Orange Predator – LEGO Creator 3in1, Majestic Tiger (31129)

It’s the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese lunar calendar and LEGO are certainly going in on the theme. Not only are there the usual Chinese New Year sets (Lunar New Year Traditions [80108] and Lunar New Year Ice Festival [80109]), with the latter featuring a person in a tiger costume and the accompanying Gift with Purchase (GWP) also having been a buildable tiger, but there’s also a bunch of the striped predator cats or their relatives appearing in other sets. It could be totally coincidental, of course, but I sure noticed. The Majestic Tiger (31129) on the other hand is likely far from being a victim of pure chance timing and easily takes the crown of the whole bunch and quite deservedly so in my opinion, so lets explore the reasons why this is such a great set.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Box

Contents and Pricing

Unlike last year’s Crocodile (31121), which never got a broad release and therefore is still very hard to come by, this set is readily available from a huge number of outlets. They even managed to have it ready from day one, which in these weird times with all those supply chain delays and interruptions counts for something. I waited my time for prices to drop to what I consider sensible levels, though, and with that we immediately get to the biggest gripe I have with this set: its price.

On paper, 50 Euro for a 755 pieces set doesn’t at all sound that bad and in particular for the tiger this may be perfectly acceptable for many people. However, those metrics skew terribly towards the negative side with the Red Panda and the Koi due to their limited parts usage, as you shall see further down in this article. Another thing to consider here is the fact that we’re talking about a Creator 3in1 set (also) aimed at children and other demographics, not just collectors. At 50 Euro you’re getting dangerously close to some of the more affordable LEGO Ideas sets and those have more pieces and frequently additional exclusive minifigures. Finally, and this doesn’t really need to be spelled out as it’s apparent in the photos, there’s a ton of small 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 parts that should not cause that much of a price hike. Yes, there’s several large elements, too, but those are pretty bog standard and not exclusively produced for this set, so they should not have such a huge impact on cost, either.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Overview

With all that said, this is pretty much a 35 Euro set and that is what you can purchase it for after discounts. That’s okay, but ultimately it’s unsatisfying that the retailers always have to pick up the tab and fix the mess that LEGO make with their overpriced MSRPs. In a way it might even hurt LEGO themselves. I’m losing this term very loosely here, as obviously they made just another billion in revenue, but wouldn’t it be even better if we all could just buy three of those sets for a lower price instead of having to perhaps settle on just getting one? I understand that this is how works for the super expensive collectors’ sets, but for this bread & butter stuff it just seems weird that you would limit your sales potential by driving up prices. You know, that math thing. If you sell three boxes and make five bucks on each of them you still have made more than just selling a single one and making a tenner.

The Tiger

Tigers are fascinating and beautiful creatures and I could watch them for hours. When I visit one of my buddies two or three times a year I always try to talk him into a visit of their small local zoo and seeing the tiger is one of my highlights. The zoo serves as a retirement home for older tigers and the cage is built as such that you can literally stand 1.5 m away from the big cat at a specific spot and if you’re lucky, the tiger will lay down and take a nap. I could stand there for hours just watching the breathing and movement of the ever on alert ears. It’s really amazing just as it is terrifying how even those elderly tigers explode and go a bit coo-coo if only they catch a whiff of fresh meat or another of their kind…

Anyway, on to the set. It makes no statement of which particular sub-species of tiger it tries to portray, but the tropical bird suggests that it could be a Sumatra Tiger, the smallest one. then again it could just as well be an Indian/ Bengal Tiger or a Siberian/ Amur Tiger. Who’s to know? At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter beyond perhaps considerations for the color of the fur. depending on the season and their habitat those can vary quite a bit from relatively dark browns to almost white pale sand color and anything inbetween, naturally. For a LEGO model the most appropriate main color would be Dark Orange, but I actually understand why they didn’t go for that. The “scale effect” would have made it look too dark. Those cats also have transitional areas with a beautiful deep and saturated curry yellow, a color which unfortunately doesn’t exist in LEGO‘s portfolio.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Overview

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Sidebuild The sidebuild for this main model is a super tiny waterfall which really only counts as the smallest rivulet drizzling through a bunch of rocks. there’s a suggestion of some very short bamboo stalks plus there are some dried up branches hidden behind the rock. The bird is hard to classify, but it could easily be one of those many finch species you can find or a parrot-like one. the funny thing here is that they didn’t even have to include it, since almost all of the extra pieces aren’t even used in any of the alternate builds. Typically they would only include these little gimmicks as a sneaky way of providing a few alternate parts. Not complaining about some extra bits, it just feels unnecessary.

