REVIEW: Summer Caravan

Set number:
41034
Release year:
2014
Theme(s):
# of parts:
297
# of figures:
2
RRP
GBP 19.99 / USD 29.99
WARNING: this review may contain content unsuitable for children.

Promotional image
41034 Summer Caravan promotional image

Review #99 – the penultimate review on SilentMode.tv – is finally here. Relax with a bowl of popcorn, and get ready to take a trip with me to examine this year’s Summer Caravan.

The Packaging

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Almost immediately I’m reminded of an equivalent and very similar Friends set from way back: 3184 Adventure Camper. In fact, Olivia was also in that set with a different black girl. Could this be a remake? A revisit? A reboot? A coincidence? Who knows?

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Your eye will probably be drawn to that picture on the right, on the back of the box, of Olivia and Joanna sleeping in the same bed. Get those dirty thoughts out of your mind, yo: I’m sure girls sleep in the same bed while camping out all the time. Let them have their fun!

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The curved edges of the box give Olivia (the scale reference) the appearance of being faint.

Bag #1

DSS

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It was inevitable that this set would come with a DSS, as I’m sure the Adventure Camper did. There’s only one printed part in the set, apart from the minidolls and featured animal, and these stickers are used for detailing the car and caravan, as well as a few other things. As usual, we won’t be using these in this review.

Interesting parts

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So this set is split into two numbered bags, and these parts in particular stood out as being interesting from the first.

First up: the Lime 2×2 45 degree slope is rather uncommon, although it appears in greater numbers in older sets. The only other current set that has them comes in the Juniors range (in 10672 Batman: Defend The Cave).

Outside of the long-retired Belville theme, the Magenta 1×6 plates are exclusive to the Friends theme, and has been back with a vengeance. I remember when the Magenta 2×4 tile made its first appearance, and how it’s since been limited to seat duty in many a set. Also making a comeback is the 4×4 plate in Magenta, which was also found in a number of Disney Cars sets.

The real excitement comes with the Medium Azure parts. The 2×2 45 degree inverted slopes, and the “baby bow” slopes, are currently exclusive to this set. The 1×2 inverted slopes were also found in the humongous 10241 Maersk Line Triple-E (where LEGO controversially replaced Maersk Blue with Medium Azure). The double inverted slopes would also be exclusive to this set, had they not also appeared in this year’s 76020 Knowhere Escape Mission from the Guardians of the Galaxy Marvel (*cough* Disney *cough*) theme.

Olivia and hedgehog

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With a completely different outfit this time, Olivia makes her second appearance in this wave, along with a familiar popular animal that makes its fourth set appearance. Olivia’s torso formerly belonged to Mia in 41015 Dolphin Cruiser, and was also modelled by Stephanie in 41037 Stephanie’s Beach House; her skirt and legs were also seen in 41030 Olivia’s Ice Cream Bike, and Stephanie has a pair just like it in 41038 Jungle Rescue Base.

Gosh this analysis is such hard work.

One in the bush

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So yet again we start proceedings with some kind of foliage. This one is pathetically (for lack of a better term) constructed using some 2×4 Green bricks and the Lime 2×2 slope, and just like a cocktail it has a parasol on top. That parasol dish is that only printed part in the set I referred to earlier.

Dinky gas stove

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This alternative to the gas stove in 850967 Jungle Accessory Set is so small, you probably couldn’t attempt to roast a marshmallow over it without it tipping over, or flying away in the breeze. It’s a very compact model, however.

Table and chairs

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We also get this minimalist build of a picnic table and chairs, which is actually much more impressive than the other small builds.

Car

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Once all that mini build fluff is out of the way, we can get into something interesting. This here is the plate-built chassis of this set’s car, which is seven studs long.

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Once you see how these cars are constructed, you may feel the urge to have a go at building your own. Why not, that’s what LEGO is all about.

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The brackets allow you to build the front and rear bumpers independently of the chassis. Notice the socket joint used for the back of the car, where it will connect to the camper van.

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Here’s the finished vehicle from three different angles, and it looks pretty good, if a little small.

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In case you were wondering – I know you were! – here’s this set’s car compared to the one in 41058 Heartlake Shopping Mall. It looks tiny in comparison.

Caravan (part 1)

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The rest of Bag #1 is spent on the base of the caravan, complete with tow ball.

Leftovers

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Meh.

Drunk Emma

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It turned out that Emma celebrated her title of “WIN” with a sip of Henny. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t usually drink… hence the colourful background.

Bag #2

Interesting parts

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As you can see, there’s a whole host of interesting parts in the second bag.

Exclusive to this set are the Medium Azure 1×8 plates and 2x4x1 1/3 curved bricks, which will go a long way towards whole buildings and structures made of that colour. The 1×4 curved slopes are also found in the aforementioned 10241 Maersk Line Triple-E set.

The Green 1×1 round plates make their 17th appearance in total in a set, and this is about as many as you’ll find in a set at once.

Finally the rare part of the moment is the right train door in Yellow, which is only its second ever appearance: its last was in 7735 Freight Train.

Jo-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-nnaaaaaaaaa

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Making her second appearance, with that delicious chocolate body, is Joanna from 41007 Heartlake Pet Salon. She has on Andrea’s bikini torso from 41008 Heartlake City Pool, while her legs are remembered from 3932 Andrea’s Stage and a few other minidolls.

