Friends Second Wave #6: Adventure Camper

Today’s set is LEGO Friends 3184 Adventure Camper.
Friends #3184: Adventure Camper
This set features a motorhome, trailer, two bicycles (including one in dark teal, a new color for bikes), and some campsite details. Our old friend Olivia is back, and a new friend Nicole joins her.

Unlike some of the other models in this wave of Friends, this is not a recolor of an existing LEGO model. It’s pretty much a complete redesign. It bears a passing resemblance to the motorhome in LEGO City Camper (7639) but if you look closer you’ll see that aside from the windscreen and the curved piece above the front seats, there’s not much similarity at all. Like that other motorhome it hinges open in a way that real motorhomes don’t, but the mechanism here is quite different – in camper 7639 both sides of the back portion of the vehicle swing open to the sides; here only one side opens, and it is hinged in the back, not the front. Also here, the roof hinges open. Like all the Friends sets the build is pretty easy, and it contains a lot of new part/color combinations. The RV includes two 1×10 pink bricks, which is a nice addition to the range of parts available in pink, and the 1×4 curved parts in the roof are nice to have in pink as well. There are also three light orange 2×4 tiles, which I haven’t seen before in that color. But the finished model is kind of funny looking, and I don’t like the asymmetry of the roof – the left side is curved pink pieces which is really nice, but the right side is lime green tiles and hinges. They should have at least used pink tiles so the color is symmetrical if nothing else!
Friends #3184: Adventure Camper (Front Seats) Friends #3184: Adventure Camper (Camper Open) Friends #3184: Adventure Camper (Bikes) Friends #3184: Adventure Camper (Stickers & Extra Parts)

The inclusion of bicycles is a nice touch, and I experimented with how to best have a minidoll ride them. Since they’re designed for minifigs, the dolls don’t quite fit perfectly, but I found two good ways to pose them: one with straight legs, similar to a minfig, and one with the hips bent and the feet forward. In both cases the hands can touch the handlebars, but lacking rotatable wrists the dolls can’t grasp the handlebars. That’s better at least than the RV, where their hands don’t go anywhere near the steering wheel – well, the one in the passenger seat can come fairly close! When you sit the two dolls in the front of the RV their arms overlap quite a bit due to the wide position they are in.

Like many of the Friends sets, this one comes with a large assortment of accessory parts – this time, the cooking set in red. The meal that the dolls are preparing to eat is a little strange – two cupcakes (one chocolate, one vanilla) and a carton of orange juice. Meanwhile while they eat dessert a turkey leg is cooking over the fire. I guess when two teenagers go camping without adult supervision, this is the kind of dietary hijinks one should expect.

Friends Second Wave #5: Emma’s Horse Trailer

Today we take a look at LEGO Friends Emmas Horse Trailer 3186.

Friends #3186: Emma's Horse Trailer

The car and trailer are almost a perfect copy of Lego City Limited Edition Set #7635 4WD With Horse Trailer which came out a couple of years ago (sold by LEGO from 2008 through 2011, but you can still get it on Amazon at that link). The trailer is pretty much identical except for the color, and the truck is very similar but without the roof. But I love the new colors! The dark aqua for the walls of the trailer has got to prove useful somehow, and all the pink and dark red parts on both trailer and truck are great too. And as seen in Fortnight of Friends – Day 8: Stephanie’s Cool Convertible we get those cool panel pieces that can fit a minidoll’s feet and hold her in position for driving, since minidolls can’t sit on studs. The truck comes with the base for a treasure chest in tan, but there’s no corresponding lid, making it somewhat less than useful…

This set also includes one of the new Friends horses, previously seen in Heartlake Vet, only this time the horse is white instead of brown. But it’s still not possible for a minidoll to sit or stand in the horse’s cutout. At least now we get a saddle piece, which can fit into the cutout and can accommodate a minidoll rider. As with some of the first wave sets, there is an assortment of ribbons and bows and grooming equipment included in this set. There’s also a little hurdle for equestrian jumping and some extra haybales to raise it up for higher jumping.

