Disney, The Madrigal House (43202), Top Floor

The top floor/ tower is the smallest of the individual sections. Personally I’m very thrilled about the welcome resurfacing of Yellowish Green elements. After demise of the Elves series LEGO have barely ever used this color except for some small 1 x 1 elements or things like the eyes and teeth in the Hidden Side sets. Granted, it’s a very bright color that draws all the attention to itself, but I find it a shame that it’s not used more often.


Concluding Thoughts

This is a wonderful little set that puts many others to shame. It’s bright and cheerful and offers an interesting variety. There are some weaknesses in the construction, but those can be mostly overlooked in favor of how much fun this model is. Knowing the movie might be useful to contextualize some of the details, though then again knowing too much of the story might have resulted in a more critical view. Either way, I simply like it and can only recommend this set.

Everything is magic? – LEGO Disney, Antonio’s and Isabela’s Magical Door (43200/ 43201)

It’s been a while since I reviewed the first batch of the LEGO Disney “storybooks”. There have been several others released in the meantime, but except for Elsa and the Nokk Storybook Adventures (43189), which I primarily got for the little horse and the other “ice” elements I mostly disregarded the other offerings. Only recently when the sets for the Encanto movie were announced, my interest was rekindled and I got myself Antonio’s (43200) and Isabela’s (43201) Magical Door. Let’s see what they have to offer.

Important Disclaimer: Due to regional lockdowns and cinemas being closed I have not yet seen the movie and all my knowledge about the story is pieced together from trailers, clips and reviews. Some errors may be unavoidable.

Contents and Pricing

Like so many sets aimed at the youngest of LEGO fans the value proposition for these boxes is in the most abstract sense not really good. I always thought the initial MSRP of 15 Euro for the first few outings was a stretch, but this became even more questionable when they raised it to 20 Euro.

Even if one can acknowledge that large pieces like the outer shells may incur a higher manufacturing cost, the actual content is rather thin, after all. So from where I sit, this really feels like it should not be that expensive and the 12 Euro after discount I bought my first boxes for really feel like the “real” price these things should cost. Otherwise it feels like you as the customer are punished to pay the extra cost for fancy packaging similar to what I wrote in my criticism of the VIDIYO BeatBoxes.

That said, of course there were some specific reasons for getting those two sets as I’m going to explain in the next few paragraphs and with a little bit of luck I got my two “doors” for 15 Euro each. That makes it more bearable, but it’s not really a good price for a meager 99 or 114 pieces, respectively. At the same time I do not expect the prices to drop that much further as no doubt these sets are already expensive wholesale and the vendors have little room to grant massive discounts. If one day you see this going for 13 Euro you should count yourself extremely lucky.

General Observations and Commonalities

As you know me, I often have ancillary motives when buying sets with checking out new and recolored parts being a major factor. This is also the case here with a plethora of new elements. It also is nice that for once I can present these boxes in a relatively timely manner, given that they’ve only been released at the beginning of December.

LEGO Disney, Isabela's and Antonio's Magical Door (43200/ 43201), Exteriors

The boxes themselves are another take on the updated version 2 introduced with one of the DOTS sets, the Secret Boxes (41925). Kind of a v 2.1, if you will, with the studs that were necessary for the DOTS product to work again having been removed. The layout of the remaining studs and ridges on the exterior is different as is the locking mechanism. The central 2 x 4 grid in the centers has been removed or, in a way, been offset to the side, serving now as the holder for the lock cover elements rather than holding a central decorative plaque as it was with the original version. However, as seen in the photo this redesign has one big advantage – it’s much easier to use almost full coverage prints on these shells because simply there’s no “hole” in the middle anymore.

LEGO Disney, Isabela's and Antonio's Magical Door (43200/ 43201), Stickers

This brings us to the thing that still most annoys me in pretty much any LEGO set – the extensive or even excessive use of stickers. On the bright side, these sets do work well enough without the stickers applied. Most of them are more or less optional, especially the myriad small ones inside the no. 4 sub-frame, many of which either are supposed to be applied to 2 x 2 tiles or just placed randomly on the insides of the boxes. Still, that doesn’t make things less annoying and in this case it is even really regrettable since some of the designs for the flower elements would be nice to have as genuine prints on tiles for decorating buildings or landscapes. Really a missed opportunity.

Antonio’s Magical Door (43200)

Apparently Antonio is the youngest of the Madrigal family and hasn’t quite made up his mind on what his magical powers are to be used for, so he’s shape-shifting around at whim to prank people and transforming into all sorts of animals to explore the wilderness and befriend other creatures.

LEGO Disney, Antonio's Magical Door (43200), Box

This relation to the South American jungle is expressed in the artwork printed on the front as well, but regrettably it also builds some expectation that is not met once you take at the look at the actual content.

LEGO Disney, Antonio's Magical Door (43200), Exterior

By that I mean that the wealth of animals depicted in the graphic is nowhere to be found. We get a jaguar cub, basically a re-branded tiger cub in a different color and with a different print, but that is pretty much where it stops being good. The supposed Capybara is just a reworked version of the mouse from the Cinderella carriage. What looked cute back then now only comes across as a lazy joke. Even compared to the tiny doll figures it looks undersized and at best would pass as a normal Guinea Pig, but the shape is still wrong. LEGO really should have invested into a custom mold or just left it out in favor of another animal.

LEGO Disney, Antonio's Magical Door (43200), Overview

Which brings us to a point. A major, major omission is the total absence of a Toucan, which is almost a cardinal sin, given that Antonio turns himself into one on several occasions from what I gather. It becomes even more disappointing once you figure in that exactly such an animal has just been revealed to be an extra in the upcoming Collectible Minifigures series 22. See?! That basically means they could have included it at little or no extra cost here, as the mold was already in the process of being made. They would only have had to give it a different print to not ruin it for the minifigure collectors! This very much extends to the other creatures as well. LEGO has molds for small snakes as well as large Anaconda-like ones (the Harry Potter Nagini recently also included in City set 60301) and of course there’s always the ages-old parrot.

