13 November 2015

Such a friendly place

Posted by Admin
We have our first ever post from Gary Davis today; he's the Brickish Association's Ambassador and goes by the name of Bricks for Brains on Flickr.  When Gary agreed to write something, he didn't expect me to suddenly reappear with a massive LEGO® Friends set... 

I'm not much of a set builder - I much prefer building MOCs - so I was pleasantly surprised when Tim entrusted me to write this review of the LEGO Friends set: 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel. I've always loved the way that New Elementary focuses on new LEGO elements and on re-coloured elements, so that's what I've done for this review. If you're interested the step-by-step build of this set, please refer to the excellent review written by LostInTranslation on Brickset.

The Friends range continues to be popular with over 30 new Friends sets issued in the first half of 2015 alone (not counting polybags and 'tat'). At £99.99 (US$129.99), 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel is the highest-priced Friends set ever issued and also the one with the most pieces: 1,552. The average price per piece works out as 6.44p (8.38¢), which is not bad as it includes several large plates.

The finished model is an impressive size and is packed with features that provide plenty of playability for the 8-12 year old target age group. There's a moveable lift (elevator), a revolving door, a grand piano, baggage cart, ice cream bar and trolley, sun loungers and a fountain. There is also four-seater taxi for arrival and departure. With only two bedrooms, the hotel is quite exclusive but fortunately non-guests can use the lovely roof-top lounge area. The modular construction enables some alternative arrangements and creative builders, with suitable parts, could add more rooms.

What's in the box?

In addition to the bag of large plates, there are 11 numbered parts bags and I'm pleased to say they are numbered 1-11. I find it very frustrating trying to find a piece in bag no. 1, only to find it's in the other bag no. 1! As usual, some bags contain smaller bags keeping the smaller pieces under control.

The set includes two instruction manuals. No. 1 is a small stapled manual, like those that come in a £9.99 set, and no.2 is a substantial A4-sized, glue-bound document with some 230 pages. The former contains instructions for items outside the hotel such as the fountain, garden chairs, porter's trolley and taxi. I don't why it couldn't all be incorporated in one manual, it would be much neater for those who like keeping their instruction books.

There is a rather lovely sticker sheet included. I'm not a great fan of stickers as a rule, but I have to say these are very nicely done, with lots of gold embellishments. I particularly like the hanging dressing gown, the three clocks showing different time zones and the gold control panel for the lift.

As usual, at this point my inner demon takes over—I can't resist opening all the bags together. The resulting pile of elements is something to wondrous to behold!

 As soon as I see that lovely large pile of mixed elements, I'm driven to sort them! I initially sorted the hotel parts by colour to get an overview of what treasures lay within.

New elements

Let's get down to business. There is only one completely new element in this set and that is the semi-circular window frame with radiating panes: Bow Window 1x4x1 2/3 (Element 6112306 | Design ID 20309). There are four of these in the set, all in Brick Yellow [TLG]/ Tan [BL]. Their most obvious use is to fill the semi-circular arch of the Brick W. Inside Bow 1x6x2 (Design ID 15254), and they're used in that way to good effect in the set. There is no matching 'glass' piece to fit in this frame, so the hotel will be a bit draughty (ignoring the fact that it has no rear wall!). I won't discuss it further, as it will receive its own post on New Elementary.

There is one other element that hasn't appeared in any sets before—but it's not new. It appeared with Lisa Simpson (sim010) in the first series of the Simpsons LEGO Minifigures (71005). It is of course the Saxophone W. Ø3,2 Shaft (6038163 | 13808) in Warm Gold [TLG]/ Pearl Gold [BL]. It's a nice design but unfortunately Friends minidolls can't play it due to their non-adjustable hands—Lisa has no such problem.

Recoloured elements

Now let's look at the elements that appear for the first time in re-coloured form. There are 17 in total, excluding the minidoll parts, which I'll come back to.

There are five elements in pearl gold for the first time: 

  • the frog (6107741 | 33320)
  • 1x1x6 column (6107209 | 43888)
  • the 2x2 'macaroni' curved brick (6107743 | 85080)
  • the 8x8 round tile with 4 studs (6107208 | 6177) 
  • the 1x1 brick with the decorative scroll (6112307 | 20310)
The latter is new this year and has only appeared in Tan colour up until now. It was discussed at length in a separate post here on New Elementary.

There are three very useful pieces in Medium Lavender appearing for the first time in this set:
  • the 2x2 corner brick (6107187 | 2357)
the 2x6 brick (6115808 | 44237) 
  • the 4x4 ' large macaroni' curved brick (6107742 | 48092)

There are no fewer than eight elements appearing for the first time in Medium Lilac [TLG]/ Dark Purple [BL], including five types of slope: 

  • 1x2 45° slope (6109814 | 3040)
  • 2x2 45° corner slope (6107202 | 3045)
  • 1x2x3 75° slope (6107204 | 4460)
  • 2x2x3 75° slope (6109971 | 98560)
  • 2x2x3 75° slope corner (6109972 | 3685)
  • 1x6x2 arched brick (6107874 | 15254)
  • 2x8 plate (6109931 | 3034),
  • 4x4 plate 1/4 circle (6109933 | 30565)

Finally, there is one element appearing in Black for the first time in this set. It is the Plate 1x2 W. Hor. Hole Ø4.8 (6114987 | 11458); a useful piece that has been around since 2013 which bridges Technic and System within a very small space.


There are five Friends minidolls in the set, plus a dog and a cat. There are three of the original five friends and two characters who I believe are new to Heartlake City: Nate and Susan.

