Sunken Ship – LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114)

With the fate of VIDIYO hanging in the balance and the future of the theme being rather uncertain I was reluctant on whether I should continue posting my reviews on the sets, but since they are still widely available regardless of what is going to happen next i decided there might still be some value to lay out my views and opinions, be it just to nudge undecided buyers one way or the other. So let’s see what the Punk Pirate Ship (43114) offers.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Box

Pricing and Contents

I’ve laid out the many failures of LEGO VIDIYO in my first article when I was still a lot more hopeful for the series, but you can spin it how you will, the outrages prices stuck out like a sore thumb no matter how generous you wanted to be about the other shortcomings. This is the same here: The suggested retail price is 70 Euro and to that I say „No! Not in this life unless hell freezes over!“. It’s just ridiculous!

Lucky for me the mighty gods of Amazon once more came to the rescue and wanted to free up space in their warehouses after they noticed sales being slow, so they threw out this set for 36 Euro one day. That was impossible to resist, so I jumped the chance. Ever since similar prices have popped up multiple times not just on Amazon but also with other vendors, so you should definitely invest some time researching prices before committing. You may not always be able to get it as cheaply as I did, but generally anything around the 45 Euro mark is probably acceptable. Just be aware that over this kerfuffle with the long term prospects of the series some scalpers may try and take advantage.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Overview.

Minifigures and BeatBits

Of course a major part of that whole VIDIYO thing are the inventive and slightly bonkers minifigures. This set in particular got me with the second version of the shark and a squid-headed drummer. The mermaid isn’t bad, either. I knew I would want to get them one day, but not necessarily buying the set. Would the figures even suffice making a purchase of the whole set worthwhile? Pretty much not, given that there are only three. The math just doesn’t add up and similar to the K-Pawp Concert (43113) I generally feel there should have been at least five characters in this set as well. The ones that are there are great, there are just not enough.

Another highly desirable and exclusive bit of content are the BeatBits that come with these sets and I have to say for me the ones here are probably the best ones of them all, especially the harmonica-playing octopus and the shark-surfing pirate. That’s real graphical art squeezed onto a 2 x 2 tile and the print quality is excellent as well!

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Minifigure Stand

The Ship

I’m not the biggest fan of that whole pirate thing, but I enjoy a well done ship as much as anyone. However, well done this is not! The basic proportions and shape are recognizable enough, but of course the devil is in the details.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Front Left View, Default State

The biggest failure is easily that the stage design is oriented along the main axis of the ship, not to the sides. This would be a pretty terrible idea for any fans standing directly in front of the bow. They’d simply see nothing because the walls would obscure the view unless they stand several feet away. This is just not how you would do it. I’m not saying that such stage designs could not and have not existed, but in such a case you would have the sections be separable and the bow at least movable. A traditional walkway with rails sounds about right and would then cover the gap while the pieces are apart.

Another, and ultimately the better alternative would be a side view design similar to the rollercoaster facade in the Heartlake City Amusement Pier (41375), but this cannot be accommodated with this set. The silhouette would be way to flat, which I guess is the point, after all: The bow is way to shallow to really impress and in fact this flatness makes it appear as if the ship were sinking and tipping over forward. The low walls on the side would also easily be washed over by the tiniest of waves, which makes this even less credible.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Front Left View, Alternate State

As you can see in the images, this set also features the pivotable elements also found in other VIDIYO sets but they don’t really do much for me. the skull and shark head are nice, but the overall appearance of the ship doesn’t really change in a way that it would perceivably make much of a difference. For a more significant and dramatic change they would have to have included elements in alternate colors or do something like swap out the drum kit for a different set of instruments, ideally based on a modular system where this can be swapped out easily.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Aft Left View

The rear end of the ship with the backstage area is designed like a traditional captain’s cabin and is in my opinion almost the best part of the whole affair. It’s not very plausible in its function with no doorways to the front stage and overall being rather crammed, but at least it looks the part. This would perfectly fit a “real” pirate ship as well.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Rear View Open

The sideways outriggers are a strange affair and just like with the Robo HipHop Car (43112) feel flung on for the mere sake of the turnable loudspeakers.Of course they could be interpreted as extended planks or those little balconies some ships had to provide access to the mast rigging and such, but it really does not contribute much here. Even the fake “lantern” build from two 1 x 2 half cylinders and clearly providing some color interaction in the VIDIYO augmented reality app looks out of place.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Aft Right View

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Front Right View

A lower angle shot once more affirms my point about the shallowness of the boat hull and the “sinking” overall look. Arguably it is also somewhat reminiscent of an equally flattened, worn out basketball shoe or similar. In any case, something feels definitely off. This isn’t helped by LEGO having opted for the faceted, modern ship version of the bow pieces.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Front Right Lower View

Finally, and this loops back to my point about the minifigures, the five turntables cannot all be occupied with what’s in the box. Technically there is also no extra pirate-ish character in the first Collectible Minifigure series, with another mermaid and pirate lady only coming out in the second iteration (if we ever actually get it). I’m also extremely bothered by all of the rings being in Coral. I didn’t expect the Olympic Rings, but clearly they could have used a different color on the one on the crow’s nest and perhaps golden ones on the bow. On that note I also think the various 1 x 1 pyramids (and by extension the hook graphic on the central “screen”) would have looked a lot more impressive in some version of gold or Metallic Silver.

LEGO VIDIYO, Punk Pirate Ship (43114), Top View

Concluding Thoughts

As you may have gathered from my write-up, this is not a good model at all in my opinion. there are a few interesting details, I grant you that, but on the whole it is way too generic and poorly designed. It just doesn’t transport any of the wackiness I would expect from a VIDIYO set and due to it’s “We sawed off the waterline way too high!” look it also fails as a generic pirate ship.

Add to that the delusional original pricing and you can see why it might be extremely hard to even find an excuse to buy it. It was okay for me at the price I got it for and if it were even cheaper it might have been worth buying two packages to fix the mess with a major overhaul and redesign of the model, but overall I cannot recommend this. You can have a lot more fun with the Creator 3in1 Pirate Ship (31109) and I would dare to speculate even the new Bowser’s Airship (71391) from the Super Mario line of products…

Not so dead yet? – LEGO strikes back on LEGO VIDIYO

After I kind of panic-posted yesterday, things have rapidly developed within the last 24 hours. LEGO have published an official statement which you can read e.g. here on Brickset.

Of course it’s the usual corporate bullshit bingo of a PR department caught flat-footed on a Friday afternoon only a few hours away from everyone being out of office and I wouldn’t put too much stock in that they actually know anything about the future of the products, but at least indirectly it sheds some light on what a debacle VIDIYO must be behind the scenes. If they need  one and a half or two years to re-evaluate it, then you know how they screwed up.

The statement is insofar also questionable as they insist that they tested it thoroughly and feedback was good. RLY? Tested with high-income families that buy their kids new iPhones every year and wouldn’t mind the exorbitant cost and performance issues of the app? Sure, I won’t pretend that getting free review samples and early access to unreleased products always has an influence, if only subconsciously, but did really nobody see how defective the app was and how ill-conceived e.g. the proposed pricing was?

