Got some Hunny? – LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326)

My brother and I are and have been super fans of Disney‘s Winnie the Pooh. As to how and why it happened is in itself strange, given that we grew up in a former Eastern block country and only both got to watch this stuff when we were teenagers, but I guess somehow we took a liking to this quirky, peaceful and naive world. Even today we buy all kinds of paraphernalia such as calendars or the occasional toy figure, we regularly watch the Halloween and Christmas specials on DVD and poke fun at each other with quotes and cues from the animated series on our birthday greeting cards. All that considered, it seemed inevitable that one day the LEGO Ideas Winnie the Pooh (21326) would find its way into our homes and thanks to our shared obsession it was also a sharing of costs, making this much more attainable for me, despite breaking my usual 50 Euro ceiling for any given set.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Box

Artsy Instructions

As a LEGO Ideas project this is of course based on the design of someone who may just be as crazy about the little yellow bear as I am and to transport that feeling the instruction booklet has received some extra love by including some custom graphical artwork. The style is more in line with the original A. A. Milne versions, though depicting the Disney characters. On the initial release for LEGO VIP members you could also get some limited edition art prints in the same style, but with the protagonists being minifigure-ized. They go now for insane prices and I almost regret not having ordered this on the first day, but of course it’s easy to say this in hindsight.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Artwork

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Artwork

Pricing and Contents

The set comes in a nice easy to open lid box as they are common for Ideas and Architecture sets, so you can keep it around for later without destroying anything. To my surprise the box was quite a bit smaller than I had anticipated, but at least it meant that carrying it home with public transport after picking it up at the LEGO store was easier. ­čśë Of course on some level the smallness of the packaging is logical with many elements in the set being 1 x 1, 1 x 2 and 2 x 2 despite the overall model building into a reasonable size.

At the heart of such a specially-themed license set based on a popular property of course there are the minifigures of which there are five. That is more or less okay as an average value, but I personally feel that there could have been at least two more. Let’s face it, half of the ideological and real monetary value are the figures. It wouldn’t even be that hard to come up with candidates, as outside the original canonical characters there have been a few notable extras over time.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Overview

This set is available from LEGO directly and a few select partners, but in the latter case apparently in somewhat limited numbers. So far this seems to have prevented anyone from granting notable discounts and it costs 100 euro very much everywhere. Hence currently there can be no real discussion over discounts since there simply aren’t any and the only real question is whether those 1265 pieces are worth the price to you.

As a fan I’m biased on the matter and even without my brother chipping in and sharing the financial burden I might have bought it eventually. More realistically, though, this definitely feels like a 85 Euro set or even just 80 Euro. I simply struggle to rationalize the higher price with so many small standard parts being used.

The Minifigures

As already written, the minifigures represent the original cast of characters with Pooh himself, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eyeore. Out of necessity they all have at least completely new molds for the heads with Eyeore having gotten a whole mold for his body. While I think it’s the best way to represent the eternally depressed monkey it has the disadvantage of only allowing a static pose. The head is also molded integrally, so there would not be an opportunity to substitute it for one on the rare occasions he actually has a happy smile.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Minifigures

Of the other figures, Tigger and Rabbit are the better ones. regrettably something is off with Piglet and Pooh, even though I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think Pooh‘s eyebrows are simply a bit misplaced and the top edge too sharp while for Piglet the head is just a tad too round. It should be more elongated and skinny. The fearful little pink guy is of course also the one who suffers most from being represented with a minifigure, even one with the shortest leg.

Point in case: Piglet is many times smaller than the others and also overall more like a slinky rag doll rather than a “fat” plushy. It would have been nice had they included a second version more to scale based on the child minidolls introduced last year in Friends and Disney sets. This might have been a fun experiment, but again, it should have been a redundant figure in addition to the minifigure, not to replace it.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Minifigures

As renditions of characters from an an animated series or comic book there aren’t hat many extra details, molded or printed, but the ones that are there are perfectly fine. The prints are crisp and have sufficient opacity (at least in my set) and a few elements like Eyeore‘s mane are even dual-molded. The complementary add-ons like Piglet‘s scarf or that notorious red balloon are created from standard elements otherwise readily available in LEGO‘s portfolio

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Minifigures

The House

Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends more or less live in houses the represent hollowed out caverns inside and under trees or underground. However, neither of these abodes are ever fully fleshed out in the animated series or any of the accompanying materials that I know. It’s all made up on the go according to the specific needs of an episode or story. That leaves lots of room for interpretation and the way LEGO and by extension the original fan designer chose to design this set is only one of many possibilities.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Front Right View

The layout they went for is based on a Disney interpretation of the original Milne version, where the doorway is formed by two trees that have grown together and behind them a bit of a rough, wood-shingled roof can be seen. That is pretty much as far as it gets “canonical” in this context. Everything else was added or introduced later. on top of it of course to even make it viable to turn this into a LEGO model the tree had to be trimmed down massively or else it would easily have taken another 1000 pieces just to recreate its appearance.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Front Left View

