09 December 2020

LEGO® ART review: 31202 Disney’s Mickey Mouse

We have another 2021 LEGO® Art set for you today: 31202 Disney’s Mickey Mouse, reviewed by Omid (@nwbricks). It has 2658 pieces and will be released 1 January 2021 priced 119.99€/ £114.99/ US$119.99/ CA$149.99/ AU$199.99/ 1099 DKK. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links: USA LEGO Shop at Home|UK LEGO Shop at Home. New Elementary may get a commission. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.

If you’ve been following our articles recently you may have guessed this review was coming! TobyMac dived into LEGO® ART 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts Crests which teed me up for a go at the slightly smaller but similarly impressive 31202 Disney’s Mickey Mouse. 


I must admit, when the first round of Art sets were revealed I wasn’t exactly blown away. That was due in equal parts to the subject matter and the inescapably sly marketing which requires you to spend upwards of £400 for a complete set of all four possible images. 

This set is slightly more palatable, with only two options provided, but will still set you back 239.98€/ £229.98/ US$239.98/ CA$299.98/ AU$399.98/ 2198 DKK if you want to display Mickey and Minnie together. It would make a lovely two-dimensional complement to the poseable character models released earlier this year.

New Parts

As with the other Art sets, we are treated to nine of the new 16x16 bricks, two of the new wall hanger elements and one absolute unit of a brick separator. 


I personally struggled to see the value in such a chunky tool, but it soon proved its worth when I had to remove a full module of 256 tiles. I’d love to see a one-wide separator at some point to complete the line-up and finally retire my trusty flathead screwdriver, although a minifigure crowbar has been included. 

Tobias already took a look at Brick Special 16 x 16 x 1 ⅓ with Pinholes (6302092 | 65803) and Technic Panel 3 x 5 with Wall Mount Hole (6302094 | 67139), so I won’t go into more detail here, but I will say that the hanger pieces are just crying out to be repurposed as robot faces. 


Unlike the earlier wave of Art sets, there are no new recolours in this wave. The palette here is relatively minimal, with the bulk of 1x1 round tiles in White (x835), Black (x662) and Earth Blue/ Dark Blue (x409). Brick Yellow/ Tan, Dark Red and both shades of grey help fill in the illusion of pixel anti-aliasing.


There is one new print in the form of a 2x4 ‘Disney’ tile, a signature element shared between all sets in the Art series and undoubtedly a nice added touch. 

Building LEGO ART set 31202

We already took a dip into maths in the Hogwarts Crests review but it’s worth revisiting here. Nine 16x16 bricks gives us a total of 2304 tiles to be placed, which sounds a bit daunting written down like that. In reality it is anything but, as I was soon to discover.  

I will freely admit I’ve never been massively into Disney, but like most kids I had a few bits of Mickey paraphernalia growing up and whatever your views on the company and indeed Walt himself, it surely takes a cold heart to not feel at least a twinge of nostalgia. 


The set is very nicely packaged with the new 18+ branding throughout. The switch to black boxes and manuals has divided opinion, and I’m no different. I like the clean look of the boxes, although there is no denying the older, more colourful branding just felt a bit more “LEGO”. The manuals however are another story and I cannot fathom why printing on black was ever signed off. ‘Dark mode’ has been a buzzword in online design for the last few years and I’m a sucker for it, but there’s a stark difference between a phone screen and a piece of paper: one emits lights and one absorbs it. 

In all fairness it is less of an issue with this set than, say, the 10275 Elf Clubhouse which I found a real struggle to build. Dark browns and blues are almost indistinguishable, leading to a lot of potential mistakes and a great deal of time spent holding the booklet at just the right angle. At least with the Art sets you are effectively painting by numbers and, as we highlighted in the previous review, there is a handy buildable colour reference chart. 


All the Art sets come with a build-along soundtrack, but as we received ours before the official release date neither the Hogwarts nor Disney accompaniments were available at the time of writing. So Tobias went for Nightwish; I chose The Distillers. 

I found the experience of picking and placing tiles to be incredibly relaxing. I would liken it to the same zen feeling that comes with sorting out a tub of bulk parts or building big rocks (the latter of which I have done a lot of over the last year or so!). It doesn’t take much brain power, you can totally zone out, and the end result is tremendously satisfying. 


