The Not-AAT – LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank [AAT] (75283)

My love-hate relationship with LEGO Star Wars is really getting weirder with every set I buy as I’m realizing that despite new stuff being added e.g. based on the The Mandalorian series I realize I care less and less. I totally blame this on the sets becoming less attractive in terms of construction and how they ultimately look while prices reaching crazy levels. That is at least in the lower price tiers I move around.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Box

The Armored Assault Tank [AAT] (75283) is one such case, unfortunately. The version, or more specifically color variant in this set, can be briefly seen in the Revenge of the Sith Kashyyyk attack sequence in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment and I’m pretty sure it also appears in The Clone Wars and other later materials based on the prequels. The more regular ocre-/ tan-colored version is of course more prominent, be that the final battle in The Phantom Menace or other such occasions. However, despite all this there is surprisingly little information on the vehicle, except for one thing that is certain:

AAT mini Mk. IV e or what?

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Overview

The elephant in the room is of course that this has nothing to do with a “real” AAT as actually present in the movies and series – not by any stretch of the imagination. If at all, this would qualify as a heavily redesigned next version, a smaller side version or simply a newly constructed vehicle based on the same principles. The irony here is that in fact I quite like it to some degree, as the larger turret and less ellipsoid overall appearance give it its own unique and distinct look, but it just bears zero resemblance to the original vehicles. It might still have looked cool next to its bigger brothers, though.

The Minifigures

One of the reasons I got over myself and bought the set are – drumroll – for this rare occasion the minifigures. As you know from other posts I don’t proactively collect them, but if I stumble upon one that I like and may want to use later, I keep them around.

Of course the main appeal here is Ahsoka. she had been done a couple of times in the past, but I feel that this is the first time ever her specific appearance with in particular her striped hood has been captured correctly. Can’t help it, but the figure just is extremely nice. Predictably, its popularity can only grow now that the character has appeared in The Mandalorian and a dedicated Ahsoka series has been announced for Disney+ as well. I’m pretty sure we’ll see lots of different versions from here on, but this is a good basis, no matter what.

In addition to Ahsoka herself we also get her personal bodyguard/ companion clone trooper for the first time, making this even more desirable. I’ve seen people on Facebook buying the set just for that and prices on Bricklink are also pretty crazy already. Finally there are two more Kashyyk droids, which are also kind of rare and fetch a good price. Earlier this year I sold some to someone intent on building a diorama with entire squadrons of them and apparently he had swept clean a lot of the market from the more affordable resellers already. So for all intents and purposes, it could be pretty easy to re-finance the whole set if you find people interested in the figures that you could sell them to.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Minifigures

Parts Cornucopia

In my world figures are nice, but parts that expand my portfolio are better, so let’s have a look at that as well. As you may guess from the sub-headline, the set doesn’t fare badly in this department. Many of the pieces, while not necessarily exclusive to this set, are relatively rare and either appear for the first time at all, have not been available in a long time or only in a handful of sets or are included in more significant numbers than previously in other sets. The individual parts are:

As always the point for me is to get as many of those pieces in one place instead of having to scrape them together from Bricklink or other sources at even greater cost and in that regard this set delivers. For me even more so since it has a few other parts that I didn’t have before like the curved wedges in Light Bluish Grey or the Dark Blue dishes. It’s all good stuff to have around just in case you may need it one day and you can’t go wrong with it.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Front Left View

The Price is still wrong

In light of the previous two chapters one might think that this is good value for money, but sadly it is not. For a bunch of pieces that essentially would fit into the volume of a slightly enlarged Rubik’s Cube, meaning a very small model that without its protruding gun barrels is 15 cm long, 15 cm wide and 15 cm tall, LEGO want you to pony up 40 Euro. That’s a big “No, Sir!” on my part and I can only once more conclude that they are pulling the prices for their sets out of their asses or throwing the dice in a drinking game. It’s just not worth that and seems ridiculous.

So once more I was biding my time until the set was closer to what I wanted it to be. At around 27 Euro I took the plunge, though I would have preferred for it to drop below the 25 Euro threshold. However, in the craziness that the year 2020 that seemed unlikely, given that there are genuine supply problems with LEGO vs. an extraordinarily high demand and so I didn’t put it off too long in order to not lose the advantage. Still, let me make it clear that I think that 25 Euro is actually the “real” price I would like to see this being sold for. Aside from a few larger parts and the minifigures there’s just not enough volume to justify more.

Deceitful Appearances

The reason why the model lacks volume and by extension thus can never be even close to an accurate representation of the real thing quickly becomes apparent when you swivel around it and view it from different angles. What looks okay from the front such as the big curved armored hull quickly falls apart when viewed from its rear side. It lacks all the transitional areas and worst of all exposes the raw underlying construction. This continues throughout the mid section of the turret, which similarly only looks good from the front, but when viewed from behind just looks like they ran out of pieces to cover it up.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Aft Left View

Worse, still, this section is not accessible from the rear because due to the small size of the model they had to use the space for a double-width window frame that acts as the support for the top section.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Aft Right View

As hinted earlier, the turret is way to big, most notably simply too wide. However, you have to give the designers some props for at least trying. The problem here is that on the real thing this is a very complicated shape with complex curvatures situated very far aft on the vehicle. In fact from a “real” military standpoint this probably would not make a lick of sense on an actual tank with it tipping over every time the turret is rotated off-center or from the recoil when it fires a charge. It’s one of those fictional things that would easily be defeated by actual physics.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Front Right View

Anyway, for all intents and purposes the turret should not be any wider than the extended handle it’s situated on and I feel that this is a typical case where the LEGO side of things got too much in the way. I think they were too bent on making the cannon movable and then ran into trouble getting enough stability in there, so they had to make things bigger. See what happened here?

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Left View with elevated Gun

The gun can be elevated and swiveled around 180 degrees, but as I mentioned that probably isn’t realistic to begin with and in the movies I haven’t seen the tanks fire anything but directly forward. It’s a nice play feature for the kids at least, but really not much more than that. On some level that also extends to “those other guns”, which are actually range finders and small lasers for self defense. they look rather crude on the model and the ugly black color doesn’t help. At least I’m glad they didn’t eliminate all antennas because, as you know, all the droids are remotely connected to their control ships in orbit. The silver rapier sticks out a bit too much, though.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Left Top View with elevated Gun

Adding to the play value is the ability to at least place the two droids that come with the set in the interior. Not in the technically correct positions, but let’s be grateful for small things.

