25 November 2020

(CW: HP) LEGO® ART review: 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests

Today, Toby Mac (TobyMac) reviews the upcoming LEGO® ART 31201 Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Crests which is priced 119.99€/ £114.99/ US$119.99/ CA$149.99/ AU$199.99/ 1099 DKK and contains 4249 pieces. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this. Editorial note: Although views expressed by Harry Potter's creator do not align with that of New Elementary, we continue to cover HP sets. Read about our stance here.

In 2020 LEGO has focused strongly on adult builders including introducing a new line of sets, LEGO Art, with which you can build a mosaic that can be hung like a painting. So far, there are 4 sets in this theme; New Elementary took a very brief look when they were announced back in July and now 2 more sets have been announced for a 2021 release. I’ll be looking at one of them in detail now, 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests, and soon Omid will be reviewing the other, 31202 Disney’s Mickey Mouse. 

Various versions of the LEGO set 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests hanging on walls in a home
©2020 The LEGO Group

With 31201 you can build one of four crests belonging to the houses of Hogwarts. As with all LEGO Art sets, you can only build one design at a time. There is also the possibility to combine 4 copies of the set in 1 large display containing all crests.

New Moulds in LEGO Art sets

All LEGO Art sets come with 3 new moulds.


First up is the Brick Special 16 x 16 x 1 ⅓ with Pinholes in Black (6302092 | 65803). This combination of a 16 x 16 plate with the added height of 1 Technic brick with pinholes in the sides makes a great base for creating a modular display. 

Next is the new Brick Separator 4 Studs Wide in Black (6302093 | 55819). Since there are multiple models to be built, using a lot of 1 x 1 tiles or plates, it is only logical LEGO would introduce a big brother for the standard brick separator. While this is not a bad idea, I do have some issues with the tool itself.


When the 1 x 1 round plates are placed on the edge of a plate, there is no problem getting them off. But when the parts are in the middle of the plate, the separator has trouble getting a good grip on the plates. This is partly because of the round plates themselves, as they don’t have a side wall going all the way down. This gives a smaller surface for the separator to leverage the part with. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that a normal plate can be removed without any problem. I also tested this with the older, 2-module wide version which had no trouble removing the parts. Maybe this is because the studs of the parts being removed are gripped on 3 sides, whereas on the larger version the 2 central studs are only gripped at the front and back? The fact that  the 4-module version has no problem removing just one round plate seems to back that theory up. Luckily, the smaller side-wall of a round plate means you can use the 6-module wide end of the separator intended for tiles. A warning though: if you don’t remove the parts in a controlled manner, they tend to fly all across the room!

Note also that the set also comes with a Tool Crowbar in Warm Gold/ Pearl Gold (6056774 | 92585) to remove parts that are surrounded by other parts.

The last new mould is the Technic Panel 3 x 5 with Wall Mount Hole, coming in Black (6302094 | 67139). This part is placed in the back of the mosaic as a wall mount, but I can see this part being used outside of its intended purpose very easily. 


It is basically a new size of Technic Panel. There are 4 pinholes on each of the long sides, and 2 pinholes on the top. It sits somewhere between the Technic Connector Beam 3 x 3 (39793) and the Technic Panel 3 x 11 x 1 (15458).

New Prints

There is only 1 new printed part in the set. Each LEGO Art set comes with a 2 x 4 tile, as a sort of signature. In this case it is a Tile 2 x 4 in Black with White ‘HARRY POTTER’ print (6329428).

There are no new recolours or rare parts in this set, unlike the earlier LEGO Art sets which introduced many new colours of the round plate. What is noteworthy is the piece count: 4249 in total, whereas the earlier sets averaged 3212 pieces each. This is because of the vast amount of round plates you get with this set. Because each crest uses its own House colours, there are a lot of parts that only get used in 1 model. In total, excluding the spares, there are 3503 round plates in 12 different colours.