The tiger itself is just gorgeous and nicely illustrates what you can do with LEGO pieces today and some clever building techniques. There’s a lot of places with unexpected directional changes and stuff being built upside down, only to be attached in rather original ways using hinges, clips and ball joints. This in particular applies to the abdomen/ chest consisting essentially of a conventional stack of plates and slopes, then fixed at an angle to get this bulging out at the bottom. However, there’s one big disadvantage to all this: Many times the build process just drags on.

It took me much longer to finish the model than I had anticipated due to a ton of 1 x 1 elements that needed to be placed and aligned carefully and similar finicky stuff consuming my time. The result is rewarding, after all, just don’t underestimate how long it may take to get there. This in particular applies to the legs and  stripe pattern on the flanks. Interestingly, it uses some of the techniques using the new curved slope and inverted slopes I was exploring back then with Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184). The top is capped off with printed 1 x 2 x 2/3rd slopes. This works quite well and even having dedicated printed pieces in a Creator 3in1 set is something that doesn’t happen that often.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Left View

As you can see from the images, the tiger can be posed in a multitude of ways – within certain limitations. You can’t really get him to lay down or do that typical back bend when cats stretch, but you can make him stand and walk with the head allowing to be turned in the right direction as well. This should be sufficient to find an interesting stance for it on the shelf.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Top View

A minor complaint I have is how skinny the orange biggie is. This is not really a problem, as in nature they can go for weeks without food and get very thin from the starvation, I just would have preferred if he looked a bit more rounded. Easier said than done, though, as at this scale it would be difficult with a three studs wide back. You’d need a lot of extra elements to compensate the extra thickness and different offsets.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Underside View

The belly area is structured as well with teeth elements hinting at clumped up fur areas and some inverted slopes providing a bit of additional shaping.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Detail Head The head uses a lot of illusion painting as it actually has quite a few noticeable gaps and open areas. In the end it just works, however. I’d personally perhaps try to close the parts around the ears and in the process also create a slightly smoother transition to the back.


LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Detail Paw The paws are identical for each of the legs and use the semi-circular 1 x 1 tiles to good effect. The underside is constructed from uncovered brackets, which gives this effect that a real paw would have – slightly elevated by the padded zones with the fur not always touching the ground for this floaty feel and subtle soft walking they are known for.


LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Tiger, Detail Anus A somewhat contentious item and subject of some ridicule on the Internet is the inclusion of an actual anus. It’s not that far fetched, as naturally cats have poop hole just like any other animal, but including the extra Dark Pink flower element indeed feels like someone  went out of their way to make it visible when otherwise there would have just been a pin hole from the ratcheted hinge element holding the legs.


The Red Panda

The second model you can build from this set is a Red Panda. Biologically of course these creatures bear no relation to the big Pandas, but are just as cute. This makes it even more disappointing that this is actually the weakest of the three options. But let’s adhere to established procedures and do this in the right order.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Red Panda, Overview

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Red Panda, SidebuildThe sidebuild is some kind of flower/ blossom, obviously. I’m saying “some” because I actually haven’t really figured out what exactly it is supposed to represent from a simple cherry or almond blossom to a specific orchid this could be anything. It’s fine that they tried to maximize parts usage, but ultimately it feels forced and once more rather superfluous, given that it doesn’t look very realistic and offers no additional value.


The Red Panda itself is a lot smaller than the tiger by comparison. This becomes immediately apparent just by the absence of any of the large hinge/ ball joint pieces. instead it uses the smaller ball joints all the way, which isn’t really that advantageous here. Despite being not as big and overall rather light, the joints can barely hold the weight. This in particular affects the feet, which tend to bend upward under the pressure caused by the weight. I had to correct them a few times just for the photos. This isn’t helped by the legs being stiff as a brick and having no knee joints. Poseability is seriously limited here. Trust me, if there had been a way I’d certainly have tried for some more dynamic arrangements.

