Welcome folks to my last review of 2013. It’s been a busy year in ways I hadn’t intended, and sadly I wasn’t able to get through all the Friends sets in the fourth wave.
Following the tradition from last year, I pick a set to review in the last week of the year from those I hadn’t gotten a chance to review during the year. While I left it to a vote last time, I’ve been struggling to receive any kind of feedback for a long time – so I chose the daggone set myself.
As it turns out, I have three sets to review before the year is out – because thanks to my random picking tool at datwheel.com, the chosen set was… the Friends Animals Collectible Series 4 (or whatever the theme is officially called).
I hadn’t visited a LEGO brand retail store in months (not since the second crowdfunding project ran), so I was very surprised to see next year’s Friends sets already on the shelves. There’s still plenty of opportunity to catch up on the fourth wave, if you haven’t done so.
I resisted buying all the fifth wave sets somehow, instead opting to take a look at these bad boys. They’re in the same tear-proof packaging as the previous series, and Series 4 is represented by a green badge.
The corner of the packaging on the front shows our main Friends characters – in hand drawn style – playing with the newest batch of animals. Notice how Mia is the only character playing with the tiger, being a vegetarian.
The back of the packaging displays a more accurate representation of the included animal, as well as the alternate build that can be found on the LEGO Friends web site.
Packet. Instructions. No nonsense.
Presented before you is all of the parts – minus our star animal – included in the set. It doesn’t look like much, but let’s remember this is a GBP 2.99 set, and it’s LEGO. That means we pay for quality, yo!
You’ll recognise the familiar Lavender bows, Dark Pink flower plates and a bunch of other parts from other sets. You may also have noticed a couple of brand new parts for 2014: these are experimented with and explained in more detail over on The New Elementary.
My favourite of these new parts is this “decorative” part in Pearl Gold. This is a brand new part “introduced” by the Friends theme and the upcoming Disney Princess theme, which will use minidolls similar to Friends. As soon as I had these parts in my hand, I’d imagined how they’d be used to represent food items, as shown above (shout out to Teresa for reminding me of Iced Gems). Unfortunately the tart case, also introduced by the Friends theme, doesn’t provide enough of a connection to hold anything – but the decorative swirly piece makes for a great alternative for ice cream.
This part would also lend itself very well to architecture, and don’t be surprised if you find these Pearl Gold ones making an appearance in steampunk MOCs. Who knows what other colours they’ll show up in? (Thankfully they’re not as rare as 2013’s ice cream cones.)
From here on in I have to say good things about the tiger, otherwise Sagat will kill me.
According to The New Elementary (link above), the mould for the tiger is classed as a lion – which would suggest a Lion King LEGO set is on the cards for next year, in addition to the princesses.
In any case, now we have a very well executed and convincing looking tiger, which is a thousand times better than that darned kitten from Olivia’s Tree House… although it really does look like a Disney character. Even the front paws are printed, and there are just enough stripes on the back of the head and back.
Going to the front of the instructions: if this isn’t a female tiger, I don’t know what to tell you. If it isn’t, I’d highly suspect the tiger has a lisp. 🙂
If we want to cement the tiger’s sex/gender, we can place the Lavender bow on its head (the only place we can put it).
A bit of a relief comes in the provision of a turkey leg, served on a Bright Green 2×2 jumper tile, as food for the tiger. Someone at LEGO had the sense not to pretend tigers eat salad in the jungle.
The base of the tiger’s temple is formed using the Medium Azure and Green plates, held together precariously with other elements. You’ll see the 1×1 round plates, in those colours we have so much of now, being used for decoration and embellishment, while the Lavender palisade bricks form the walls.
One of the most interesting “regular” pieces, the 1x2x5 brick in Trans Light Blue, sits at the back of the temple and represents a water feature.
Another part now found in Lavender – you may remember it from the Prince of Persia theme a couple of years ago – sits on top of the structure to form a stylised arch. Now the water looks like it’s coming from another dimension!
Last of all, the rest of the new parts – the decorative swirls and the interesting stalks of grass in Bright Green – complete the embellishment of the temple.
The Complete Set
If this doesn’t look like a shrine, where people from all around come to visit the sacred tiger, I don’t know what to tell you. It looks very majestic, peaceful, and dare I say full of eastern promise.
Yay! We have a spare swirly decorative piece to play with, whether we use it as a food item or architectural detail. As usual there’s an extra Lavender bow if you have any other animals to tag.
After building the main build, in the instructions you’ll come across this alternate build provided by the designers. To find the instructions just visit the web site shown (lego.com/friends/animals). Note that, unlike the first and third series, there isn’t any mention of a “super build” using all three sets in the series.
Fortunately this is the simplest of the three alternate builds in this series to accomplish without looking for instructions. I prefer the main build as this looks too simple in comparison.
Back of the instructions
Your aching wallet cringes at the sight of yet more minidolls to add to your collection, from the fifth wave of Friends. Among the many surprises in store is a brand new scooter, à la BrickForge, ridden by Mia.
Taking a closer look: someone with immaculate nails is still having issues assembling Olivia’s House after all these years. Also, Andrea looks like she’s being dominated by Psycho Dog.
On the left of this spread, we have a checklist of the seven sets we can expect to find in the fifth wave. Naturally I will be getting them all, because I want the minidolls. Over on the right, LEGO announces a Friends computer game for the Nintendo 3DS and DS (I didn’t think the DS was still supported!).
Just when you thought you had your budget planned for the new few months, the upcoming Disney Princess theme is also shown right at the back of the instructions. I don’t like Disney, but even I’ve noticed the theme’s inclusion of both male and female minidolls with some interesting outfits.
Somehow even the upcoming Disney Princess theme gets Gewinne!th’s seal of approval.
This is probably going to be the most popular of the Series 4 animal sets, if not for the tiger then for the parts. I for one like the new swirly decorative parts, and it’s one I’m going to collect in whichever colours are introduced as they’re released, but I also liked the inclusion of the 1x2x5 brick in Trans Light Blue. I don’t have a use for the Bright Green plant stalks, as they’re very Disney-styled, but time will tell.
As a non-liker of Disney (if that is a word), my one gripe about this set is that it looks more like a Disney set than a LEGO Friends set. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on The Jungle Book, or the main build (along with the tiger) coincides with the upcoming Disney Princess theme, but I can’t see the set existing in the Friends universe.
Let’s bear in mind, though, that this collectible series is targeted towards girls. Most girls like the whole Disney thing: they like princesses, they like animals, and they’ve (for the most part) taken to the Friends sets. Perhaps they won’t notice the difference between Friends and Disney.
So based on the above rating, the tiger and its temple gets 7.6/10. Even though it reeks of Disney, I’m willing to approve.
Naturally the other sets will be reviewed before the year is out, so stay tuned.