All I see is Gold – LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052)

I don’t do much in the way of LEGO Architecture as you may well know. The sets are way overpriced and the limited amount of detail just doesn’t satisfy me. so whenever I actually do decide to buy one of these sets there has to be a a specific reason, hasn’t it? Yepp, the Dubai (21052) skyline fits that bill.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Box

Lets cut to the chase right away since it’s already in the title, anyway: It’s all about the gold (and some other parts). This is one of the cases where the longer I looked at the set, the more tempting it became and my internal “I have to have these pieces in my collection.” took over, despite not even exactly knowing if, where, when and how I’m going to use these parts. I then further rationalized it to myself because no matter how you spin it, those elements will be expensive on Bricklink for a foreseeable while, being that the Metallic Gold items are exclusive to this box except for the 1 x 2 tiles that can also be found elsewhere.

This then became further rounded out by a ton of those candle pieces, some slopes and inverted tiles in Dark Blue, a good helping of rounded 1 x 2 plates as well as all the round 2 x 2 plates and transparent 1 x 1 studs that go into the Burj Khalifa. Again, nothing I have an immediate application for, but it’s always good to have enough of some of that stuff.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Front View

Do my crooked metrics work out? Admittedly quite likely not for everyone. While I’m pretty certain this set won’t significantly drop further in price and at least the golden door frame will be rather rare for some time to come, the rest of the bits no doubt can be scraped together from Bricklink and be cheaper. My own impatience just got the better of me and I really had to check things out. For 40 Euro that is okay and a 30 % discount is pretty much all you can hope for, but I’d definitely not indulged in this craziness for the original 60 Euro asking price. Sorry for boring you with this, but LEGO have really lost their marbles where that is concerned. It is, after all, a rather small package.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Front Left ViewOne thing that becomes apparent immediately are the mismatched sizes of the buildings. In particular the Burj al Arab sticks out because it simply looks fat and too large compared to the others. Unfortunately I can’t think of a way they could have made it smaller without sacrificing even more detail, so we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place on that one with the only option being to scale up the other builds. Naturally it then becomes a question of whether you want an 80 cm tall Burj Khalifa in your life and the set would not have become even more expensive due to its massive parts consumption. In any case, the scales are out of whack.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Front Right View

The builds for the Jumeirah Emirates Towers and the Dubai Frame are super simple or in the latter case effectively not requiring any construction skills whatsoever. It is just a door frame, after all. That’s regrettable, as it looks wrong in so many ways. The actual frame does have some thickness/ volume and it’s also notably wider. The 4 x 6 ratio of the door doesn’t capture this very well. I’m also buying LEGO sets for the fun of actually building stuff, so they should at least have tried. In my view this could be perfectly clipped together from a couple of longer plates, tiles, hinges and 1 x 1 brackets.

The Jumeirah Towers use some interesting sideways construction, but at the same time feel very flimsy and delicate because of or in spite of that – however you want to see it. The point here is that they only consist of very few elements, so there’s not a lot of counter-locking going on with the exception of a few places. It hinges a lot on the Dark Blue inverted tiles at the “bottom” and the slopes in the same color on the “top”, with the White pieces contributing very little to stability. The same goes for how the two towers are fixated on the base using two tiles with pins and then mutually blocking each others rotation. It’s a clever technique, but there’s still some jiggling. Handling with care is advised.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Aft Right ViewThe central piece is of course the Burj Khalifa and it looks pretty decent. It’s a real eye catcher not just because of its height, but also due to the alternating layers of transparent and opaque pieces. Since its open from all sides, this allows some interesting effects to play out when light disperses through it. In fact this looks much, much better in person than the terrible marketing and package photos would have you believe. This also applies to other parts of the set.



Contrary to what you may believe, building the large tower is nowhere near as tedious as it may look on first sight. Not only is the building anything but perfectly rotationally symmetrical, but every level uses slightly different construction techniques, so you have some variation. It’s repetitive, yes, but overall not as boring as one might fear. It also holds together surprisingly well despite its narrow cross section and slender build. Only the topmost segment will inevitably come off at times when handling the model and you also have to ensure to put it back on straight or else the whole building looks liek it is bent.