LEGO Disney, Antonio's Magical Door (43200), Figures

The micro dolls of Antonio and Mirabel are nice and quite appealing with detailed and colorful prints. They also add some diversity to the otherwise mostly white Disney Princess figures in this size we got so far and there bodies could probably also be useful for customizing some Friends children of that size.

The buildable parts, while limited in number, certainly don’t fail to impress with how many unique ones actually are in the set, including several recolors making a premiere showing here. Some of the most notable are the 2 x 2 round tile with a stud (jumper) in Bright Green at last and of course the Magenta leaf elements. There’s also a decent helping of Dark Turquoise elements for those who haven’t bought any of the recent Ninjago sets (the Temple of the Endless Sea (71755) for instance) that heavily rely on this color.

Due to the limitations of the format of course there’s not that much volume of stuff, with most of it restricted to the central spine and barely anything sticking out left and right to not block the outer shells from closing. However, recognizably the designers made an effort to make things as complex and detailed as they possibly could within the constraints and they deserve some accolade for this even if you can never have enough trees and plants in a jungle scenario. That said, this could naturally be a point in itself: Perhaps a different type of set would have worked better to capture this particular story beat of the film.

Isabela’s magical Door (43201)

Isabel is “the flower lady” in the movie and man, does it show! LEGO went all in and made this set as bright and pink as they possibly could. This makes any decision on buying this set a very, very individual one, to put it mildly. Many outside the small kids demographic will likely be put off a bit and even some parents might be deterred by this all too girly-ish color scheme.

LEGO Disney, Isabela's Magical Door (43201), Box

The artwork on the cover is just as nice as Antonio‘s, but unlike that one it does not oversell what’s inside the box and does not promise anything it can’t keep (in a way).

LEGO Disney, Isabela's Magical Door (43201), Exterior

As already mentioned, this set is very colorful or even flamboyant,  with in particular the Coral and Dark Pink elements sticking out, interspersed with some Bright Pink, Medium Lavender and Bright Light Yellow. On that note: The butterflies are a new mold and if I do say so it’s about time we are getting some again. Except for the ones that came in the Friends hair accessories sets we haven’t had some in ages and it’s simply a nice way to enliven your scenes. I for one hope that we’ll get them in many more colors soon.

LEGO Disney, Isabela's Magical Door (43201), Overview

The micro dolls are Isabela, Luisa and again Mirabel herself, accompanied only by a pigeon and no other animals. Again there are some nice prints and the body pieces in particular would undoubtedly be useful for creating custom combinations with other heads.

LEGO Disney, Isabela's Magical Door (43201), Figures

Compared to Antonio’s set this one is more simple and straightforward, only representing a normal part of the house with a small kitchen section, a sleeping room and a make-up corner. They’re okay, but feel a bit generic like those mini builds you regularly find in the Friends and Disney Princess magazines. Seen it once, seen it all. It could have all a bit more elaborate or at least used some new techniques (and pieces).

A funny observation for this box is that despite it being flower-themed, there is actually not a single genuine flower plate in this set. It’s all handled with the leaf elements. That being the case I would have had no objections if this one also had a few Magenta ones, some in White or even other colors and not just Coral. Similar to how Isabela creates entire flowerbeds with the wave of her arm in the movie, this should be exploding with differently colored and densely packed “blossoms” in different shades.


Concluding Thoughts

Despite my criticisms, I thoroughly like both sets. They are joyful little creations packed with some interesting content. How useful that is to you is of course a very subjective matter. Not everyone has a use for these unusual colors or enjoys them like I do. None of this will matter if you are buying these for your kid(s). As far as that is concerned, these two boxes are a safe bet and offer decent value. There’s enough there to play and the builds are solid while looking nice.

The big bummer is inevitably the price and, a few days before Christmas, availability. These may be hard to come by even if you are willing to pray full price. If that is not of any concern to you, you can always wait a few weeks or months. By then you might also actually have had a chance to watch the movie on Disney+ or Blu-Ray if you did not have an opportunity to catch it in cinemas like me…

Cookie Bird – LEGO Disney Princess Magazine, June 2021

The odd publishing cycle for the LEGO Disney Princess magazine still causes me a lot of trepidation as chasing down the latest issue is still a major pain (at least without back-ordering it directly from Blue Ocean‘s web site), but this time I once more got lucky on one of my trips to the doctor. The June issue is in fact already out for two weeks now, but that’s still close enough.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Cover

The topic of this edition is baking and the comic goes quite fanciful in that it throws in a lot of stuff on the subject from the Friends series where it is much more prevalent. A bit nonsensical, but adequate. It’s also surprisingly short overall, because the rest of the mag is filled quite well with quizzes and puzzles, crafting and coloring pages.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Comic

There’s a big double spread that should keep your kids busy with their crayons or felt pens for quite some while plus there’s some additional smaller ones to move on to after that. The crafting part, a stowage box, is perhaps a bit too complex both in execution and source materials required, at least for kids below a certain age. I would estimate that you shouldn’t try this with first-graders lacking the precision and dexterity or you’d see a lot of bleeding fingers…

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Coloring

The posters are rather average and don’t expose much finesse in their design, but I guess this won’t deter some little girls as long as it shows their favorite princess.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Poster

The buildable extra is an old-fashioned kitchen oven fired with wood as it apparently plays a role in that infamous scene in Cinderella. The construction is super simple, involving only three arches more or less with a few plates, but sufficient and stable enough. It even comes with one of the small birds/ pigeons, which is always a bonus. The White version is more readily available than the Dark Azure one, but still surprisingly costly on Bricklink. Therefore getting one “for free” can only be a good thing.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, June 2021, Extra

All in all this is an okay issue as in particular it offers enough on the activities front and the extra is pretty acceptable. If you find it wherever you live you can buy this without having to think about it too much.

