16 January 2020

LEGO® Friends Review: Series 1 Play Cubes 41400-41404

One of the new concepts that LEGO® has released this year are the Friends Play Cubes - compact, portable little sets that are part of a collectible series and can be stacked together.  Each Play Cube set costs US$9.99/ £7.99/ 9.99€ and there are five to collect in Series 1.



We thought we would take a look at the complete first series of Friends Play Cubes to check out the new elements; in particular to take a closer look at the play cubes themselves.

Inside a Pack

Each pack contains the Play Cube, a bag of elements, a single instruction sheet and a sticker sheet.


Inside the Play Cube you will find a small cardboard Surprise box which contains one a mystery animal. There is also another smaller plastic baggie of elements and a second information sheet which is a checklist for the sets and mystery animals. 

New Elements

The Play Cubes are supplied 'built' (as they need to contain the bag of elements and the mystery animal) but they are made from two different elements.


The lid is Box 3X8X62/3, W/ Hinge Male in Transparent Bluish Violet with Glitter/Glitter Trans-Purple (6286239|64462) and are identical in each of the sets.  The corresponding base is Box 3X8X62/3, W/ Hinge Female (Design ID 64454) that comes in five different colours:


  • Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange (6288310) in 41400 Andrea's Play Cube - Singer
  • Medium Azure (6288312) in 41401 Stephanie's Play Cube - Baker
  • Bright Purple/ Dark Pink (6288311) in 41402 Olivia's Play Cube - Researcher
  • Bright Yellowish Green/ Lime (6288313) in 41403 Mia's Play Cube - Veterinarian
  • Medium Lavender (6288309) in 41404 Emma's Play Cube - Photographer


The male and female bases and lids snap together with a hinge joint at one side that utilises 3.18mm bars on the lid. The other side fastens with two studs into the equivalent underside of a 1x2 plate. The underside of the two studs on the base are not connection points and are simply moulded into shape. 


Each base/lid element has four anti studs on one end and four recessed studs on the other to allow the play cubes to be stacked in any combination you wish.


The base/lids have an area the size of a 6x6 plate inside; the two recessed studs at the top are holding the plate firmly in place in this image.


 



The remaining space is taken up by the two slightly raised anti-stud squares that are used to connect new, larger 2x6 SNOT brackets that are introduced in these sets, giving a 2x6 plate sized 'floorspace' for the scene.


In terms of actual depth, the base/lid is slightly deeper than 7 plates although obviously the area with the raised anti-stud connections is less (5 1/2 plates deep).



The new larger 2x6  SNOT brackets were first noticed in the marketing images of the Play Cubes. Plate 2X6 with 1X6 Up in Light Purple/ Bright Pink (Plate 2X6, W/1.5 Plate 1X6 - 6288330|64570) is only supplied in this colour in the sets and each set has two. This element also comes in Brick Yellow/Tan and Lavender in other 2020 LEGO sets for those who are interested in the element but perhaps not in pink!



Plate 2x2 Icing in Aqua (Design Plate 2X2, W/1.5 Hole - 6289379|65700) is a new element for 2020 that comes in another set, 41393 Baking Competition, with a Reddish Brown version too.  It is a 2x2 plate with an overhanging edge of 'drip' and four 1.5mm holes spread around the circumference of the drips.



Party Hat in Aqua/Light Aqua (6294228|24131)  appears for the first time in this pretty colour.

1x2 Piano Keys Tile (Flat Tile 1X2, No. 278 - 6293665|67047) is a shorter variation of 1x4 Piano Keys Tile (6284099|65679) that we noted in 2319 Friends Central Perk amongst others.  The shorter 1x2 version also appears in 43175 Anna and Elsa's Storybook Adventures released this month too.  

Irritatingly, the two are not compatible as the keys do not line up and, while the 1x4 version is printed in Black, it looks like the smaller 1x2 version is printed in Black and Dark Stone Grey.

Animals

There are five different animals in the series: 41400 contains a Bird (Design ID 35074), 41401 contains a Puppy (93088),  41402 contains a Hamster (24183), 41403 contains a Bunny (98387)  and 41404 contains a Cat (11602). These are not new moulds but the colours are new.


The 'mystery' aspect is the colour of animal that you will receive; either Bright Reddish Violet/ Magenta, Dark Azure, Lavender or Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold.  The selection of colours I found within my five sets were limited to Dark Azure and Bright Reddish Violet - I will need to buy more sets to successfully secure  a Golden Hamster!

Minidolls



Each Play Cube contains the appropriate minidoll with a variety of skin tones, eye colour and hair colour across the five Friends.  From Left to Right: Emma the Photographer, Olivia the Researcher, Andrea the Singer, Mia the Vet and Stephanie the Baker are included in the first series.  I wish there was a Doctor, Firefighter, Rancher and Mountain Guide in there too (those were the various jobs I wanted when I was a young girl).

Stickers

Each Play Cube pack comes with a sticker sheet which has one large sticker that 'sets the scene' and is applied to the inside of the base. There are 1-3 stickers that are applied to specific tiles within the set while the remaining stickers are a selection of decorations that can be placed to customise the Play Cube.