Finally there is a little tack station, with an apple and carrot to feed the horse and a place to store the saddle. It has a flower which uses the regular LEGO green flower stem, but instead of the usual sprue with four tear-off flowers it comes with the 1×1 round plate with petals. I don’t recall having seen that combination used in a LEGO set before…?
Friends #3186: Emma's Horse Trailer (Tack Station) Friends #3186: Emma's Horse Trailer (Car, Trailer, Horse) Friends #3186: Emma's Horse Trailer (Stickers & Extra Parts)
Overall it seems like a really good playable set for kids … not having kids myself, I can’t really speak too much to that. I’m disappointed that instead of printed parts, this set includes stickers – but by mistake it seems I got two copies of the sticker sheet! I’m more interested in the parts, and we get some lime green 6×6 plates, a yellow box for the food in the tack station, dark tan tall slopes, and a bunch of dark red and pink pieces. I’m sure that the curved panels in dark aqua on the trailer will be useful for something too…

Friends Second Wave #4: Heartlake Flying Club

Having dispensed with the smaller sets we now tackle the medium-sized ones, starting with LEGO Friends Heartlake Flying Club #3063.

Friends #3063: Heartlake Flying Club

This is the first one in this series that comes in numbered bags. First we build the airplane, which is a really sweet design, very swooshable. It uses the new style handlebars first seen in Stephanie’s Pet Patrol, which are similar to the ones minifigs have been griping for years but with the ends upturned for minidoll compatibility. Here it works really well as the yoke of an airplane, flown by … Stephanie! The color scheme of the plane, with white wings and an aqua and dark aqua body, is really nice and I’m looking forward to the day when I have enough of these colors to do more MOCs with. This set comes with no fewer than six 1×4 curved slopes in light aqua, which is sure to be good for something. In addition to the plane we also get a cute yellow duckie, a dock with a cute crab and a fairly basic parts assortment, and the clubhouse for the flying club with life ring and some signs (stickers, sadly).
Friends #3063: Heartlake Flying Club (Airplane) Friends #3063: Heartlake Flying Club (Dock) Friends #3063: Heartlake Flying Club (Clubhouse) Friends #3063: Heartlake Flying Club (Stickers & Extra Parts)
Since you build the plane first, it’s kind of a gradual process in disappointment – the plane has a lot of cool parts and is really swooshable, but the rest of the set is pretty forgettable in terms of parts or building techniques.

Friends Second Wave #3: Mia’s Bedroom

The third in my “Friends Second Wave” reviews is LEGO Friends 3939 Mia’s Bedroom.

Friends #3939: Mia's Bedroom

This set consists of bedroom furnishings – a bed, table with a radio on it, a cabinet of some kind, and the drum set that Mia uses to keep her parents and neighbors awake at all hours of the day and night. I particularly liked the drums and the dark aqua tiles and 2×2 tile with center stud are nice parts to have in that new color. The drums themselves are well designed as well, using black telescope pieces for the cymbals and smaller drums, and a black R2D2 body for the bass drum. The furniture isn’t that exciting, though the macaroni in dark aqua could prove useful. The drum set comes with two printed tiles – one with Mia’s name and one with some sheet music.

Friends Second Wave #2: Andrea’s Bunny House

Last week I posted “Friends Second Wave: Olivia’s Speedboat” and I was going to post more reviews of the second wave of Friends sets, but the weekend got away from me … I posted all the photos on Flickr for several sets but didn’t get around to writing the reviews. But this week I’m determined to catch up. So here goes with review #2, #3938, Andrea’s Bunny House:

Friends #3938: Andrea's Bunny House

This is another simple, small set, featuring Andrea (previoulsy seen in Fortnight of Friends – Day 3: Andrea’s Stage and Fortnight of Friends – Day 12: City Park Café) and an adorable little bunny rabbit. It’s a pretty simple set, but it’s nice to get some light orange bricks and pink plates. As a general rule I’m not sure it includes enough special parts to really be worth much, but the bunny is adorable!

Friends Second Wave: Olivia’s Speedboat

This past January, LEGO came out with its new “Friends” line of toys aimed mainly at girls. Since there were 14 sets in the first wave, and I’d just finished a review of the Advent Calendar sets the previous month, I ran a series of blog posts I called “Fortnight of Friends.” This summer/fall, a new second wave of 8 new Friends sets came out, and I’m finally getting around to reviewing them. No guarantees that I’ll keep this up with future sets though…
Friends #3937: Olivia's Speedboat by Bill Ward's Brickpile
This is Friends set 3937 Olivia’s Speedboat. You get Olivia with a shovel and bucket, a really clever little sand castle, a beach towel, and of course the eponymous boat (No, there’s nothing wrong with the bow of the boat, I just didn’t snap it together very well and didn’t notice it until I’d already posted the picture, and I’m too lazy to reshoot it, sorry). I like the printed life ring round 2×2 tile on the bow. The boat is made from the same new curved parts as seen in LEGO City Speed Boat 4641. I have mixed feelings about those parts, since they’re not all that useful for other kinds of models, but maybe I’ll find a clever use for them… My favorite thing in this set is the sand castle, I think it’s a really clever little model.