LEGO Star Wars, Armored Assault Tank (AAT) (75283), Interior Details

Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately this set fits the recent pattern of overpriced Star Wars sets whose value is primarily driven by the minifigures included while the models at best are adequate, but not great renditions of the originals they represent. This scheme becomes even more devious when figures are scattered across different sets. That is thankfully not the case here at least with no other specific The Clone Wars sets being available and requiring you to take out the purse just to get some company for Ahsoka, but this doesn’t make the situation any less unfulfilling.

As I already wrote, the tank itself is just fine. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the Star Wars universe and even on it’s strict LEGO merits merely comes across as an uninspired run-off-the-mill job more than anything the designers put much effort in. It’s what in the media and graphics design industry we would call an “intern job” hacked together on a lazy afternoon, or in this case a recycled design from a few years ago that wasn’t correct then and isn’t correct now despite minor modifications and updates thanks to new parts.

The irony here is of course that I can neither advise pro or against the set, as it has its merits. Some will love the minifigs, others like me may see this as a good chance to rake in some interesting pieces and all the combinations inbetween. The only thing you really need to wipe from you mind is that the model has anything to do with a Star Wars AAT and in that regard it’s a complete fail.

July Hatchling

I’m always looking forward to the LEGO Jurassic World magazine and it is still my favorite of all the LEGO magazines at this point. The July issue sure doesn’t disappoint and lives up to this high standard once again.

LEGO Magazine, Jurassic World, July 2020, Cover

As usual let’s begin with the included buildable pieces. These come in the form of a small hatching station and it’s positively awesome. The most important news is that it includes a new variant of the small dino. While previously only the Sand Green/ Dark Blue print and Dark Orange/ Dark Brown print versions have been used in polybags and on the magazine, now we get Echo in his Medium Dark Flesh/ Dark Green print glory. This is pretty remarkable, considering that so far it has only appeared in the T. rex vs Dino-Mech (75938) set, which is also fittingly being “advertorialised” on a dual page.

The rest of the pieces is just as useful with the round cracked egg/ crown piece in White, some 1 x 1 plates with clips in Bright Green and even the 75 deg. Dark Blue slopes. Yes, they are the complimentary, meaning you get the regular version and the inverted one to build this slightly slanted holder for the heating lamps. This is again pretty noteworthy, as some those parts are technically a bit rare (the inverted slope in fact only having been done for the The Rexcelsior! (70839) set from The LEGO Movie 2 previously), yet their coloration makes them widely usable and thus desirable.

Inside the magazine there’s a pretty nice Triceratops poster. The comic is quite decent, too and there’s enough puzzles/ activities, so all round this is once more a nice issue and from the preview the next one isn’t going to be that bad, either, when it comes out in August. Something to look forward to again, indeed…!

More Dots? – LEGO Dots Round Two

On a day where LEGO are making waves with their Art Mosaics, some sort of overpriced Dots for adults, it’s time for us to talk about some further actual Dots sets, in particular the Desk Organizer (41907) and the Jewellery Box (41915).

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: No, I’m still not convinced that the concept of Dots has merit or a long-term sustainability – just like the last time. One day it will just fade out as if nothing actually happened. It’s not only a limitation inherent in the whole concept, but also in how LEGO go about it in my opinion. More on that later. As such, I’m still viewing the sets mostly as parts sources for those tiles and a few other bits in previously unavailable colors, with these reviews being merely a byproduct. I’ll try to be as objective as I can, but of course I’m biased right from the start.

LEGO Dots, Tray Size Comparison

This year’s sets come in slightly larger boxes/ tray’s than the initial releases, that is the trays are rectangular instead of square shaped. The color of the season is apparently Pale Yellow/ Bright Light Yellow. Overall I’m still not fond of the idea as – let’s face it – it ends up being extra plastic trash eventually even if you keep the trays around for a while for other uses. Every bit of stuff in the sets still would have fitted into a suitable cardboard box and if they were so adamant about it it would even have been easy enough to include a die-cut foldable paper tray.

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Box

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), OverviewBuying the Desk Organizer (41907) came about in its own weird and wondrous way. I have tons of tiles in Coral from Friends and The LEGO® Movie 2 sets, including the 1 x 1 pizza slice type, but none of them included the 1 x 1 square tile. This was quite a revelation when I realized this would be the first time those tiles had actually been produced. Combined with the fact that I also barely had any regular Orange tiles in my parts stock, this kind of tipped the balance. All I had to do is wait for the price to drop a little.

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Plain, Front View LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Plain, Rear ViewThat latter point of course remains one of the critical factors. Would I pay 20 Euro for such a set? I don’t think so. The 15 Euro I got each of the boxes in this review for are probably okay, but truth be told, I can’t see much value here, so 12 Euro would be even better. I’d bet that if it wasn’t for the current situation and many LEGO sets being in short supply, we’d already have such a discount.

The point here in particular is of course that this set doesn’t feature any special or exotic parts beyond the tiles themselves. Jokingly one might say that someone just stopped by the Friends production line and snagged a few pieces for these sets. the only exclusive item is the 1 x 2 x 3 picture holder brick, this time in Bright Light Pink.

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Plain, Open Drawer

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Plain, Decor Plates RemovedThe most disappointing thing to me is that they didn’t even bother to consistently color all bricks in Dark Azure. It may seem like a minor thing, but you wouldn’t accept such a messy coloration even in cheap desk organizers from the dollar store. It also once more has this ugly effect of white hair lines peeking out from underneath. The young crowd this is targeted it won’t mind, but it stills feel unprofessional.

The plates themselves can be easily removed, facilitating the creation of patterns by not having to juggle the whole model. The SNOT bricks work sufficiently, but for my taste the connection could be stronger. I would probably have added a second row at the bottom edge at least. If you remove the plates a lot, at some point they might lose their clutch power and come off on their own just by sliding the model on the desk.

LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Decorated, Front Left View LEGO Dots, Desk Organizer (41907), Decorated, Front Right View

As far as the decorations go, and that’s ultimately one of my core criticism with the Dots line, there’s not much new to discover. It seems LEGO have locked themselves into a very specific line of thinking here where everything needs to be “dottier than dotty”, meaning anything larger than a 1 x 1 tile isn’t even considered. In this particular example this is almost tragic, as there would be so many alternatives.