I mean I’ve worked as a Beta tester in the software world for many years and never was never shy about calling out nonsense. Not that my message always was heard, but if I had been involved in VIDIYO‘s early development and testing I sure would have slapped a few things in their face. Not to sound too pompous, but it’s clearly a case of “You should have asked me!” *lol* or to put it more academically, they should have a broader testing base. You know, even poor guys like me who don’t even have a suitable smartphone, are single and have no kids buy this stuff. It’s funny how companies always get themselves into trouble by restricting their testing just because you don’t fit certain criteria. But I digress…

So what does all this mean? Personally I think they should just leave it be. As a brand VIDIYO is burnt. After this debacle, retailers will be extremely skeptical to even touch it if an when new products come out two years down the line. Who knows, even then they may still have stuff in their warehouses from the first wave that still hasn’t sold despite clearance discounts. Any serious brand consultant would tell them that.

And there are of course similar issues with the end customers just as well. I would love to see series 2 of the minifigures to still come out, but after that would I actually wait for more than a year for something else? I consider that unlikely, given how much stuff LEGO fire out and how limited my budget is. It’s not like I would need VIDIYO to part with my cash and couldn’t find something from Ninjago, Friends, Creator and so on to be just as relevant. Many people will find themselves in a similar situation and will simply have moved on…

VIDIYO – Vidi-*duh*?! – The sudden Death of LEGO VIDIYO

Contrary to what some people may believe simply because my occasionally overcritical or even cynical view of some things I do not like writing those swan song posts about failed LEGO products, but sadly I can’t always avoid them, especially when it concerns a series that I actually kind of like. I got burned with Hidden Side and now it seems history is repeating itself with VIDIYO.

None of this is official yet, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but Promobricks apparently got wind of the series’ more or less immediate cancellation (German, so use the translation functions in your browser if needed) via their connection to some dealers. Even the second series of the Bandmates minifigures is in limbo, as apparently retailers have not been swarming to new orders and even cancelled existing ones. This could in effect mean that the series will only be available in LEGO stores and via a handful of select sellers, potentially making it very difficult to get a complete line-up. That is of course if it does come out at all.

What definitely won’t be appearing as per Promobricks‘ scoop are new sets such as the K-Pawp Concert (43113) that I just reviewed. I was planning to do reviews of the other sets as well now that I have them, but I’m not sure if that is still worthwhile. It’s a consolation, however, that at least I managed to get a complete set of figures from the first wave and I’m only three or four BeatBits short of having a complete deck of them as well.

Now of course the big one: The “I told you so!” moment. As you can glean from my introductory article only a few weeks ago it was rife with skepticism. Despite me liking the artistic qualities, I had serious doubts about the commercial viability and long-term success. The prices for those BeatBoxes were simply too crazy and a lot of other things just felt wrong from the outset. Combined with visibly slow sales in the physical retail locations I regularly roam on the hunt for LEGO it didn’t take much to conclude that this was anything but a success. Sure, the ongoing pandemic-related issues may play a part, but it’s not like other LEGO themes didn’t sell like crazy under the same conditions.

So to cut my ramblings short and get to a point: In my mind it was clear that we’d be lucky if this got to live out its regular two-year cycle and then it would be phased out one way or another, no matter what. Never could I have guessed that things were so dire that LEGO would pull the plug so quickly and radically. Remember: The collectible minifigures came out only in February and the sets in April (here in Germany). Sales must have been completely disastrous with retailers not even ordering the minimum numbers to re-stock their shelves. In the end LEGO may not have had a choice because nobody wanted their product.

This to me is shocking news, on a Friday no less and I’ll still need to let it process and sink in, even if it is only preliminary and unverified and things may still turn out differently. Still, I’m quite sad. VIDIYO may not have been for everyone and certainly it had a ton of flaws, conceptually and in execution, but I really liked many aspects of it and I’m going to miss it…

Neo(n) Pop – LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113)

While my musical tastes are rather eclectic and diverse, I never really got the hang of K-Pop. Even by standards of other commercial music obviously cooked up in a lab this genre still tops it off by being even more artificial and synthetic with the intent of quickly building a fan base and then milking it being a bit too on the nose. Of course on the other hand that despite all this this is a huge slice of the music market and even more so since it got popularized in Western spheres as well in recent years, interestingly a lot in the crowds that are also the target demographic for VIDIYO. Therefore it seemed an almost natural conclusion that LEGO would pick up on this trend and indeed the K-Pawp Concert (43113) is a result of that.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Box

Pricing and Contents

The set retails for 50 Euro officially, which technically is okay for 514 pieces and within what you would expect to pay for LEGO stuff. In fact considering what a single BeatBox would cost at regular price this is very reasonable. However, you always have to consider how much bulk you get out of it and in this case the caveat is that this is essentially one big collection of tiles of all kinds with a minimalist suprastructure underneath. This set only has handful of actual bricks and otherwise only consists of plates and brackets. That’s not per se a bad thing, just not something special either.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Overview

Because of these aforementioned points you need to be very sure that you actually want the set for what it represents and don’t have wrong expectations. You’ll really end up with a pile of very colorful tiles and not much else when you disassemble the model again like I regularly do because I don’t have enough space to keep them around long-term. With that in mind, naturally I recommend you get this as cheaply as possible to make it economical. I’m not telling you anything new and by now it may seem redundant, but here it becomes even more of a thing as most of those tiles are dirt cheap on Bricklink and you really don’t want to throw out more money than you have to.

Ultimately I got my package for 36 Euro on Amazon Prime Day, which is okay. There’s a good chance this will drop below 30 Euro eventually, so if you’re not in a rush, you could save even more. I suspect, though, that the popularity of the minifigures will prevent prices dropping too much even during clearance sales, so waiting too long may not be a good idea as you could end up empty-handed. I guess this is one of those cases where you have to trust your gut feeling.

Minifigures and BeatBits

The big core appeal of the whole VIDIYO series is undeniably the minifigures, not least of all due to their flamboyancy, creative use and revival of existing figure parts in different colors and new pieces and prints. This to some extent also applies here, just a bit toned down. Knowing how crazy those bands go with dyed hair, make-up and crazy dresses, the figures present here seem surprisingly tame. For a K-Pop themed set you would expect this to be even more insane than the real human counterparts, yet here it feels a bit like a harmless furry convention where everyone is only wearing their head piece. I attribute this to the set’s design colors being re-used, with the Dark Purple and Dark Turquoise simply absorbing too much “energy” and making things look a bit drab.

This also goes for the minifigure stand and BeatBits holder. It is in fact rather odd to me that they used the cyan color as this would make it harder in the companion app to detect which figure is placed on it. Aside from the three character-specific tiles you get an additional fourteen ones, randomly distributed across each set. I didn’t get lucky and only got pretty standard ones adding to my pile of duplicates, so not much to report on that front.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Minifigure Stand

The Stage

The stage is based around a “neon” design as you would find it in big cities’ entertainment quarters and shopping zones at night or as a stylistic element in all sorts of “cyber…” themed movies, games or other art. In relation to the K-Pop theme this could be interpreted as representing the respective parts of the city of Seoul or something similar. To that effect the design establishes a strong contrast between the Black and Dark Purple base surfaces vs. the bright border elements. This is on some level even quite realistic, as a lot of stage equipment is covered in black paint, vinyl/ fake leather or velvet/ carpet in order to make it “invisible” by minimizing light reflections.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Front View

The color choices for the outline elements are okay, but personally I’m not that much a fan of the Dark Turquoise. ever since LEGO reintroduced this color three years ago they seem to run rampant with it and are using it way too much. I would have preferred a friendlier color closer to the Light Aqua elements such as Medium Blue or Dark Azure, but ultimately this is a case where many different combinations would be adequate and could work.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Front View

The stage design is unfortunately rather conventional and repeats one of the mistakes I was most critical about with Hidden Side – the ever same triptych layout. This is even more regrettable here, as the idea with the squares turned on one of their corners offers lots of potential for more innovative designs.