The legs are also identical, which is a recurring theme on this little guy – everything is way too symmetrical. Not only are the legs the same, but the main trunk also has a front-back mirror symmetry. This already bothered me massively during the build process, as due to their long, dense fur these creatures look pretty bulked up instead of the skinny thing you are building here. Point in case: Where the real animal goes thicker and wider, the model actually tapers and gets narrower to accommodate the convergence zones of the various joints.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Red Panda, Front ViewThe best part about this is the face, which is adorable. That’s probably also one of the reasons why they picked this creature as the go-to for the Turning Red movie which coincidentally just started streaming on Disney+ on this very day as I’m writing this. I can easily see why they would have opted for this.



Now for Creator 3in1 sets the way in which the pieces are (also) used on the secondary and tertiary models matters a lot and has a huge impact on buying decisions and unfortunately the Red Panda fares terribly here. There’s just so many leftover parts that are not being used anywhere, including many chunky ones like the joints/ hinges used for the tiger plus a considerable pile of the usual mass of smaller parts. That makes the economics pretty bad.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Red Panda, Leftover Pieces

The Koi

The third model the package allows you to create is a Koi. This is, however, the “fancy” version as you often can see it in paintings rather than a realistic carp. This mostly pertains to the more rounded front portion, which somehow seems to be a desirable result of breeding so it looks more like those Asian goldfish. That aesthetics debate aside the fish just is another nicely done model.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Koi, Overview

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Koi, SidebuildSimilar to the Red Panda there’s another flower build here, this time more recognizably meant or be a water lily or lotus. It’s okay, but somehow one wonders why LEGO just didn’t commit and included a bunch of these wedge slopes in Dark Pink to make it even more clear. Otherwise it’s just as extraneous as the other sidebuilds and I gladly could have gone without it.



The build employs similar techniques and follows the same pattern as the tiger in that you build it up from multiple segments that are snapped together with the small ball joints. this allows for an efficient construction process without ever having to handle an unwieldy large solid block. The overall shaping is nice if you disregard that the belly is completely flat for a moment. If you were to perch it on a stand you might need to add some volume there as well with a few plates and inverted slopes.

The Koi is apparently meant to represent one of the tricolor variants, but if you have the pieces just downloading the instructions would allow you to build other versions as well. The beauty of the model is that it does not use any super advanced building techniques nor any rare or exotic parts and everything can be substituted easily. In fact many pieces could even be replaced on this already finished model without too much trouble.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Koi, Front ViewOne area that deserves a bit of attention is the head. By that I mean the two large round plates and the bits attached to them. They are affixed to 1 x 2 x 2 SNOT brick clamped between hinges and on their back they’re supposed to butt against two 1 x 1 x 1 bricks with a stud on the side to stay at an angle. This arrangement has some clearance and can wiggle around, which is something I’m not friends with.


Therefore I “enhanced” my version by adding some of the spare U-shaped tiles with the curved end pointing forward, so the hinges are always spread rather widely. However, and this is an important warning, this is an “illegal” technique by LEGO standards as the resulting angle is just ever so slightly too large and the round plates can only be mounted under tension and with slight gaps, putting stress on the elements. That should explain why it wasn’t designed that way out of the box. For me this is at best a limited concern since I already know that it won’t be long when I have to disassemble the model due to lack of space for keeping it around, but you should be aware of this and not use my hack or at least consider removing the tiles again after a while to avoid long-term damage.

There are slightly less leftover elements on this one, but the piles are still pretty massive. It’s on some level only a swap where pieces used in the Red Panda are not needed anymore, but some others take their place. This again doesn’t speak in favor of the set solely on the merits how efficiently the parts are used, but on the bright side if you really e.g. buy a second set for these models you’ll always get a good amount of universally usable extras for your own custom builds.

LEGO Creator, Majestic Tiger (31129), Koi, Leftover Pieces

Concluding Thoughts

As you may have noticed already I really enjoyed this set and in my not so humble view thsi could easily be a contender for Model of the Year, other, even more impressive stuff coming out notwithstanding. It’s really amazing how much detail they were able to get out of this and in a “mundane” Creator 3in1 set at that. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps, but this is truly sublime.

Not everything is roses, though and once more we need to discuss why LEGO just can’t put in enough pieces in the box to build the two alternate models at the same time. Given how the parts usage overlaps it really is very frustrating that you potentially have to buy a third package only to end up with heaps and heaps of spare parts. The irony here is, that the answer is basically in front of our eyes – re-allocate the parts from the sidebuilds to this and you could almost do it.

