1 June 2014

Trevi review



It's been known about for some time now, but the newest set in the 2014 Architecture line has been officially announced today; 21020 Trevi Fountain. More accurately, the set is the Trevi Fountain plus the façade of the Palazzo Poli, the palace that sits behind it. LEGO®'s Community and Events Engagement Team kindly organised an advance review copy for New Elementary but before you ask; I don't yet know the release date or price. [Edit: now listed on UK LEGO site at £39.99; same as 21006 The White House.]

The subject is a bit of a winner really; the 252-year-old Trevi Fountain is certainly Rome's most famous fountain and I'm struggling to think of one more famous anywhere. It's romantic, being in the Baroque style, and it's huge - almost 50 metres wide - and the tiny square it's packed into makes it feel even more colossal. I have visited it but that was over 20 years ago, so my dominant memory of it is really the famous scene from Fellini's 1960 classic "La Dolce Vita" when Anita Ekberg decides to spoil her nice frock.


The set design is, once again, by Rok Kobe. He seems to be doing pretty much all the Architecture sets these days, and there's no complaint from me about that - I enjoy every one. He has a sound understanding of the particular skills needed for representing real-world structures in microscale and uses a range of technques in the builds that are appropriate to requirements.

I suspect many folk think of all Architecture sets as being pretty much the same type of model and build experience, but I always find each has its own prevailing aspects. Unusually, 21020 Trevi Fountain is L‑shaped; essentially a horizontal plane and a vertical plane. Initially this did make me fear that I wouldn't enjoy this set so much. But what sets it apart is the massive amount of detail packed in, particularly in the façade.

As usual, the instruction booklet is satisfyingly thick at 144 pages and full of interesting tidbits of information. It's large too - approximately 18x20cm. I counted 743 parts (including spares and brick separator) which is pretty big, placing it below 21005 Fallingwater and above 21014 Villa Savoye. However it's smaller than both those sets, with the parts weighing in at 445g - virtually the same as 21006 The White House or 21009 Farnsworth House. Obviously this means it has a greater number of small pieces in it, which is apparent from just looking at the pictures - this set has a lot of impressive detailing, and a lot of small transparent plates!



Build


Unusually the base is not rectangular, which serves to highlight the different volumes of the fountain and façade. It's also made of two colours; the edges are the usual Black but the centre is White, because the Trans-Light Blue [BL]/ Tr.L.Blue [TLG] water in the fountain is placed directly onto the base layer. This makes construction awkward if, like me, you prefer to build in your hands rather than on a flat surface as the instructions recommend. I soon relented and moved from the comfy chair to the table.

It's fairly easy to position parts incorrectly when making the fountain, which is actually refreshing in these modern days of LEGO instructions and builds being too easy to get wrong. In many steps, the instruction makers employ the ancient tradition of placing an outline around new parts that are being added.

Haters of repetitive steps may find some cause to moan. I usually enjoy them, so the four steps where you position 69 Trans-Light Blue 1X2 plates in the fountain were just fine. But the palazzo façade largely consists of various types of 1X1 bricks, plates and tiles, and it does push my obsessive-compulsive buttons when you need to align a lot of 1X1 parts and I have to stop myself needing to get it juuuuust right. But hey, fine detailing like this ain't gonna come easy.



In fact, the detailing on the palazzo façade was the highlight of the build for me. Various modified plates - clips, handles and jumper plates - are cleverly used to provide gentle textures representing some of the Classical features on the walls, along with a little SNOT for the flat columns. The cornice is achieved by staggering 2X2 jumper plates, which results in some delightfully fiddly arrangements as you see in this picture of the roof nearing completion.



Achieving details like these is important and a key aspect to the build; indeed Kobe uses most of his page of blurb at the end of the booklet to discuss it (and I won't spoil his interesting insights here). But representing detail never gets in the way of keeping the proportions of the building in check, which I think is the true mark of a great microscale rendition. For example it would have been nice if he'd found a way to represent the Corinthian capitals on the four large central columns, but I can see this would have impacted the lovely cornices.

