We asked New Elementary regular Sven Franic to take a look at the two new LEGO® Architecture sets due for release on 1st January 2019. Read on to find out the new elements and build techniques within 21044 Paris and 21043 San Francisco.
The Architecture Skyline sub-theme has been running successfully since 2016 and we are getting some of the most recognizable cities in 2019. The most iconic landmark of Paris was featured in a number of previous Architecture sets, which is a good demonstration of the dynamics of scale and progress that was achieved by the introduction of new elements to build up the Eiffel Tower over the years.
Microscale - a term used liberally in the AFOL community for any model built in a scale smaller than what could accommodate a minifigure, poses a greater challenge for creativity as there are only so many pea-sized elements that can for example, portray a house window or roof. Some of the new skyline sets break this monotony by applying new graphics to traditional elements.
The Skyline sub-theme made its design process harder by having to depict a city using several famous landmarks and buildings next to each other. This poses the challenge of having to stay within a reasonable scale ratio, at least within the confines of any single city, affording slightly more freedom between any two skyline sets.
Notable building techniques
21039 Shanghai that wowed us with some of its exceptional building techniques, there is nothing that particularly stands out in the way either Paris or San Francisco is constructed. They both use the same clip and bar connections to keep the tall buildings firmly on the base which works wonderfully.
However, from an artistic standpoint, the Golden Gate bridge makes clever use of forced perspective. Instead of building the bridge as a literal 3D interpretation of the real thing, it is built to form an optical illusion of perspective and greater distance when viewed from the front.
I would never have guessed that this idea would work as well as it does.
Elements and re-colours
21044 Paris gives us an exciting comeback of Brick Yellow [TLG] / Tan [BL] Plate 1X1 W. Upright Holder (Element ID 6252969 | Design ID 15712), currently a rare and expensive element to purchase on the secondary market. The particular element is desirable among MOC builders for creating skin-toned joints on brick-built characters. Technically the element used within the Paris set has never existed in Brick Yellow before because the mould changed four times since it was last available in 2007 (you can read further insights into the mould progression of Plate 1X1 W. Upright Holder in a previous post explaining this image).
You can compare the new element on the right next to its old version Brick Yellow [TLG] / Tan [BL] Plate 1X1 W. Upright Holder (4206665|2555).
Paris also gives us a new colour of the relatively recent mould, Transparent [TLG] / Trans-Clear [TLG] 1x1 “cheese pyramid” Pyramide Ridged Tile 1X1X2/3 (6252962|22388). Only one is used to form the top of the glass pyramid of The Louvre but a spare is also supplied.
21043 San Francisco is a bit more exciting in terms of re-colours thanks to the use of Dark Red for the famous Golden Gate bridge. Two 1x1 modified plates are finally introduced, opening great opportunities for utilizing this colour. Plate 1X1 W/Holder Vertical (6253170|61252) and the space-age Plate 1X1 w. Lamp Holder (6131833|4081) theoretically existed before in an obscure promotional bundle product from ages ago, but that was “old” Dark Red anyway.
The Modified 1x1 plate’s close relative by bar & clip connectivity also appears: 3.2 Shaft w/3.2 Hole (6253169|23443) is also new in Dark Red, representing the fifth colour of this great piece to date.
Conveniently this element is also accompanied by 3.2 Outercable better known as “flex tube” in Dark Red in three different lengths; 64mm ~ 8 modules (6256143|60675), 112mm~14 modules (6256144|56178), and 192mm~ 24 modules long. (6256145|85526). Although these are three different elements, many builders find it socially acceptable to cut flex tubes to the desired length so the largest of the three is the only relevant piece here. None of the lengths of flex tubing were ever previously available in Dark Red.
I mentioned in our recent review of the White Tile 1X3, Inverted, W/ 3.2 Hole (6223491|35459) within the Unikitty theme that it was unlikely for the element to be used outside that theme. I felt the hole was obviously designed with a specific use in mind involving the Unikitty characters, but it turns out my assumption was wrong. Two of the elements in White found their way into one of the Market Plaza buildings in the San Francisco model.
A special, dual-moulded element using two different materials fused together, Spike 2 x 8 (6253234|61406) is recoloured in White for the San Francisco set. The element uses a soft rubber material for the sharp end of the spike, presumably for toy safety reasons.
Paris uses Cockpit w/ Bow 3X6X1 in Transparent (6254010|35298) with printed steel beams for the large arches on the Eiffel Tower. An interesting element that replaces the flex tubing used for the arches in 21019 The Eiffel Tower.
San Francisco teaches old bricks new tricks by applying some window graphics onto White 1x2 Bricks (6253512|3004) and re-purposing Earth Blue [TLG]/Dark Blue [BL] Flat Tile 1X4, No. 115 'solar panel' (6215341|37096), exclusively found in 21312 Women of NASA, as a glass window facade on one of the unnamed buildings. I can imagine the new 1x2 printed bricks used extensively in future microscale sets and MOCs.
The Architecture line is probably one of the most progressive LEGO themes. Comparing the earliest models to what we have today, it has come a long way from stacking headlight bricks to innovative part use. Marketing the sets as a premium product for adult collectors used to price them out of the realm of parts packs for MOC builders, but those days are over. In the past two years, I've found myself buying some of the Architecture sets purely for parts. Despite their small size, they offer some neat techniques and look gorgeous on the shelf. If you are still not grabbed by the theme, I recommend staring off with 21039 Shanghai; you might just develop a new appreciation for microscale cities.
21043 San Francisco has 565 pieces and includes the Painted Ladies, 555 California Street, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Salesforce Tower, the Coit Tower, Fort Point, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
21044 Paris has 694 pieces and includes the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, the Tour Montparnasse, the Grand Palais, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
Both sets are priced at € 49,99 and will be available from 1st January 2019.
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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.