Since I couldn’t be bothered with the proposed designs, I went right ahead with my own color stripes design. LEGO could easily have included a bag of those in a few select colors as I’m sure it would also go well together with some people’s wallpaper designs. Other alternatives could include brick wall designs with 1 x 2 tiles, large checkerboard patterns with 2 x 2 tiles or even more advanced stuff using arched tiles, corner tiles and such.

I can only reiterate my point from my original article: LEGO need to loosen up and be much more generous and liberal with their parts usage to make this a truly creative toolkit rather than this weird paint by numbers thing where your options are limited from the outset by what pieces are even included.

LEGO Dots, Jewellery Box (41915), Package

The second set in this review is the lesser one, no doubt, but what can you expect from a simple jewelry box? This is once more one of those cases where, if it wasn’t for the parts being included in specific “new” color variants, you could slap it together from your own parts repository. The elements in question are the 1 x 12 x 1 bricks in Lavender along with the 16 x 16 plates in Light Aqua.

LEGO Dots, Jewellery Box (41915), Plain, Front View LEGO Dots, Jewellery Box (41915), Plain, Rear View

The overall construction is sturdy enough, but at only effectively 2.something bricks depth, the box feels very shallow. A third row of bricks might not have hurt and potentially also have allowed for a more elegant locking mechanism. This by all means sub-par and even worse than the ones used on the Disney story books.

LEGO Dots, Jewellery Box (41915), InteriorI also would have expected the interior to be tiled over at least partially and of course to make this really interesting the little Madames Bijous would no doubt have loved to stare at their own face in a mirror in the lid, i.e. LEGO should have included one of those reflective plastic pieces that they have in some sets. a few little tweaks could have made this set much better.



Again I didn’t bother much with the suggested designs and ventured out on my own exploration. The Light Aqua plate just begs for a water-based motive and given the large area that would need to be covered it sure makes things a lot easier if you use some other elements.

LEGO Dots, Jewellery Box (41915), Decorated Lid

Overall my stance on Dots hasn’t changed much. I’ll keep exploiting them for my own purposes while they’re around, but that’s pretty much it. If I had kids at the proper age I might consider getting them one or two of these sets for their birthday so they can fancy up the table they’re doing their homework on, but I sure wouldn’t go out of my way. The sets are too much all over the place in terms of design and color schemes and the playing around with different patterns simply loses its appeal after a while.

April Infiltration

A certain virus is infiltrating the world and the Sith are to blame for it! No, of course I’m just kidding around. It’s true, though, the April issue of the LEGO Star Wars magazine comes with a mini model of the Sith Infiltrator spacecraft, if minus a Darth Maul figure.

LEGO Magazine, Star Wars, April 2020, Cover

Though barely even visible in The Phantom Menace, the ship has become somewhat notorious and a fan favorite on its own. Once you actually do your research the shape is immediately recognizable even though personally I think LEGO has not been very successful in capturing it in one of their many attempts, neither in big sets nor as a Microfighter. As far as that goes, this version is kind of okay, but without the name printed on the front page it would be hard to discern what it is supposed to be. I’m not going to complain about a “free” goodie, but it definitely lacks volume in the aft section.

On the bright side, and for me the highlight of this little package, it comes with the new 3×3 dome piece introduced with the The LEGO Movie 2 sets last year, specifically the Unikitty & Friends set (70822). The grey version so far has only been used in the Trafalgar Square (21045) set in the Architecture line, so this is extremely valuable if you are a MOC builder and may warrant a purchase of the magazine for that reason alone. It may just take a bit to hunt it down given the current situation out there.

I’m certainly past the core demographic age, but the comics are quite appealing. The main comic ties into the failed Solo film and thus feels a bit like recycling content that they had produced for it and didn’t want to throw away, however, I must admit. The posters are okay and the games/ puzzles can occupy your time for a few minutes. In a time where many people are stuck at home for weeks on end one should be thankful for small diversions.

Today I’m a Princess! – Moana’s Boat (43170) and Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173)

We all have our favorite animated Disney movies and while my most beloved ones have little to do with today’s modern takes on the subject nor in some way the more kitschy older ones I still enjoy even those for what they are when they run on TV or I can snatch them up on a cheap DVD/ Blu-Ray. That being the case I was, odd as it may sound, pleasantly surprised to see that there would be new Moana sets as well as a few others lined up for this year. Let’s begin with Moana’s Boat (43170)

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Box

I have a funny relation to this movie. I loved the original trailer way back then (the one with the flashbacks also used in the film where she’s a toddler), but to this day never got around to actually sit through the movie from beginning to end. I know bits and bobs and some larger sections even, but not the whole story. That’s perhaps one of the reasons why I never had much interest in the original, way larger sets. It’s not that I feel I missed out on something special, but I always wanted the little pig named Pua in my collection. The new release makes this easy enough, with this being a 10 Euro set, often sold for 7 Euro.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Overview

Given the pricing of course one shouldn’t expect anything miraculous to be included. The buildable components are very simple and just enough to allow to re-play some scenes from the movie, but far from being super-realistic or proportionally accurate. naturally there’s Pua the pig which I was so keen on and then a Moana figure as well. Here in Germany she’s called Vaiana, by the way, due to some other pre-existing registered trademark having foiled Disney‘s marketing plans.

LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Island The small island has been reduced to the bare minimum, but to me is still enticing. Not only does it contain the triple leaves element in Lime Green as a new color for this year but also the “poop” swirl 1 x 1 round plate introduced with the Dog Sitter Collectible Minifigure last year, but this time in white. If you know my obsession with LEGO Friends and baking you know that this will make a perfect piece for Sundae swirls or any other similar cake decoration while here in this set of course it stands in as a shell housing.


LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Left ViewThe boat/ canoe is an equally simplistic build, but is sufficient for the smallness of the overall set. I could be critical of the construction, but for the most part it will be just fine for kids. My only serious concern is the lack of an extra axle/ beam to support the auxiliary float, as indeed it’s only connected via the arched slopes. Similar to the island however there is a lot of value here if you are hunting for specific parts.LEGO Disney, Moana's Boat (43170), Canoe, Front Right View 


First, there’s the two inverted curved slopes in Reddish Brown for the first time ever. Yes, one would think that such a mundane part had been done in this color a long time ago, but while I don’t always trust Bricklink 100 percent (they do get information wrong at times despite peer reviews), it seems true. Similarly, the bar used for the mast, an almost 30 year old mold, is premiering in a brown color in this set as well. And finally, there’s the new 2 x 2 x 1 container only introduced in 2019 (under the lid with the flower).

I almost struggle for words to describe how awesome it actually is that they crammed in so many “new” pieces into such a small and affordable set. Buying a second or third of these sets doesn’t seem like the worst idea, especially if the price drops even lower during some special promotion.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Box

Moving on to Aurora’s Royal Carriage (43173) I can barely contain my excitement, either. Initially the only reason I so wanted this set is the owl. Yes, it may seemed stupid, but when i first saw pictures of this little critter and its dumb-founded look I laughed my bum off in the real LMFAO sense. Even now when I look at it I can’t help but grin and giggle. It pushes all my buttons.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Overview

The little side build with the table feels a bit superfluous and doesn’t do much for me. it doesn’t even have a genuine candle and the least they could have done to make this more interesting is to include the new “dripping icing” 2 x 2 plate found in the just released baking-themed LEGO Friends sets. A real wedding cake would have been even better. Other than that the set is again overflowing with pieces in previously non-existent color variants. Those include the bracket used for the seat, the modified plate with a single clip, the slope and there’s also the three to two jumper plate and the stairstep bracket, both of which however were already introduced in these colors for The LEGO Movie 2 last year.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Left View

There could be some debate on the modified tiles with the wall panel, though. New Elementary has a whole article on the subject, but I honestly think they are over-interpreting this and make things way too complicated. Point in case: The only reason why they all get different numbers is because LEGO counts them as special/ custom-produced one-off parts tied to specific sets or series. Other than that it’s presumably always the same coating that just looks different depending onto which base color it is applied. That’s in fact perhaps the most sensible theory to begin with. While nothing speaks against it, I don’t consider it likely that LEGO would try out a ton of different coatings. That would make things way to convoluted for mass production.

LEGO Disney, Aurora's Royal Carriage (43173), Aft Right View

All things considered, I really like these two little sets. They offer great value for little money and just feel useful to me. I even almost like the minidolls. The ones used in Friends have definitely improved in terms of showing different prints and colors, but these two models show how further modifying them with different types of skirts and perhaps a different hair piece can further enhance them.

The models themselves are also robust enough to actually be played with by children. I accidentally dropped the storage box where I keep those things in during the photo shoot and aside from a few pieces that you would expect to come off such as the palm leave on Moana‘s island or some of the golden swirlies on the carriage nothing broke. It should be safe even for three-year-olds. If your kids are into any of the movies, you should definitely consider buying those sets.

Looking back in…?

…Frustration? Anger? Bliss? All of them? End-of-Year summaries are a difficult thing and where LEGO is concerned, I sure have a bag of mixed feelings. So how was this year? Good? Bad? Terrible? Awesome? The answer is likely: “All of the above.”, so let me explain.

Personally I’m not that unhappy within the restrictions that I have to work within, anyway, meaning smaller, not too expensive sets. There indeed have been a number of good sets like my favorite Deep Sea Creatures (31088), a couple of excellent LEGO Friends sets that for once forewent the kitsch in favor of more palatable realism, a few surprising Star Wars models and even some of the The LEGO Movie 2 stuff was quite good. I also got a bit into Harry Potter and the new Hidden Side series also was surprisingly good.

On the other hand there has been a lot of frustratingly bad stuff in the same series I mentioned just as well. On top of that LEGO keep screwing around with Ideas by “improving” the sets in the opposite direction and over-optimizing them and this year has ruined Technic for me for good. Aside from the big and expensive showy models there is not much left there that would pique my interest. The smaller models are often just an embarrassment with their flimsy engineering. If that wasn’t enough, there’s that thing with a still barely functioning Control+/ PoweredUp system that gets stuffed into boxes with no rhyme or reason and makes models unnecessarily expensive for very limited return value.

On that note and on a more generic level I feel that the rift between relatively costly sets and the lower end is also growing. There’s definitely a dichotomy between pretty well-executed, large but expensive sets and many relatively lackluster packages in other price ranges. In addition it seems that LEGO are just trying too hard too see what they can get away with. There’s no way around it: Many sets feel unjustly overpriced and if it wasn’t for the magic powers of a free market regulating itself, i.e. discounts being available, this would be one heck of an expensive hobby/ special interest.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem LEGO haven’t learned that lesson yet and as the first previews for 2020 indicate, we’re in for another round of sets where you wonder how they even arrived at some of the rather ridiculous prices. That in itself could be considered a statement and what bugs me about the whole matter that they just don’t seem to care. In fact a lot of this customer squeezing has a somewhat desperate undertone and one can’t help but feel that things aren’t as rosy as the company will have you believe. Now it’s of course pure speculation, but there are some signs that things didn’t go their way this year.

First, of course The LEGO Movie 2 was an epic fail. In Hollywood movie terms it was a bomb and didn’t break even, which in turn of course affected sales of the sets associated with the film. A second wave was only rolled out reluctantly in August and just before Christmas all the remaining sets were shoved out in a sale with crazy discounts. That and just at the same time Warner Bros. not extending their deal and the development shifting over to Universal. Cynically one could say that a tainted property was dumped at a different outlet in the hopes of producing tons of cheap movies.

Another big bummer also right in time for the end of the year is of course the acquisition of Bricklink. This also fits the pattern of a company perhaps not doing so great trying to control the market. No matter what, it’s just bad for the AFOL community at large and repercussions are already felt only a few weeks after the announcements with major changes to sales policies affecting what can be found on there.