In such a case I might not have been as pickish about the price or even paid 5 Euro extra. That’s also why I would subtract points and give this set a 8.5 or 9 out of 10 rather than a full perfect score. Had LEGO put a more thought into this aspect I wouldn’t have much to complain aside from the minor criticisms I pointed out. Even if you don’t like any of the actual creatures, this set is great fun building and it’s also somewhat educational, showing how great results can be achieved with conventional techniques applied smartly.

Large green Chomper – LEGO Creator 3in1, Crocodile (31121)

Do you know that feeling when you want a pretty ordinary LEGO set, but for reasons beyond your control it’s more difficult than chasing down a rare old set? In times of seemingly permanent supply issues I’ve had this a couple of times this year, but the Crocodile (31121) from the Creator 3in1 series has proven to be a particular point of frustration. Let’s find out why.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Box

Contents and Pricing

As indicated, this set is by no means anything special, but has been extremely elusive, at least here in Germany. I was released in March/ April, yet can barely be found in some online shops let alone stationary retail. Even in the official LEGO store in my area it has been sold out whenever I was there, rare enough as this may happen. Simply put, this set was unobtainable by regular means and despite biding my time and being patient, things never gelled in a way I would have hoped.

With no improvement in sight, I finally swallowed the bitter pill and purchased a box via Amazon Marketplace from a small outlet. Due to the scarcity and sellers exploiting the situation I even had to pay slightly more than the suggested retail price of 30 Euro. That also prevented me from buying two or more sets as I would occasionally do when a set contains interesting parts (more on that later) and in order to facilitate those reviews by building all possible models at once.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile Overview

All that said, I feel that this is one of those few situations where the original isn’t that terrible, it’s just a bit of an inconvenience for the purpose of this article and my own limited finances. However, the caveat here is that this only applies if you really build the primary model for the crocodile/ alligator where pretty much all of the 454 pieces are used. The price/ value ratio drastically diminishes for the secondary frog and snake models and for those I would definitely prefer if the price came in around the 20 Euro mark. that may still happen if and when the set proliferates more widely and can more easily be purchased, but so far you have to count yourself luck if you can get it for 25 Euro.

The Crocodile

The main model is the crocodile/ alligator and right out of the gate I thought it looked pretty amazing when I saw the first photos at the beginning of the year. It immediately awakened a strong desire to go out and just buy this set. You know the rest of the story and how we got here…

In addition to the croc there are two small side builds, some very piranha-like looking fishbones and an unspecified little bird which no doubt is more supposed to represent one of those species that rid other animals of parasites rather than being prey.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile, Front Left View

The crocodile is quite large and comes in at around 35 cm length, which helps that sense of getting some bang for your buck. What also won me over is the sufficiently huge head, a feature that is often not rendered well on other models. The model is not based on a specific species but rather an amalgamation of common features found on these creatures, but for the most pat it seems to be based on the typical North American alligators with their stubby nose and broad jaws.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile, Aft Left View

As you can see, the model is built from multiple segments that are connected using the small ball joints in their extended version with the 2 x 2 plate as well as the regular shorter versions. For the larger sections two of them are stacked to provide greater stiffness and friction. The joints are in part built into small one stud deep recesses, which ensures that the gaps are as small as possible, but of course there are limitations. That’s why you can still see the interior construction on some of the segments, and in the usual LEGO manner those regrettably use some bright colors, which along with the joint pieces not having been colored green ruins the illusion at times. It’s not really terrible, it’s just that it could have been even better.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile, Right View

The body is built from a ton of Dark Green slopes, a bunch of plates and olive bricks, a whole lot of Olive Green 1 x 1 x 2/3rds “cheese” slopes and a few other element types, but overall there is not that much variety. It’s efficient, but not particularly fancy or elaborate. Kids should have no problem building this. For adults the lack of some clever sideways building to better approximate the shape might be an issue and the mere stacking of elements may also be a bit boring. All manageable and the result is rewarding, though, so you just have to approach it with a level of patience.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile, Front Right View, Mouth Closed

By comparison, the legs feel flimsy and their appearance suffers even more from the joints not having been tinted suitably. I think this is yet another case where I would have preferred rigid, non-poseable legs built from plates and bricks, but at least in appropriate colors. My thinking here is that those round plates introduced last year would look amazing in Olive Green. This may even be very fitting, as most crocodiles have very curvy legs, anyway. On the subject of color I also think that it might have been interesting if the set contained some pieces in Dark Tan or even one of the grey colors. This could have made the beast look older and like it has already lived a long life with the occasional scuffles and fights.

