04 March 2020

LEGO® Disney review: Storybook Adventures - the new parts

On Monday, Tobias Witmer (TobyMac) examined the recoloured and printed parts to be found in the new LEGO® Disney Storybook Adventure sets (43174 Mulan’s Storybook Adventures, 43175 Anna and Elsa’s Storybook Adventures, 43176 Ariel’s Storybook Adventures, and 43177 Belle’s Storybook Adventures). Today he completes his review by examining the new moulds, including the new 'Micro Doll' figures.

New parts in LEGO® Disney Storybook Adventures

Firstly we will examine the elements that comprise the books themselves.


The spine consists of a single part: Plate Special Book Cover Back 6 x 16 (65200). It is 16 studs long (or high, given that a book stands upwards in a bookcase) and the center consists of a plate with 4 x 16 studs with, for some reason, gaps of 2 x 2 in the middle. On the sides are curved walls with a pin hole on the ends, which allow the connection to the book covers.



On the other side are decorative lines that are half a plate high, and a large LEGO logo. The part comes in four colors, from left to right:
  • Bright Reddish Violet/ Magenta (6285436|65200)
  • Dark Azure (6285437|65200)
  • Bright Bluish Green/ Dark Turquoise (6285435|65200)
  • Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange (6285430|65200)


I am not a very creative MOCcer, so I can’t give much insight on how this part could be used in other builds. The only thing I could come up with is to link them up using 2L Beams. Put them upright, and you have the walls of a circus tent. Use pins without friction, and it could become a large sliding door/roof for a garage perhaps, or massive link threads for a crawler. (You might want another color for this for ‘normal’ builds. Anything is possible on alien planets of course.) And the large, almost flat surface can be used to quickly cover an area – like you do with a Technic Panel.


Then, the book covers (65196). The surface area is 11 x 16 studs, with two pin holes sticking out. On the outside is a half-plate-high decoration, three studs in the corners and a 2 x 4 studded section in the middle. Weirdly enough the studs in the corners are not used in the builds. Maybe in later sets? The surface itself is a half-plate high, with a border around it for extra support. The walls are also half a plate thick, with supporting ridges, and three studs high. On the outside is a 2 x 2 studded area to place the parts for the lock. One thing I noticed: when you put the new 6x8 rounded tile on the central studded section of the outside, the book tends to bend a bit. Combined with the pretty large tile, you need to put an extra finger on the inside of the book cover in order to firmly secure the tile.




On the inside are 2 x 2 studded areas in the corners, and a 2 x 4 studded area in the middle. There are no anti-studs.

Each set comes with two of these cover elements: one plain, and one printed on the inside.

  • 43174 comes in Dark Azure (6285427|65196) and the other with a snow field print (6274761|61174).

  • 43175 comes with 65196 in Lavender (6287681|65196) and the other with a diamond tiled floor print (6288514|66563).

  • 43176 comes with 65196 in Medium Azure (6285426|65196) and the other with a beach print (6288519|66568).

  • 43177-1 comes with 65196 in Cool Yellow/ Bright Light Yellow (6285425|65196) and the other with has a grass field print (6288525|66574).

The book covers and back are connected through four Technic Pin Long with Friction Ridges Lengthwise and Stop Bush (32054). The end result is not very sturdy and has some wiggle room.

That’s solved for the most part by adding a 1 x 4 plate and 1 x 4 tile but some movement remains.

On each book cover, a large new tile is added: Tile 6 x 8 with Rounded Corners (65474) which comes in two colors, with four different prints. There are no unprinted versions of this part found as yet.



  • Tile 6 x 8 with Rounded Corners with Black Elsa and Anna Contour on Blue Background, Silver Star print in Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver (6288515|66564)
  • Tile 6 x 8 with Rounded Corners with Dark Blue Mulan Contours on Dark Pink Background print in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6274763|61240)
  • Tile 6 x 8 with Rounded Corners with Dark Blue Ariel Contours, Dark Turquoise Background, Golden Shells print in Warm Gold (6288520|66569)
  • Tile 6 x 8 with Rounded Corners with Dark Blue Bell Contours on Dark Yellow Background, Golden Stars, Rose print in Warm Gold (6288526|66575)


The Micro Dolls

At last: the new Micro Doll figures, the main reason I wanted these sets. In this series, there seem to be three main types of bodies.