Shrimp Boat? – LEGO Disney, Boun’s Boat (43185)

I still haven’t seen Raya and the Last Dragon, but with its release on DVD/ Blu-Ray and digital download last week chances of that are increasing, now that it’s no longer chained to Disney +. In the meantime I won’t let this stop me from buying some of the sets, regardless, and so I ended up with Boun’s Boat (43185) as I hinted at in the comments of my first article on the movie tie-ins.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Box

Contents and Pricing

It may be a tiring refrain, but yes, of course on the face of it these Disney sets are way, way overpriced even when compared to other already expensive LEGO stuff. In this particular case this means that you would have to pay 50 Euro full price for a measly 247 pieces. True, there are many recognizably big ones, but at the same time there are just as many small 1 x 1 elements. So whichever way you try to bend the math, it just doesn’t add up and there’s no acceptable median value here. 23 Cent a piece would indeed not be much for a large shell piece, but it’s a hell of a lot for a 1 x 1 cheese slope. Say what you will, the price sucks.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Overview

Things only get slightly better with discounts, as retailers/ reseller naturally are limited by what they have to pay as wholesale price. The cheapest I’ve seen this set go for is 33 Euro and I got mine for 35 Euro, so that is pretty much what you can expect, barring some crazy flash sale or clearance. The financial metric otherwise only improve ever so slightly, but are still not great. That said, at least you get some decently sized builds out of it, so the perceived bulk/ volume is okay within the described limitations.

Figures and Animals

One of the reasons I even remotely considered this set are the apes. I knew that even if you could buy them separately somewhere like on Bricklink, it would likely be just as expensive as buying the whole set. You know, due to the price and other factors those sets get only parted-out in limited numbers and their contents therefore don’t proliferate widely, meaning you could only ever buy them from a bunch of dealers. Combine that with the fact that coveted items like animals are either not at all available at LEGO‘s official Bricks & Pieces service or sell out quickly, chances of ever getting these critters using other routes diminish considerably. That may be one of the strongest arguments pro buying this set, crazy as it sounds.

Anyway, the three ape characters called Ongi are named Uka, Pan and Dyan and very obviously stand in for the stereotypical comedy trio (in same order): the small, smart one, the lazy fat one who’s a willing adjutant to the wannabe boss and ultimately said boss who isn’t half as smart as he thinks. Due to my lack of knowledge of the movie I have no idea how they figure into the story, but I’m sure they somewhat predictably play some role in procuring one of the artifacts, be that as competitors or aides to Sisu and Raya. They could just as well also merely be set dressing on one of the temples or the floating market.

On that note, if you want a bigger crowd of apes (as is usually their way), you can at least get Uka also in the Raya and the Ongi’s  Heart Lands Adventure (30558) polybag. So having a temple ruin swarming with apes like you find them in many Asian countries is certainly a possibility.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Figures

The “human” protagonists are a bit boring, as Sisu‘s human form forced into the limitations of a minidoll really doesn’t convey the slight wackiness of her character. At least that can already be easily verified by watching the trailer and promotional snippets. LEGO also didn’t really go out of their way here with making a really frizzled hair piece or hinting at the wild mix of lavender, pink and purple with some airbrush work like on Sweet Mayhem‘s shimmering hair piece from The LEGO Movie 2. Boun is okay and certainly will also make a welcome addition to Heartlake City, given how few male characters there are in LEGO Friends, let alone ones with colored skin. The short pants in Bright Light Orange would also be of interest for customizing other minidolls such as Andrea or Joanna as it appears that this color hasn’t been done before.

Sticker Alert!

One of the things that shall forever elude my comprehension (a.k.a. my understanding of common sense) is the extensive use of stickers in a set aimed primarily at nine-year-olds, especially such large ones. I’m not saying that it is impossible for girls and boys at that age to apply them perfectly, it’s just dang hard if they don’t get any assistance from parents and older siblings. The thing that upsets me the most is that even the various small flags aren’t printed. Similarly, the pillars/ supports for the roof might have looked great with the weave texture already printed on, ideally even on the concave insides for optical consistency. As usual I haven’t applied any of these buggers, but it would have been a major annoyance to do so.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Stickers

Side Builds

There are two small side builds in this set. The first of them is a golden canoe/ paddle boat and there’s really not much to say about it, given that it uses the well-known singular solid mold that has existed for a good while. I’m pretty sure it looks completely different in the movie, though, so perhaps this is really a bit lazy.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Canoe

The other model is a bit of wooden pier that from the looks of it is also inhabited/ controlled by the Ongi and presumably also plays a role in some heist/ chase scene in the movie or something like that. Again, I’m totally clueless as to what hijinx ensue and just spitballing. This little build looks okay, but overall feels rather amateurish in the sense that it’s lacking any finesse and feels like your kid could have come up with it by him-/herself. It’s the most basic vertical stacking. Hence stability isn’t that great, especially with the two base plates which are literally held together by a single 2 x 4 tile. That’s just not good building style.

A small positive surprise in all this are the two barrels, which are in Reddish Brown as opposed to the more widely available Dark Brown. Nothing revolutionary, but considering that there was a seven year lull where they weren’t in any new sets and you had to get them from second hand markets like Bricklink it’s still nice to see them pop up again, be it just for the convenience of obtaining them “incidentally” when buying a set.

The Boat

The boat is just a weird contraption with my biggest regret here being that very apparently it manages to capture the style of these Asian river boats very well, but does not make much of an effort to go all the way in with more details and different construction methods. It realyl relies way too much on those large single pieces for my taste, be that the boat hull, the supports or the roof. All of these could have benefited from being built up or at least bolstered by some smaller parts. This would have allowed for an even better representation of some surface curves and also helped stability.

I’m really quite miffed about the protrusions on the side to widen/ thicken the hull being only attached to a 1 x 4 SNOT brick. You can easily break them off. Similar things could be said for some of the visible gaps under the roof and a few other areas. Some of that could have been avoided with a more granular building style using smaller elements. Nothing spectacular in fact, just a few bits here and there that act as fills where there is too much open space.

At the same time there is a weird dichotomy here in that someone invested quite a bit of effort into “branding” the boat as a shrimp/ crayfish fishing boat. The large prawn on the top is simple, but efficient as are the details on the side using the yellow croissant and feathers. It’s amazing that they even spent their budget on having the parts manufactured in those colors exclusively for this set. Arguably of course that’s also the reason why the rest is lacking in places because the budget ran out. See what happened there? That may also explain the “color vomit” elsewhere, i.e. using parts in other colors that would have required to also be produced in the new, matching color variants such as the hinges to which the large blades are attached. there’s always a trade-off.