LEGO Architecture, Dubai (21052), Aft Left View Finally there’s the Burj al Arab hotel and in my opinion it’s the weak link of the whole set. I already mentioned the wrong scale and it indeed messes up what otherwise could perhaps have been a more harmonious skyline composition.

In addition it’s also a pretty dull build where you literally just stack different types of wedge plates in alternating colors and then build the cheat framing on the sides, which then looks too fat at this size. If you get my spin: The model would need to be even larger to more correctly represent the genuine article, but then it would definitely not fit into this set anymore at all.

The model also fails to convey how the hotel is actually situated. It’s literally built in the water, that is a concrete trough embedded in an artificial sand island on a beach. In the set there are just not enough surroundings to make this context clear and in its default orientation you’re kind of viewing things from the wrong side.

All things considered, this is not the greatest of sets even by the limited standards of the Architecture series. I feel that so many things could have been done differently and to boot, easily so just by using different construction and adjusting the scale of some things. In an ideal world in fact I would have just focused on the Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab. Both side by side on a different kind of pedestal, a little more desert landscape around them and proportionally better matched sizes would have made for a much better set. I truly believe that.

As it is it’s okay and surely I won’t dissuade you if you’re a collector of the series as a whole, but it’s not essential. On the other hand of course the golden door frame alone has anyone drooling who’s set his sights on building a kitschy Trump hotel or a similarly tacky 1970s/ 1980s hotel, bank or shopping emporium with all the pretentious/ fake brass elements, so as so often you could still get some mileage out of it just by scalping it for parts…

Something good, something bad – Lady Liberty (40367) and Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847)

Today I’m going to roll two smaller sets into one review for practical reasons, both of which I bought somewhat spontaneously to sooth my nerves and pamper myself at the LEGO store in Leipzig when I was roaming the premises after an unpleasant doctor visit. That being the case and the sets therefore having been bought at full price no matter what I can at least spare you my usual ramblings on overall value vs. price.

Worst Set of the Year?

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847), Box

To get things out of the way, let’s start with what I basically consider the worst LEGO set of the year. Sadly, as a tie-in for The LEGO Movie 2 this should be at least some sort of fun, but  the Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847) is unfortunately so lackluster, you wonder why they ever bothered to bring it out.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847), Overview

I fully intended to buy this set for a number of reasons, but even though I didn’t expect it to be particularly elaborate or outstanding, I never would have thought it to be this underwhelming or even terrible. Point in case: It’s basically a parts and figure pack marketed as a full set where unfortunately nothing gels and the parts don’t make up for the lack of play or collector’s value.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847), Babies

First and foremost of course I like most likely 99% of people who buy this set had my eye on the baby figures. Oddly enough, though LEGO had the mold for quite a while now, it’s seriously underused and the figures only pop up once every blue moon in a handful of sets. As you would have guessed, this makes them highly coveted items that fetch good prices on Bricklink. The two little tykes represented in this set will do nothing to improve this situation, as this is the first time we actually get Bright Pink (baby pink) and Dark Cyan (teal) bodies and a lot of people will be desperately scavenge for matching heads sans “tattoos” to integrate the babies into their City landscapes or whatever. That said, the two kids certainly are appealing and would enliven many a scenery.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Good Morning Sparkle Babies! (70847), Island

Now for the ugly part. The rest of the set is pretty much a stinker. The sad, sad irony is that each component on its own would actually be useful, in particular the plant parts in new colors. It’s just that there aren’t enough of them to do anything serious with them and to boot, they have been slapped on to some piece of island that looks like it was a lowly intern’s morning task before lunch break. I’ts just *ugh*. I get what they were aiming for, but please, could we at least have gotten a real palm/ bush with three leaves or something like that? As it is, it’s nothing more than a frustrating glimpse into a happy, colorful dream world that could have been. Imagine how awesome it actually would look to see your babies stomping around on a larger meadow surrounded by those crazy colored plants!

On a whole this is an epic fail and nothing can justify buying the set other than really having the hots for the baby figures and being crazy enough to shell out the dosh. This really just strikes me as yet another misguided attempt to quickly cash in on the movie without making any effort whatsoever. Hell, even the Emmet and Lucy minifigures are the same boring ones found in pretty much every other set of this ilk.