The modules come together quite quickly once you’re into the swing of things. I didn’t time myself, but there can’t have been much more than 90 minutes between placing the first and last tiles. 

The 16x16 bricks snap together gratifyingly and it is rewarding completing each row of three. It’s not quite the same feeling as finishing a numbered bag in a large set, but it’s still great seeing the full thing come to life in a way that seems larger than the sum of its parts.


I guess if you were really bored you could empty all the pre-sorted tiles into one big bowl, discard the instructions and try to work it out from the box image like a jigsaw. I’ll leave that to someone slightly more masochistic than myself. 

Conclusion


All in all, I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised by this set. It far exceeded my expectations and the finished product looks fantastic. Needless to say, I’ve not had many visitors this year but my mum commented on how much she liked it and if it would be possible to create a similar mosaic of Molly, our old dog. 

It may be a coincidence that around the same time as the Art line was unveiled, BrickLink’s digital design software Studio got a new Mosaic feature. I fired it up and had a go at converting one of my favourite photos of Molly and quickly learned the process is not as simple as point-and-click. 


It goes without saying that comparing a full-colour photo to a cartoon drawing is a case of apples to oranges, but nonetheless this exercise gave me a new-found appreciation for the mosaics and the time that has obviously gone into them. I had to use a 64x64 grid to get anywhere close to the desired level of detail, which arguably makes the Beatles sets even more impressive.

I have since tried a few other processing methods to simplify the image which gives better results, but there is clearly a need for a human touch to really fine-tune the images. Or maybe LEGO just has better in-house software! 


In summary, as with the other Art sets, Mickey fills a niche that is only likely to appeal to die-hard fans. I dread to think what it must be like to be a Warhol-loving, Beatles-listening Star Wars fan with a penchant for Harry Potter and Marvel right now, but there is no denying the finished set looks great and would be a fantastic addition to any walls in your house that might be looking a bit bare. 

Now, if we could just be given some green 1x1 round tiles, please LEGO...

Buying this set in 2021? Consider using our affiliate links: USA LEGO Shop at Home|UK LEGO Shop at Home. New Elementary may get a commission.


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10 comments:

  1. Mickey was an outdated concept devoid of fun and wit when I was a kid watching cartoons back in the 70s, yet here we are 40 years later and Disney's still promoting him relentlessly. What is the appeal of this character outside of Disney's marketing muscle forcing him on us?

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    Replies
    1. He's a mascot. A sort of blank slate onto which Disney's corporate identity can be projected. In this "classic" depiction it evokes nostalgia and kitsch; in video games like Kingdom Hearts he gets a slight edge while still largely counterbalancing the melodrama of the more anime-inspired characters and plotlines; in the recent Mickey Mouse shorts he gets a little more attitude as the animators play looser with both his art style and the "squeaky-clean" personality he's acquired over the years. Like other "legacy" characters like Batman, his longevity has enabled countless creatives to push his image in different directions to the point where they can do any number of things with him while still staying rooted in at least one version of the character.

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    2. I'm with you Sal. I don't recall Mickey ever being funny or interesting. I'm assuming at some point back in the black-and-white days he was quite the popular figure, and of course became the figurehead for everything Disney. I'll have to go ask my parents or grandparents what I'm missing.

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    3. It's like how characters such as Darth Vader or Iron Man represent Star Wars and Marvel -- some of the more well-known characters become fan favorites and eventually mascots

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    4. Has Iron Man surpassed Spider-Man by now? I remember Iron Man being a pretty minor player in Marvel Comics up until the first movie...

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  2. Marveling a bit at the way the very subtle use of Brick Yellow/Tan around the edges of Mickey's face make it look like a different color than the white background. It's one of those things that seems like it'd be hard to achieve either working purely with a computer algorithm or free-building by hand—a lot of planning and experimentation probably went into figuring the exact balance of white to tan tiles and the placement of each.

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    Replies
    1. If you squint your eyes and look at it, the line bordering his face looks like it's of a uniform thickness. Since it's clearly not when you look at the individual parts, it seems like the colors chosen were probably based on tone more than anything. Put two dark pieces next to each other, and they'll read as a thicker line than a dark piece next to a lighter one.

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  4. Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real hard work to make a great article… but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. Super Rugby

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  5. The Distillers are about as diametrically opposite Mickey Mouse as could be, nice choice.

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