As mentioned, the head is quite big and this also allows to represent the inside with long rows of teeth and the visible gums/ palate. Similar to the above point, it might have been interesting to have some yellowed old teeth or even some brown-ish ones. With the belly being Tan already this would have necessitated some other color, though, or else there would barely be any contrast.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Crocodile, Bottom View

The undersides are made up of a whole slew of inverted brackets with sloped sides, both in 6 and 4 studs wide. For me this is another reason that potentially speaks against buying multiple packages of this set. LEGO uses these elements all the time to simplify builds, but their usefulness for MOCs and other stuff is certainly limited. If you were to buy a second or third box you could find yourself with boxes full of these pieces that you never will use again.

The Snake

Second in line is the snake model. Again it’s hard to make out a specific species, but the widened neck suggests it is supposed to represent some small cobra. 

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, Overview

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, MouseThe mouse is an inevitable extra in this context. It’s super cute and adorable plus the way it’s assembled provides a good template for building your own mice en mass for a scene.


LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, Front Right View, Head

The snake’s head feels kind of wonky and just looks odd. To me this is a good example where LEGO being miserly about perhaps a wedge or a few curved slopes really shows. Point in case: there definitely are better ways to get the correct shaping, but in order to do so they would have had to include extra pieces not used on the crocodile.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, Top View

The segments are assembled in a similar fashion to the main model, but as you might already have guessed this also limits the ways in which this can be posed and arranged. Especially where two of the joints are used side by side or on top of each other you restrict motion on one axis and it behaves like a simple door hinge. This prevents some fancier placement such as draping the snake over a branch or indeed having it coil up for a “snake dance”

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, Rear View

With the snake’s body being much more slender and having less bulk you are left with quite a number of leftover pieces. I haven’t done an exact count, but it’s no doubt close to almost fifty percent of the parts going unused. This hearkens back to my point about buying multiple sets and ending up with a lot of redundant parts.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Snake, Leftover Pieces

The Frog

The third model is a frog, though on some level it could also be a toad. I prefer to see it as a slightly chubby frog. 🙂 it even comes with its own little fly!

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Frog, Overview

The apparent limitation is of course that with the other two models mostly relying on straight slopes and wedges there are not enough curved elements to capture the rounded shapes of the amphibian. It looks, for all intents and purposes, rather blocky.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Frog, Aft Left View

The “tail” might  look odd, but could be explained away as some frog species carry their tadpole tails for very long until it falls of and the remnants shrink away. That said, it would still have been preferable if the creature actually hat a real derriere instead of this chopped off end with a protrusion.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Frog, Right View

The real reason that the tail even exists is the play feature of being able to push out the tongue. This isn’t anything fancy and merely a simple slide mechanic, so it isn’t ultimately that exciting. It would have been cool if they had some spring-loaded mechanism or something with levers where the tongue would pop out by pushing down the frog. Either way, this feels rather unspectacular and like a missed opportunity.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Frog, Front Right View, Mouth Open

As you would have imagined, this build uses even less pieces, so the pile of extra bits you have floating around unused is even larger.

LEGO Creator, Crocodile (31121), Frog, Leftover Pieces

Parts – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If you put the images of the pieces not used in the secondary models side by side, you begin to realize one of the biggest issues with this set: Aside from the crocodile, the parts usage is rather inefficient. This is even worse as just by looking at the piles you can’t help but feel that there is a certain overlap and that if only LEGO had included a handful of more parts you might have been able to build the snake and frog at the same time. This also includes the color choices, in particular for the 2 x 3 and 2 x 4 plates. If they all had been done in Tan or Dark Green, respectively, we’d already be closer to this.

As for the parts themselves there are a handful of exclusive items like the 1 x 2 x 2 brick with studs on three sides in Bright Pink or the pin hinge plate in Dark Green. Several other elements also were new for this set in a given color, but ever since have also appeared on other models. This includes even one of my much disliked inverted brackets in Tan, the 1 x 3 slope in Olive Green and surprisingly enough also the 2 x 2 jumper plate in Dark Green. I’m always surprised how long it took for some of those pieces to come out in these colors, given how long many of them have been around.

The rest falls into the “ordinary, but useful” category with the positive thing being that the colors aren’t that wacky and the elements can be used rather universally. Most notably you get a ton of Tan and Dark Green plates and slopes, some Red, some Blue and I have never seen so many Olive Green 1 x 1 slopes in a set so far, either.