Little green Cutie

LEGO Brickheadz, Lady Liberty (40367), Box

On to more pleasant things, the bright spot on the horizon for me on this day was the Brickheadz Lady Liberty (40367). I was actually quite surprised to find it in the LEGO store, after all, given what I overheard last time. That and the fact that the set had long been out in other countries and sold out quickly. I had little hope to be able to catch it, but sometimes there is such a thing as lucky circumstance, I guess.

LEGO Brickheadz, Lady Liberty (40367), Front Left View

Over the years I have only bought a handful of Brickheadz overall and whenever I did, it usually boiled down to getting my hands on some of the special printed tiles or rare parts in unusual colors that these sets often contained. I’ve never been much of a collector and as a matter of fact the only such figure I kept around is Thanos, which somehow tickles my “Aww, he’s cute!” senses in all his Medium Lavender glory. He’s now going to get a permanent companion with this little green lady, as she’s cute, too, and I can’t find it in my heart to dismantle her for the parts.

LEGO Brickheadz, Lady Liberty (40367), Front Right View

There’s very little that I don’t like or that I think could be improved here. The model is cleverly done and even employs the “textile folds” technique using the cut-off wedge slopes also used on the larger Statue of Liberty (21042) in the Architecture series just as it borrows the same trick with the golden hair piece for the flames. Due to these details you end up with a reasonably complex build and a model with a well-structured surface that feels weighty and voluminous and not just like a tile-covered regular box like some other Brickheadz.

LEGO Brickheadz, Lady Liberty (40367), Back Right View

As for the things I would improve: First, the crown piece clearly could have benefited from including a disc/ dish piece to cover up the center like it’s done on the bigger version. In fact this could have looked even better here, as they could have used a 4 x 4 dish which is a little less steep in curvature/ less convex and would have blended in better. The other thing I would have done is made the figure taller. I know, they are all meant to be about the same height so they form a nice even line on the shelf, but this is one case where an exception could have been made. Adding e.g. two more rows of bricks at the bottom would have allowed for more details on the robes and looked more elegant. These are minor things, though, and a true collector might have different opinions on the matter.

LEGO Brickheadz, Lady Liberty (40367), Back Left View

In any case, this is one of the few Brickheadz that genuinely should appeal to everyone, be that occasional LEGO buyers, experienced builders looking for a satisfying diversion amidst other projects or the aforementioned collectors hunting down every set in this line of products. I certainly still have warm and fuzzy feelings as little Lady Liberty is looking at me from the shelf while I’m writing this article…

Coral, Corals, Amusement, Space

The rumour mill had of course already been busy and some thumbnail resolution leaked images had popped up here and there already, but this week we finally got some official, full size images for us to inspect and dissect every pixel of the new Architecture, City, Creator 3in1, Friends, Harry Potter and even Duplo sets from LEGO.

But first things first: For many people the most important news is that LEGO finally came to their senses and will no longer limit specific seasonal or exclusive sets to regional markets. The negative backlash about the Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner (80101) and the Dragon Dance (80102) sets, the The LEGO Movie 2 Brickheadz and most recently the Darth Vader Bust (75227) really seems to have gotten under their skin. Since those sets were already in short supply in their intended markets and outsiders leaching some of them exacerbated the situation further and  left many people frustrated there. Perfectly understandable, as even I would have wanted a Dragon Dance set. It just looks cool. Anyway, expanding production of such releases globally should avoid some of that craziness and guarantee better access to the products in question.

Moving on to the new releases, first let’s quickly get the for me least relevant series out of the way. I never was much of a Harry Potter fan and in fact nowadays I think there’s so much wrong with those books and movies, it would warrant its own article to explain it all, but regardless of my personal dislike for the subject matter you have to admit that for those who love this stuff the sets will be amazing. Lots of minifigures, a consistent design philosophy and they even thought of making the Hogwarts Clock Tower (75948) match up with last year’s Hogwarts Great Hall (75954) and Whomping Willow (75953) building segments. Perhaps some people’s dream of one day having the complete castle made from modular components in this style and scale might still come true, after all?

