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.
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.
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.
One 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.
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.
The 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.
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…