All things considered this may not have been an outright terrible year, but some of what has happened just feels unsavory and a few things have been set in motion that just don’t feel right. So far it also doesn’t seem that we will be off to a good start in 2020 and that is just as much reason for concern. There will still be plenty to buy and to cover on this very blog and I’m more than certain that just like this year we will get some more announcements every now and then, but overall excitement on my end is limited for the time being…

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 Bliss – An Analysis of LEGO’s new 2019 Color

As a graphics artist, one of the slightly more frustrating aspects of dealing with LEGO is the relatively low number of available colors for parts and to boot, not all parts being available in every color even. This stops many of my ideas from ever taking shape physically and when it doesn’t, it still often feels like one should not need to spend so much time on thinking how to approximate some of that stuff when the result may still feel like a bad 16 color GIF dithered down from a great, colorful original photo. This basically means that I can never have enough colors and on some level even regret the great culling in the early 2000s having killed of so many useful ones, leaving noticeable gaps of genuinely missing or at least highly desirable colors. Which ones I think are missing is a discussion for another time, though.

Today let’s focus on the first tiny tippy-toe step to improve the situation by LEGO having introduced the new Coral color this year. In a funny and weird coincidence, Pantone, makers of the famous color system for print, declared their Living Coral (16-1546) Color of the Year after last year’s Ultra Violet (18-3838, in memory of the late musician Prince who died the year before). LEGO clearly were spot-on and had the right gut feeling at least once in a lifetime!

Why you may never have heard of it yet

Of course there’s a big caveat to the whole thing (for now at least): Unless you took an active interest in The LEGO Movie 2 and the sets around it or are generally inclined to the colorful sets for Friends et al, you may never even have heard of this new color much less seen it because thus far the only set that contains pieces in this shade is the Pop-Up Party Bus (70828). I of course was giddy about this ever since I heard about it and since the model is also exceedingly good and appealed to me as a whole with its design and overall nice look (review coming one of these days) I had to get it.

LEGO, New 2019 Coral Color, Initial Parts Selection from the Pop-Up Party Bus (70828)

The set contains the parts depicted in the image above and LEGO need to once again be applauded by doing it right and including several of them quite in generous quantity, making this an overall great roll-out of the new color. In other words: Even if you had no intention of actually building the bus, just buying the set for some of these parts could be totally worth it if you want to use the Coral in your projects. that said, of course things will only get better from here on with several Friends sets already having been announced for the second half of 2019 that will feature even more new pieces in this color and in the long run you should expect bits and bobs to appear in other series as well.

What Coral is and what it is not

A first instinct for many users might be to call the new Coral color the long missed Day-Glo Orange of the LEGO world, but more or less it isn’t. Sure, there can be a case made to use it in this fashion and we surely will see some such stuff, but doing so will require to be cautious and measured about the whole thing rather than splashing it out with a spray can and arbitrarily use it everywhere. There are a few things to consider.

First, it isn’t a pure Orange. If the day-glo analogy were to be used, you’d have to call it a slightly faded variant of this color. On real use cases like rescue vehicles and helicopters this often happens when the areas where the color is applied haven’t been underpainted with a bright yellow or the yellow pigments of the color itself decompose faster than the other ones under exposure to sun light and weather. As a result, these areas turn more and more pinkish when the red components become more dominant. Things have gotten better and colors more chemically stable, but regardless, this fading process still happens relatively fast. In case of the LEGO color this means it would be more representative of an already slightly aged paint job, not a factory fresh one.

Another interpretation could be that this is an opaque version of the long-existing Trans Neon Orange Color, as it was widely used e.g. in Nexo Knights, but this isn’t an exact match, either. Naturally it would depend on which background the transparent plates etc. are set against, but even on a white base the orange looks much more intense and reddish. In fact it even has the same fluorescent behavior, meaning it (seemingly) emits more light than it logically should, but the spectrum is a different one. So for all intents and purposes it would be fair that Coral is somewhere in that ballpark, but never a hundred percent match. 

LEGO, New 2019 Coral Color, Perception against differently colored Backgrounds

To complicate matters further, such bright colors are typically extremely dependent on individual perception and the context in which they are used and presented. They can extremely stand out against some dark backgrounds to the point of literally causing so much stress on the eye, you get headaches when looking at them and your brain trying to bring everything in a range it can process, while on the other hand they can almost disappear against some lighter colors. To illustrate this I photographed the same element against differently colored backgrounds (colored art paper) and matched everything as best as possible with my limited equipment.

Finally, there is another thing to consider: Of course it’s plastic and as such its smooth surface tends to be affected strongly by the surroundings it reflects. Here this seems even more the case as the color appears to always have a slight hint of transparency, regardless. This means that environmental light will penetrate it to some degree, minor as it may be, and this will make the colors appear to shift around. Therefore the color will look paler in daylight with a blue sky and more orange-y under more warm, yellow artificial light and it can look pretty dull under white LED light because, naturally, those LEDs don’t necessarily emit the wavelengths the material would reflect and amplify in the fist place. So if you wonder why it looks a lot less spectacular in a show case than when you were assembling it, here’s your potential answer to that mystery.

When and how to use it

When I first thought of this article I wanted to make it grand and as a graphics artist I’m of course prone to nerd out on color theory and bombard people with too much information. Luckily I came to my senses and stopped myself from creating tons of charts and diagrams, so here’s what I hope will be a bit of a more practical guide based on what colors actually exist currently in LEGO‘s portfolio.

LEGO, New 2019 Coral Color, Comparison with other LEGO Colors

If you look at the first image, you can see that Coral seems to go together quite well with many colors, yet doesn’t slot into in any of the available color lines, either. This could be seen as both good and bad. It’s good in that the color is indeed universal and independent enough to look acceptable with many color combinations. It’s bad because just as much the color will always stand out even with its closest matching colors. The logical conclusions to draw from this are:

  • It should not be used as a standalone color.
  • when used with other colors it should primarily be used as a contrast color only and sparingly.
  • Said contrast should not be dominated by Coral, meaning whatever other color(s) you use should be used in a larger amount.
  • The more colors you use on a model, the more disturbing the bright color becomes, so use it only if you truly have something to express with it or the use case mandates it.

Now of course art grows from making exceptions to the rules and it’s perfectly imaginable that you may come up with a cool use that still looks perfectly acceptable, but keep in mind that Coral may dominate, take over and overwhelm your models quickly if you’re not careful. I would also totally expect LEGO to produce some crazy parts like bullcatchers for off-road vehicles or even large Technic panels in this color, but overall perhaps keeping it toned down and not going overboard with its usage would be a good strategy for keeping this color fresh and interesting in the long run.