Concluding Thoughts

As much as I was crazy for it when this set was first announced, as much my enthusiasm has cooled off over time. The problems in even procuring this set were a major pain in the rear and building it was less fun than I had hoped. For the crocodile this is made up by it looking gorgeous, but the alternate models really are weak by comparison. Combined with the parts usage issues explained in the previous paragraph I’m kind of leaning toward a “This is only two-thirds good” rating.

The crocodile/ alligator is great, the snake and the frog sort of *meh*. At the end of the day this more or less feels like they should have made the croc even bigger and more detailed and just sold it as a collectible 18+ set. This might have made more sense commercially even, as the likelihood of someone buying a second or third set just for the snake and frog is not that high. At least I would at best only recommend buying two in light of the limitations. There just isn’t enough here to warrant more. It might even have been simple enough to complete the frog with a few extra parts from my own stock without disassembling the snake, give or take a few specific items. I was just to lazy to dig through my boxes and drawers.

So to bring this to a close: Definitely get this set once if you even remotely like large animal builds like the crocodile, but at the same time weigh your options if you really want the snake or frog or both.

When I’m on my Downeaster Alexa – Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419)

Borrowing that famous line from Billy Joel‘s song, it’s time we have a look at what is indeed a fishing boat – of sorts – the Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419) from LEGO‘s new Hidden Side series.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Box

I have no specific relation or affiliation to fishing other than enjoying being near the sea and in particular remembering those small fishing boats during my rehab at the Baltic Sea a few years ago. I’m totally intolerant/ allergic to seafood even and could throw up at the mere thought of the smell, but as you well know, I like oceanic creatures and some of the things relating to it. That’s why this set pushed a few buttons with me in a good way and I just had to get it eventually.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Overview

I also liked that the set represents a fresh idea overall, not just specifically to Hidden Side, but also in the broader sense in the overall LEGO portfolio. There have been any number of “fishing boats” over the years, but most of them were bigger trawlers or yachts. Getting a small cutter therefore seems like a missing piece of the puzzle is finally filled.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Figures

The minifigures are pretty much your standard fare (within Hidden Side) with Jack Davids and Parker L. Jackson making an appearance again as well as Spencer, the ghostly dog. The emphasis therefore has to be on Captain Jonas and Jonas Jr. and what can I say? They are some of the most interesting figures I’ve seen included in a set in a while. It’s not so much that they are super-special, but they are nicely done and have a generic appeal for anything to do with ships or the goings-on in a harbor or ship yard.

The key to this is of course the Bright Light Orange color representing the oilskin/ vinyl clothing or as we call it here in Germany “Friesennerz” as an in-joke to this being a fisherman’s finest everyday Sunday gown. The figures also come with the typical hat with the large rolled up rim hat and the knit wool cap, respectively, so in my world this counts as capturing the essence of these brave seafarers to the point, if in a stereotypical way. My only regret is the lack of opacity on Jonas Jr.‘s printed flap, which kinda ruins the illusion of the bib overalls.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Captain Jonas possessed LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Captain Jonas regular

Captain Jonas can be built in both a possessed and a regular form. Once possessed he turns into some sort of pirate ghost with tentacles coming out of his back and a glowing green sword. It doesn’t really add much for me, given that you can’t really do much with the boat itself to transform it accordingly. more on that further down. I suppose it’s okay, though.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Crocodile

Interestingly, the set comes with an albino crocodile. For a high seas them that is a bit of an odd choice even if in the play fiction the boat is thrown ashore/ stranded on a reef. The alligator would have kinda made more sense in the Riverside Houseboat (31093) from earlier this year. Still, nice to have one, regardless, given that there haven’t been that many crocodiles/ gators using this mold in recent years no matter the color.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Boat, Left Front View

Rather than relying on dedicated ship hull parts, the boat is built from more generalized standard pieces. This makes it easier to re-use them in other projects. You can of course argue endlessly whether using a large airplane underside part for the ship’s bow is really that much different, but in my opinion for such a shell in Dark Blue it’s easier to find alternate uses than say for a Coral colored large hull piece like on the LEGO Friends Rescue Mission Boat (41381). Your mileage may vary, naturally.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Boat, Left Aft View

It’s particularly noteworthy that, while it is part of a series aimed at kids and teenagers, the color choices are very restrained and even conservative. No wacky Orange or Dark Pink, it’s all in subdued natural colors like Reddish Brown, Dark  Brown and so on, nicely complemented by some bits in White, Black and Sand Green. The latter is always good to have and maybe one day even that bonnet piece used for the roof might come in handy.

