We head back to 2017 today with 21036 Arc De Triomphe, from the perspective of someone who's never bought a LEGO® Architecture set before; Jay Phoenix, who can be found on Flickr and Twitter.
So, first off I’ve got a bit of a guilty confession to make – even though LEGO Architecture’s been around for a decade now and had over 40 sets released… I’ve never actually been interested enough in the theme itself to actually buy any of ‘em before. As someone who’s always been more sucked in by minifig-scale themes like City, Friends, Creator and occasionally more action-y ones like Ninjago, Architecture has always been one of those things I’ve occasionally seen on the shelves, gone “Oh, that looks alright I guess” and continued on my merry way.
last time, I decided to do a lil’ review of the set itself as an insight into the mind of an ‘Architecture Virgin’, as such (also, note to self: never use the phrase ‘Architecture Virgin’ ever again).
So, let’s begin with…
The review-ey bit
Upon seeing the box for the first time, the word ‘premium’ immediately pops to mind – the clean, stylish design aesthetic combined with the front-flap packaging suits the “for the desks of professional mature adults only” look they’re going for. Too bad it’s about to be built (and re-built) by an immature 19-year-old instead then, ey? Let’s open up and…
Before we move onto the build though, as this place is called ‘New Elementary’ and not just ‘New’, let’s take a quick look-see at this set’s new parts and recolours.
- ‘PLATE 2X2 W. VERTICAL SNAP’ in Brick Yellow [TLG]/Tan [BL] (Element ID 6187580|Design ID 2460): Y’know, before looking into the piece for this article I genuinely thought it already existed many years ago in Tan, but nope – turns out the only other set it exists in is 10742 Willy's Butte Speed Training (teehee) from last year.
- ‘MINI FIGURE TROPHY’ in White (6073432|90398): Whilst this set ain’t minifig-scale in the slightest, it does contain 4 mini-minifigures, as statues. They’ve only appeared in six sets in this colour, four of which are Architecture sets - funnily enough though, even though they’ve appeared in so few sets they’re still the most common colour for the piece. Interesting how things work out innit?
- ‘1/4 CIRCLE TILE 1X1’ in Tan (6145570|25269): This fairly new piece from 2016 has only popped up in Tan in a total of 12 sets, 11 of which are from last year (the exception being 41338 Stephanie's Sports Arena from this year). It’s also appeared in five additional sets as a printed pizza slice, if that’s your thing.
- ‘PLATE 2X2X2/3 W. 2. HOR. KNOB’ in Tan (6132769|99206): Another fairly uncommon piece in Tan, only coming in a total of ten sets. There’s four of them in this set for all your SNOT-based enjoyment.
- ROCKER BEARING 1X2 in White (393701|3937): There’s nothing rare about this one, I just wanted to point out that there’s 30 of the bloomin’ things in this set but zero of the hinge bits that go with it. They will haunt my nightmares for the next dozen or so weeks.
Now, let’s get straight on down to building-process-city! Or at least miss the first bus there, hop on the one 20 minutes afterwards and get stuck in traffic for ages. I’m not great at metaphors, so let’s get to the point: it’s build time!
Next we coat most of the base with Sand Yellow [TLG]/Dark Tan [BL] tiles, and one of my main nitpicks with the build for this set begins to take fruition – the sheer amount of repeated builds that pop up. It’s pretty unavoidable in a model like this, but it still kinda takes the enjoyment outta the process when you have to do a thing eight times over. Anyways, here’s several towers of 1x4s that I definitely didn’t have to redo after getting the colours mixed up. No siree, no mixups here.
…exactly like so! Whilst the inside walls of the arches aren’t completely flat they get the idea across fine and, honestly, when you’ve got the lid bit on, it’s completely unnoticeable unless you’re really looking for it.
The outside bits, meanwhile, look bloomin’ lovely – the mini-minifigs as tiny statues works really well and the usage of grey behind it really makes it stand out from the rest of the model instead of just blending into a white/beige wall. S’good.
Tell you what though; those wall sections look even better with the arches capping them off. I also really appreciate the use of beige and light grey to divide up the big patches of white – it may not be “accurate” to the real deal or whatever but it definitely makes the details stand out a lot more than if they just did the entire thing in white. Wise move lads.
The two sides are then joined up by six of the big ol’ 1x6x2 arch pieces, and some additional detailing is formed next to these by inverting 1x2 jumper plates - it’s a rather effective lil’ representation of the murals that adorn the real thing and I rather like it.
Those four 2x2 tiles with technic pins I mentioned earlier pop up here, along with an interesting structural SNOT build. It’s also the first sighting of the fairly high-quantity 1x2 white rocker bearings, although it’s just the calm before the storm…
We’ve then got two of these long bits to pop together, which neatly slot onto the 2x2 tiles with Technic pins on top of the model…
…like so, and they look pretty decent! The small gaps between the side and front bits look a tiny bit unsightly from here though if I’m being honest. Why, if only they could be conveniently covered up by a rim of both light grey plates and white tiles going all around the edges…
…and whaddaya know, that’s exactly what just happened! What an amazing coincidence or magic or whatever.
I sure hope you liked all that blue too, ‘cos here’s a bunch more of it in the form of some 1x4 bricks with side studs. There’s also a couple of Transparent Blue 2x2 bricks under this too, for reasons. It’s a weird choice of colour but it doesn’t affect the final model in the slightest so eh, whatever.
The last bit of the build is the top layer, and there’s really not much to mention here regarding the build to be honest – just a good ol’ studs-up build, plain an’ simple. It’s got all eight of those quarter-circle tiles I mentioned earlier though, so there is that to look forward to I guess.
Pop the roof on and bob’s yer uncle, the model’s all done!
ConclusionAs far as Arc De Triomphe models go, the finished set’s pretty decently sized – at around two-and-a-half minifigures (or in layman’s terms, 11cm) high, it’s definitely not gonna blend seamlessly into your Winter Village layout (though I’d absolutely love to see someone try for a laugh) but it’s perfect for bunging on your desk at work to impress colleagues or show off the fruitful results of your favourite hobby or whatever. It’s kinda weird seeing an entire theme (outside of the big D2Cs of course) solely aimed at adults though, at least for me personally – as someone that’s never had a dark age it’s a bit jarring to see a super-mature model of a real-life famous building sharing shelfspace with an identically-priced flying motorbike or such.
Either way, it’s undeniably a really nicely detailed model for its price point with a lotta really neat SNOT-work, especially around the top area – as much as I expressed slight horror at the amount of rocker bearings earlier, the resulting architectural detail they provide absolutely suits the model down to the ground. It’s not overbearing or completely bare, it’s just the right amount of detailing – it’s a bit like Goldilocks, basically. It’s Goldilocks greebling.
But anyways, that’s the review pretty much all done then – a very nicely detailed model that looks like its source material, but would I recommend buying it at full retail? Well, that really depends on your own particular LEGO-based interests to be honest: whilst I’d fully recommend this to existing Architecture fanatics, more casual fans or just anyone that wants a nice-looking professional model for their mantelpiece, I’d kinda struggle to recommend this to people like… err, me. It hasn’t really got minifigs or tie-in media or playability of any type, it’s really just a very pretty model of a big French arch – but that’s fine because that’s exactly what it’s trying to be, no more, no less.
À la prochaine!
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Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group. All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.