Warning: I haven’t been this excited about an IP since LEGO Doctor Who, and so unusually for New Elementary there will be scrutiny of the source material, the minifigures and even the stickers! We’ll start with the completed set however, so settle back, pop on an appropriate disco soundtrack and let me show you what you get, what you get in Sesame Street.
My first impression was that it looked a bit small, but that is because the original Ideas submission by Ivan Guerrero is designed at a bigger scale and opened like a dollhouse. I think the final product is a much better scale, plus it includes Hooper’s Store. I also agree with the decision not to include any of the human residents of Sesame Street.
When it comes to where the Muppets are positioned, I initially assumed the LEGO designer Ollie Gregory had taken free rein; for example it would have been impractical to place Ernie and Bert’s apartment in its correct positioning of the basement and so they are on the second floor. However, it turns out that the reason things are not where I remember them being is that times have changed on Sesame Street. When the show moved from public broadcaster PBS to HBO in 2016, the set was completely rebuilt for the first time ever and it is this new version that is represented here. This seems at odds with the fact that 21324 123 Sesame Street is a nostalgic product aimed at adults, but honestly it’s probably only nerds like me who will notice or care.
Apparently the most controversial change made in 2016 was that Oscar’s trash can used to be located to the right of the stoop but it was felt he should be more central so he (and Slimey! On a heart tile!) now sit directly in front of 123 Sesame Street with the recycling...
...as well as this neat wheelie bin, made of just 7 pieces.
So the LEGO set seems pretty faithful to the new filming set but nevertheless I think there have been some tweaks; for example those colourful doors behind Big Bird’s nest. From 1969 to 2015 they were further forward, boarding up the whole alleyway with Big Bird’s nest located behind, but they were removed as it was felt he should not be hidden away. Perhaps their presence in the LEGO version, placed at the back, is a compromise to nostalgia.
Similarly, I think Abby Cadabby’s fairy garden is located behind 123 Sesame Street in the show but here it is positioned on the side next to the cafe at Hooper’s. She is represented by some street art and above that local tradies Bill and Sully have an impressive billboard. These cheer up what is perhaps a plain wall on the real set.
While we're in Abby's garden: I was struck by the neat simplicity of the attachment points between the sunflower and the crate.
Unlike Abby's garden, the wall above the main entrance looks stark in contrast to the rest of the set, but that’s presumably down to the source material. A couple of tan ingots break up the monotony but were perhaps only added to cover up the SNOT technique being used on the other side of the wall. I’m left uncertain if they’re intended to represent a little general weathering or an actual decoration.
The architectural decoration above the door is a delightful creation that utilises tan heart tiles (recoloured for this set, as we’ll discuss tomorrow) before being inverted and attached with clips.
The front door frame is a simple yet beautiful sideways build.
The Medium Nougat highlights are beautiful and match the original well. The iconic green front doors to 123 Sesame Street are brick-built and use a lovely transparent printed 1x2 brick above. Let’s go inside!
Elmo not only seems to dominate every aspect of the show these days, he also scored the main apartment of 123 Sesame Street. Do I sound bitter?
The headboard of his bed is a clever use of 'D' tiles and clip lights. His toy train is another of the many effective details in the set achieved with only a few parts.
I like how this vintage phone design snuggles into the recess of the arch piece above.
Ernie and Bert’s apartment
Upstairs, Ernie and Bert have a very busy apartment as the bedroom, living room and bathroom are all compressed into one space! It is great to have all of these iconic locations represented though.
This is the SNOT technique I referred to earlier; a very simple way to create a shelf!
Ernie’s bath (which he calls Rosie because he always leaves a ring around the Rosie) is a sideways-build utilising the ‘Minecraft feet’ brackets (41682) to attach to the base. This makes bathtime lots of fun.
The headboards of Bert and Ernie’s iconic beds are brilliantly reproduced by exposing the undersides of parts. Much as I would have loved stickers that included the “E” and “B” monograms, that would have required a different build which doubtless would not have been as clever.
Bert’s chair is actually very stylish I think; you may like to use this design in your own creations.
The roof of 123 Sesame Street
Atop the building we find a UFO – one of the references I don’t get – as well as some chimneys and the coop for Bert’s beloved pigeons.
I like the use of the relatively new 2x2 turntable base (27448) in the larger chimney, not as a turntable but simply to allow access for an axle while providing detail for the base of the chimney.
The set doesn’t suggest confining pigeons but it’s just possible, if somewhat cruel, to fit one.
Cookie’s apartment and Hooper’s Store
Cookie lives upstairs from Hooper’s Store, eating junk food while watching trashy game shows apparently. The portrait of The Count is not supposed to be wonky; to my embarrassment I failed to follow the instructions, which suggest you apply the sticker after placing the round tile on the wall. I figured it would be much easier to apply it beforehand, forgetting I needed to pay attention to orientation! Serves me right for having so little experience at applying LEGO stickers.