In terms of play features there’s not much going on in this set. In fact I was puzzled when I realized that this set doesn’t even have the usual inverted dish knobs/ plates to make it glide more smoothly over surfaces and to stabilize connections from the underside. You can still use it this way of course, just with a little less robustness and a greater risk of the loops from carpets getting tangled on sharp edges. There’s a small cargo hold/ hiding place in the ship’s hull, and no, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Those bright reddish-orange-y squares are indeed the ends of some Coral 1 x 6 tiles used inside. See my “color vomit” comment.

LEGO Disney, Boun's Boat (43185), Boat, Interior Detail


Concluding Thoughts

This set is pretty clearly one of two different mindsets clashing with one another. There’s a tangible schism between a reasonably large and solid play set versus a more detailed replica of the actual in-movie item to put on display. Unfortunately the set does not fully succeed at either and so we once more get a somewhat tepid, half-baked result where you somehow can’t help but wonder what might have been.

Having prints instead of stickers for several items alone would have gone a long way to improving the situation and would have served both sides. Building on that, some more fine details, consistent color use and substituting a few large solid parts for more refined buildable sub-assemblies could have taken it to a whole new level on the presentation side without sacrificing too much playability. It’s really regrettable that we ended up with such a mish-mash that can’t decide what it wants to be.

Overall this is not the most terrible model I’ve come across in my time, but it’s just not particularly good, either. I would only reluctantly recommend it and the usual disclaimers and caveats apply: Only get it if your kid insists or you get some specific other value out of it and when you do, get it the cheapest way possible. It’s definitely not worth 50 Euro and the exclusive Bright Light Orange items and the Ongi figures can’t justify that, either.

Water Snake? – LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184)

I always try to resist the temptation of squandering my money on these Disney sets, but alas, here we go again with another review of one of them, this time for the Raya and the Last Dragon movie. The specific set in question is the smallest one from the line-up, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184).

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Box

Important Note: Since I don’t have a Disney+ subscription I haven’t seen the full movie yet and all my info is based on the trailers, clips, reviews and synopses of the film. Hence I may not get a few details right or mix them up. So please be forgiving and feel free to add any corrections via the comments.

Contents and Pricing

As usual, the set is technically too pricey. I’ve said it before and I make no bones about it here, either. With only 216 pieces, a regular 30 Euro price simply doesn’t make that much of an impression. The only consolation here is that the set uses a lot of large elements, resulting in the finished model(s) having some noticeable size and volume. At least on that level you could therefore get a certain satisfaction out of it and feel like things are acceptable. Of course I still didn’t pay the full price and relied on the usual discounts, regardless. At around 22 Euro things are simply more tenable. there’s likely some more room toward the 20 Euro mark, but I would not expect things to go much lower other than on clearance next year or so.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Overview

Figure

There’s only one figure in this set, a minidoll of Raya herself. While that’s okay in terms of the story, it feels a bit too sparse, contributing to the not so great price-to-content ratio. The specific point here is, that in a set dedicated to Sisu I would have expected that at least they would also include her in her human disguise. That appears to be one of the funnier moments in the movie and it would have made for a wonderful over-the-top colorful figure. It’s really regrettable that this opportunity was missed.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Minidoll

The Raya figure is done well enough, but ultimately nothing special. If it weren’t for the Jade sword and the printed tile with the map showing Sisu in her “sleeping” form as a river, there really wouldn’t be anything special here. Another miss is the new wicker hat. Don’t get me wrong – I love the design – it’s just too bad it’s integrally molded with the hair, thus preventing it from being used elsewhere. It would have nicely complemented the versions known from Ninjago. Maybe we will get a separate variant one day?

The Waterfall

The first model is a small section of the waterfall and the hidden shrine/ cave behind where Sisu and Raya first meet, if I’m correct. This is pretty much a no-frills affair using the most basic techniques you could imagine. As such it is serviceable, but not much more than that. An unwanted side effect of the oversimplification is that the model is actually kind of difficult to build. With the tall bricks and golden pillars you just don’t have too many stable connection points when adding the arches on the top and it’s easy to push them away when using too much force.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Waterfall, Front View

I also would have hoped they’d at least try and include a bit of the rock/ cave somewhere to make the model look a bit more interesting. The area behind the water curtain appears very bland and empty and at least a narrow plate to extend the surface “inwards” would have been a nice touch. On that note, the transparent piece for the water sometimes gets stuck a bit, again owing to the basic construction not being able to ensure consistent tolerances and not being stiff enough to avoid those tiny variations in gap widths and angles.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Waterfall, Back View

The Temple Entrance

The second model is a section of the temple, more specifically one of its entrances. This is again built with many large pieces and simplified considerably to the point of not even making an effort at e.g. covering up the angled plates. It’s really just purely functional, though with limited success. I found the connection far too unreliable as the large panels with the small arched windows used on the sides simply don’t exert enough clutch power. It’s really easy to break off the plates at the bottom. It really wouldn’t have hurt if this had been shimmed over with additional plates or at least there were some extra curved slopes to clamp in the V-shaped elements.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Front Right View

As usual I did not use the stickers, so the walls look plain white an uninteresting. If I did things might look a bit more interesting. I still can’t wrap my head around this, though. On one hand LEGO seem to go out of their way to dumb down the building process for young kids while at the same time they expect those same children to accurately place large decals. Just doesn’t make any sense.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Front Left View

The back side, or more accurately the inner courtyard side, is equally barren not just because the absence of stickers, but also not having that many details. You know, it just would have been nice if there was more to do and play with. There is provision to connect this smaller section to the big Raya and the Heart Palace (43181) with the blue ratcheted hinge piece at the end of the walkway. The big set has a matching element hidden underneath its central round floor disc. You can easily verify this by studying the PDF instructions. Just hope your kids don’t find out or thy’ll keep bugging you about buying the expensive package to complete their model…