Sorted Friends

First-stage sort of all the parts from all 14 of the Friends sets. In January I did a review of each of the sets in 14 days called “Fortnight of Friends” and these are the parts after dissassembling all the sets.

Sorted Friends

This first pass uses a bunch of my sorting bins to divide the parts into the following major categories. Each one will require its own second-stage sort (and perhaps in some cases, a third) before the parts reach their final resting place. These categories are totally arbitrary and seat-of-the-pants, and though they do roughly correlate to how I store the parts, really anything that reduces entropy is helpful.

Left column:

  • Slopes, curved slopes, and anything that has a curved upper surface
  • Animals
  • Tiles
  • Cylindrical parts and anything that has a curved side
  • SNOT pieces and Technic parts
  • Modified plates
  • Wheels, fenders, and other car parts
  • Small parts (1×1 rounds, jumper plates, grille tiles, Henrik/cheese slopes, etc.)
  • Transparent parts
  • Bars, antennae, flags, and controls

Middle column:

  • Panels
  • Printed parts and modified bricks (grille bricks, log bricks, bricks with clips on them, etc.)
  • Fences
  • Minifig accessories, including the new flowers (which should probably go under foliage) and bugs (which should probably go under animals)
  • Foliage (plant parts and old style flowers)
  • Minifig and minidoll body parts

Right column:

  • Bricks
  • Large parts (tall bricks, windows, doors, large detail parts, etc.)
  • Plates

Now that I’ve finished the initial sort, I need to process these further.

I’m having trouble deciding how to integrate these into my collection. For bricks, plates, and tiles, I sort by color and then within the bin for each color I have Ziploc bags for each size, so I can put the new colors into their own little mini-categories, probably just one bag for each color… But for the other parts, I generally sort by type, and I’m worried the exotic rare colors will get lost among the ordinary ones… so should I mix them with the other colors and maybe never see them again? Or should I put all the purple pieces together regardless of shape?

This is a problem I’ve been facing for some time and I keep going back and forth on how to deal with it. Any new ideas out there?

Fortnight of Friends – Day 14: Olivia’s House

This is the last of the “Fortnight of Friends” series, and is the biggest set by far in the Friends series, #3315, “Olivia’s House”.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Set

It comes with three minidolls: Olivia and her parents, Peter and Anna. Peter is the only male minidoll in the entire product line, and the only one with traditional LEGO minifig hair instead of the new rubbery hair with a little hole in it. And for the last time I can report on the packaging of the minidoll parts, which I’m sure by now you’re tired of hearing about… The parents’ legs and Anna’s torso are in the easier to open bags, and the other three parts are in the stretchy plastic. I really wish LEGO would just skip those bags altogether, or if they have to package them that way, perhaps to keep the printing from scratching, they should use easier-to-open packaging. In general, all these plastic bags in LEGO sets are awful for the environment… I wish LEGO would switch to a different type of packaging that was “greener” and easier for kids to manage.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - First Floor
First Floor - Living Room and Kitchen

Speaking of bags, there are no fewer than seven bags in this set, and the instructions come in two books. Actually eight, because the large plates (8×16 and 16×16) are packaged in their own bag. We get two 16×16 plates, in tan and white, and six 8×16 plates, three each in pink and bright green. Bag #1 gives you all three minidolls and the parts to build the shell for half of the ground floor of the house, and uses the tan 16×16 plate. It’s a simple shell of a building and the next smallest of the bags.

The smallest is #2, which adds interior furniture to the house, making the room we just built into a living room. The first thing we do is open up the bag of red flowers and bugs, and put three red roses on the three Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Flower Edge (4 Knobs), which is a combination that works exceptionally well. Next we build the big screen TV – my version is switched off, as I don’t want to apply the stickers. Then we build a matching chair and sofa using a whole bunch of light purple curved slopes, which I am eager to find other uses for. The final thing is a coffee table, which strangely uses the flower stem that was created and set aside on page 1 of bag #1. Why they didn’t just include a flower stem in bag #2 perplexes me. But these new flower pieces are awesome and I am eager to find opportunities to decorate my MOCs with them.