LEGO, New 2019 Coral Color, Comparison with other LEGO Colors

In more practical terms there are a few combinations that to me personally are at least critical, so I likely would try and avoid them or only use them extremely sparingly. Others could be usable, but still be problematic. Here’s my take on some of that:

  • Any combination of Coral with colors that are actually closest to it will look pretty naff, those being the regular Yellow, Bright Light Orange/ Flame Yellowish Orange and Orange. Here this would only make sense if you have a third, much darker color also that can visually distract or act as a separator. Of course there’s already yellow rescue vehicles with day-glo striping, so there’s that…
  • Red could be problematic if the area with Coral gets too large. Yes, that thing with “overwhelming” and two already strong colors battling it out.
  • Light Pink (leftmost bottom stack, bottom brick) in conjunction with Coral might not work that well, as both colors basically cancel each other out. For instance a single 2 x 1 plate of Coral amidst a sea of Light Pink ones will almost disappear and in reverse it’s the same. Mixing them randomly or in patterns about 50/ 50 gives a cool effect, though, as it will visually blend into a different kind of pink.
  • The Bright Light Yellow/ Cool Yellow could suffer from similar issues as the previous points and in addition also falls into that “yellow emergency vehicle” category, so some caution must be exercised to get it right, especially on your small City vehicles and similar.
  • Out of the “earthy” tones (top row, fourth stack from left), only Dark Tan/ Sand Yellow would IMO look reasonably okay. The Medium Dark Flesh/ Medium Nougat and the Tan color do not have enough contrast and could look quite iffy. More to the point, the bright Coral will make models with these colors look dirty and that is usually not something you want.

As I said further above, these are just things I would think once or twice about and my list should not stop you from trying what works for you. it may just require a bit of effort and experimentation to get a good balance of colors in such scenarios. Most other combinations should be unproblematic and fall into place almost naturally under the conditions I laid out. Some of that is already visible in the party bus set itself – Coral looks just gorgeous next to Dark Turquoise, Magenta and White. I can’t wait to see what other stuff is in store when the new friends sets come out and what one could potentially do with the Coral parts they will contain.

Harmless Kitten – Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827)

I’ve still only seen bits and pieces of The LEGO Movie 2. I’m simply too lazy to go to the cinema “for that kind of movie” and always wait for them to come out on DVD/ Blu-Ray or run on TV. Since it tanked at the box office and will likely even accrue losses for Warner, I guess it’s a moot point, anyway. My few bucks wouldn’t have saved them.

It’s a good bet that now we’re not going to see some tie-in sets that may have been planned and obviously the early releases from the beginning of the year didn’t do much to get people interested, either. Incidentally this quite fittingly also matches my “I just don’t care much” stance in the matter – I kinda like some sets that were designed for the movie while a good chunk of the rest just doesn’t interest me because they too apparently play on nostalgia and are trying to milk the subject as it were. There’s also that fine line in-between where you think “Cool idea, but…” and Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy (70827) fits into that narrow corridor.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Box

Initially I was quite reluctant to even get the set until I came to the realization that it actually contained some unique parts that somehow might be useful for one of the projects I have rattling around in my head, those in particular being some of the spiky parts being available in Red and Reddish Brown for the first time. Even better yet there are quite a few of them, so buying this set possibly means a little less spending on Bricklink for those parts if and when the time comes to build the model I envision. Funny how things sometimes coalesce by sheer coincidence.

Anyway, after that decision was made, it was time to wait for prices to come down and on a lazy weekend this set could be had for 17 Euro, so I jumped the chance. Not to sound like the eternal cheap skate, but to me this price feels right. Would I ever have paid the official price of 30 Euro? Very likely not. Point in case: There may be around 350 parts overall, but most of them are simply too small to warrant a price higher than 20 Euro for the whole set in my opinion. If it wasn’t for the exclusivity of some pieces the set could be rebuilt with standard parts from other sets quite easily at low cost.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Overview

For the price I mentioned as my preferred choice you get some okay content. At the very least it feels like there’s enough bang for the buck. The assembled Ultrakatty is weighty enough and the rest of the set feels like there are sensible additions. Again, though, a lot of the real value is in the details and therefore the more expensively you buy this set, the less favorable this may turn out since the parts are sometimes rather specific. You’d hate to think you paid too much just to get that printed “Don’t Stop” shield on Lucy, if you get my meaning.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Invader, FrontThe Duplo “invaders” are one of the funnier ideas in the whole film and re-creating them using regular LEGO bricks is equally cool. In fact I think it would have been fun to have a whole set just with these little critters in the various forms and colors they appear in and at the same time include some of the Plantimals (those other weird creatures with the leaves and pink elephant trunks for legs) as sort of an “adversary battle pack”. or whatever you want to call it.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Invader, BackThat would also have allowed some more consistent world-building in the truest sense of the word and perhaps been a little less frustrating to people like me. With the necessary colored parts being scattered across multiple sets, some quite expensive and others that I’d never buy, anyway, it’s a bit difficult to scrape the components together as obviously they wouldn’t be cheap on the second-hand market, either.


Ultrakatty is of course Unikitty in rage mode and all bulked up. The basic similarities are there by ways of the recognizable facial style and how the head is built, but it pretty much ends there. The rest is of the model is more akin to the tried and tested skeleton builds used on mechs and dinosaurs, which is another reason for my initial reluctance. I just don’t need another ton of those joints in my life. Buying too many sets of this type can easily clog up your storage boxes with those parts if you don’t use them that much…

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Ultrakatty, Side View

As presented in the set, Ultrakatty is a trimmed down version from how she actually appears in the film. There’s a designer video on YouTube explaining the rationale behind the reduction as a necessity for keeping things playable (and the set in a specific price range, too, most likely) but to me this seems like a lame, somewhat nonsensical excuse. You can spin this however you want, but this is not a traditional play set. The model is reasonably poseable, yes, and you could likely do your own brick film with it, but it’s nowhere stable enough to be constantly changed around.

