16 August 2021

(CW: HP) LEGO® Harry Potter build review: 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors Edition

Tom Loftus (@inthert.lego) completes his analysis of the upcoming LEGO® Harry Potter 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors Edition with a look the techniques used in the build. Editorial note: Although views expressed by Harry Potter's creator do not align with that of New Elementary, we continue to cover some sets for their parts. Read about our stance here. Products in this article were provided by LEGO; the author's opinions are their own.

We've already taken a look at the set's delightful elements in Part 1 of our review so today we'll be focusing on the build itself and gosh, what a stunning build it is.

Harry’s Belongings


We start off with a trio of standalone items: Harry’s glasses, wand and one tiny vial of liquid luck - the identifying sticker for which I opted not to apply because who knows when a glow in the dark cone could come in handy. I’d be shocked if anyone building this set can resist the urge to immediately place the glasses upon their own nose - I'm unashamed to admit I couldn't!


The ball joint embedded in Harry’s wand is used to secure it to the main build for safekeeping and display. It's a pity there aren't a couple of extra 1x2 rail plates (32028) in brown to take its place whenever you're casting spells.

Spellbooks and Stand


As is the case with most sets that feature a heavy object displayed at a considerable height, we begin with a sturdy Technic frame. Unlike most sets though, the display stand is far from a purely structural piece. Three brick-built books cover up the bulk of the Technic frame, the first of which being Tom Riddle's diary.


Stacked panel pieces representing pages is a technique I’ve seen used on a number of fan-made creations and has been used as microscale staircases in official sets previously. Tiny offsets like these are subtle but the effect is very convincing, especially from a distance.


Other than the awkward Technic frame emerging from the spine and the smaller attachment points, Tom Riddle’s Diary certainly looks the part with its golden corner protectors and yellowed pages. I’m surprised there isn't anything beyond a resemblance to the movie prop to identify it though. A printed 2x8 bow in Brick Yellow (6357953 | 42918) with some of Harry’s written exchange with Riddle would've been a great way to highlight its significance. Though since the majority of the open pages get obscured almost immediately, It's an understandable omission.


Minecraft jumper plates (65509) are used to get the half plate offset between the pages and covers on both the red and blue spellbooks. A similar effect could've been achieved by simply stepping the tan elements in by a full module but the extra level of realism provided by the jumpers definitely justifies the more complicated construction.

No expense spared for authentic-looking spine binding either, with a 3x4 pearl gold minifigure stand (17836) integrated brilliantly into each book. 


It takes a moment to get the 4x4 round plates (60474) on the underside of each book and the turntable bases (27448 & 61485) on the main build properly aligned but the loud *click* *click* as they snap in place at dynamic angles is very satisfying. 


Our teetering pile of objects grows steadily taller with the addition of a small potions bottle caddy. I was hoping the instructions would provide an explanation for the ‘H.G’ emblem but unlike the other objects, it doesn’t provide any details. Initials for 'Hermione Granger' is all I can come up with which is a little puzzling considering the rest of the display piece is composed of Harry's belongings or else things genric to the wizarding world.

Hedwig


Two fluffy feet are affixed to the tippity-top of the stand, and so begins the construction of Harry's faithful snowy owl.


Unsurprisingly, the body is a solid sub-assembly, with a multitude of SNOT bricks pointing in all directions. It was a bit of a shock to realise the entire owl would connect to the stand with just two technic axles. As we’ll find out later though, this was definitely a good move on the designers' part.


The new 2 module long bar (78258) is put to good use securing the two halves of the central tail feather. The stacked Apollo studs (85861) are a slight blemish in the otherwise perfectly smooth tail but in the grand scheme of things, it's easily overlooked. (And yes we’re still rocking the ‘Apollo stud’ nickname here at New Elementary!)


Two 6x6 plates with Technic holes (73110) are pinned back to back to connect the two halves of the body - exactly as Kev Levell did in his Albatros MOC. The four Technic pins proved far more secure than I had expected. 


An elegant combination of cheese slopes and a trio of mixel joints firmly lock the base of each wing into place at the desired angle.

Great techniques (and not so great puns) just keep on coming as we put the ‘head’ in hedwig!


I let out a squeal of delight when I realised the stud notches on these Slope 45 1 x 1 Double in White (6286834 | 35464) prevent them from clashing with the 10x10 Octagonal plate (89523). 


Once again, the designers bewitch the mind with ingenious angle work that makes mathematical sense but is no less impressive to assemble. 


