29 October 2014

Plastic pixels


Mojang's popular video game Minecraft has become a winning partnership for LEGO®. This Saturday a new wave of sets will be released (but are already on shelves in some European Brand Stores) and for the first time these new sets are in minifig scale rather than microscale. Today Tim Goddard (Rogue Bantha) reviews the smallest set in the range: 21113 The Cave which will retail for GB£19.99 and has 249 pieces.


I cannot claim to know that much about the intricacies of Minecraft. I’ve never played it but obviously I have heard of it and have a fair idea of what it’s about. One thing that dominates (for me) most of what I’ve heard about the game is it’s comparison to LEGO. Is it the LEGO of the future, of the digital age? Well, probably not for me. It is undoubtably creative and uses that inspirational part of the brain that we LEGO builders use to create new and exciting things. But sitting in front of a screen for hours on end is not my idea of fun (at least not these days, many hours have been lost to Lara, Wipeout and others). This crossover set is my way into the Minecraft universe.

My favourite thing about the microscale Minecraft sets was that they contained lots of basic stuff; 1X1 tiles, plates and bricks. Yummy. Are the minifig scale sets going to be able to live up this? In many ways yes; let us investigate.


The first thing that jumped out when I first saw pictures of these sets was the minifigure heads: a strange and warped version of the classic minifig head which jarred in my mind. Like Woody and the Simpson figures before, once I got them in my hands they seemed to make much more sense. After all the classic minifig is hardly an accurate anatomical study of the human form but we all love them. There are two designs for Minecraft heads: the animal head and the figure head. Tim J will be investigating these new parts in more detail in a few days' time in his review of 21114 The Farm.

As I was sent this set to review I thought it only right that I should build it before all these lovely bricks get sorted into my collection. As always, when I first opened the box I went straight to the inside back cover. Just look at all those 2X2 bricks! And in my favourite brick colour, Medium Stone Grey [TLG]/Light Bluish Gray [BL]. There are 43 2X2 bricks (Element ID 4211387 | Design ID 3003), not to mention 13 2X4 (4211385 3001) and a scattering of 2X6, 2X8 and 2X10.


BrickLink sellers love classic bricks like these as having them in any sort of quantity brings punters rolling in. If these Minecraft sets ever go on offer they will disappear before you can say scalper. The other nice bulk part are the 24 1X1 Light Bluish Gray plates (4211399 3024); I can’t ever get too many of these. There was one other pleasant surprise but I’ll come to that in a minute.



The set construction was straightforward and fast. No clever SNOT here, not even a bracket. The finished set is broadly a grey structural cave with orange lava to the left, a plate of blue water in the middle and green grass to the right. Apart from the characters, the play value comes from lots of cubes comprising various minerals, TNT (two nice printed White 1X2 bricks: 6097028 3004) or just stones. These each have a 2X2 jumper plate on top, which has a lot less clutch power than the four studs of a regular 2X2 plate, so when stacked these blocks can be moved around easily. Minimally they can only be stacked straight up (OK, you could stack them off center but you are not supposed to). I suspect they should be correctly built or removed when the ordinarily named hero figure, Steve, uses his pixelated axe.

Have you spotted that trunk yet? Yes it is Medium Nougat [TLG]/Medium Dark Flesh [BL] (base 6102984 4738, lid 6102983 4739) and only appears in this and one other Minecraft set (21114 The Farm).

And a Bright Orange [TLG]/ Orange [BL] 6X6 plate (6052391 3958), which is new for 2014 having only appeared in 60056 Tow Truck. Always nice to fill in some basic blanks. Other than those and the character pieces there is one other new piece. Are you ready? You've already seen the picture haven’t you?

Yes, a pneumatic T piece in Black (6104209 4697)! This makes me very happy. I thought I was stuck with grey forevermore. There are two plus a spare in the set. The spider uses two of these and is the cleverest part of the build. The middle legs attach to the T piece with Black 1X2 clip plates, and a hinge plate connects under the clip plates to form the front and back legs.


One anomaly I spotted when doing my research was the Black hinge plate Element ID number, 6102782. Brickset has this number as currently not existing but this element has been around since the 1980s; until now it has used the very old 5-digit Element ID 74011. I can only deduce that a new mould has been produced although I cannot see any obvious change. The two halves come apart as ever they have.

I did not think I would have much to say about this set but I seemed to have found plenty to go on about. LEGO and Minecraft are an obvious and natural mix, how can it not be? Kids are happy, Parents are happy, AFOLs are happy, Bricklinkers are happy and finance directors are happy. I’ve got a black pneumatic T piece. Everyone is happy.






Our thanks to LEGO's Community & Events Engagement Team for providing this set.

21113 The Cave is released on 1st November 2014. Prices have not been officially announced but the Bluewater LEGO Brand Store in the UK are already selling it, for GB£19.99. Brickshop.nl have listed what are possibly the Dutch RRP prices for the Minecraft range, and are currently offering 15% off.  Consider using our affiliate links to buy it (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!



9 comments:

  1. (This is PicnicBasketSam from Brickset.)
    Black pneumatic T?! I just might pick this up just for that.

    I haven't played much Minecraft either, but that spider is horribly oversized. I don't have much interest in this besides those little black doodads, but my LEGO-learning little brother would love a basic set like this. I think that's the idea here: Basic bricks so Minecraft-playing kids will enjoy it and new parts for the adult collectors. Clever.

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    1. I love minecraft. The spider is large compared to the other mobs in the game but the legs are not the best in the model. They make this freaky hissing sound too which makes them worse.

      These sets though for me are about the minifigs as I could probably piece together the rest with the bricks I have.

      Great review as always.

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  2. Black Ts. YEAHHHHHHHHH! Other wise this set is so BLAH I can barely look at it.

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  3. Element ID numbers are distinct from the mold numbers that we use to find parts on Bricklink and in LDraw. Each EID is unique to a specific part in a single color, and while sometimes these may be grouped together (3001 2x4 Brick has a lot that are clustered together), most often if you pull up EIDs for several colors of the same part they will be completely different from each other. EIDs are also not permanent. As long as that element (part/color combined) stays in production, the EID will remain active. Once it has been out of production for a while, and they stop stocking them for replacement parts, that number ends up being discarded. There are parts that you can look up on Bricklink where one color might have three or more EIDs associated with it because it was used in spurts during the time that EIDs were made public. So, if that hinge plate was last used in 1980, that EID was long ago discarded and they had to assign a new one to it just for this set.

    BTW, one element that will be just as welcome as the black pneumatic T is the black 1x1 round plate w/ hollow stud, which will be part of Batman's grapple gun in one of the new LEGO Movie sets coming out early next year.

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    1. I'm looking forward to the black 1x1 round plate w/ hollow stud, that will be a game changer. Thanks for the advanced notice!

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    2. The frosting on the cake here is that it works perfectly with the black pneumatic T. Same color, and compatible connection points.

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  4. Hey, the element ID you have listed for the black t-bar is wrong, it should be 6104209. Looks like you just copied-n-pasted the ID from the hinge plate.

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  5. Finally, a black T-bar!

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