I would for instance have favored an asymmetrical design with one of the wings being much longer and a square pattern in the central section (where the animal head is) serving as a centralized stage entrance with a proper door/ tunnel. Similarly, another oversized square could have served as a video screen. I also would have added a centralized dance floor (yes, even in the most cheesy 1970s discotheque/ dance club style) as currently the various separate islands are not connected and therefore could not be reached in a logical/ plausible manner.

On that note: There are seven spots where minifigures can be placed which kind of aligns with most K-Pop bands being pretty large squads. However, with only three actual figures many of these locations will have to be left empty unless you have additional ones from other sets or the Bandmates Collectible Minifigure Series 1. Another issue with the islands is the stability. Though the stairs use these brackets and they usually have a tight enough clutch power to provide some stability, it’s still relatively easy to break them off along with the plates attached to them. This is mostly owing to the individual isles not being supported and interconnected with additional “bridge” plates or a centralized big floor as I was mentioning earlier. Not the end of the world, but in my world these “loose ends hanging in the air” constructs are just bad design decisions.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Detail, Head Sculpture

The set offers only a handful of transformable features with the central head of the unicorn, which can be changed into a kitty face by rotating it 180 degrees, being the most notable. Both designs are executed nicely enough and it’s almost sad that they can’t be shown at the same time (without some extra work, that is). Other transformations include the small markers on the outermost positions and the speaker towers next to the central plate.

The back side does not have that many surprises with only a small recreational/ backstage area in the center section. Interestingly it features a “rhythm game” setup where you have to hit colored squares on an electronic mat/ floor to control a music-based game. Unfortunately this isn’t fully fleshed out and doesn’t include an actual arcade cabinet or gaming console. even just randomly throwing in two of the game controller tiles would have helped to sell the illusion.

LEGO VIDIYO, K-Pawp Concert (43113), Back, Center

Hidden Parts

While it doesn’t bring something revolutionary to the table, this set contains a few interesting parts, mostly used in a way where it doesn’t stick out at first. The most visible of those are the round 1 x 1 studs in Bright Light Yellow, a color variant only recently introduced with LEGO ART and apparently they had enough stock to also use it here. Other additions include the various Dark Turquoise and Coral 1 x 4 tiles and plates. Aside from the printed tiles there’s a unique exclusive item in the shape of the full height 1 x 1 slope attached to a 1 x 2 plate in Light Aqua. Finally there’s two 1 x 1 clips in Medium Lavender used to good effect in the cat’s ears.

Concluding Thoughts

There are some undeniable shortcomings with this set, yet at the same time it is bright and joyful enough to make you overlook them generously. If I somehow was on LEGO‘s “focus group testing” list and had access to their unreleased info I sure would have nudged them towards a few of the things I mentioned, but at the end of the day none of them are critical failures. It’s more my designer mind going crazy in all directions and trying to explore the what-might-have-beens. Would be interesting to find out what alternative designs they had worked on before settling on this one.

However, with all that said I feel that the shortage of minifigures is a major omission and cardinal sin. You just can’t take a play on K-Pop tropes and then come up short with the number of band members. That and of course the “camouflage” colors of the characters that are there and that are too similar to the ones used on the stage itself. In fact I think it would have been an interesting experiment to have say three figures with bright glittery white “suits” to get that feel of “cloned” artists that is so prevalent in these groups.

Ultimately of course it’s up to you. I’ve laid out my reasoning, but can’t deny that the demographic for this set and the others in the VIDIYO is rather narrow. You may want to take your money elsewhere if you want more bulk, but if you want a complete set of the figures and don’t mind getting a ton of those tiles I mentioned earlier as well, this can be an interesting enough option for the right price.

Pimp my Ride! – LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112)

As I promised in my generic overview of LEGO VIDIYO I wanted to try to get some of the proper sets and so here we are with the first of them, the Robo HipHop Car (43112).

LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112), Box

As you recognize right away, the packaging shares the same issues laid out in my article with the overly emphasized mobile phone and virtual environment making it hard to even decipher what you get in the package. Really not worth any further discussion and the less said about this terrible artwork, the better.

Pricing and Contents

I was reluctant to even get this set, as even by just looking at the promotional photos it became clear that it wouldn’t be the most attractive, but I kind of wanted the minifigures to add to my line-up of VIDIYO characters (Maybe this will be the first minifigure series ever where I collect them all and get a complete set?) and one has to start somewhere, as it was the cheapest offering at the time. The other sets had not yet dropped enough in price to fall into my affordable range.

This set comes with 387 pieces that build into a sizable model, but one mustn’t be fooled. There isn’t that much bulk, after all, with a lot of small and thin parts being used. This is in part out of necessity due to the car requiring thin side walls in order to allow for room in the interior, in part it’s down to how some things are designed. That is to say that even once completed the model feels relatively light when you expect its weight to be higher.

LEGO VIDIYO, Robo HipHop Car (43112), Overview

I got my set for 23 Euro, but as I’m writing this it already has dropped to 20 Euro on some outlets. That means it is pretty okay in terms of price, even more so when you consider what a single BeatBox costs. I feel that you get a decent return value even if this may not build into the greatest brick-built car model on the planet.

The Minifigures

The set comes with only two minifigures, which is adequate enough for such a small and relatively cheap model. Stylistically they match the theme with silver and gold tones making things look robotic, though that also makes them look a bit bland and cold. The prints are done nicely, though. It’s just that perhaps a hint of red or orange here and there would have made them look more lively. If you feel like it, you can of course complement the crew with the minifig from the HipHop Robot BeatBox (43107) or for that matter a similar looking dude from the upcoming series 2 of the BandMates.

The set comes with two exclusive BeatBits (bottom left and top right corner on the stand in the respective image) and 14 other random ones to add to your collection of these tiles. Based on my analysis of their functionality in my article I’d say that one merely adds some robotic noises and the other an overlay sticker that looks like a spray tag, so nothing special there.

A Color Conundrum

Before we move on to the actual review of the car, allow me to get one thing out of the way: The color. Yes, it may appear nitpicky, but to me it’s clear that this whole car should be in a different livery. The specific point I’m trying to make is that this is a “pimp ride”, i.e. a highly modified and customized car meant tot impress people as it passes by and clearly that would also include the coating. Therefore this model just seems completely backwards as Black is way too mundane. This is not saved by the various golden accents, as in fact they amplify my impression that the situation should be inverted.

Yes, for what it’s worth, the car itself should be all gold and have black details (or any other fitting color for that matter like Dark Red for instance) and my gut feeling tells me that this may have been the way it was originally envisioned by the designers. Naturally, things then inevitably fell apart when everyone came to realize that this would mean that a ton of parts needed to be produced in Pearl Gold extra for this set and there was no budget for doing that. They probably would have needed to team up with the Ninjago team to make it worthwhile and get the permission and funds, as lately they already have been doing a lot of pieces in gold over there already.