Building LEGO Art Hogwarts Crests 31201

So: 9 bases, each comprising 16 x 16 = 256 studs, gives us a total of 2304 plates to be added. I must be honest, I was sceptical as to how much fun this was going to be. I chose to build the Ravenclaw crest first. Gryffindor (the house of Harry Potter) was too obvious to start with; Slytherin is not my type; and Hufflepuffs are described as patient. Ravenclaw, the house that uses wit rather than do hard work, is more up my alley. Also, I like blue.

At the front of the instructions is a handy tip: there are some extra plates to create a colour chart. Each building page shows this chart, with numbers to find the correct colour more easily. 


Since it is tricky to spot some colours on paper, especially the Pearl colours, this ‘real life’ tool is great for anyone who has trouble seeing the subtle shade differences.

LEGO also provides a soundtrack to enhance the build experience. Unfortunately, the soundtrack for this set was not available yet, so I just put on a Nightwish CD.

The build is straightforward. First, we build the 9 sections. I was surprised by the speed this happens at; each section takes about 8 to12 minutes, going at a steady pace. When all sections are done, they get connected to each other with standard Technic Pins. A border is added, adding a lot of strength to the model.

After about 2.5 hours, including taking photos and taking my kid back to bed, the mosaic was finished.

I had time to build a second crest. This time I chose Gryffindor, as that is one I will probably not display, so I don’t need to rebuild it later on.

Conclusion

Well, my mind has been changed. The end result looks much better than I expected from the photos; nothing beats seeing a model in real life. 

The build process itself was also more fun than the idea of ‘just add 2304 plates’ that I expected. There is some kind of peace in not having to think very hard, but instead just adding parts. It’s like a Mindfulness exercise. The pressure of having only 1 day to do this review diminished the joy a bit however, but when I build the remaining models (and I will!), that pressure will be gone.

Proud Harry Potter fans will love displaying this on their walls but if you’re not into the subject matter, this set only offers you a few new moulds… but plenty of round plates, the best price-per-piece of any LEGO Art set to date! Given there are no new colours here though, one of the other sets might be of more value to your parts collection.


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9 comments:

  1. What do you think about using the black color of the plates as another level of color inside the black animal shapes? Basically, use the 3rd dimension for black on black. Either raised to show 3D depth or depressed to show a darker black.

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    1. You're going to get a different look in real life anyways, vs what you see in a photo. As you shift position in relation to the mosaic, the light reflecting off the black 1x1 round plates or tiles will shift. Heck, on my computer, I can get the same effect, due to the wonky nature of laptop screens. As I'm typing this, the angle I'm seeing the screen from makes the Gryffindor silhouette look solid black, but if I lean forwards to the left I can suddenly see all the individual studs. The Ravenclaw crest has slightly better contrast, so I can see hints of the studs at a wider range of angles, basically right up until I hit the median between "optimal" viewing angle and an angle at which the colors invert. Oh, and dust will definitely highlight the silhouette in ways that a review like this can't easily demonstrate.

      That said, you can certainly try out a raised or depressed silhouette. Depressed will be a lot easier. Just build it without the black parts and see if you like it. If you don't, it's easy enough to add them in afterwards since you're just filling in the gaps. Since they're black-on-black anyways, it might be interesting to see what other possibilities there are, though that could be costly. One option I've come up with is to do alternating rows of 1x1 quarter-round tiles so they produce diagonal stripes. If you want to try the poor man's solution, and you don't mind the extra effort, orient all the non-black tiles so the logos are horizontal, and the black ones so they're diagonal, and see if that reads differently at all.

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    2. The surface of the 16x16 bricks is a lot different from the look of the round plates, including the hollow studs on the edges. I actually had an instance where I added the black plates last, and it looks a bit off. So I personally wouldn't go for depressed. I think creating something raised can have a great effect

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  2. Truthfully, given the lack of any brand-new molds or recolors in this set, the disclaimer about why New Elementary is continuing to cover the Harry Potter theme kind of rings hollow in this particular case.

