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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not 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.
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.
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.