In light of that limitation this set already gets lesser grades from me. I’m not even getting hung up on the gold aspect. I just feel that any color other than black would have been better from Bright Green to Dark Azure, including bits of other colors sprinkled in to create patterns. This would also have brought it more in line with the craziness of the rest of the VIDIYO sets.

The Car

As mentioned earlier, this is meant to represent a type of car that wouldn’t even be allowed on the roads in most countries of the world over safety concerns. That being the case, it’s probably fair to say that this is as US-American to the bone as it gets. Still, even there it would be hard to imagine something like this with its large protruding speaker boxes and robot head sculpture driving around without requiring some super special permit and exception rule which you then have to have ready at all times because you so easily catch the attention of police and they check you all the time…

The mentioned big elements are mounted on turntables and have two presentable sides, so you can change their orientation as you prefer. The speaker boxes also serve as part of an imaginary stage, with another such spot being on the car’s front hood. I’m sure this is also more specifically used in the app, but since I don’t have it, I can’t enlighten you on that part.

The rear trunk has been converted into a pool/ Jacuzzi, which is actually a mod you get to see every now, and then and from what I gather it is popular to rent cars that have been converted like this for certain types of parties. Driving around must be a nightmare, though, given how the dynamics of the water would affect stability. By comparison the pool presented here feels tiny, however, as it would barely allow a single person to fit in and stay covered in water if it were real.

More or less this is where the big head sculpture gets in the way and this also somehow prevents the cockpit from looking better. There is no real seat, no steering and no back wall. While the large robot head is kind of cool, perhaps they simply crammed in too much and a “Less is more!” approach might have resulted in something more elegant and believable.

The front view is also spoiled by the model looking overstuffed and the many add-ons distracting too much. If at least the front stage spot was hidden under a smooth bonnet…

Concluding Thoughts

This is an okay car, just not the smash hit that VIDIYO would have needed. At the end of the day this feels more like an oversized Speed Champions model of an old American convertible and as such would likely get passing grades, but it more or less completely fails to convey the bonkers nature of VIDIYO or for that matter even the insanity of those custom cars driving around in the sunny states of the US.

The most disappointing and frustrating fact remains that one can actually see that the potential is there, but that it was thwarted by the practicalities of LEGO being LEGO, meaning general corporate policies and cost consideration very likely prevented  the designers from carrying out their original design idea. The way it turned out unfortunately isn’t even on par with some better designed Creator 3in1 cars and since they opted for the most boring color choice, there aren’t any parts to scalp in exotic and rare colors, either.

As such therefore this model has only very limited value both in the VIDIYO series as well as a generic car and I would only recommend this to people who have a very specific rationale like eyeing the minifigures or wanting to modify it into a proper convertible.

Something to be proud of? – LEGO Everyone is Awesome (40516)

As I stated in my recent VIDIYO review/ ponderings, at the end of the day LEGO‘s product choices most of the time are very conventional or even conservative. They like to play it safe and not risk damaging their bottom line by offending anyone. On top of it there are the self-imposed rules about family- and kids-friendliness, which unfortunately are based on dated tropes and stereotypes from a different time and don’t keep up with modern times. That’s why it was extremely surprising to release the Everyone is Awesome (40516) set, which clearly takes a step into a different direction.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Box

Controversy in Rainbow Land

The apparent observation would have to be that this is a set aimed at the LGBTQI+ crowd or for that matter addresses “diversity” in the broadest possible sense. Is it, though? Ultimately it becomes a question of whether the set is catering for those demographics or just pandering to them. Point in case: The deciding question is whether or not LEGO are legit on this subject and their heart is in the right place.

As a gay person and thus a member of one of those groups I have ambiguous feelings about this. Let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way: Regardless of the rest, this set has the unfortunate stench of “corporate pride” all over it, i.e. the typical scenario where big companies and organisations pull their rainbow flags from storage once a year, put out some nice ads and sponsor a bunch of events for Pride Month and then the rest of the year not much else happens to foster inclusivity and diversity. This duality in fact could be observed just today when UEFA prohibited illuminating the Munich stadium in rainbow colors for tomorrow’s match during EURO 2020. You know, when it comes to their money and truly sending a message, they get touchy.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Front Left View

Then of course there’s the other side of the equation, the general population and by extension the AFOL crowd. I’m struggling for words, but the craziness even the announcement for this set caused has me baffled. I was seriously shocked about the level of intolerance this brought to light in way too many people. C’mon, folks, it’s 2021! Don’t get me wrong – I’m not waving around rainbow flags all day as I much prefer to be “That normal guy you’d never have thought being queer.”, but isn’t that in itself a point. Shouldn’t we not even need to talk about this?

So as you see, this is indeed more controversial than it may seem at first, but overall I’m glad that this set even exists. Raising awareness is more often than not painful and you can’t make everyone happy, but doing nothing is certainly not an option, either. I just wish LEGO had went about this a bit smarter. They could have released this earlier and collaborated with an LGBTQI+ charity and it would have been the better for it and not come across as such a cheap move to exploit pride month. People still would have bought it and the discussion around it might have been more civil and fruitful.

Pricing and Contents

While the set’s name of course is derived from that “Everything is Awesome!” song from The LEGO Movie, the price really isn’t that awesome. For the time being this is a LEGO exclusive only available at their retail stores and online shop and at 35 Euro for 341 pieces it is definitely a tad on the expensive side. You have to cut them some slack for having to manufacture a few pieces in new colors, including some minifigure parts, that naturally drive up the cost, but overall I feel that the value present here is more in the 25 Euro range.

The point here really is that aside from the arcs and the minifigures you are dealing with basic bricks and tiles, many of which are readily and cheaply available on Bricklink and other sites and as such are also part of LEGO‘s standard supply flow because they are in many other sets. they could have been a bit more generous about that and shaved off at lest 5 Euro. Does this make it a bad deal? The answer to that are actually the minifigures.

As anybody who has tried may know, scraping together monochromatic minifigures can be a major pain. It’s easy enough to find unprinted legs and heads. The latter are occasionally used as decorative elements, lantern inserts or fruit (the notorious orange pumpkin for instance, before LEGO had a special mold for this) whereas most basic Creator or City sets feature figures with plain legs. Things do however get infinitely more difficult for finding print-free torsos, colored hands/ gloves and hair pieces. Some “rare” colors where a specific part has only been done once on a minifigure this can be almost hopeless even.

For this reason any such single-colored figure on its own can already cost you a major fraction of the price for this whole set. Even when sufficient options are available, you may have to buy three or four other figures (or at least parts of them) to bash together a new one. Once you figure that in, this set may almost feel extremely affordable. I would maintain, though, that the set should and could be more affordable.