Bag #3 uses the white 16×16 plate and builds the other half of the first floor, the kitchen. It includes a bag of light blue utensils – the same ones we saw yesterday in yellow for the café. There’s a lime green cabinet with white drawers, which you are to fill with forks and knives. There’s a delightful little blender. A 2×2 plate with one centered stud with a 2×2 radar dish on top makes a lovely base, a technique I must steal. The rest of the utensils get used to complete the kitchen: a skillet on the stove and a cake pan in the oven; a knife and fork in the sink; and a pink cupcake, an empty cupcake cup, a mixer, and a measuring cup fill the counters. We build a nice little refrigerator with a carton of milk inside, salt and pepper shakers on top, and shelves on the side. A table and chairs with plates, another cupcake, and fruit complete the room. At the end of this bag we connect it to the living room using Technic pegs, and that finishes the first instruction book.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Second Floor
Second Floor - Bedroom and Bathroom

The next thing we build starts book #2 with bag #4 and a pink 8×16 plate, and we build a girls bedroom with a faux balcony with a cute kitten perched on the rail, a vanity (including a white cabinet with one pink drawer) with perfume bottles and hairbrush, a highly impractical nightstand with an oversized book in it, and a bed with a purse on it.

The next build uses bag #5 and another pink 8×16 plate to build a bathroom to go along with Olivia’s bedroom. I’ve seen (and built) a lot of AFOL-designed toilets in MOCs, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in a LEGO set before. And the shower is ingenious – using the roll-up doors, mounted vertically, as a shower curtain or shower door. It also includes another cabinet piece, this time with two pink drawers.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Roof

At this point we have completed the first two floors, and next we tackle bag #6 to build the roof. Presumably Olivia’s parents’ room, and the hallways and stairs needed to get upstairs, are in the half of the house not included in this set… There is a sloped roof piece and a rooftop deck in this build. We start with the deck, featuring a nice trans-dark-pink umbrella, lounge chair, and a lovely plant using the new type flowers on a stem with a three broad leafed plant. This goes over the bathroom, and a sloped roof goes over the bedroom, giving it a vaulted ceiling. I love the way the sloped roof is built – you build a supporting structure using a large white arch for the peak and a couple of 1×16 bricks to support each of the levels of roof slopes.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Front path
Front door path and mailbox

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Yard
Side and front yard

The final bag uses the three 8×16 green plates to build a front yard for the house. First we build a small panel with the walk leading up to the front door, mailbox, a small vegetable garden, and a flower. Second, we build a segment that has a swingset, which minidolls can not properly use. In the instructions, Olivia is shown holding onto the swing with one hand gripping the pole on one side with her other hand free – I tried putting her on with both hands on the poles, and she can grip them but it’s about a millimeter out of line and you can visibly see the poles deflecting inward. I think that LEGO should have made the minidoll arms out of the rubbery material they used for the hair, lipsticks, and some other parts, which would have allowed the minidolls to be a lot more versatile in a lot of ways. After that we construct an elaborate barbecue, and then extend the module with another 8×16 green plate on which we build a table with a sausage (hot dog) on a plate, ketchup dispenser, and a wine glass with an orange thing on top (not quite sure what that’s supposed to be). There’s a very nice sunflower which I’d love to be able to make a large number of.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Stickers
Sticker sheet for this set

There are a lot of decorations in this set, but they’re all stickers sadly. I was really happy with the first few sets having so many printed parts, but the later sets are almost all stickers if you’ve been following these blog entries. I think the only part in this set with printing was a 1×2 tile printed as an envelope.

Fortnight of Friends - Day 14 - Accumulated plastic
Accumulated plastic bags (with submodel to show scale)

As I built each of the parts of this set, I accumulated all the plastic bags inside the bag that the large plates came in, and posed them for a shot (using one of the submodels for scale). I was really discouraged by the amount of extra plastic in this set in particular and LEGO sets in general. I’m not sure what could be done instead – I would definitely combine bags 1 and 2, and would like to avoid having a separate bag for the large plates, and bags for the minidoll parts that I’ve been railing against for the last two weeks seem wasteful to me.

Overall, this is a great model, and a great value for the price. For $70 we get a pretty big house with a lot of wonderful details. I’m tempted to buy one or two more of these sets and try to build out the rest of the house, with the parents’ bedroom and other omitted rooms.

Having built all 14 of these sets, I have a few overall things to say about the line. I’m not a girl, or a parent, so I can’t really speak about the sets from their points of view. But I can speak about them from the point of view of a LEGO fan who builds a lot of city/town models. I’m really excited about some of the new parts in this line, notably:

  • All the new color bricks, plates, and other parts
  • New flower and insect parts
  • New utensils
  • New animals
  • Cabinets and drawers and other interior accessories

That’s the end of the Fortnight of Friends. I hope you have enjoyed my reviews of the sets.