Dress

This series contains six different prints and mold colors. These all seem to be a dual-color mold, with the dress as one color and the arms plus neck as a second. On the inside (through the bottom) the arms/neck color is also visible and so it seems this color gets molded first, with the dress molded over it later. I would love to see this process in action! 


Trousers/Legs


There are five different print and mold colors presented. These seem to be a triple-colour mold: hands/neck, torso, and legs.

Mermaid/Fishtail

This one is solo and seems to be a dual-color mold: torso and fishtail.
    The bodies are the height of two bricks plus half a plate. With the head, they are two bricks plus two plates. All three molds have the hands positioned at the same spot, making them uniform in any connection there. The neck connections are all a standard 3.18mm bar, like the ‘normal’ Mini Dolls. The heads that are used in these sets are also standard.

    At the bottom, they all have an anti-stud. The dress and trousers are a little bigger on the outside, yet still fit on a stud surrounded by other studs.


    The hands’ inner hole is a standard size, making it possible for them to hold accessories with the 1.5mm small pin. The outer diameter is the same as a 3.18mm bar, which makes it possible for clips to fit around them. They do have a tiny cutout at the underside, maybe letting the thicker part represent fingers? It causes the grip of clips to be a little weaker than normal bars. The hands are also able to be gripped by a minifigure or Mini Doll hand. But because the arms don’t move, it’s not possible to let the dolls walk hand-in-hand.

    Add to that the fact that Mini Doll hands can’t rotate, and this creates some awkward situations such as when they shake hands.

    I’ve lined up the Micro Dolls with some other figures that are currently in production for a size comparison. Apart from the weird-looking large heads (respective to the bodies), these figures can function very well as Mini Doll children. I wonder if we are ever going to see them in this situation.

    I’ve tried to make a family portrait. To be honest, I think the head is a little too big for the child. But creating a new head would probably also mean creating new hairs and headwear.

    The parts form these figures:


    43174 comes with Mulan as a girl as well as in boy disguise, along with Li Shang.


    43175 comes with Anna, Elsa and Kristoff (and Olaf).


    43176 comes with Ariel, both as mermaid and human, and prince Eric.


    43177 comes with Belle and the Beast. The Beast comes with an post-transformation wig.

    The Build

    This section can be a short one. There isn’t really much interesting to tell. On the inside of the book’s back come three mini-builds on 4 x 4 or 4 x 6 plates, along with some decorations that set the scene for your story. Everything is designed so that all parts can be secured when you close the books. It’s nicely done, but nothing worth discussing at length here.

    43174 Mulan’s Storybook Adventures

    43175 Anna and Elsa’s Storybook Adventures

    43176 Ariel’s Storybook Adventures

    43177 Belle’s Storybook Adventures

    Conclusion

    What to think of this series? Well, the first thing I want to mention is the number of new parts, recolors, prints etc. I’ve counted six new molds and 33 new prints, not counting the Micro Doll bodies and 12 recolors. For four sets with a total of 474 parts, that is a lot. The new molds in particular represent a big investment by LEGO in this new concept. Does this mean we will see more of this type of set? I hope so.

    The build itself is not thrilling. Beside the “it fits in a book!” aspect, it’s rather boring. But outside of that, and whether you like the large (single-use?) parts, or are a fan of Micro Dolls or Mini Dolls in general: they do offer exactly what they promise.


    My daughters (9, 7 and 4) repeatedly pull the sets out of the display cabinet to play with them. It triggers their fantasy to come up with all kind of adventures, despite the sets being small. This is the purpose of these sets. I, as an AFOL, am spoiled with large, complex sets that end up on a shelf. But not these sets. These are meant to be played with, as LEGO is, at its core. And these deliver on that. So they get a high passing grade from me.



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    12 comments:

    1. My only complaint with these books is that they didn't produce Tiana, Jasmine, Pocahontas or Moana right in this first batch. I know these are more popular and all, but representation should count for something.
      Other than that - LOVE the concept and the execution! :D

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      1. Disney Princess is an odd duck for a LEGO theme. The overall brand has a policy of rotating characters in and out of production, so nobody gets burned out on them. Anna/Elsa are also usually distinct from Disney Princess because they are _so_ popular that they work better with Frozen just being its own brand. Moana doesn't make sense at all, since she just got two new sets this year. Jasmine may be getting vaulted, since they have 41158 listed on S@H, but it's out of stock, and there are no new Alladin-based sets to replace it. Tiana is also featured in one set that's listed as Retiring Soon, so the vault may be in her immediate future as well. Pocahontas is only referenced in one set from 2016, and then only in terms of her racoon having been produced as a Pet, so I'm pretty sure she's currently off limits.