The Model

There’s a million ways to skin a cat and so are the possibilities for presenting the rainbow theme, but the designer(s) opted for the most basic approach and simply recreated the stripes of the original pride flag and gender identity flag as a presentation stand.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Left View

As it is, there isn’t really much to say about it as building the back wall is a tedious and repetitive task of stacking bricks and tiling over the “stage” area isn’t much more exciting, either. There’s just no technical finesse, no unusual building techniques, no nothing and building drags on, despite a limited number of parts.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Back View

Personally I was most disappointed that the inner corner did not also have a fillet/ curve. That would have added some extra value. Similarly, they could have staggered the stripes in some fashion, both horizontally and vertically and the resulting steps would have added interest and then they could have gone even more crazy by making them “liquid color” with drips and puddles where they melt and blend. There’s so many ideas here. You can do all of that yourself, of course, but it would have been nice to have some more options of of the box.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Front Right View

One of those might also have been rearrangeable stripes that can be reordered and plugged together with pins. This would have allowed to create a bunch of custom flags for some sub-communities and if they had included more colors like Lime Green, Tan, Dark Azure, Medium Nougat and others it would have expanded the options even more. I’m sure some Furries out there would just love to have their flag on the shelf in LEGO form…

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Bottom View

Now I don’t want to ruin everyone’s day, but we really have to talk about LEGO‘s quality issues because they are so painfully apparent. Yes, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, the 6 x 16 plate on the left is indeed much more yellowish and that is after tweaking the photo to look nicer. This is only tolerable because the colored elements distract enough, but imagine this was a winter scene with those white parts fully exposed. It would be a nightmare and sadly this is so common these days, that I don’t find it acceptable. A company that claims to be the market leader should not have any such issues even if parts are produced in different factories!

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Minifigures

The meat of the set and in fact probably the only reason this set sells outside the queer communities are the monochrome figures for the reasons I explained earlier. The selection is what I would call eclectic, but overall still limited. Most notably and one of the oversights they could have fixed easily is that each figure has only a fixed hair style. Given how much I love pink colors, I certainly wouldn’t have minded having a “male” hair piece in that color. It would also have been nice if they had included a bunch of accessories like headphones, scarfs, beards or even those Ninjago bandanas as mouth coverings. After all, the Corona pandemic is still raging and it would be a nice nod to that.

LEGO, Everyone is Awesome (40516), Minifigures

The shapes of the hair pieces are familiar, but there is exactly one completely new piece on the blue minifigure. This rockabilly style hairdo has many people speculating about a new Stranger Things set as apparently it fits one of the characters there. We shall see once it makes an appearance in a then more traditional hair color.

Concluding Thoughts

One has to be thankful for small things, so as a way of representing diverse communities this set certainly is a start, but a humble one. Unfortunately LEGO have settled on stereotypes and compromised a bit too much as well as simply having been miserly (again) and this just isn’t what it could have been. Combine that with the awful timing and you really can’t shake the thought that their thinking is just still as biased as any other company X. Indeed “corporate pride” that’s only on display when it’s convenient or beneficial for their image.

As a LEGO set in the strictest sense this is more or less a fail if it wasn’t for the figures. It’s the sole reason I immediately got two of these sets just in case I might ever need those monochrome buddies for a project. It’s something I almost never do, but I’m not trusting them to keep this around forever, so if you have even the slightest interest in those minifigs, you should not put off a purchase for too long. Eventually they’re simply going to move on and not produce it anymore, latest when perhaps next year they bring out another pride-themed set.

If none of this matters to you in any way, than this just isn’t for you. You can have enough sets that are much more interesting to build, look more attractive on display and also have equally if not more interesting figures. Come to think of it, some VIDIYO figures would probably be good donors for colorful parts to create a pride parade or design a drag queen…

Audio, VIDIYO, Disco? – A closer Look at LEGO VIDIYO

I more or less wanted to let this slip under the radar quietly, but now that I have bought more of the LEGO VIDIYO stuff than the initially planned “handful of minifigures”, I figured it would not be a bad idea to pour this into some sort of mix between a review and opinion piece.

Crazy is Beautiful!

As you well know from reading my blog, I’m not big on minifigures. I like the occasional specimen I get with one of the sets and I even have been known to buy one or two examples from collectible minifigure series if I really like them, but I certainly don’t go out of my way to get complete sets. This is slightly different with VIDIYO as it really tingled my nerves as soon as I saw first pictures of the figures. This is my kind of crazy done the right way. I immediately loved the flamboyant colors and exuberant designs.

This is such a nice deviation from LEGO‘s usual often uninspired, way too conservative and boring stuff. And I’m saying this buying Friends all the time and having had my share of Hidden Side and Elves. Point in case: At the end of the day some Chinese knock-off sets often look more extravagant and daring, as it’s all too obvious that LEGO‘s sets have reached a point where they get smoothed over way too much in order to not offend potential customers and thereby negatively impacting sales. It’s really great to see them taking some risks here. Unfortunately, though, they don’t seem to pay off, so let’s delve into the many reasons why VIDIYO may still not be as great as I had hoped.

Somebody told me…

…there’s an app and from what I hear (and found on ze Internet) it’s not particularly good. It’s functions are similar to the Hidden Side app where you scan a bunch of sets and in this case also individual figures and your device will bring up virtual scenes on its screen that line up with the physical world thanks to Augmented Reality (AR) technology. In addition, the app also analyses the BeatBits, a selection of printed tiles that come with each set and trigger specific actions or grant you bonus content.

Now obviously I don’t have a suitable mobile device and never used it myself, so definitely I’m talking out of my ass on some points and rely on other people’s opinions, biased as those already may be, but there are at least some facts that can objectively not be denied.

  • The initial launch was a complete debacle with many people not being able to download or launch the app at all or the app refusing to launch again after a number of previous uses. This apparently boiled down to data corruption damaging the application packages and/ or their signatures as used by mobile operating systems to validate their genuine status. This was fixed a few days after launch in an update.
  • The app as a whole is slow and unwieldy even on relatively beefy devices. You can verify that yourself to a degree by watching captured videos of the gameplay mechanics. This seems to be a two-fold issue: For one, not much care appears to have been spent on actual performance optimization because the app likely was released in an unfinished state too shortly before the deadline, and two, due to the inclusion of a massive amount of assets (3D models for the sets and figures, extra contents, moves, music, sound effects and so on) the packages are huge and looking up stuff and loading takes a while.

The consensus from most commenters/ reviewers is that it’s just not fun enough and they quickly moved on. That of course most definitely affects one of the core functionalities as well – creating and sharing clips, which simply doesn’t seem to be a thing people are interested in because it is way to convoluted and only works from inside the app. That’s because LEGO want to ensure everything stays kid-friendly and submissions are reviewed before being released for sharing, but naturally this does make very little sense to users who are used to sharing everything they want to at whim – including young kids. Arguably this is probably dead in the water and can only be considered a failure.

Another point is that the app goes way over the top uses LEGO elements that do not exist in this shape and form in the real world. Yes, we’re of course talking about that old thing where even some thirty year old molds haven’t been done in a given color to date yet. Now my nerdy obsessions are arguably my own business, but it’s a major disappointment and I’m sure there are some other people out there that might feel the same way.

Point in case: In a modular building system any new piece can open up new creative avenues in unexpected ways the original designers haven’t even thought of. You know, it’s that old gag where you have waited for a simple slope to come out in a specific color that suddenly makes it feasible to build a project you had on your mind for years. Therefore at least some of those elements should have counterparts in the real world and not just exist virtually.

Another Packaging Disaster

One of the biggest obstacles for physical retail with Hidden Side was the poor packaging design that did not clearly communicate what it was about. I laid out some of the many reasons in my Post Mortem then and sadly LEGO seemingly haven’t learned anything from that debacle. Let’s begin with the collectible minifigures.