Red Accessories

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Yet another resemblance to 3184 Adventure Camper is the matching accessory pack of Red kitchen utensils: these are the only two sets to have these in Red.

Caravan (part 2)

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So we’ve already built the base; now it’s time to kit it out with some equipment. The first thing to add is a tiny kitchen area, with a small sink and blender.

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Right next to the tiny kitchen is what appears to be a tiny shower, fitted to one of the walls. This wall opens and closes by way of hinge plates.

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With the interior virtually done, we turn our attention to the other wall of the vehicle, where someone even had time to plant a few things.

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After fitting that rare train door, the roof of the caravan is made up of the 4×12 White plate and a few other elements, which attach to the caravan by way of 1×4 modular plates.

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One of the more shocking features of this caravan is the storage for many of the kitchen utensils: they’re supposed to go in this space here…

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… which also happens to be the sleeping area, by placing these bed boards over it.

Actually I found it hard to put all the remaining accessories (ones that don’t have stickers applied to them) in that compartment with the beds over them; at least one of them had to be taken out.

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To keep the opening side closed, a stiff hinged plate we connected earlier is lifted. Expect the joint to come loose in more ways than one if you use it, which is a nasty side effect of these stepped hinges.

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Here’s a neat feature: those chairs and picnic table from earlier can fit on to the roof of the camper van, by making use of the 2×2 jumper plates and singular 1×2 plate. Their design means they can occupy the same space, fitting perfectly.

The Completed Set

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In the middle of nowhere, far away from Heartlake City, Olivia and Joanna have set up camp and are enjoying each others’ cherry (ice cream).

Leftovers

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Assuming you follow the instructions to the letter, you should be left with two forks and knives, a spatula and these other small parts.

The Verdict

On its own, the set is just okay and would make a good addition to your collection of Friends vehicles, particularly if you also have the Adventure Camper. Even though the Summer Caravan feels like a rehash of the former (although they are two completely different vehicles!), it was good that LEGO has at least provided Medium Azure parts. The price is just right: if it had been any more expensive than GBP 19.99 I wouldn’t have been happy.

The somewhat underpowered car, and surprisingly the table and chairs, are what I think make this set. As with the car from Heartlake Shopping Mall, it would have made a good set on its own (with minidoll of course). I do think the Heartlake Shopping Mall version is the better model, mainly because it feels like a more complete vehicle, and probably more suited to transporting the caravan. The car in this set has less swooshability than the other, mainly due to it being more flat and boxy. I really like the fact the table and chairs can be stored incredibly efficiently on top of the caravan.

The caravan itself is a decent build, and looks great from the outside. I’ve never stayed in a caravan (old privileged me), so I have no idea how cramped those things are… Having the crockery stored under the beds really rubs me the wrong way, though I get that they had to be stored somewhere if they were going to be included.

The mini builds let the set down, IMO, even though they were probably necessary. I would have been happier with a bush plant part, or even another one of those trees, instead of the blocky thing we’ve been given. The microscopic stove is a joke.

Finally that stepped hinge that keeps the side of the caravan from opening, although it could also be a play feature, really dampens the playability. I suppose I could always replace the hinges with a smoother alternative, and perhaps the stepped hinges were necessary because of the Dark Stone Grey part, but I don’t want to worry about breaking something just to get the caravan open.

Though the Adventure Camper has long been discontinued, I would choose it over this set: the design of the main vehicle and the inclusion of two bicycles win me over. However, the Summer Caravan – while in the shadow of the Adventure Camper – is okay too. I’m giving it 7.4/10.

Fun with the set

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Olivia: “Ahhhhh! Isn’t this so great? Like, just us girls?”
Joanna: “It’s so great to take time away from the pet salon!”
Olivia: “And it’s so relaxing not to have to, like, go into the office for once… No men in sight!”
Joanna: “It would be nice, though, to have a strong man to help get us some firewood…”

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Olivia: “Like, who needs men? We’re strong, independent women! We, like, have each other for that!”
Joanna: “We don’t have any equipment!”
Olivia: “Ohhh… Like, that’s right! I guess we’ll, like, have to keep each other warm…”

Julian: “Cor blimey!”

Olivia: “This’ll be fun, it’s like having a sleepover!”
Joanna: “I haven’t been to a sleepover in ages…”
Olivia: “I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it! We can, like, tell each other stories…”

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Julian:Score!

* snapshot *

Olivia:Hey!
Joanna: “What the…!”

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Julian: “Gordon Bennett, time to leg it!”
Olivia:Julian!
Joanna: “You come back here, you dirty pervert!”

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Joanna: “Olivia, release the car!”
Olivia: “What?!”
Joanna:Release the goddamn car!

*click *

Olivia: “Don’t hurt him!”

* VROOOOOM *

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Joanna: “Think you can take my photo without my permission, minifigure?!”
Julian: “Woah woah woah, wait! Stop! I’m sorry!
Joanna: “You don’t ever disrespect me like that, boy!”
Julian: “I’m sorry, I’ll delete it…”

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Joanna:BLACK RAAAAAGE!!!
Julian: “Aaagh!”

* BUMP *

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Joanna: “… oh my…”