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Back View

The only real play feature here is the hidden box with one of the gem stones in it, but even that feels half-hearted and doesn’t offer much in the way of playful interaction. they could at least have come up with some decorations for the hinge plate…

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Detail

Sisu

At the heart of the set is naturally Sisu herself which sadly also turns out to be the biggest disappointment. Where to even begin? There’s just so much wrong. First off let me preface this by saying that I’m fully aware that it may be extremely difficult to re-create a creature that is basically a flow-y, water creature with glowing skin in a medium such as LEGO bricks. inevitably there have to be some compromises and actually making good use of the 2 x 2 curved tube piece, new here in Medium Azure, isn’t the worst idea. The problem is how and where it is used.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Left View

For starters, there could be more segments and the body be much longer. Nothing too excessive, but inserting an additional three or four such segments would have gone a long way. Yes, even if you merely watch the trailer you can see that Sisu is indeed that slinky and has a very elongated body almost like a snake.

Now of course this brings up the second problem: The whole trunk is effectively completely rigid due to how the tubes are connected directly. This more or less limits any poseability to the default, baked-in stance, an issue further exacerbated by the tip and the feathers/ water plumes attached to it also having a fixed curvature. Without some manual intervention to actually re-plug pieces, the sway to the left cannot easily be changed. Well, at least not without things looking wrong.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Aft Left View

All that said, the apparent question hitting everyone is “Why aren’t there any intermediate segments or joints?”. I do get that it may have cost some extra effort to produce a few existing pieces specifically in this color for that purpose, but would it really have been that much to ask? Somehow one can’t help but feel that no consideration was even given to this and the whole budget burnt on the custom head.

This also extends to the legs, which ended up being the most basic build imaginable. They really only contain the bare minimum of pieces required to hold everything together, aided by the introduction of the new curved slope that allows them to use even less elements than might have been necessary before.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Aft Right View

Point in case: The legs are so flimsy, barely hanging by the tiny ball joints that is indeed somewhat tricky to even get them aligned and touching the ground at the same time. The toes/ paws are downright pathetic – a simple 1 x 2 plate with a hinge clip and a 1 x 1 rounded slope on top of it. They couldn’t have been any lazier with this! Again, this is clearly a zero effort thing.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Front Right View

What really broke me is the ugly head. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. The horn is way oversized and the hair feels more like a thick helmet. Whoever was responsible for sculpting this apparently did not understand that in order to get across the wispy feel of the fur in the movie you would have to reduce it, possibly even separating it into individual strands or breaking it up into multiple pieces that could be attached separately along the neck. As it is, this is more the stuff of nightmares than the funny, quirky face of a slightly annoying magical creature unaware of its own powers. It’s just upsetting that an expensive, triple-molded piece was ruined by utter ineptitude and bears no resemblance to the real thing.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Front View

New Parts

One thing the set has going for it is the considerable number of unique parts. Some of them are genuinely fresh, others are recolors and revised versions of parts that have existed for a while. In the color shifting category there are a few Bright Light Yellow elements that to some of you may be familiar already from the Fiat 500 (10271).

Not quite unexpected, as you often can see these color waves ripple through the different series, meaning LEGO produces millions of millions of those elements for their stockpile and then uses them in as many sets as possible as a way of streamlining their processes. Yes, annoyingly this also means you get the “color vomit” hidden inside some models just because they use up their leftovers.

The hinge plate in Blue and the inverted slope in Light Aqua haven’t been around for a few years, so it’s nice to see them become available again, too.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, Recolors

In the genuinely new department in addition to the already mentioned 2 x 2 tubes and “shoe” curved slope is the new 2 x 2 tapered and curved tree trunk/ creature tail element as well. This has also been sighted in screenshots of the Vidiyo app and with LEGO‘s recent obsession about selling artificial bonsai trees and similar I’m pretty certain we will see it in more colors soon-ish.

The same goes for the 4 x 4 inverted dish, which in my opinion should actually be sorted as a round “pancake” brick, given that it has fully formed anti-studs on the underside and can be used for regular builds without resorting to pins and axles. This item, too, is prominently used in the Vidiyo BeatBox sets to represent the headphones/ ear muffs and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of it being used elsewhere, too.

The final minor addition is at long last a 1 x 1 brick with an axle hole, matching its brother with the pin hole. I don’t expect it to do anything revolutionary, as it still needs to be clamped in with other bricks to actually be useful, but it may occasionally come in handy when you don’t have enough room to use the conventional 1 x 2 brick of same ilk.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, New Items

While I have bashed it for being used in the most terrible way just as an excuse in this set, the new part 70681 is actually something to welcome and applaud. It closes a noticeable gap in the line-up of the different N x 2 x 2/3rds curved slopes that have been around forever by matching the inverse curvature. This allows several new creative ways to enclose those other slopes and can be used to design patterns just as it can be used as a new method of fixating some items without actually connecting them. Furthermore, since the slope also has a one stud inset/ undercut at its base, it can also double as an alternative way to get stuff locked in place with the added benefit of then still propagating the stud it covers up to its top and freeing it up for use. I bet it won’t be long because we are seeing it used everywhere.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, Slope Examples


Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately this set does not deliver the goods. It’s one of those “You had one thing to do…” situations and in messing up the most important aspect, Sisu, the LEGO people pretty much ruin it for everyone. It is clear that all of this was likely a rush job (and from the looks of it so are the other sets in the series) that was caught up in the chaos of the delayed release due to the Corona pandemic. Nobody is faulting the designers for working off (possibly unfinished) concept art and not getting some things right, but they could at least have made an effort to make a “nice” dragon within the LEGO realm and bring it up to an acceptable level.

Now of course the detractors might argue “But it’s for kids!” which is a fair point and sure enough many of them won’t mind the shortcomings, but a short search on the web suggests that there are simply better toy tie-ins for the movie, including much better Sisu figures that actually look the part. One really has to wonder what went wrong here and it comes across as a non-effort on LEGO‘s part just as it makes you question the sanity of whoever signed off on this at Disney‘s licensing department.