Those are sold in small cardboard boxes and not in foil bags like other minifigure series. People have moaned and groaned about this a lot, as apparently it makes it a lot more difficult to figure out which figure is inside if you can’t mangle and scrunch those bags to feel with your fingers, but hey, that’s life. It adds a bit of thrill to the experience as you may get duplicates unless you happen to have a mobile x-ray at hand. Some people also have claimed that in a freshly opened carton with 24 of these small boxes you get all characters twice neatly sorted, but I have no way of verifying this.

You would think that LEGO at least would have put the available real estate to good use and printed something nice on the box, but no, it’s a boring mess of black, magenta and dark cyan where ironically the minifigures are barely even recognizable since they blend in with the background. The cardinal sin, however is – you guessed it – that a good chunk of the available area is occupied by a fake mobile phone screen that itself is completely overloaded with details and nonsensical garnishes.

LEGO VIDIYO, Collectible Minifigures, Packaging

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the boiler plate text doesn’t help, either. I don’t expect anyone buying any of this stuff without having informed himself/ herself about what VIDIYO actually is, but let’s assume you haven’t done your due diligence. Wouldn’t you wonder what a BeatBit is actually supposed to be? This is just marketing gobbledygook that tells you nothing.

The BeatBoxes don’t fare much better and repeat the same mistakes. Personally I find it amazing how you can manage to plaster multiple 12 x 12 cm squares with so many details that it all ends up being visual noise while at the same time not providing any real info about the product inside.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBoxes, Packaging

This tragedy is revealed when you inspect the box from all sides. Again the mobile device aspect is put front and center with hardly any actual product shots. If you didn’t know it, you would think LEGO are trying to sell you mobile phone accessories rather than a buildable toys. This is not helped by the muted colors and images generally appearing too small, contributing further to the overall noisiness. The design would need to be much more clear cut and vibrant to really look attractive on a retail shelf.

Little Value, High Price – The BeatBoxes

The BeatBoxes are a new product idea for VIDIYO and apparently are meant to appeal to kids who want to take their favorite toys with them everywhere they go. Whether this has any real merit I cannot tell, as I haven’t seen any children running around with this yet, but conceptually that’s sound. At the time of writing there are eight of these boxes, six from the first wave and two from the second wave in summer. Whether there will be any more in the future remains to be seen, but I’m not too optimistic for various reasons.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBoxes, Front End View

One of those reasons is that I’m in fact only able to show you some of the boxes because I got them cheaply from Amazon Marketplace and only paid around 8 to 10 Euro for each as opposed to the 20 Euro official suggested retail price here in Germany. Yes, if it wasn’t for the possibility of importing discounted stuff conveniently from the UK and other countries via Amazon, you’d be stuck with pretty insane local pricing. This is a grim realization, though just as luck would have it as I’m writing this I just ordered the remaining four boxes from a German web site for 10 Euro each as well.

Generally, though, and there is no way to put it nicely, LEGO are completely out of their fucking minds! This is utterly bonkers and those original prices are in no way justifiable. This becomes even more clear when you consider that ever since prices have occasionally dropped down to under 7 Euro for some of these boxes, which makes them only 2 Euro more expensive than a collectible minifigure pack. I have no idea how Amazon UK or other retailers even make revenue off those low prices, but the whole affair may simply prove that the prices for VIDIYO are indeed artificially inflated beyond all reason.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBoxes, Back Side View

The real point in all this is that you are basically asked to pay for a custom packaging, which is a big “No-No!” in my world. You see, there are other toy lines out there where you would get such a small suitcase more or less “free” (on a strict ideological level; of course you still pay them, just not that much), but somehow when it comes to LEGO they always ask you as a customer to pay for their crazy ideas that you didn’t even ask for.

LEGO VIDIYO, Unicorn DJ BeatBox (43106), Size Comparison with LEGO Friends Box

This is what rubbed me the wrong way with the Friends cubes, and it’s even more upsetting here, given how they went overboard. You should not have to pay this much for non-functional elements. If they feel they need to have a trés chique custom container the investment in the molds and production logistics first and foremost has to be on their own dime.

That said, there is nothing wrong with the way it turned out. The container looks nice enough from the outside with the rounded corners, the transparent top section with the slightly frosted sides, the silicone band and the fake headphone ear muffs. The level of elegance varies with the color combinations, as some look a bit more pleasant than others, but of course you can always re-combine elements if you have multiple of these boxes.

The whole thing falls apart into three main sub-assemblies with one being the transparent cap with the handle, the second one being the lower container and the third the minifigure stand. The container is two rows of bricks high and has slots for holding up to 16 BeatBits, i.e. 2 x 2 tiles plus there is some room left to throw in some other accessories and a few building pieces or even a second minifigure, but you have to decide your priorities. There’s not enough space to throw in everything.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBoxes, Figure Stands

The minifigure stand and the window shutter plates on the sides are new elements in the LEGO portfolio and no doubt also contribute to their misguided attempts at recouping the cost by cashing in at the back of their customers. Yupp, to me this is yet another case of “Nobody asked them for this.” where you pay solely for the presentation when the functionality could have been achieved with existing parts. It may just not have looked as sleek and might have required to be built from more pieces.

The central stand in the end is going to end up as useless fluff in your LEGO collection. It’s essentially an oversized old style “pilot chair” bracket (which they only use very rarely these days) and shares the same limitations like needing extra space to even attach to other elements, multiplied by four times the size. Another limitation is that the hinge attachment points only have notches for ninety degree increments. This makes sense for how this setup is used for stowage in the box, but would prevent using other angles in a custom build.

The hinge plates’ primary function is apparently to hold the BeatBits, but they fit standard measurements and can be integrated into your MOCs without problems. More on the tiles in a different section further down.

The figures in these BeatBoxes are nice, and top off the already elaborate regular minifigures from this series. Aside from some of the molds for the heads being exclusive, they also distinguish themselves with extra prints on the arms and dual molded leg pieces in some cases. My personal favorite is the alien DJ with his waterdrop like transparent helmet and the overall friendly feel.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBoxes, Figures

The Collectible Minifigures

The more affordable part of VIDIYO are the collectible minifigures, though even that is a relative term. After having ramped up the price to 4 Euro from the original 3 Euro two years ago, this one adds yet one more on top and can cost you 5 Euro per pack. A few online retailers offer bulk buying where this can cost around 3.50 Euro, but that’s still expensive enough. For me, anyway. The “fault” is of course with the extra pieces for the stand and the BeatBits, for which LEGO siphon your wallet. I wish I could say this was justified, but when you consider what extras, custom prints and even new molds for hair, heads and accessories other minifigure series include at no extra cost, this hypothesis doesn’t hold up. Again one can only state that LEGO are milking the cow.

LEGO VIDIYO, Collectible Minifigures, Various Figures with Stands

That doesn’t take away from the gorgeous figures and the love and effort that went into creating them. The prints are finely detailed and elaborate and for the most part also produced in good quality. There are a few smaller issues where sometimes the opacity/ density is a bit lacking, but given the fictional nature of the characters I never found this as annoying as e.g. white prints on Star Wars figures not being thick enough. If you will, even a technically incorrect faded print will look alright in the context of the figure and just appear as yet another color or print detail.

