As you well know from past articles, I’m anything but a Harry Potter buff, but no matter how you spin it, some of the LEGO sets around the theme are excellent. That’s why I got giddy when I heard about some “classroom” sets last year. My enthusiasm got dampened a bit when I found out that they would be books with foldout assets, but ultimately I still couldn’t resist the temptation and had to at least check them out. So let’s have a look at the Hogwarts Moment: Herbology Class (76384).
Contents and Pricing
These sets, of which there are currently four with some more pretty clearly on the horizon for later this year, come at a whopping suggested price of 30 Euro. That’s quite a lot for around 250 pieces, many of which are small. Some of the sets have a few parts more, others a few less with the Herbology Class one having 233 officially. As usual you have to rely on the retailers to fix that for you and bring the price down to a more acceptable 20 Euro thereabouts. However, the sets are in constant high demand, so if you really want them and have limited alternatives you may need to swallow the bitter pill and get them for a higher price. This likely won’t change for a while, at least as long as the pandemic out there is affecting supplies.
Each set comes with three minifigures and the buildable elements for the insides of the book. As you can see in the photo, this also gives away how small the final result turns out. Yes, it’s no bigger than the Disney Storybooks! This is quite a contrast to the box itself, which is almost about four times as large and thus really is a bit misleading even if you allow for the usual “The pieces need room to not scratch so much.” and marketing considerations. I think I haven’t seen that big a mismatch between the packaging and the actual product in a while and from my own experience they could definitely have used a smaller box without sacrificing anything in terms of presentation and safety of the contents.
For this set the minifigures included are Professor Sprout, Cedric Diggory and Neville Longbottom. They are all exclusive to these sets in terms of their outfits and appearance, but of course the characters as such have been available in different shape and form in some other sets. Whether you have to have these then is therefore pretty much a matter of your own collector’s ambition mostly. Personally I quite like these and in particular the headphone/ earmuff piece might also be interesting for spicing up some other figures. The prints for the clothes are also nice and not too specific, so this opens up space for a few combinations.
As I wrote above already, the actual book turns out kind of small-ish. Definitely way smaller than I had expected. That is, given that is a different system from the Disney books. That is even sort of funny, as initially indeed I was expecting they would simply re-use the molds and just do different colors, which would have been fine, after all. So I have somewhat ambiguous and inconsistent feelings about the whole matter – it’s interesting that they introduced a different way of building this stuff, but at the same time it feels like a wasted opportunity because the outcome is pretty much the same, regardless.
I forgot to do a comparative shot, but that would illustrate my concerns even better. The specific point here is that the book once assembled is exactly the same 10 studs wide, 16 studs tall and 4 studs deep as the others. For all intents and purposes, it feels therefore pretty much redundant to even bother coming up with yet another new way to build them. I would have expected it to be at least a tiny bit bigger like 14 studs wide, 20 studs tall and 6 studs thick, which also would have beneficial overall (more on that later).
The front and back lid are made from large solid modified plates with integrated hinge bars. the front one is also printed with the Hogwarts crest and some additional decorations in Gold and Black. The odd construct with the rounded 1 x 2 plate and the stud elements poking out didn’t make a lot of sense to me for a long time until I realized that most likely they are simply meant as spacers to connect multiple books and move them as a block, should you so desire. If you don’t, it would of course easy to just leave them off.
The spine is built from four 4 x 4 plates with hinge clips that are held together by a long plate in the middle. As you can see, they are in Dark Bluish Grey and produce an irregular pattern, so if you look too long at the whole thing you can’t quite unsee them and it begins to bother you. Not the end of the world and I understand that it would have further added to the manufacturing cost to also produce them in dark Tan, but it would just have been nicer.
That also goes for the “metal” fittings. Would it really have been too much to produce them in Pearl Gold or Metallic Gold even? I’m again torn on this, as I know the cost it would incur plus in addition it still would need to look consistent across all books, but the Bright Light Orange is definitely a bit too much for my taste. It might even have been an option to use colors like Dark Red, Dark Blue, Dark Green and a few others here, so it’s hard to defend the way it looks.