In the Architecture series we will get the Trafalgar Square (21045) and the Empire State Building (21046). They look okay if you are into this stuff, but neither model is a must-have for me. The Empire State Building in fact turned out as I had feared and is a mass of Tan grille tiles plugged onto a solid core, so this will be extremely daunting to assemble and a test of patience. I suppose the achievement will be having assembled it without having an angry outburst from the repetitive build more than actually having it on your table as a show piece.

I have no kids of my own and I’m past the age of playing with certain toys (despite trying to keep my inner child alive), but I have to say when I’m strolling through the aisles of a toy shop I’m always tempted to pick up random bits and pieces because they are just so adorable and cute and have to restrain myself very hard. Duplo sets with animals always have been part of that crowd and the feeling of wanting to own some of them already is coming back just looking at the new sets. now if only they would bring back that crazy shark from a few years ago I might actually be compelled to buy a submarine set… 😉

Speaking of cute, colorful things, of course Friends is my go-to series. As hinted in my article on the new Coral color, the ocean animal rescue themed sets for the second half of the year are full of elements in this color, so you should easily get to a point where you have a healthy base supply of pieces to work with. As if that weren’t enough, we also get a ton of new pieces like baby sea animals, the coral plant element and the complimentary mini sea creatures. The latter are likely a separate standardized bag similar to the garage tools or cutlery that are included easily in many sets and hopefully soon will also be available also in colors than Coral. You know, Yellow Butterfly Fish, White or Tan clam shells and Dark Orange octopi make totally sense to me. We’ll see.

The amusement park sets on the other hand are mostly not my thing, though they, too, are based around oceanic themes. My problem here is that they too much feel like the similar sets we had three years ago, the Heartlake Swimming Pool (41313) or even the current Heartlake City Resort (41347). Not necessarily in the sense that they are redundant or identical, but that it would not be impossible to build large parts of the new stuff from sets you may already own, give or take a few specific parts. This becomes even more of a pickle as the Creator 3in1 series also caters for this with the Carousel (31095). Too many options! This can really burn a hole in your purse. Perhaps they should have coordinated this better or consolidated it into a overaching crossover them in both series.

More commonalities in Friends and 3in1 come by ways of two buildings – the Heartlake City Restaurant (41379) and the Townhouse with Pet Shop and Café (31097). Both are highly welcome, as you can never really have enough houses in your little city and in recent time we haven’t seen that many halfway fully formed buildings in most series. You’re likely going to need at least two sets of each to make them halfway compatible with the Modular Buildings, regardless, but something is better than nothing. That’s even more the case for the Friends restaurant, as it is chocka full with interesting new parts and its Southern European architecture style has been rarely seen. It’s really unusual and quite unique to the point of not looking like a Friends set at all if it weren’t for some parts in Lavender that give it away.

Finally let’s talk about City. By now you might have guessed it already, but yes there’s a bit of an amusement park theme going on here as well. Nothing major with just a figure pack and some little doo-dads, but should you indeed decide to go full batty and want to build a giant park with all the sets mentioned already, this will be useful. The rest is pretty mundane with the continuation of the fire patrol theme and more generic sets, but I couldn’t help but notice the huge donut and think it’s awesome. Really too bad it’s included in a more expensive set that otherwise doesn’t have anything that would interest me.

On the matter of things that interest me – I’m of course a science fiction and astral science nerd on some level, yet the City Space Port sets leave me completely emotionless. Except perhaps for the large rocket set it all looks completely boring to me. It seems that their cooperation with NASA resulted in trying to be too factually exact and of course everything had to be white and gold for thermal insulation and reflecting radiation. Also it looks like they just ticked subjects off some list and kept the designs to a bare minimum. I mean by all accounts at least that space station could have been a lot larger and more complex and those shuttles a lot more detailed. It’s disappointing.

In any case, no matter what there are some interesting sets lined up and even buying the ones I consider essential or even mandatory will be quite a chase, so there is little to complain. This wave of new sets overall is pretty good and in addition there are already some sets on the market I haven’t caught up with yet, making for plenty of entries on my ever-growing wishlist…