The other area Kobe has handled delicately are the statues. The main three are represented with microfigs, those mini-minifigs from the now-defunct Games line, and smaller statues are rendered with basic parts that achieve their form without detracting from the main statues. However the real highlight of the statues are the hippocampi (freakin' horse-mermaid monsters!) emerging from the water. Sadly we can't see their fishy halves, but their horsey halves are excellent, using just six parts each to create an unmistakable shape full of dynamism.

From glancing at pictures, you might think that the windows at the front of the palazzo are Trans-Light Blue, but in fact they're Trans-Clear [BL]/ Transparent [TLG]. It's the second set of windows at the rear of the model (shown here) that are Trans-Light Blue, creating an ethereal glow that imbues the front windows with a lighter shade of blue than the water in the fountain - suggesting perhaps that the windows are reflecting the water? Also, Kobe keeps the building hollow, resulting in the soft reflected blue light also creeping into the central niche - a magnificent bit of architectural sleight-of-hand.



Parts

In terms of parts in new colours there are two fairly unusual ones in White: the classic shield (Element ID 6073416 | Design ID 3846) and the aforementioned three microfigs (Element ID 4552453 | Design ID 85863) which both come without printing. As ever, you get the printed 1X8 tile with the name of the set (Element ID 6082195 | Design ID 4162) which sadly comes only in English - often a second is printed in the native language in these sets. The copy on the box and in the booklet is in both languages, so it seems a little sad there's no second tile, but I can only assume this was a cost decision.



The transparent parts aren't new, but I'm sure many of you don't have them yet or would be happy to own more! The 1X1 tile in Trans-Clear (Element ID 6047501 | Design ID 30039) has so far only appeared in two limited release sets: 4000010 LEGO House and this year's Inside Tour set (which of course I will not reveal the name of here). There are three plus a spare in Trevi Fountain. Trans-Light Blue plates have been in a lot of recent Architecture sets in high quantities, and in this set you get 28 1X1s and 97 1X2s plus spares. There's also 34 1X1 bricks (Element ID 6052994 | Design ID 30071) - this element has been absent for a decade but is now back in sets and can also be found in 10244 Fairground Mixer and 31025 Mountain Hut.

Conclusion

This set definitely exceeded my expectations, since Baroque and Classical architecture are so difficult to represent in LEGO, let alone microscale. Yet this is a superb job. Earlier I simplistically described the model as a horizontal and a vertical plane, but in fact these planes are packed with fine detail and layered texture.


In terms of new and fairly new elements it's not mindblowing, but certainly decent for an Architecture set, with some unusual inclusions. I'm especially pleased with the White microfigs and Trans-Clear 1X1 tiles.

If you've never dabbled with creating architectural details smaller than a standard brick, especially using jumpers to create offset, this set will make a great primer and inspire you to try out some effects of your own. I certainly found inspiration from this design, in the subtle use of reflected light. The backlit effect makes the model look amazing when displayed on a window sill rather than a shelf.




My thanks to LEGO's Community and Events Engagement Team for providing this set.

12 comments:

  1. Awesome! That is quite a piece of LEGO microscale work. The backlighting effect in the windows is really clever, but you failed to mention what, IMO, is the first detail I noticed: The 4x4 curved pieces rounding the fountain are placed on top of the water and filled in on the other side of the curved wall. I though they might cast a curved plate in Trans-Light Blue, but this is more clever.

    743 pieces?! That's ridiculous. Never underestimate the parts value of the 1x2 plate is the lesson here, I think. I don't collect Architecture, I get models to play with and for the parts, but $69.99 USD is about $10 too much for this gem. Can you at least tell us WHAT the Inside Tour set is?

    I didn't think it would be long before we saw the Trans-Clear 1x1 tile in non-limited-production sets, after CopMike's great EB review. Whatever happened to the rumor that Marina Bay Sands would be released this summer internationally?

    I, frankly, have no use for a blank, white classic shield. Awesome set, even for someone with zippo interest in Architecture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UK price confirmed as £39.99; same as The White House, so perhaps US price is $49.99?