Some parts will always come off like for instance the spikes on the back of the legs. Therefore I would strictly consider this a showcase set that you may arrange in a little vignette e.g. next to your Apocalypseburg model if you are lucky enough to be able to afford that big boy. In light of that assessment of course they could have kept the original fully spiky version intact and sold it in its full glory. In a way this reminds me of the situation with the green Ninjago dragon, where the commercial set ended up being quite different from the actual movie creation, yet wasn’t much better off in terms of overall playability.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Ultrakatty, Front View

One of the most talked-about features of this set is the new 5 x 1 x 2 brick used for the face. The main motivation behind this is pretty clearly to get the face printed on a single contiguous surface as per LEGO‘s self-imposed rule of not printing across multiple bricks, at least not in that manner. It shows that they can introduce new, sometimes much-needed new parts if only they want to and they solve a specific problem, yet they are most of the time simply too reluctant, hesitant or cautious about it. That’s at the same time perfectly understandable (it’s a cost factor, after all, you know), but also kind of sad when you think of how some sets still require awkward workarounds just because some parts don’t exist.

In this case we can only hope that this isn’t a one-off thing and the mold for this brick will be used in other sets as well plus we also eventually get the 5 x 1 and 5 x 2 plates to go with it. Five unit long plates are even more necessary than the brick, as this covers a ton of scenarios where you currently have to piece things together with 3 x 1 and 2 x 1 plates. It would simplify things a lot. At the same time, though, I don’t think we need more than that, meaning seven or nine unit long plates like for example COBI has them would be a bit redundant.

The prints on the face are nicely executed with sharp detail, good opacity and perfect saturation. Personally I wouldn’t have needed swappable faces and the “more than slightly aggravated” one I used in my images would have sufficed. If at all, a face printed on a differently colored brick might have been more interesting like the sickly green one from the Unikitty Collectible Minifigures series along with matching green horns. Overall it’s okay, though. you have to stop somewhere and not every crazy idea can be put in one set.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Ultrakatty, Top View

The construction of the body is pretty straightforward and captures the bulked up aggressive pose nicely with the broad shoulders and the extremely tapered aft. It’s basically all built around a single 8 x 2 brick to keep it slim with most of the protruding parts simply being plugged onto the sides. This also furthers my point about this not being an ideal play set because the slopes are still easy to break off accidentally.

All four legs are built almost identically with the upper section being shaped as strong, thick thighs using some bricks and a brown wedge piece. In contrast to that the lower extremities appear almost fragile with their ratcheted hinges, but as I said, poseability is still good. As usual it will just take some time to balance out the individual positions so she doesn’t topple over.

The shin parts use some curved slopes with a flame print which is barely noticeable. The print quality isn’t that great, the slopes are narrow and so the flames blend in to a degree they could have been left out completely without much of a negative impact. It seems more than a bit weird, especially directly compared to the superb prints on the face. They probably shouldn’t have bothered. I’m not even sure if I would ever use those slopes on a car with flame stickers. That’s how poor they are.

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Ultrakatty & Warrior Lucy! (70827), Ultrakatty, Aft View

Overall this set turned out okay despite my original reservations. Just don’t assume it is in any way a play set. It can look quite impressive when posed and viewed from the right angle as a presentation model. Then fiddling with the spikes and orienting them correctly can pay off. However, if you mess with it too much and too often, it can look weird and re-attaching elements that fell off while you were handling it will become frustrating after a while.

Most importantly, see to it that you get it cheap. This is one of those sets where being a Scrooge can really amp up your satisfaction. Again, I’m not saying that it would be super expensive to begin with, but the many small parts will almost automatically make you feel that you shouldn’t be paying too much for them in the first place. The better the price-per-piece ratio, the happier you’ll be.

Heart of Hearts – Friends Heart Boxes (41354 to 41359)

LEGO The LEGO Movie 2, Emmet's Piece Offering (30340), Front2019 appears to be the “Year of the Heart” for LEGO with those little buggers popping up everywhere in different styles, shapes and sizes, ranging from the tiny new 1×1 heart-shaped tile elements in sets like the Chinese Dragon Dance (80102) and of course several ones for The LEGO Movie 2 as well. The latter takes this even further with the buildable kind of heart in Emmet’s Piece Offering (30340) depicted here and of course the cutesy little heart character also appearing in the movie.

Of course the Friends sets are not left out and my, have they gone out of their way. For now there’s seven different types of hearts to choose from. Two different ones are contained in the Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359) and then there’s the Mia’s/ Andrea’s/ Olivia’s/ Stephanie’s/ Emma’s Heart Box (41354 to 41358) sets. In the interest of efficiency and due to the similarity I have consolidated all the products into one article, but let’s begin with the “big” stuff presented by the Friendship Pack.

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Box

This set is meant to be a play set in the sense that it contains a plethora of little gimmicks and doodads to dress up the two included mini dolls in a variety of outfits ranging from astronaut to firefighter and police officer to magician/ witch and pirate as well as any combination and derivation inbetween. Who’s to say there couldn’t be pirates with bullet-proof golden helmets? To that end it contains a number of minifigure hats plus a bunch of very minor minifigure accessories and buildable elements. None of this stuff is new nor is any of it made specifically made just for this set. It has all been gleaned from LEGO‘s back catalog of existing pieces and some of it may even be surplus stock from producing other sets.

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Gimmicks

Therefore outside of actually using these items in the context of the set for playing with it, the individual value of these extras will hugely depend on how useful they may be to customize your other minifigures. For me it was okay, as I neither have a pirate hat nor a golden helmet in my collection and as a recent custom build proved, there could always be a need for some fancying up a model with some minifigures even if like me you don’t collect them proactively, so I’m sure going to keep this stuff around, be it just as a prop for setting the mood in a pirate tavern or whatever should I ever decide to create something along those lines.

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Overview

In contrast to what you may think, the actual highlight of this set is the smaller heart for the simple reason that it’s based on a new custom-shaped plate. at the same time, though, only one of those little hearts being included to me looks like a severe laps in logic. If the intention was to provide a small pocket box to pack up your doll and some accessories when going on the road, wouldn’t it have made perfect sense to actually include two – one for every figure? Imagine the fuss when two little girls battle over who gets to take the small container along…!

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Overview


To me it just doesn’t make sense and allowing for a second such thing in a different color to be built should not have been that much of a stretch. It would only have increased the price a tiny bit and, which is my point, could have helped to roll out the new plates in larger quantities. You may think it’s not that important and I’m just obsessing, but in my head I already have a pretty clear picture how useful this new part could be as a creative corner piece and such when used in combination with other plates. For now it seems we’re limited to just buying more copies of this set and wait until this shape has made its way in other sets and sufficient quantities become available on Bricklink and elsewhere.