Unless your kid insists it needs to expand its collection of brick-built dragons this is one of those moments where you are really being served better by other vendors. This set has not much to offer in play value and it looks at best mediocre. If you don’t have a taste for nerding out about specific pieces like I do, there is really no good reason to buy this even as an adult. It does not even come close to even the lamest Ninjago dragon and that in and of itself means a lot. Or to put it directly: If you’re looking for a dragon, you are being served better elsewhere.

Bang the Drum! – LEGO Disney Princess Magazine, February 2021

I’m currently not hitting the road for my many doctor’s visits as often as I used to for reasons that should be obvious, so keeping up with the slightly elusive LEGO Disney Princess magazine has become even more difficult. I was almost ready to order the February issue from the Blue Ocean online store directly when by sheer luck I discovered one of the magazines buried under a stack of others at a newsstand at Leipzig Hauptbahnhof (main station). The mag has been out for a month already, so I’m a little late, but that shall not stop us from having a look at it evaluating its value.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, March 2021, Cover

As so often the comic is kind of weird with the different Disney princesses appearing out of the blue together and Moana (or Vaiana, as she is called here in Germany) definitely doesn’t even make a good fit for most of the others inspired by the European Renaissance and Romanticism eras. I think they need to broaden the scope here and come up with better stories. I’m also puzzled by the drawings referencing old LEGO parts like the four-petaled 1 x 1 flower stud that hasn’t been used in any official set for almost three years now. Maybe they need to bring their illustrator’s guidelines up to standard?

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, March 2021, Comic

Regrettably there is no reading story on the last few pages, something which I always considered something to elevate the mag as a whole. It gave it a bit of classiness and didn’t put it in the kindergarten category. We’ll have to see if they bring it back. Outside that there’s the usual labyrinth puzzles, a few coloring/ drawing pages and some info pages on the characters. They are centered on Moana‘s musical inclinations and what instrument you/ your kid might want to play, given the chance. One thing that stood out to me is the little crafting section on building a small drum with sticks from a cardboard roll, rubber bands, lollipops and bottle corks and then painting and decorating it. This could make for an interesting afternoon project to distract your kids.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, March 2021, Crafting

The Belle poster is okay in my opinion, the reverse with a group shot of the princesses perhaps not so much. Either way, I think it’s already getting repetitive and they need to change things up here as well.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, March 2021, Poster

The extra is Moana herself with her drum. I already have the figure from the Moana’s Boat (43170) set, so this doesn’t set my world on fire, but if you don’t have it yet, you’ll like it. It’s well-produced and definitely worth a look. At this point the set I mentioned, which is the only one containing this figure, is marked to end its run. Therefore this represents a good opportunity to actually get the minidoll with minimum effort. the rest is not really worth mentioning, but I’m just as glad they left the bowl piece of the drum in Dark Red, so it could at least be useful as a realistic flower pot one day.

LEGO Magazine, Disney Princess, March 2021, Extra

Really not much more to say than what I already wrote, but once more it seems to me that they don’t quite know what to do with the mag. You couldn’t even blame them for using it as an ancillary marketing tool because the content is so misaligned with what’s actually on shelves. I’m still stumped over this…

Bubble on Wheels – LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192)

With the LEGO supply chain still sputtering like an old engine and only occasionally spewing out a few products, I find myself reshuffling my purchase schedule quite a bit. By that standard therefore this review of the LEGO Disney Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192) is definitely a bit premature, but let’s have it, anyway.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Box

Contents and Pricing

Given, that this was not a well-planned and well-timed purchase, getting this set for 30 Euro, representing a 25 percent discount from the original 40 Euro isn’t that bad a thing. You probably shouldn’t expect more than that, anyway, based on how those prices start out at a pretty high level. However, in this case it’s more or less a “glass half full” vs. “glass half empty” situation, as the concrete value you will get out of this set really depends on your inclinations as you will hopefully find out.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Overview

For me it ends up in the “It’s okay for one reason, but pretty terrible for another reason.” area with lots of shades of grey. Some of it has to do with the lack of complexity and thus building challenge (for a set aimed at kids totally expected, though, some of it with LEGO being total misers when there was no need to.

Figures and Animals

The “miser” point all too obviously has to do with the deficit of minidoll figures, both in terms of quantity and originality. Having only two figs for a set that is clearly meant to depict a celebratory procession, with one of them being the good fairy not even taking part in the actual proceedings, is rather weak. This is not helped by the Cinderella figure just being the bog standard version we’ve seen time and again before. The same goes for the fairy figure.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Figures

The star of the show, and admittedly one of the main reasons that nudged me over the threshold to buy this set, is the little fat mouse who in German goes by the name Karli, but is otherwise known as Gus in English-speaking countries. It’s a completely new mold used for the first time here and he’s all kinds of adorable and hilarious to look at. He’s not exactly true to how he’s drawn in the animated movie and, for lack of a better word, the LEGO designers certainly have “hamsterified” him to blend in with the Friends rodents of that type, but he’s still original and good in his own way.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Mouse

Now the real question, of course, is where his little fellows are. “But don’t you know that they are transformed into horses by the spell?” Yes, I know. Despite not having seen the movie in a while I remember at least that much. Still, for me that’s not good enough and not really an excuse, either. Point in case: It should even not need discussing that when they were shelling out cash for one new mold they might have been able to do the other two just as well at reasonable limited additional cost. In the day and age of computer-based design and manufacturing it’s not like this would have taken months of expensive prototyping and carving a mold from a steel block by hand, if you get my meaning. Yes, it would still have cost money, but perhaps not as much as many people seem to think.

So with all that being the case, I feel there are quite some missed opportunities here that could have provided more incentive to buy the set by making the figures a must-have for any collector.