Fortnight of Friends – Day 13: Heartlake Vet

Today is the penultimate day in the “Fortnight of Friends” series, with the second largest set in the line, #3188, “Heartlake Vet”. This set builds an animal clinic, with both pet and large animal (horse) sides, and features two minidolls, Mia (last seen on Day 6) and the veterinarian Sophie.

The minifigs come in a mix of packaging: one leg piece came in stretchy plastic, but both torsos and the other leg came in the regular LEGO bags which I find much easier to open.

This is another multi-step build, the first with 4 bags. The first step however uses both bags 1 and 2 along with sky blue 8×16 and 16×16 plates, to construct the main building. I love the curved pieces forming an awning attached to 1×4 SNOT (Studs Not On Top) bricks. The main building will be the pet cilnic.

Bag 3 adds the sign to the building and interior details. It includes a bag of flowers and bugs (the same assortment as seen in Olivia’s Tree House in day 10) but this time in light orange (an odd color for roses…). The flowers and bugs are used to build strange mutant plants that produce 3 different types of flowers from one plant – some shaped like bugs! Some of the plants are placed on Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Flower Edge (4 Knobs), which grips stud below it very well (almost too tightly), but doesn’t grip flower stems well at all – they fall off almost as readily as MegaBloks do. I like the fishtank (though since I don’t apply stickers, it wasn’t nearly as effective “empty”) but it seemed to me that the trans-light-blue panels are a little darker than old ones from my collection (It’s also a new mold – they have side reinforcements the old ones lack).

Bag 4 builds the livestock vet annex with a new door piece and new medical utensils (syringe, thermometer, ice bag, etc.). Inside, just over the door, is a clear cylinder whose purpose mystifies me, unless someone is playing a prank and it’s supposed to fall and dump some liquid on whomever is passing through…? The use of 1×2 bricks with grille patterns as hay might seem a little obscure to some kids.

All the decorations are done with stickers, sadly, except for the paw print 2×2 round tile, envelope tile, keyboard tile, and a strange 1×1 round cylinder with paw prints and a heart.

I love all the new animals though. Mia’s puppy is adorable, and the horse and hedgehog that come with this set are precious. However I am surprised LEGO failed to make the horses rideable – the old style horse has a 1 stud wide cutout, which a minifig can stand in, but these have a 2 stud cutout. However a minidoll’s legs are too long even for that to sit in, and they would look strange standing in it. It’s useful because the curved-top 2×2 brick can be used to fill in the opening, but still strangely unrideable. You’d think that the way young girls can obsess about horse riding, they’d have done a better job with this. It’s also disappointing that the horse’s necks aren’t hinged like the old minifig horses (and cows).

This set features a new horse and hedgehog and a return of the cute puppy
The new horse has a 2-stud cutout, but a minidoll still can't fit.
Sticker sheet for this set
Old and new transparent panels. The new one (on the right) has reinforcing sides and looks ever so slightly darker to me.

Tomorrow is the final set in the series, #3315, “Olivia’s House”

Fortnight of Friends РDay 12: City Park Caf̩

Today’s “Fortnight of Friends” set, the 12th in the series, is #3061, “City Park Café”.

This set comes with two minidolls, Andrea (last seen in Day 3) and a new supporting character, Marie. Both came packed in stretchy plastic. This set reverses the objection I had to yesterday’s set about reinforcing racial streeotypes at least, with Andrea as the customer and blonde Marie as the worker.

There are three bags in this set, but it’s still a two-step build – you open both bags 1 and 2 and use those parts together for the first part, the building. Bag 3 adds interior details and curb appeal. The building sits on two 8×16 and one 16×16 plate in a new sky blue color. I really like the interior details, as someone who’s designed LEGO restaurants before (Sushi Bar most notably). The salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and mustard bottles, and soft serve ice cream machine are really nice. And there’s a great assortment of new minifig accessories – pie, skillet with spatula, forks, knives, plates, and cupcakes. Lots of nice parts and interior details here.

This set has both printed parts and stickers. Mostly it’s stickers, but there is a nice cash register piece that I think is a new pattern (on a 2×2 45° slope) and the $100 green 1×2 tile for the till, as well as a 1×1 brick with printing as an orange juice carton. All the signs are stickers, which I found disappointing, especially since we’ve already seen LEGO is perfectly capable of printing things like the 4×6 tile with studs around the edges. But I got lucky apparently, as my box had two sticker sheets!

Tomorrow we have the penultimate set in our Fortnight of Friends series, #3188, “Heartlake Vet”.