        But they also only made four of these sets right off the bat. Frozen is a no-brainer, especially with Frozen II having just hit home video recently. Mulan's live-action movie is due out soon, so that's another easy call. Little Mermaid seems to constantly be one of their lead-off properties, possibly because it's easier to get the tail mold green-lit for the first wave. I have no idea why Beauty and the Beast made the cut, but it is noteworthy that Belle is _still_ the only brunette in the lineup, which makes her extremely popular with brunettes (half of the official Disney Princesses have black hair, blonde comes in second with three, and even redheads beat brunette with two).

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    2. I could see those book covers (especially blue or yellow) being used for storage areas in a recycling plant or quarry where loaders are piling different materials into different bins.

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    4. My daughters used to love Polly Pockets and this range is very similar, but with added construction fun. Should sell well. The 6x8 tile with rounds ends is very interesting, and I look forward to trying things out with those other new elements.

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    5. As a kid I used to like making little toy kits in small interesting tins (like Sucrets, etc.), so that when we went to grandma's house I could take some fun toys with me.

      I absolutely LOVE the idea of using these to make small portable playsets. The only real issue is that I need to step up my skills in terms of color usage, as none of the current book parts would work with a classic Space theme (my default).

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      1. Wouldn't the blue ones work? I know it's not the same blue from 40 years ago, but it looks amazing alongside grey :)

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      2. You know, you're right! And now that I think about it more Alien Conquest used dark azure figs so there's already some inspiration there.

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    6. Personally, I think the "micro-dolls" would work just fine for children in themes like Friends and Elves! Big-headed character designs for kids are not uncommon at all in animation, and it's not as though minifigure children are particularly well-proportioned, either!

      Just compare Andrea and her younger sister Liz in this scene of the LEGO Friends: Girls on a Mission animated series: pretty much the same head size! https://twitter.com/SkyeBarnick/status/1235614726307991552/photo/1

      Of course, the actual mini-dolls' proportions (about 4 heads tall) are already more exaggerated than the animated versions of the characters, but all the more reason that mini-doll children shouldn't be expected to conform to realistic human proportions.

      As for the dolls being unable to walk hand-in-hand, the same issue also applies to minifig children. I think the compatible hand connections are more useful for the same sorts of poses we've seen people create with the minifig baby, like having kids and adults hold hands while facing each other, as if dancing or lifting a child up in the air.

      The photos you took are certainly amusing, though, especially with Anna looking like she's hurling her younger doppelganger to the ground in a wrestling throw! I'm sure there are lots of other ways that the articulated arms and the 1.5mm holes in the hands could be useful, such as allowing micro-dolls to climb trees built using plant parts with 1.5mm stems.

      Anyway, as for the rest of the review, it's nice to see an analysis of the book pieces! As specialized as they are, it's neat that they use standard Technic hinges, which I suspect will help MOCists get more use out of them. And they're certainly no more specialized than stuff like raised baseplates or Bionicle canisters that I'm used to seeing nostalgia for among AFOLs.

      I suspect the main reason for the reduced studs inside the book spines and covers is simply so that parts attached to them are easier to remove. Even with a brick separator, just think about how difficult it can be to remove a 4x8 plate from the top of a fully-studded 6x16 plate when the parts are securely pressed together! Fewer studs means less clutch, which helps avert that issue.

      The 8x6 tiles with either a more basic pattern or unprinted in a color like Medium Azur could be great as the base of swimming pools! Overall, though, I think their most valuable uses going forward will still be stuff like billboards, murals, nameplates, etc. that require this level of printed detail, rather than more structural applications where existing combinations of plates or tiles might suffice.

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    7. "But creating a new head would probably also mean creating new hairs and headwear."

      Nonsense. All you have to do is justify forcing them to all wear 94162. And hope they haven't destroyed the mold after nearly a decade.

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