Unique Parts

One of the reasons I had this set ion my radar in addition to the cute mouse are of course some interesting and unique parts. It’s always a good excuse to justify even slightly more expensive set to oneself and while not overflowing with super-exciting stuff, some of the pieces fit my usual thinking of “May be useful at some point in the future.” and my preferences for certain colors.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Parts

First there’s a good helping of the new 1 x 2 x 2 modified bricks with studs on the three sides, this time in White. Surprisingly (or not) LEGO are using them quite aggressively in many new sets, complementing the variant without the proximal studs and the 1 x 1 x 2 version nicely. With that, the slightly more intuitive regular grid SNOT system gets rounded out quite nicely and there’s a few less problems to worry about for some situations.

The pink dome is the same I already mentioned last time for Andrea’s Family House (41449). The modified 1 x 4 plate in Pearl Gold should prove extremely popular. With LEGO for reasons nobody can understand still not producing regular 1 x 4 plates in gold colors and even the plain 1 x 4 tile not having been produced in ages in something along those lines, this new element will make many people happy who are into building delicate fragile decorations and jewelry.

The item that gets me most pumped is the 3 x 3 round corner plate. I was genuinely thrilled when last year I found out that LEGO had introduced it in the Brick-built Minions and their Lair (75551) set. It solves so many issues when dealing with circular/ cylindrical elements, most notably not having to resort to full plates just to stabilize a corner stacked up from 3 x 3 macaroni pieces and similar.

All the Queen’s Horses

Another notable standout item in this set are the horses. If you care to remember, the totally unsuitable horses were one of my main complaints about the Harry Potter Beauxbaton’s Carriage (70344) back then, and if they had the ones from this set available, there would have been less to be critical about. As it is, however, this is actually a completely new mold solving more than that particular problem. It seems to me that LEGO have sat down and taken a deep breath to work out this conundrum in a more holistic manner.

Not only are these new horses included here, but a version of them in brown is also featured in the new Heartlake City Vet Clinic (41446). Furthermore, though it’s merely speculation on my part at this point, it seems to me that this will also find its way into regular City and Creator sets, in part superseding and replacing the older version as well. the specific point here is that it seems to be designed in a fashion where the dual-molded colors for the mane and tail as well as the prints define its look and feel rather than having too many molded-in details typical for a given series.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Horse, Left View

Now for the bad part: Regrettably LEGO opted for the kitsch version of the horses in this set, limiting their scope outside the Disney fantasy realm. I would have much preferred to have them with White or Light Bluish Grey manes and tails instead of the Light Aqua ones and of course also without the twinkly prints. That way they could have boosted the stock of the already mentioned vet clinic set considerably and, which is kind of a point, too, some parents might even have considered buying both sets at once just for that.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Horse, Right View

The horse’s shape overall is just fine, with one important point of note being that it is larger than either of the other variants. I forgot to actually do a comparative shot, but it’s at least around 15 percent bigger than the previous Friends horse and many times that compared to the old Knights/ Creator horse. By now I’m sure you also already noticed that it has a tiltable head, also a novelty. Kids are going to love it for those “horse eats carrot” poses and similar.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage with Horses, Detail View

The Carriage

I never had one of the previous sets, but apparently this isn’t the first and only version of the Cinderella carriage or for that matter its various interpretations and variants. As far as the level of realism is concerned, however, it is probably right to say that this model is closest to capturing the appearance of the final “wedding” version so far. The proportions with the long chassis and the central, yet relatively small passenger cabin at least make sense.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Front Left View

The construction of the vehicle is more or less symmetrical left to right, but also sort of from front to back. The only real difference of note is the raised pedestal for the attachment point of the horses’ tow bar in place of the simpler construction in the rear for plugging on the chest. By relying on the old wishbone suspension, for the first time in Bright Light Blue here, this is sufficiently stabilized horizontally, but I wouldn’t lean too much on the carriage as a whole. The central strut really is just a long two stud wide plate which is only ever so slightly being reinforced by some smaller plates, jumper plates and slopes plugged on top and below it.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Aft Left View

The construction of the bubble cabin is in a way quite clever and efficient, making good use of some sideways building techniques not least of all thanks to the 1 x 2 x 2 bricks with the studs on three sides acting as a central pillar. However, while it’s certainly recognizable and round-ish enough, the perfectionist in me wishes they had invested in some more slopes and plates to make it even more elegant. The specific point here is that in those corners where the rounded 3 x 3 x 3 bricks are used, I feel that inserting a layer of suitable rounded corner plates might have minimized the harsh steps you can see here and there just like adding some smaller curved slopes might have broken up the uniformity of the large elements.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Right View

The doors are the part where most of the new and unique pieces are used and in fact it’s one of those ironies that without them you couldn’t even have built it this way for reasons I have explained in the respective paragraph. Yes, this is basically a “loose” frame only held together by single stud connections where the gold elements touch the 3 x 3 round plates and in a similar fashion the frame then is only affixed by a few studs at the top and bottom. Serviceable, but also way too easy to damage for my taste. I also would have preferred that the plates were Bright Light Blue or White instead of Dark Azure as the carriage in the movie is indeed almost perfectly white, give or take a few blue-ish glow effects.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage, Front Right Top View

One thing that also caused some facepalming on my part is the interior design. Why? It follows the classical Friends design where you are supposed to clamp the legs of the figure around the modified tile serving as the footrest. However, someone completely ignored that Cinderella actually wears a skirt and this therefore won’t work. This is such a stupid oversight, one really has to wonder what the quality control process at LEGO is.

LEGO Disney, Cinderella’s Royal Carriage (43192), Carriage with Horses, Front Left View


Concluding Thoughts

As I wrote already, this set is in a way mostly passable and that’s the long and short of it. It’s neither particularly bad, but not in any way outstanding, either. This is mostly owing to the simple construction, which, while efficient, is just super-boring and doesn’t even try to do more than the bare minimum to get the required functionality. It lacks the sense that some love and effort went into this set and once more comes across as an intern’s afternoon job.