People have said that this model would be perfect to go with the Old Fishing Store (21310) in the LEGO Ideas series from a few years ago. I well remember how I wished this set actually had a boat and would have rejoiced at the inclusion of what we have here, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not that easy, though not impossible, either. The truth is that in terms of scale even this relatively small boat would still be too large next to the building. There are comparison photos on the web that confirm this, should you care to look yourself. You will have to put in some work to make it more suitable, most notably cutting down the height of the wheel house at the cost of no longer being able to fit a minifigure in there.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Boat, Right View

Overall, though, the boat holds up nicely and includes everything you would expect with the exception of a hoist. That would really be more only serious concern, as even those small boats usually have some sort of crane to assist with reeling in the fishing nets or help with offloading the cargo at the port. Also notice the blank white discs. They are of course meant to be live saver rings where I just didn’t use the stickers. Thinking about it, if you don’t use those, it would be probably better to just leave them off entirely and replace the bricks with sideways studs they are attached to with smooth ones.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Rocks regular

Since it is meant to be a wrecked/ stranded boat there inevitably has to be something it actually crashes on and to that end the set contains parts to build a bit of rock face with some greenery tacked on. Once again I’m pleased by the color choices with lot’s of Dark Brown, Dark Green and Olive elements in addition to the ones in grey tones.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Rocks possessed

Now for a bit of a disappointment: Eagle-eyed viewers (or even your myopic granny) will clearly notice some pink/ magenta tentacles emanating from the waters surrounding the rocky island, which I interpret as some sort of octopus tentacles ripping the boat in half. You guessed it – they are nowhere to be found or even hinted at in the actual set. Respect to the graphics artist’s imagination going wild, but in this particular case it really feels like cheating and embellishing the packaging a bit too much. True, nowhere does it actually show those tentacles even on the photos on the back side of the box, but I was still hoping. It would have been quite cool and added another level of gameplay possibilities outside of the AR app.

LEGO Hidden Side, Wrecked Shrimp Boat (70419), Rocks with Boat

On the whole there is a lot to like and since it’s basically sold around 20 Euro everywhere (despite an MSRP of 30 Euro) there is little reason to hold back on a purchase. Even if you don’t particularly like the subject, you can make good use of some of the parts and get at least one or two nice minifigures out of it plus with a little bit of effort it could still become a nice model on the shelf next to that Old Fishing Store

At the blue Bayou – Riverside Houseboat (31093)

Rare as it may be, sometimes you just know you definitely will buy a set because it sets your heart on fire after you see the first image of it. That’s what happened exactly when the Riverside Houseboat (31093) was announced as a new release for this year late last year.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Box

Oddly enough it took forever for the set to appear on store shelves and online stores here in Germany with first examples only becoming available in march I had to wait quite a bit for prices to drop to a level that I would consider sensible. I’m not opposed to paying the full 30 Euro for this set, because it’s really good, but every penny saved is a penny earned and in my little universe I have to be as cost-effective as I can possibly be. That said, the 23 Euro you can get it for from most outlets nowadays are definitely worth it, considering this is an almost 400 pieces set, small though as some of them may be.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Overview

The appeal of the set becomes readily apparent when you see it. The boat itself is representative of those flatbed/ float style vehicles with a cabin on it that you can often find on slowly flowing rivers like the Mississippi, shallow lakes and swampy regions and for all intents and purposes hits every beat in conveying this feeling of just hanging out on it while watching the sunset as the boat drifts along slowly. You just wanna be there and have a good time.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Animals

The idea of being at a bayou in the Mississippi Delta is supported by some lovely little side builds of a crocodile and a pelican. Both would be typical inhabitants of those regions. Personally I wouldn’t have minded the inclusion of one or two solid molded crocodile figures. They haven’t been in that many sets, after all and it wouldn’t hurt to have an easy way of getting them for your collection. The brick-build variant is just fine, though. Had they opted to make it even more refined and used some of those sexy new small wedges (29119, 29120) it could have been downright awesome.