    Mind you, I appreciate the more detailed analysis of the new brick separator and base pieces. But as a trans lesbian who still feels the sting of betrayal ever since J.K. Rowling appointed herself celebrity spokesperson for anti-transgender discrimination… well, let's just say I'd prefer to have read that analysis in a review of literally any LEGO Art set but this one.

    As it stands, the rest of the article simply showcases how little this set has going for it beyond its ties to a childhood favorite series which I can no longer comfortably enjoy. Perhaps in the very least, it might've been nice to see a custom mosaic or MOC using the parts at the end, if only as a sort of a demonstration of what could be done with the parts beyond this particular brand. But I realize that's not a very realistic expectation for a review written over the course of a single day.

    In any case, good work on the review, and sorry I don't have more positive things to say about it. In the end, it's nobody's fault but Rowling's that her creative legacy has been defiled by such blind, obsessive contempt towards a marginalized group.

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    1. Thanks Skye, you’re right on the wording I used, it sounds a bit off here. (Also apologies that I said I’d discuss it with you in DM before publishing, and forgot.) It was drafted before this review, as an attempt at a statement to convey our position on HP in general rather than this specific set, and I didn’t think to reappraise it based on the first particular set to carry the editorial statement. I think our closing paragraph mirrors your feelings to a degree, that this set has little going for it beyond the HP connection, so I think we’ve done our job there.

      We have 2 other Art reviews coming, it just so happened this was ready first. But even if I did have all 3 at my disposal it still would have made sense for Tobias’ to go first, as it is the others who are attempting to focus more on the MOCcing which, as Tobias would agree I am sure, is not his first choice of LEGO activity. I don’t think it would be right for me to ask that all our HP reviewers create MOCs. Only publishing HP reviews if we can somehow show something worthy beyond the brand is a tricky thing to judge (and to be honest it is inherent within LEGO System that you can always make something else from the parts). It also presents genuine practical issues for us. When we get offered sets, we are no longer told what they are because of the fear of leaks. We get the theme and set number (although, TLG are reviewing that situation). So I can’t judge a set’s worthiness for inclusion on the site at that stage. Instead we would have to refuse to publish about the set after we had received it, or to make the call to tell TLG to never offer us any HP sets again.

      I also honestly wonder whether there’s anything that can effectively (and practically) be done to make HP reviews HP-free, or simply ‘worthy’ as I put it? Can anything actually detoxify the poisoned well or allay any of the justified anger?… hence my decision to proceed with the content warning and editorial statement. I’m sorry the statement didn’t provide the context you needed to proceed with reading the review, I will try another attempt at the wording. I think where the struggle right now for me is; if we’re not rejecting HP wholly outright, where does the line lie? Yes we focus on plastic parts used in a model based on a film based on a book written by JKR so it is far removed and could potentially abstracted from the brand, but not entirely. I really don’t see how that is practical.

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    2. I feel it's more constructive to have the reviews with disclaimers than to not have them at all, considering New Elementary is one of the only LFM sites where these conversations are even allowed to take place without a moderator shutting down what they perceive as "political" discussion. Including links to trans advocacy organizations in the disclaimer and encouraging readers to donate would be helpful - it wouldn't detoxify the well, but it could offer a little bit of antidote.

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    3. Dear Skye, thank you for your comment, I agree completely.
      Jena

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  3. It's an incredibly tricky topic but I just want to say kudos for at least acknowledging the toxicity surrounding HP's author. As mentioned far more than most LFM sites do. I also think New Elementary would be remiss to ignore this important part of the current Lego product line.

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    1. Thanks for the input and kudos. The ironic thing is, we've barely covered HP in the past! I just did a quick reckoning and I count 7 sets we've reviewed over 7.5 years, plus a couple of articles looking at certain parts introduced for the line. No one ever asked us to cover HP more often.
      Food for thought!

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