The interior of the set holds the “meat” of the set by which I mean a number of smaller ancillary builds and the folded up main section.In its packed state everything fits nice and tight, forming a solid block that gives away its secrets only by the many different colors. in fact that’s one of those things where I wish they had added some big cover plates or tiles to the open side of the “book” to cover things up and further the illusion.
You can easily take out the small veggie bed and water faucet pieces, while the cabinet and table can be opened and swiveled down, respectively. In their closed/ up position these elements can even be used to hold the book and magic wands, though the gap is still a bit large and sometimes they fall out, regardless.
The central set piece attached to the spine section is a glass house front. Not a modern one with lightweight aluminium frames and special glass, but rather a good old-fashioned one made from (used) windows and doors. I quite vividly remember such builds from my childhood. Things were quite different then, even more so here in the former Eastern block regions, where people had to use whatever they could get their hands on from dilapidated, abandoned buildings or green houses were simply already quite old and had existed for a long time. None of them had Mahagoni frames like the Dark Brown color in the set seems to imply, though. 😉
The layout of the frames is done in a nice alternating/ overlapping pattern with the random other bits actually being a quite fitting and welcome disturbance. This further supports the idea of how you likely would build it if it were real – differently sized windows fitted together as best as possible with a light wooden support frame and the remaining empty areas filled up with all sorts of wood pieces and other leftovers. The whole thing looks so appealing to me, I’m almost tempted to get more of these pieces and build the entire glass house in this style.
The water tap is the most simple affair you can think off with the mini fences on a 4 x 8 plate and then only a handful of tiles and bricks used. It’s perfectly serviceable and the Dark Bluish Grey are kind of valuable, given that they are much scarcer than the Black or Pearl Gold ones.
The bed for the vegetables is a bit more elaborate in that it uses an upside-down construction techniques to attach the flower pots while at the top it has the new 2 x 4 plate modified with the jumper studs. they technically don’t serve any specific purpose, but of course can be used to attach your minifigures and other stuff for transport.
A shallow Affair
As I wrote earlier, one of the things I would have loved to see is if the set just was larger. As the images show, the visual appearance loses quite a bit if you don’t use stickers just as I do. However, for me this extends even further as there is basically no real structure on the large lid plates left at all. This could have been easily fixed if there was just that extra layer of bricks. Point in case: If there were more space, you could have built in more details like actual plants and vines crawling along the recessed areas, arched shelves or even something like a hanger with differently colored earmuffs on it. Combined with more vertical room and width this would have allowed the window front to be slightly wider and taller as well and then perhaps the 30 Euro price point might even have been perfectly justifiable.
Overall I’m not mad at this set, but I would still not recommend it without reservations, mostly for the terrible value-for-price ratio. If you buy all four books, even with discounts, you have spent just as much money as you would on buying the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower (75969) or the Attack on the Burrow (75980) and those sets have much more bulk to them. So outside satisfying your curiosity these sets are mostly only interesting for Harry Potter die-hards or as that single box you buy as a birthday gift for your child.
There is, however, one caveat here that may ultimately lure me into buying one or two more of these books just as well: Out of necessity – because on a one-layer thick wall you can’t hide anything on the backside – all elements have to be in “nice” colors that fit in with the rest and for that reason there are several parts in unique colors that either have never been done before or at least not in a while. In this Herbology Class set those would for instance be the Medium Nougat inverted tiles on the vegetable bed, in the Transfiguration Class (76382) there are hinge bricks in Tan.
Those are all items that will be highly coveted by people doing MOCs of houses or just ones seeking to replace less than ideally colored versions of these pieces in other sets. One could say that LEGO got us and got us good, but you’ll likely be caught between flood and fire on that one, as prices on Bricklink and similar sites will reflect this and the elements be expensive. Just buying those sets, no matter how reluctantly, may still be worthwhile…