If you are looking for a good presentation idea, you should also try to get your hand on the Pelican (30571) polybag set. As I’m writing this it’s even included as a free bonus gift if you buy stuff worth north of 35 Euro directly from LEGO. You can buy it separately for 4 Euro a pop from other outlets as well. Anyway, it’s pretty cool to have the larger pelican next to this as a quasi “zoomed in” more detailed view of the more abstract smaller version. In addition, even if you don’t that polybag is also worth every penny on its own merits. I had to giggle about the idea with the cabinet as the large lower sack to keep the fish in…

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Left View

A lot of the attractiveness of a set has to do with the choice of colors. I might have thought twice if this set came in some weird colors like is so often the case with Creator 3in1 sets, but lucky enough someone had the good sense to keep it natural and calm. It’s always good to have parts in Reddish Brown and Sand Green and the Medium Blue bricks feel like a nice bonus, as it’s a color that can be used just as universally in many situations. Additionally, the “boards” of the deck are covered with Dark Tan plates, which is also a nice wood-like color that one can never have enough of.

The only thing that bothers me a bit is the all too white roof. It might have been nice to assemble it from smaller curved slopes in different colors to get some variation. Naturally it would be dirty from rain and the engine smoke on the real thing, so a Light Bluish Grey assembly with a few differently colored “patches” would have been a better match, methinks. It’s debatable, of course. Clearly this is meant to be a play set first and foremost, no a super realistic collectible model.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Right View

The overall construction is rather compact with a lot of bricks crammed into a relatively small space. The model is in fact somewhat on the heavy side and you wouldn’t expect it to have so much weight at first glance. Especially in the ship’s hull there are several extra bricks hidden underneath the plates that cover the deck. It’s not really necessary, but a good use for those pieces that are required for the secondary models and otherwise would just float around uselessly. In any case, it makes for a pretty sturdy model that will take some punishment when handling it without falling apart right away.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Aft View

The house isn’t quite as robust, but for the given purpose adequate enough. As much as I like this set, this part also ended up frustrating me. It’s a prime showcase for LEGO‘s decline in quality. First, there was a missing part – of all things one of the Reddish Brown 2 x 1 bricks. Second, and you can still see this in the photos, several of the 4 x 1 Medium Blue bricks deviate considerably in color from their 2 x 1 plate and 2 x 1 brick counterparts.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the world, but considering that LEGO sell themselves as a premium toy manufacturer it’s not okay, either. It seems an inefficient use of my time and LEGO‘s money to have to contact them for replacement parts way too often. Those fancy padded envelopes with a few pieces a pop don’t come for free, you know. I’m really beginning to wonder how much money they “burn” when someone has to go through their warehouse and pack those little bags…

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Right Side Interior View

As you would expect, the interior is rather sparse, but again I feel that this helps to maintain this sense of a crammed, but cosy little boat where after a long evening of fishing until dark you curl up on the mattress in the corner of your wheelhouse and have the coffee maker within arm’s reach the next morning. Truth be told, there are a few things missing that you might want to have for safety and comfort, though, like a wireless, navigation charts and some safety vests at least.

The latter would be rather essential, given that the way the model is presented it would require you to climb around on the railings to get anywhere. That’s one of the disadvantages of such a compact model and they simply ran out of space to squeeze in another door or at least a little manhole to crawl through.

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Right Side Interior View without Roof

All that said, of course it would be perfectly possible to fix those shortcomings – if you so desire. One of the good things about this set is that it quite literally is almost 100% old-school LEGO with elements being merely stacked on top of each other and no complicated sideways building techniques or whatever involved. Make the hull wider? Easy – simply get a second set and insert more of the curved slopes and bricks before covering them with additional plates. Make it longer? The same. Want another door? Just insert the frame from that second set somewhere.

If you get my point: This would be a perfect set to get your feet moist in custom building, as it’s really easy to deduce what you need to do just by building it once and then using that experience to draw conclusions on what to do next. The good price-to-value ratio also makes it easy to at least ponder this possibility. I haven’t committed myself to this yet, admittedly, but I might at some point. This could then also be the chance to build the secondary models from spare parts while beefing up the houseboat and putting them side by side. The possibilities!

LEGO Creator, Riverside Houseboat (31093), Top View

Overall this is a super lovely model and it’s just fun to build and look at. It would even have been a good fit for Friends, City or Ninjago – with the typical stylistic changes – and that is far from the norm. It only further shows how well thought-out this is. If you are even remotely interested in such a scenario you definitely need to get this set. It’s also a great source to mine for parts on similarly themed “wooden” construction and buildings, so there’s definitely no harm buying it if you can.