Hooper’s Store is an absolutely glorious design worthy of adaptation for your own City layouts. Sadly its positioning means its best angles are from the rear – consequently I have removed it from the set and reapplied to my own base plate here, to reveal its full glory to you:
It means the typical viewing angles of this display set aren't necessarily the best for Hooper’s.
(I have literally only just noticed the milk carton by Ernie's window – the Twiddlebugs must live there!)
Of course, they couldn’t go changing the placement of buildings on the Sesame Street set for the LEGO set, although you easily could if you dislike how it looks on the shelf. Perhaps adapting the base to include hinges, so you can rotate Hooper’s Store at will?
The Hooper's interior is jam-packed with groceries and an old-fashioned cash register.
Hooper’s aforementioned cafe is simple but effective and feels like a charming corner in which to enjoy a nourishing meal. (I took this picture while I had the store removed from the model.)
The cafe's sole chair uses 2 of the new 1x2 half-cylinders (68013).
Stickers in Ideas set 123 Sesame Street
Aside from the brick-built characters who we will investigate tomorrow, some other characters are represented in sticker form, as are many in-show references. Regular readers will know I prefer not to apply stickers so I can re-use the parts but there is no way I’m ever parting out this set so it's stickers all the way! It proved to be a challenging decision for me though, as many of the parts to be stickered are the most useful new ones.
LEGO graphic designer Crystal Marie Fontan states in the booklet how much Sesame Street means to her, and has done a stunning job with these designs. Let’s look at each in turn.
- Mr. Hooper is the only human being represented in the set. The drawing this sticker is based on was featured in the episode where the show’s producers decided to address the real-life passing of the actor by having Big Bird come to understand Mr. Hooper’s death.
- This clock with no second hand is not actually a clock; it’s from the indescribably funky Pinball Number Count song performed by the Pointer Sisters.
- A portrait of Mr Snuffleupagus, Big Bird’s elephantine friend who the humans never saw and presumed was imaginary – until the show’s producers decided this set a bad example, given that children should expect to be believed by adults if they’re telling the truth.
- Guy Smiley, America's Favourite Game Show Host, is on Cookie’s television.
- A sign for Hooper’s Store. The 2016 set redesign went for a vintage look rather than updating Hooper’s to be a hipster hangout, and even drew upon references to 19th Century store designs.
- The famous portrait of Ernie and Bert that always hangs in their apartment.
- Elmo too has a portrait in his apartment, of him and his father.
- Bert’s bottle cap collection, which you can read about on his blog New Capary. (Not really.)
- Gutted as I am that Grover didn’t make the minifig cut, it’s nice that his representation is his no-so-super hero alter-ego.
- The iconic diamond pattern of Hooper’s Store, which will be a nice design to use in your own creations. Painfully, this is applied to the new 2x6 tile!
- The two sides of the neon sign of Hooper’s Store, although oddly these haven’t been made to look like they’re neon.
- The Count Von Count, another sad omission from the minifigures, hangs as a portrait in Cookie Monster’s apartment. Unfortunately it is attached to an unprinted dark red 3x3 round tile, which is a first as we will discuss tomorrow.
- A gingham tablecloth outside of Hooper’s, attached to an unprinted white 3x3 round tile which again is new to this set.
- A news article referencing the great Winter Porridge Shortage, from a 2009 episode.
- A pinboard in Elmo’s apartment, including drawings of Telly Monster and the hilarious ‘Yip-Yip’ aliens. I don’t get the other references here though.
- Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck. I really had to research this one; the reference derives from a regular sketch from 2017.
- A portrait of Zoe and Rosita also hangs in Elmo’s apartment.
- Bert’s oatmeal recipe book is faithfully reproduced…
- ....right down to the ingredients he reads out in the rhyming sketch!
- A box of paper clips, another of Bert’s obsessions. If you ever need to practice Mindfulness, check out his song about them.
- I’m glad Biff and Sully receive prominent advertising on the side of 123 Sesame Street; having been in the show since 1974, they deserve the business.
- The magical fairy Abby Cadabby is painted on a wall overlooking her fairy garden introduced in 2016.
I’m sad there was no sticker included for the “B. BIRD” on Big Bird’s mailbox, which I feel is iconic.
Massive thanks go to our 'Vibrant Coral' patrons: Iain Adams, Font Review Journal, Baixo LMmodels, Andy Price, Anthony Wright, Geppy, Chris Cook, London AFOLs, Gerald Lasser, Big B Bricks, Dave Schefcik, David and Breda Fennell, Huw Millington, Neil Crosby, Antonio Serra, Beyond the Brick, Sue Ann Barber & Trevor Clark, and Kevin Gascoigne. You're awesome!
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