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.
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.
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.
As 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!
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.
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.
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 ) and Olive Green (Gargantos Showdown ). The rest is mostly “nice to have” stuff. One can never have enough gold decorations and color options.
A 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.
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.