There are no new elements here but four of them are in new colours and/or prints: Nate's torso (6115474 | 11408), Olivia's top (6115465 | 92456), Susan's torso (6115468 | 92816) and Susan's legs (6115797 | 92817). Although Susan is a new character, her head has been used for various minor characters in five other Friends sets, according to the Brickset database. Her hair is quite rare though (6102273 | 11256) as it appears in only one other set: 41095 Emma's House (used for Charlotte). Sneakily, Nate's trousers (6064747 | 16985) are hand-me-downs from Prince Charming, from set 41055 Cinderella's Romantic Castle.

Printed elements

There are a total of ten printed elements in the set, with 7 different designs, and they all happen to be tiles. None of the prints are new. The postcard/bumper sticker (6115160 | 21213) appears in two other 2015 Friends sets. The newspaper (6115167 | 21220) and the gold disc (6115442 | 21256) each appear in three other Friends sets this year. The 1x1 round tiles printed with food are now fairly common and of course the envelope even more so.

Other pieces

As is obvious from the box image, the set includes a lot of white elements, many of which are standard brick and plate—and there's nothing wrong with that. There are 531 white pieces in total.
Interestingly, the second most plentiful colour in the set is Warm Gold, with 134 pieces. Many of these are useful quantities of the 24 different element types, including a dozen 1x4x2 fences with 4 studs (6060803 | 15332) and a dozen round grille bricks (6107194 | 92947). It's also worth noting that the set is a good source of Medium Lavender (93 pieces) and Medium Lilac (81 pieces).

There is a good supply of Brick Yellow plates in the set including: two 16x16 plates (4611414 | 91405); six 8x16 plates (4609726 | 92438) and two 6x8 plates (4624223 | 3036). Astonishingly, the 6x8 plate hasn't appeared in Brick Yellow in any sets since 1999 other than one earlier this year: 41073 Naida's Epic Adventure Ship. 

Various sizes of window frames are also in plentiful supply in White and Brick Yellow. There are also 21 various arched pieces in White and Medium Lilac.

In conclusion; 41101 Heartlake Grand Hotel is a nice model with plenty of detail and playability, for those who like sort of thing. For me, it's a really good, cost effective parts pack with some newish and rare elements, and several really useful re-coloured elements.

Our thanks to LEGO Group's CEE Team for providing this amazing set, which is available now. Consider using our affiliate links to buy it (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!


  1. What, no review of the ACTUAL set? Not even a link to it? That's rather against form for this site.

    A glorious parts pack though.

    1. Gary included a link to a review in the first paragraph.

      You can expect more of this 'no review' form in future, especially for sets that have been out for months.

    2. Anon....did you read the first paragraph?
      "I've always loved the way that New Elementary focuses on new LEGO elements and on re-coloured elements, so that's what I've done for this review. If you're interested the step-by-step build of this set, please refer to the excellent review written by LostInTranslation on Brickset." So just click the link and you can check out the build...NE focusses on New Elements...rather appropriately most would think.

    3. I think there's a place on this site for both kinds of reviews. For a set that's got lots of new, never-before-seen parts (or recolored parts used in unprecedented ways), focusing some attention on the build can be important. For instance, my brother and I have done Bionicle reviews for this site, and since comparatively few AFOLs are experienced with Bionicle sets or parts, including information about how the set itself is constructed can help readers to understand just what a strangely-shaped part is supposed to be or how it can be used.

      But a review like this one can be just as valid, especially for a set like this that is brimming with recolors but offers much less in the way of new, undiscussed parts or techniques.

    4. If anything I'd say it's a return to form for this site! The focus on new parts and uses thereof was what drew me to this site in the first place - there are no shortage of sites which post reviews of the sets.

    5. It's really interesting to read all this feedback, thanks everyone. Andrew is right, you will get both kinds here. However it is not always for the good reasons which Andrew suggests... sometimes it is simply down to the person I assign, which at times can be a little random and indeed sometimes I enjoy mixing things up and seeing what happens. Giving Gary a Friends set was certainly one of the latter! :D

  2. This kind of review is exactly why I visited New Elementary in the first place - concentrating on the new parts, recolours and so on. Keep it up!

    1. Amen. MOC builders don't care about the build, only what's in it.

    2. I agree. Focusing on different and new parts alone is what makes New Elementary different from the slew of other LEGO review sites.
      --Chaz Fairbanks

  3. That saxophone also came with the CMF saxophone player (who is totally not a Blues Brother).

    1. The CMF sax player came with a saxophone that had a painted mouthpiece. This, like Lisa's, is unpainted. Technically a different element.

  4. Man I wish I had those purple corner slope elements when I was working on Maristela, I could have filled in her sleeves better. Oh well. Wonderful review. And *drools* So much gold WAaaaaaaant! Those disks are especially nice. Might have to go bricklink those when I have some spare cash. Thanks guys!

  5. Interesting note about the stickers—I just realized that the clock stickers confirm that Heartlake City is actually in the same time zone as me (Eastern Standard Time)! I never would have expected anything to put a real geographical fix on the fictional city, but that certainly narrows it down. The palm trees, lakes, and general glitziness give the impression that it might be somewhere in Florida.

    1. That IS interesting! Especially as the Friends team try hard to avoid linking HLC to any specific geographic location.

  6. The dark-purple castle slope is not new in this set. I was previously used for minifig-Zurg's skirt in Buzz Lightyear's Spaceship. However, due to the rarity of the minifig, it was almost never sold loose on Bricklink (the one time I remember seeing it, the listed price was over $3). But it was still available, which is how I came to be sitting on two bags of ~500 each when this set was first announced.

    And the black plate with Technic pin hole has been made available in two Disney Wars 7 sets. Due to my relative lack of interest in Friends, I'm really not sure which sets were made available first.