41400 Andrea's Play Cube - Singer
41401 Stephanie's Play Cube - Baker
41402 Olivia's Play Cube - Researcher
41403 Mia's Play Cube - Veterinarian
41404 Emma's Play Cube - Photographer

Instructions



The instructions are on a single sheet with a final set image on the other side and some marketing about other more expensive Friends sets that are available to tempt your child!



The other leaflet is inside the actual play cube but it's a checklist for series 1 and a hint of series 2. Incidentally, I wonder if the Series 2 play cube lid will be 114 Transparent Medium Reddish Violet with Glitter or maybe, just maybe it will be 364 Transparent Medium Reddish Violet with Opalescence.

Knolling Play Cubes

I thought the easiest way to show you what each set in the series contains was to 'knoll' the sets. Apologies but I am not the most patient of people when it comes to knolling so my arrangement of elements was designed for speed rather than aesthetics!

41400 Andrea's Play Cube - Singer
41401 Stephanie's Play Cube - Baker
41402 Olivia's Play Cube - Researcher
41403 Mia's Play Cube - Veterinarian
41404 Emma's Play Cube - Photographer
Given the small size of many of the parts, there are lots of spares added as per LEGO's normal policy to minimise risk of missing elements.

This means that some interesting elements like the Scissors in Silver Metallic/Flat Silver (6096993|18920), Whisk in Medium Stone Grey/Light Bluish Grey (6249246|29636), Spoon in Silver Metallic (6196796|34173), Syringe in Light Royal Blue/Bright Light Blue (6263455|53020) and Pen in Aqua (6213681|35809) have two supplied.

Final Sets


The sets are a couple of small builds to create each scene within the base and the lid.  The builds are simple but given the fiddly nature of the small elements the sets are rated 6+. I didn't apply the Play Cube stickers but I did apply the numbered stickers to the various tiles.  I have other plans for the Play Cubes assuming I can wrestle them from the clutches of my daughter who was instantly attracted to them and wanted to play with the little scenes. (note - I have just realised that Andrea's stage is missing from under her feet - a 2x4 Red Plate should be on top of the 1x1 Warm Gold studs).

Conclusion

These are attractive little sets that are both playable and easily transportable. My daughter loved them and commandeered them immediately, the opening and closing of the cubes and finding the animals was an immediate source of joy. 


I'm not sure what the average 6+ child gets for pocket money these days but they are marketed as "the perfect impulse reward, birthday gift or holiday gift for kids aged 6+" and they seem to hit the mark in this respect. They will undoubtedly have both play and collecting value given their low price point and inclusion of both mini-dolls and play scenes. 


For me as an AFOL, the most interesting part of the sets are the Play Cubes themselves. While the simplest option would be to make some custom minifigure-scale scenes within the Play Cubes, I can also see these containing microscale builds and stackable scenes or perhaps as part of larger mocs as cargo, hull or structural use. What do you think?



The only negative I felt was the amount of packaging with the outer cardboard container, the two paper leaflets, the smaller cardboard master box and then a couple of plastic bags.  All is recyclable of course and perhaps it just looked like a lot because I opened five sets at once!



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9 comments:

  1. I really like the concept of a little play box. The pods were fine but a bit too little for my taste. I have much hope for these cubes and can't wait to get my hands on them :)

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    1. What do you think you might do with them?

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    2. I'll have to have them in my hands to know exactly, but either small character related scenes like LEGO is making or a micro world. Or both! :D

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    3. Have you seen the new Disney book sets?

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  2. I was able to order all the mystery animals from Lego B&P yesterday. The Dog, Cat, and Bird were around $1.95. The Hamster and Bunny were $0.95. All the colors were available. I was glad to see them on available as I've collected every other Friends animal. I did not feel good about buying $200 (at minimum) worth of Play Cubes in order to have a chance to get all the various colors. And that would be if I was lucky and got no duplicates.

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    Replies
    1. That's great to hear! Thanks for letting us know.

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    2. Would love to see the collection. I've been thinking of starting my own, but I think I'm too late in the game for that.

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  3. I'm happy that these shell style sets have evolved to have better connectivity. I was disappointed that I couldn't connect the earlier Ninjago pods to anything (easily) because I had wanted to turn them into balloons over Ninjago city. Not possible with this year's Njnjago arcades but I have hope for the future. Thanks for the review!

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    Replies
    1. I'm also really into the revival of the storage pod concept. Lego did a lot with unusual types of set storage back in the early 2000s, with things like Bionicle canisters, but even when things like the lids were Lego-compatible it was rarely to this degree. These newer sets (as well as the arcade pods and the Disney storybook cases) revive that sort of self-contained concept, albeit with the set itself coming in more ordinary cardboard packaging and the "carrying case" having to be assembled.

      I could see this sort of concept working for all sorts of themes. For instance, if only Elves were around, it'd be awesome to get buildable, wearable "amulets" that had room for a figure and some accessories or a small scene.

      Out of curiosity, what's the spacing like on the "hinge" to these sets? Is it similar to the spacing for parts like 92099 (the newer-style trapdoor plates)?

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