For the tree itself the designers went to some lengths to make it look asymmetrical and organic, but ultimately this is really just limited to the front facade and the disguise quickly falls apart once you move on to the back where owing to the actual house everything is perfectly mirrored. this is no doubt a concession to stability requirements and again not wanting to add yet another ton of parts for building an extra foundation so the building could possibly have been made to look more embedded in the ground and placed at an angle.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Aft Left View

The symmetry is broken up ever so slightly by using different color patterns and arranging a few exterior details differently. Contrary to what you may think the roof is also not the most tedious section of this build, despite the many small slopes used for the shingles. In fact this goes together pretty easily after you have struggled to get the underlying construction right, which in my opinion is much more of a pain because your build it integrally with the tree section to which it is attached directly with hinges. This complicates aligning things and snapping them into place.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Aft Right View

Aside from the main tree house there’s only one small side build, which is a sign post directing you toward Pooh‘s house. As usual I didn’t use any of the stickers, but at least you can place one of the four custom printed honeypots on it.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Way Sign

Speaking of prints, the only other special element exclusive to this set is the Mr. Sanderz name tile, Pooh‘s in-story secret name (which nobody ever calls him, anyway). The front area before his door also alludes to his “Thoughtful Spot” with the tree log he’s sitting on and the small fire used to grill marshmallows. As you can see, on the model this also has been used to add enough studs and jumper plates so you could place all of the minifigures here to pose for a group photo, as I probably should have done for the sake of this article. ­čśë

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Front View, Door

The green mounds on either side use some interesting sideways building and feature a considerable number of those 2 x 2 x 1 corner slopes to create the illusion. Quite generally this set uses a lot of interesting building methods and to that effect also some exclusive parts like the two Medium Nougat curved 2 x 2 tubes, some Reddish Brown curved slopes or the grey variant of the 1 x 1 flower stud in invisible places. The roof also features the largest number of Dark Orange 1 x 2 slopes found in any set so far.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Rear View

As mentioned earlier, the roof is not the most annoying part of this set, but rather the lower section of the tree and the transition to the house. To some extent this can be seen from the outside already, especially on the right side where you might get an idea of how tricky it can be to build arches upon arches.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Right View

the tree itself uses a ton of them in Medium Nougat, complemented by Dark Tan elements for shaping and covering up the rather involved SNOT construction underneath. It’s pretty ingenious in that it manages to construct the angled side faces in a very crammed space. I found this step rather challenging, as due to the lack of room there are many 1 x1 elements and the slightest misalignments will come back later to haunt you when you need to plug the individual chunks onto the studs. You should definitely take your time for this.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Tree, Rear View

The leaf canopy is built up from multiple identical sub-assemblies that use freshly recolored Reddish Brown clips and matching 1 x 1 round hinge plates/ studs. To add volume and density, leaves are mounted onto the coral element introduced two years ago in LEGO Friends, this time in an also exclusive to this set recolor in Bright Green.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Tree, Top

Hidden among the leaves are two bee hives, with the little stingers having been represented as printed tiles. For my taste there could have been a lot more with different designs (including facing in the opposite direction), as Pooh being chased by bees while hunting for his beloved Hunny is of course a running gag throughout the series.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Tree, Bee Hive

The interior is easily the weakest part of the set. It’s terribly crammed and most disappointing for me it does not have the oversized arm chair seen in many pictures and episodes when pooh is slumped in it and dozes off. I guess given the limited space it’s okay, but I really would have loved to see this iconic piece of furniture be represented better. Similarly, the bed should also be much more oversize, though admittedly they at least an interesting building technique using the minifigure candle element in Dark Blue.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Interior

Looking at the details, you can see that the roof indeed is just clipped on to some hinge elements after you finished it, making it indeed less of a chore than you may have thought. On the other hand these interior shots also reveal many more of those pesky arches, many of which stand free for a long time and make your life that more difficult.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Interior, Left SideLEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Interior, Right Side

Finally, the door is a custom build, which is nice not only because it looks more proper from the exterior but also opens up. Without opening the rear, though, it has almost no practical value as there’s not enough light coming through and you still see squat of the insides. You realyl have to make up your mind how you want to present the model.

LEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Interior, Door closedLEGO Ideas, Winnie the Pooh (21326), Interior, Door open


Concluding Thoughts

As a fan of the little yellow bear and his friends of course I’m a happy camper, but even I have to concede that this is perhaps not the most fun set to build. Some things just drag on forever, not least of all because you repeat a few steps over and over again e.g. for the leaf canopy or while building the tree trunk. In addition, the model is difficult to handle – both during the build and after finishing it. I would have much preferred if things were a little more modular and there was some way to plug the individual sections together based on pin connections.

In a similar vein, though on the opposite end, the tree is also problematic. Those leave clusters are built on the limits of what single-stud or single-clip connections, respectively, can hold and will come off easily and frequently when handling the model. This will become an issue latest when you need to dust it off after a while of having it on your shelf. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that this model is rather delicate in many ways and can be annoying to handle.

Based on my experiences I would not recommend this if you are just looking to pass time. There are better LEGO sets that are more pleasing to build and┬á also offer playable features, which this one is simply not meant for. It’s by all means a collectible model with some quirks that can cause aggravation and frustration. You may overlook and forgive them with a happy smile as a fan, but for an average customer there are better ways to enjoy their LEGO addiction.