For me the main consolation are some of the new parts, but if it wasn’t for that, I’d likely never even have considered buying this, despite the somewhat dire situation with LEGO‘s overall supply shortages. Combined with the lingering feeling that this probably is just a 20 Euro “real” value and the price seems hopelessly inflated I would not really recommend this set. It doesn’t even get the play thing right and is a bit fragile. Most disappointing, however, is of course the absence of the rest of the mouse gang and that laziness alone doesn’t deserve to be rewarded with your money…

Yellow Forest Hideout – LEGO Disney, Aurora’s Forest Cottage (43188)

I must admit that despite my best attempts at resisting the temptation I always get myself into trouble over “cute” stuff. So it was a given that on day I would buy Aurora’s Forest Cottage (43188) one day as soon as I saw the small deer included in the package when first photos became available. Now that I have it, let’s look what it has on offer.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Box

Contents and Pricing

Let’s not kid ourselves: Disney Princess sets are hopelessly overpriced. LEGO and Disney clearly know that they can get away with everything as long as they can rely on little girls (and boys) bugging their parents about their favorite character from an animated movie. This is no exception.

At a suggested street price of 40 Euro for a mere 300 pieces the usual metrics of 10 Cent per piece are seriously out of whack on the wrong side of the scales. That being the case, there’s limited room for the retailers to go lower, as no doubt they feel the squeeze just as hard, so the best you can hope for is the usual 20 to 30 percent discount reigning in the price at around 30 Euro. For my taste that’s still way too much, as the contents is simply rather sparse, all things considered, and at the end you have a relatively small model. Again this is one of those situations where 25 Euro would be much more preferable and an MSRP of 30 Euro would have been sufficiently adequate.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Overview

The actual contents consist of the main building, the cottage, a small bridge, two minidoll figures and a couple of animals with the only real exclusive items being the Maleficent figure and the small deer/ fawn/ Bambi. the rest is standard fare, though I don’t necessarily mean this in a bad way.

Figures and Animals

As indicated above, the Maleficent figure so far is exclusive for this set. There have been versions of this character before, but this one has a new face print as well as more elaborate prints on her gown compared to older editions. Aurora has also some new prints, so at least there’s that. The two figures will be enough to play out some of the plot beats of the movie(s), but I find it troublesome that not more were included. I’m dying for at least one of the three fairy godmothers or a non-descript palace guard or forest huntsmen. This seems so obvious to me!

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Figures

The animals are a line-up of Aurora‘s little pets/ friends, one of Maleficent‘s spy crows and a random blue bird, which similar to the humans is not nearly enough in my opinion. In the movies, the swampy glade where Aurora tries to hide is overflowing with natural life, so there should be more of these creatures.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Animals

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), BirdsA lot more in fact. The point that bothers me the most is that there easily could have been five or more of the pigeon-like small bird in different colors just to perch them on the house and the hinted-at tree. I think it would have been wonderful to have some in the “light” yellow, blue and pink colors and of course I wouldn’t have minded a bunch of grey and brown “sparrows”, either. On that same note I once more think that reusing the old Elves birds is no longer a good idea and they really, really need to consider creating an actual mold to be used as a crow/ raven/ magpie with that threatening pose.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), PetsThe other animals go of course also back to the Elves era, but since I didn’t have any of those and the whole point kind of was to get the Bambi with this set, that’s actually okay, even more so since the squirrel also only got a re-issue last year and thus isn’t that widespread yet.

The Bridge

The only small side build in this set is the bridge leading to the cottage over a small stream in front of it. For this set this has been kitsch-ed up to the max with a few Pearl Gold elements and of course the Dark Pink bubbles. I would much have preferred this to be a little more mundane, but bigger instead, be it just for the simple fact that it’s so tiny and narrow it doesn’t even hold up with the figures next to it. This is one of those cases where the protagonists would simply take a wide step to pass the river. Making it about one third larger at least would have conveyed the idea much better.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Bridge 

The Cottage

The house is overall acceptable, but pretty plain, all things considered. At only effectively seven studs deep it is quite shallow and being that it’s only around 20 cm wide and tall you can imagine how small it actually is and there’s only so much you can cram in.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Front Left View

The color choices no doubt will be a matter of personal taste but I quite like the Bright Light Orange to give the illusion of a golden thatched roof gleaming in the sunlight. The rest of the colors is also surprisingly consistent and almost restrained if it weren’t for the Medium Lavender and Dark Pink elements (excluding the leaves). Even using the brown support piece is fitting to support that feeling of a timber frame house.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Left View

At the risk of beating this to death, one of my main qualms with this set is the absence of that busy feeling of an old, overgrown house and this is unfortunately not really mitigated by what little greenery is there. The front “lawn” is barely used and could easily have been plastered with tons of flowers. The tree integrated in the cottage is also a bit on the sparse side. It should have been extended to tower over the house itself and of course then it should have had many, many more branches with leaves. This also harks back to my point about the birds earlier – bigger tree = more birds.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Back Left View

As you would expect with such a small building there isn’t really much going on on the inside. Then again a small cottage isn’t a luxurious villa to begin with, so that’s probably in a way appropriate. the essentials are all there with a small dining table, a fireplace and the upstairs bed. There’s just not much else and at the least they might have included a ladder to the upper deck.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Back Right View

The smoke vane is the new cloud element introduced in the Monkie Kid series and while not physically present, the fairies are at least hinted at with their magic wands. The chimney is bobbing up and down with a simple mechanism and in addition the water wheel makes rattling noises with some 1 x 1 round bricks inside. There’s not really much more than that to play around with.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Forest Cottage (43188), Right View


Concluding Thoughts

I guess at the end of the day this set is what they call “serviceable”. It basically does nothing wrong, but denies itself its own chance of being really great. The specific point here is of course that it has been trimmed down to cater for the 5+ crowd, but personally I feel that this for once would have been a chance to go the Harry Potter route and make the set a little more realistic and complex without losing its appeal to the younger crowd, either. So for me it’s a story of more than one missed opportunities. The fundamental ideas are all there and given the nature of the thing it should have been simple enough to expand upon them, they just didn’t for whatever reason.

On its own merits, however, this is funny enough one of the better Disney Princess sets, as at least you’re getting a decent house out of it and not just a vignette with some tie-in character dolls. However, it’s still seriously overpriced, so carefully consider how much you or your kids need it. I’m pretty sure if Elves was still around with new sets I would have made a different decision and many of you may see this just as much as merely a compromise.