Another benefit of this series having come out is the plethora of new color combinations and recolors for some elements that should provide plenty of opportunities for mixing and matching them to create custom minifigures. In addition you will likely also see a lot of these pieces in other sets in accordance with the old rule that once LEGO have introduced a certain color for an item, it tends to appear more often, be that just to deplete their surplus stock bit by bit.

LEGO VIDIYO, Collectible Minifigures, Various Figures

On the other hand I find the extras a bit lacking. Every other character only has the standard microphone and it would have been lovely to get the boombox in a different color instead of just the ones that were used in other minifigure series already. On the bright side, some characters come with vinyl disks and each of them has a different print and color combination, so if you want to fancy up e.g. your recording studio/ radio station in the Downtown Diner (10260) then here’s a good opportunity. One of the characters (of the ones I don’t have yet) also has a saxophone and another one a Keytar, but overall nothing too crazy.

Tiled Logic – BeatBits

The BeatBits are meant to expand the functionality of the AR app, but for most people not interested, not able or downright refusing to use it they will simply be welcome additions as colorful decorations. At this point there are allegedly 102 of them and with every new set and minifigure this number will grow, as each one contains at least one unique and exclusive tile. The graphical style is overall pretty consistent and based on contemporary graffiti styles, mangas/ comics and video games with heavy text stylings, abstract art and characters displayed in exaggerated poses. Some are more fancy, others just bits of text on a background pattern.

LEGO VIDIYO, Various BeatBits

Despite not having used the app myself, I think a pattern to the specific functions of each tile type can be deduced easily. The largest group is represented by the Dark Turquoise BeatBits and they appear to be sound effects and sound-driven graphical effects such as a VU meter/ equalizer spectrum. The Yellow tiles indicate specific additional dance animations for characters. The Black items are technical effects such as transitions and wipes, counters and clocks or even test and calibration patterns. The Lime Green tiles hint at backgrounds and environmental effects, whereas the Magenta ones look like ones that transform the characters and place them in a different environment similar to costumes and scenes. Finally, the Orange pieces look like another set of technical effects such as adding shake/ vibrations (or removing it), slow motion and a few others.

From a technical point of view it is worth noting that you do not really need the actual tiles. It seems that the whole thing also works with photos/ scanned images of the tiles and other web sites have already provided long lists and suitable materials. My own photos are probably too low resolution and too heavily compressed already, but even they may work, at least intermittently and unreliably if only you get close enough to the screen. I’m stunned that LEGO didn’t add extra measures to prevent this since one of the core arguments of actually buying the sets and minifigures is circumvented this way, but I guess having a personalized QR code in every package to prove ownership would also be a bit weird and not kids friendly.

How the detection of the images works is an open question, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the app actually only tries to match a specific set of pixels in each tile. A full pattern detection is of course also possible and these days nothing particularly challenging as long as you keep updating the app with references for every new tile set. It would be interesting if someone found out how it actually works.

Concluding Thoughts

Sadly I feel that the whole VIDIYO story is going to end up like Hidden Side. LEGO could easily have a potential hit at their hands, but more or less already screwed it up by once again having wrong priorities about the content and in addition simply being greedy.

Especially the latter needs some major course correction. I’m not going to bore you with my anecdotal observations, but around these parts the sets and minifigures aren’t really flying off the shelves and that’s never a good sign. You know, in order to sustain a series like this you have to sell a minimum every month to justify investing in more future stuff. I just don’t see that happening here and so the series may go “Byebye!” pretty quickly after only two years if it even lasts that long.

The technical issues with the app and the lame concept of a TikTok-knock-off are another major problem. Until they drastically improve on that front and re-invent the gameplay loop I cannot see how half a year down the road there is even anyone using the app, let alone contribute to the video community they are trying to build. This seems so ill-conceived on so many levels and LEGO are simply moving too slowly in these markets that change every day.

So there you have it – I wanted to love VIDIYO and for some parts of it I certainly do, but overall I see just a lot of bad things ruining the whole thing. What are your thoughts on the matter? Feel free to comment below.

Water Snake? – LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184)

I always try to resist the temptation of squandering my money on these Disney sets, but alas, here we go again with another review of one of them, this time for the Raya and the Last Dragon movie. The specific set in question is the smallest one from the line-up, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184).

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Box

Important Note: Since I don’t have a Disney+ subscription I haven’t seen the full movie yet and all my info is based on the trailers, clips, reviews and synopses of the film. Hence I may not get a few details right or mix them up. So please be forgiving and feel free to add any corrections via the comments.

Contents and Pricing

As usual, the set is technically too pricey. I’ve said it before and I make no bones about it here, either. With only 216 pieces, a regular 30 Euro price simply doesn’t make that much of an impression. The only consolation here is that the set uses a lot of large elements, resulting in the finished model(s) having some noticeable size and volume. At least on that level you could therefore get a certain satisfaction out of it and feel like things are acceptable. Of course I still didn’t pay the full price and relied on the usual discounts, regardless. At around 22 Euro things are simply more tenable. there’s likely some more room toward the 20 Euro mark, but I would not expect things to go much lower other than on clearance next year or so.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Overview


There’s only one figure in this set, a minidoll of Raya herself. While that’s okay in terms of the story, it feels a bit too sparse, contributing to the not so great price-to-content ratio. The specific point here is, that in a set dedicated to Sisu I would have expected that at least they would also include her in her human disguise. That appears to be one of the funnier moments in the movie and it would have made for a wonderful over-the-top colorful figure. It’s really regrettable that this opportunity was missed.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Minidoll

The Raya figure is done well enough, but ultimately nothing special. If it weren’t for the Jade sword and the printed tile with the map showing Sisu in her “sleeping” form as a river, there really wouldn’t be anything special here. Another miss is the new wicker hat. Don’t get me wrong – I love the design – it’s just too bad it’s integrally molded with the hair, thus preventing it from being used elsewhere. It would have nicely complemented the versions known from Ninjago. Maybe we will get a separate variant one day?

The Waterfall

The first model is a small section of the waterfall and the hidden shrine/ cave behind where Sisu and Raya first meet, if I’m correct. This is pretty much a no-frills affair using the most basic techniques you could imagine. As such it is serviceable, but not much more than that. An unwanted side effect of the oversimplification is that the model is actually kind of difficult to build. With the tall bricks and golden pillars you just don’t have too many stable connection points when adding the arches on the top and it’s easy to push them away when using too much force.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Waterfall, Front View

I also would have hoped they’d at least try and include a bit of the rock/ cave somewhere to make the model look a bit more interesting. The area behind the water curtain appears very bland and empty and at least a narrow plate to extend the surface “inwards” would have been a nice touch. On that note, the transparent piece for the water sometimes gets stuck a bit, again owing to the basic construction not being able to ensure consistent tolerances and not being stiff enough to avoid those tiny variations in gap widths and angles.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Waterfall, Back View

The Temple Entrance

The second model is a section of the temple, more specifically one of its entrances. This is again built with many large pieces and simplified considerably to the point of not even making an effort at e.g. covering up the angled plates. It’s really just purely functional, though with limited success. I found the connection far too unreliable as the large panels with the small arched windows used on the sides simply don’t exert enough clutch power. It’s really easy to break off the plates at the bottom. It really wouldn’t have hurt if this had been shimmed over with additional plates or at least there were some extra curved slopes to clamp in the V-shaped elements.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Front Right View