      Delete
  2. damn! How can one get in on this Community & Events Engagement detail?

    I really like the set, and it seems to me that Trans-Light Blue is becoming ever more common, especially since the Legends of Chima sets last year. Then the United Nations building came and deluged us with 155 trans-light blue 1x2 plates and countless others. I love the UN set.

    I do want to see more transparent colors in sets, and not in small quantities either; With the new summer LoC sets now sporting transparent minifigure legs, will we finally see entire minifigures in transparent colors, and perhaps make a true "ghost" minifigure? Imagine, a trans-Glow in the Dark head on a GID torso and hips and legs and arms and hands... Speaking of GID, The Fairground Mixer has a staggering 59 GID pieces, 32 of which are 1x1 cones; the others are 4L lightsaber bars and a new element, 1x1 round tiles (Something which you might want to cover in an article on new elements in Summer sets; another piece of interest would be the transparent light blue minifigure legs as I mentioned earlier, plus some new pieces from the Mammoth LoC set and new Ultra Agents pieces)...

    All in all, the Trevi Fountain looks like a winner, and I'll pick one up if I can. Judging from the piece count, I'd expect the set to be about $74.99 USD or $79.99 USD (TLG tends to uprate pricing particularly on niche-type sets like Architecture).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the new LoC sets will only have the right leg in Trans-Light Blue, so we are still missing the left leg, hips, torso and hands to get a complete figure.
      My Trans-Blue collection: https://www.flickr.com/photos/41229227@N06/14113762582/
      The 1x1 round tiles aren't new btw...

      q_159

      Delete
    2. Anon, The 1x1 tiles are new in Glow-In-The-Dark White, but the piece/shape itself has been around since 2011.

      True, the LOC trans-light blue legs are only the right side; the only trans-light blue Minifig heads I've seen are in Rapunzel's Creativity Tower; the blue head in Spidertrike vs Electro is a transparent Medium blue. The arms of Electro are also transparent medium blue; light blue is found in the new LOC sets but first appeared in JEK-14's Stealth Starfighter, but only as a single arm, with printing...

      Delete
    3. A ghost like you describe would not be possible in a current set because "Trans-Glow in the Dark" (296 Phosphorescent Green) was discontinued when 330 White Glow (the current glow-in-the-dark color) was introduced. In fact, I don't believe there have ever been multiple glow-in-the-dark colors at any given time. The only time there have seemed to be such was when 296 Phosphorescent Green was molded in different materials. In polycarbonate (the material the LEGO Group uses for transparent elements) it looks transparent, but in ABS or other softer materials, it looks opaque or milky white.

      Of course, it is possible that the LEGO Group could use a Transparent head with glow-in-the-dark printing — it depends on whether they've got a glow-in-the-dark ink that they can reliably use in sets, since I know they had trouble with that in Monster Fighters and had to use non-glowing printed parts and stickers in later production runs.

      Delete
  3. Hey Caperberry, I've noticed a ridiculous amount of new parts in the newly added Brickset inventories for the June releases. You want to type up an article on these like you did for the Winter/Spring waves? Or, I'd like to see some Ultra Agents reviews. Infearno Interception seems to have a lot of good stuff in it and looks very cool.
    This is irrelevant to the Trevi Fountain, but I don't know where else to post this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ridiculous indeed - ridiculously wonderful! So much goodness.

      Delete
  4. Random but posted at 00:02, you are seriously dedicated to that article XD

    Jokes aside another great review, everything you post is always a good read.Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe! Not quite that tragic. It was embargoed until Jun 1 so was written ready to go, had intended to publish when I got up but seeing as I was up past midnight I hit the button!

      But yeh Saturday nights are often quite sad at New Elementary Towers

      Delete
  5. Tim! I've just come back here to this review having seen the photo in my Lego catalogue. I can't believe you didn't mention the columns new in white in this set. They are absolutely the pieces I've wished for, for my Christ Church model. Unfortunately though I need 6 so that's two versions of this set...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The shame! Such an awesome part and I missed it!

      I suppose I can lend you mine for Brick 2014 ;o)

      Delete