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Overview

The large version is pieced together from existing elements based on eight units width, meaning a square plate, some half round plates and a two studs wide strip to extend the “ears” a bit. If you’re into that sort of thing, you could come up with it yourself. It’s really pretty obvious and doesn’t require any major engineering skills, experience or magic. That is, of course, up to the point where you need those damned tiles, round bricks (Macaroni) and also the straight bricks for the side walls. It would have been possible to build something like this, but not necessarily easily and in a consistent color scheme. Some parts were just not out there in larger numbers, others downright didn’t exist in a given color yet. At the very least the set solves this conundrum and makes things easy on you by providing all the pieces.

LEGO Friends, Heart Box Friendship Pack (41359), Lids Undersides

Simple and obvious as the whole thing may be, there is always major drawback to using round pieces: You simply stack them and they don’t share any interlocking with neighboring bricks. LEGO have yet to come up with some form of plate or special adapter brick to get a firm connection that takes care of these concerns. These heart sets would have provided a perfect test case for creating plates with extended tabs or adding a stud and anti-stud system to the butt ends of the Macaronis. Maybe we will see it one day. In this particular case it’s not a major issue du to the boxes only being two bricks high, but regardless it’s still within the realm of possibility that inadvertently the curved parts may break off. Your little girl could find a bunch of separate pieces in her pocket with all the contents having spilled out as well, so beware!

LEGO Friends, Heart Boxes (41354 to 41358 ), Packages

Moving on to the smaller sets, the heart boxes named after the girls are marketed as a separate line of sets. To me this feels like they are trying a bit too hard to milk the theme for maximum revenue, though. The reasons for this should become clear a bit further down, but first let’s have a look at a size comparison.

LEGO Friends, Heart Boxes (41354 to 41359), Size Comparison

As you can see, the size is pretty much halfway there between the large box from the Friendship Pack and the small one from the same set. This already reveals one potential limitation: The amount of content you can cram into such a box and indeed this is a concern. I haven’t bothered to take shots of them, but each set comes with the umpteenth iteration of the girl who lends its name to any given set. This then would already occupy half the space in the box. The remaining space would – in theory at least – be filled up with the simple pedestal/ stand made from two clear sloped brick and a white 2 x 4 plate, barely leaving any room for something else. And there you have it: The inclusion of the useless mini dolls defeats the whole idea of using those little hearts as storage or gift boxes. Therefore I think disposing of the figures in whatever is your favorite cruel and funny method would be perfectly acceptable. Just make sure your kids don’t see it…

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Heart Box (41357), Package Front LEGO Friends, Olivia's Heart Box (41357), Package Back

Make no mistake: Despite their inflated packages, these sets are basically just poly bags with a slightly larger number of parts. Arguably the cardboard carry bag or whatever you wanna call it could have been done away with, but of course it looks better on store shelves. Ultimately it’s okay, though, even if you are environmentally conscious, as multiple packs can be stacked quite efficiently in an alternating pattern. Not as much unused space only filled with air is being transported around as first impressions may suggest. In fact it looks bulkier on the photos than in real life.

LEGO Friends, Heart Boxes (41354 to 41358), Colors LEGO Friends, Heart Boxes (41354 to 41358), Stacked

There are five distinct sets of which I got only four. For the time being I passed on the Lime Green version for Mia since it did not include any other new colors for the plates and I wanted to avoid having a pile of redundant Dark Purple already found in the Emma set as well as Dark Azure tiles for the upper edge as they exist in the Olivia version. I’m reasonably certain that I will get it one of these days just for the fun of it, though. Incidentally, LEGO could have made this decision easier by offering a five pack/ bundle deal with a bit of discount from the outset.

LEGO Friends, Olivia's Heart Box (41357), Lid Topside LEGO Friends, Olivia's Heart Box (41357), Lid Underside

Again the building techniques used in the sets are as plain on your nose as you can think and you could have worked them out yourself if you had the pieces. The same limitations as on the big heart box apply – due to some elements not overlapping and merely being stacked, the risk of breakage is not to be underestimated, especially with the lid off, which stabilizes things considerably. Overall those sets won’t win any prizes for outstanding engineering, anyway. With only two rows of bricks in all of them, it’s simply impossible to get enough robustness in there, try as you might. You would have to redesign this from the ground up. Regardless of these issues, the least they could have done is make the big heart in the Friendship Pack three or four rows of bricks high to increase storage volume.

LEGO Friends, Andrea's Heart Box (41354), Flowers

The one thing that makes those sets at least a bit valuable for me is of course the fact that they are an excellent source for colored parts. As I mentioned earlier in my article, many pieces are for the first time even available in these flamboyant and crazy colors and trivial as it may seem, a Bright Pink 1 x 1 quarter round tile can sometimes be exactly what you need, not to speak of the many 1 x 2, 1x 4, 1 x 6 and 2 x 4 tiles. We even get the 1 x 1 round flower tile in Light Aqua in the Andrea set! In addition, every bit of writing you see on the boxes are specially printed tiles, so that’s fine, too. It just renders those tiles slightly less useful later on in your custom builds. Still, you could always pop them onto other sets like e.g. Olivia’s Cupcake Café (41366) as signage, so it’s not all a waste.

Within the very narrow corridor of what you can expect, those sets work okay-ish, but are not worth writing home about, either. Unfortunately it really seems LEGO are always falling for the same old mistakes and screw up a simple idea that could work otherwise. A girl just wanting a nice box for her trinkets isn’t going to care much about those ugly mini dolls and as an adult you feel it’s only an excuse to inflate the price. A more straightforward approach with selling the plain buildable items for what they are might have been better.

That being the case, if at all, you should see to it to get these sets as cheap as you can, since you basically always will be buying unnecessary useless fluff along with the buildable elements while the actual assembly is so simplistic, it will leave the true LEGO aficionado unsatisfied. Strangely, those sets are caught between a rock and a hard place and won’t satisfy either side fully. The are not LEGO sets in the traditional sense, but by that same token will also struggle to attract audiences that are used to simpler ways of getting plastic containers for their toys, the latter of which also being more stable when made in a single piece straight out of the injection molding machine. Too bad…