As usual I did not use the stickers, so the walls look plain white an uninteresting. If I did things might look a bit more interesting. I still can’t wrap my head around this, though. On one hand LEGO seem to go out of their way to dumb down the building process for young kids while at the same time they expect those same children to accurately place large decals. Just doesn’t make any sense.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Front Left View

The back side, or more accurately the inner courtyard side, is equally barren not just because the absence of stickers, but also not having that many details. You know, it just would have been nice if there was more to do and play with. There is provision to connect this smaller section to the big Raya and the Heart Palace (43181) with the blue ratcheted hinge piece at the end of the walkway. The big set has a matching element hidden underneath its central round floor disc. You can easily verify this by studying the PDF instructions. Just hope your kids don’t find out or thy’ll keep bugging you about buying the expensive package to complete their model…

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Back View

The only real play feature here is the hidden box with one of the gem stones in it, but even that feels half-hearted and doesn’t offer much in the way of playful interaction. they could at least have come up with some decorations for the hinge plate…

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Temple, Detail


At the heart of the set is naturally Sisu herself which sadly also turns out to be the biggest disappointment. Where to even begin? There’s just so much wrong. First off let me preface this by saying that I’m fully aware that it may be extremely difficult to re-create a creature that is basically a flow-y, water creature with glowing skin in a medium such as LEGO bricks. inevitably there have to be some compromises and actually making good use of the 2 x 2 curved tube piece, new here in Medium Azure, isn’t the worst idea. The problem is how and where it is used.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Left View

For starters, there could be more segments and the body be much longer. Nothing too excessive, but inserting an additional three or four such segments would have gone a long way. Yes, even if you merely watch the trailer you can see that Sisu is indeed that slinky and has a very elongated body almost like a snake.

Now of course this brings up the second problem: The whole trunk is effectively completely rigid due to how the tubes are connected directly. This more or less limits any poseability to the default, baked-in stance, an issue further exacerbated by the tip and the feathers/ water plumes attached to it also having a fixed curvature. Without some manual intervention to actually re-plug pieces, the sway to the left cannot easily be changed. Well, at least not without things looking wrong.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Aft Left View

All that said, the apparent question hitting everyone is “Why aren’t there any intermediate segments or joints?”. I do get that it may have cost some extra effort to produce a few existing pieces specifically in this color for that purpose, but would it really have been that much to ask? Somehow one can’t help but feel that no consideration was even given to this and the whole budget burnt on the custom head.

This also extends to the legs, which ended up being the most basic build imaginable. They really only contain the bare minimum of pieces required to hold everything together, aided by the introduction of the new curved slope that allows them to use even less elements than might have been necessary before.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Aft Right View

Point in case: The legs are so flimsy, barely hanging by the tiny ball joints that is indeed somewhat tricky to even get them aligned and touching the ground at the same time. The toes/ paws are downright pathetic – a simple 1 x 2 plate with a hinge clip and a 1 x 1 rounded slope on top of it. They couldn’t have been any lazier with this! Again, this is clearly a zero effort thing.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Front Right View

What really broke me is the ugly head. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. The horn is way oversized and the hair feels more like a thick helmet. Whoever was responsible for sculpting this apparently did not understand that in order to get across the wispy feel of the fur in the movie you would have to reduce it, possibly even separating it into individual strands or breaking it up into multiple pieces that could be attached separately along the neck. As it is, this is more the stuff of nightmares than the funny, quirky face of a slightly annoying magical creature unaware of its own powers. It’s just upsetting that an expensive, triple-molded piece was ruined by utter ineptitude and bears no resemblance to the real thing.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Sisu, Front View

New Parts

One thing the set has going for it is the considerable number of unique parts. Some of them are genuinely fresh, others are recolors and revised versions of parts that have existed for a while. In the color shifting category there are a few Bright Light Yellow elements that to some of you may be familiar already from the Fiat 500 (10271).

Not quite unexpected, as you often can see these color waves ripple through the different series, meaning LEGO produces millions of millions of those elements for their stockpile and then uses them in as many sets as possible as a way of streamlining their processes. Yes, annoyingly this also means you get the “color vomit” hidden inside some models just because they use up their leftovers.

The hinge plate in Blue and the inverted slope in Light Aqua haven’t been around for a few years, so it’s nice to see them become available again, too.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, Recolors

In the genuinely new department in addition to the already mentioned 2 x 2 tubes and “shoe” curved slope is the new 2 x 2 tapered and curved tree trunk/ creature tail element as well. This has also been sighted in screenshots of the Vidiyo app and with LEGO‘s recent obsession about selling artificial bonsai trees and similar I’m pretty certain we will see it in more colors soon-ish.

The same goes for the 4 x 4 inverted dish, which in my opinion should actually be sorted as a round “pancake” brick, given that it has fully formed anti-studs on the underside and can be used for regular builds without resorting to pins and axles. This item, too, is prominently used in the Vidiyo BeatBox sets to represent the headphones/ ear muffs and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of it being used elsewhere, too.

The final minor addition is at long last a 1 x 1 brick with an axle hole, matching its brother with the pin hole. I don’t expect it to do anything revolutionary, as it still needs to be clamped in with other bricks to actually be useful, but it may occasionally come in handy when you don’t have enough room to use the conventional 1 x 2 brick of same ilk.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, New Items

While I have bashed it for being used in the most terrible way just as an excuse in this set, the new part 70681 is actually something to welcome and applaud. It closes a noticeable gap in the line-up of the different N x 2 x 2/3rds curved slopes that have been around forever by matching the inverse curvature. This allows several new creative ways to enclose those other slopes and can be used to design patterns just as it can be used as a new method of fixating some items without actually connecting them. Furthermore, since the slope also has a one stud inset/ undercut at its base, it can also double as an alternative way to get stuff locked in place with the added benefit of then still propagating the stud it covers up to its top and freeing it up for use. I bet it won’t be long because we are seeing it used everywhere.

LEGO Disney, Raya and Sisu Dragon (43184), Parts, Slope Examples

Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately this set does not deliver the goods. It’s one of those “You had one thing to do…” situations and in messing up the most important aspect, Sisu, the LEGO people pretty much ruin it for everyone. It is clear that all of this was likely a rush job (and from the looks of it so are the other sets in the series) that was caught up in the chaos of the delayed release due to the Corona pandemic. Nobody is faulting the designers for working off (possibly unfinished) concept art and not getting some things right, but they could at least have made an effort to make a “nice” dragon within the LEGO realm and bring it up to an acceptable level.

Now of course the detractors might argue “But it’s for kids!” which is a fair point and sure enough many of them won’t mind the shortcomings, but a short search on the web suggests that there are simply better toy tie-ins for the movie, including much better Sisu figures that actually look the part. One really has to wonder what went wrong here and it comes across as a non-effort on LEGO‘s part just as it makes you question the sanity of whoever signed off on this at Disney‘s licensing department.

Unless your kid insists it needs to expand its collection of brick-built dragons this is one of those moments where you are really being served better by other vendors. This set has not much to offer in play value and it looks at best mediocre. If you don’t have a taste for nerding out about specific pieces like I do, there is really no good reason to buy this even as an adult. It does not even come close to even the lamest Ninjago dragon and that in and of itself means a lot. Or to put it directly: If you’re looking for a dragon, you are being served better elsewhere.