From impressive to downright gorgeous, Hedwig's stunning set of wings steal the show for me. I was surprised to find the feathers weren't as repetitive to build as they looked - I suspect after placing the first two or three, my eagerness to see the completed wings was more than enough to spur me on though the handful of monotonous bits.


At this point I took an impromptu pause to just sit and hold the completed Hegwig for a while. It's a truly beautiful model in its own right and perfectly captures the grace of a bird mid-flight. Here the decision to just use a pair of axles as mounting points makes perfect sense as it's so convenient to just pick Hedwig up, swoosh her around and plop her back on her perch without having to deconstruct anything. (Note: the transparent supports do not come with the set but were more convenient to use than my arm for the photo!)


Testament to the incredible work that went into Hedwig’s design, the only thing amiss in my eyes is this small sliver of yellow where the largest feather on each wing connects.


Miniscule nitpicks aside, the colours on Hedwig are exceptionally well done. Mixel joints remain colour locked to dark bluish grey and medium stone grey but don't detract from the look one bit. In fact they enhance it, giving a suggestion of each feather’s shaft and blending in with the other flecks of colour that make up the speckled camouflage. 

Additional Side Builds and Finishing Touches 

For those of you able to pry your eyes away from such a magnificent sight, a much smaller set of wings awaits your gaze: the golden Snitch. 

It would've been such a good Easter egg to include a 1x1 pyramid rendered in black (35344 | 6312449) to represent the resurrection stone within its shell. The core isn’t entirely devoid of treasures though, all six of the new downwards 1x1 brackets (79389) included can be found here and are put to good use reversing stud directions. 


The completed Snitch takes up position next to Hedwig, supported by a Technic axle extending from the owl’s perch. It’s balloon shell (18969) wings don’t look quite as accurate to me in person as they did in images but I'll be damned if I can think of a better element to mimic the delicate appearance of the Snitch’s wings. 


At last we get to those fancy new transparent 4x4 dome elements (79850) with a quartet of potion bottles, complete with convincing dark tan stoppers.


A closer look at the instructions turned up an interesting titbit. I noted in my look at the parts that the new mould is similar to the 4x4 Vidiyo dome (65138) and to a lesser extent a 4x4 dish (3960). It would seem both of these were considered or at least used as place holders before the new element was finalised. 


Each bottle is built up the same way, with the exception of the 2x2x2 cones (14918) cleverly used to reduce the volume of studs needed to fill three of the bottles. 


It would’ve been nice to see a bit more variety in colour, though with the red and blue spellbooks and golden snitch, the abundance of green does round off the palette nicely.


Now seems as good a time as any to mention the modist sticker sheet. All are used for labelling up the various potion bottles and exhibit some fantastic graphic design work, imitating the style seen in the movies. Unlike Harry, I do know the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane so I choose to leave the labels off - all the better for moc building later!

Next up is your choice of Hogwarts house scarf. The set includes parts to make all four colour variations but not simultaneously - the yellow used for Gryffindor is required for Hufflepuff, and the grey for Ravenclaw is required for Slytherin.

Initially I was put off by the vibrancy and simpler build-style. But in the short time I've had the set displayed, I've come to appreciate this playful splash of colour. Although my preference is still the slightly more muted hues of Ravenclaw and Slytherin.


The chocolate frog is a great little side build with a decent amount of articulation and is appropriately almost entirely reddish brown. 


Of course each frog comes with a card depicting a famous witch or wizard and, unfortunately for Ron, it's Dumbledore every time with 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors Edition. Alongside the LEGO movie and Antman sets, I think this is one of those rare occasions where the minifigure is to scale with us big figs.


A look at the reverse reveals the full array of snot bricks, brackets and cheese slopes expertly used to make the pentagonal shape. I find all the jagged purple edges a little untidy but considering it’s a small,forward facing display item and very much secondary to the main build, it’s easily forgiven. 


In addition to Dumbledore, the set comes with two more 20th anniversary of LEGO® Harry Potter minifigures, Rubeus Hagrid and Professor Mcgonagall. To get three prominent characters in a single set feels very deluxe. And it’s an appropriate selection too as they of course were all present to deliver Harry and his first letter to the Dursleys. 


Unlike the other 20th anniversary figures which each came with a 3x4 pearl gold minifigure stand (17836), the ones in this set are displayed on a raised platform with Dumbledore’s chocolate frog card taking centre stage. 


Also included are two display stand extensions with space for the other anniversary figures. I'm not in possession of any of the remaining six though, so their regular non-golden alter egos are standing in below. 


While I’m sure those able to purchase the entire commemorative wave will appreciate having a nice place to display all the figures, I do feel it's a little cheeky to include an incentive to ‘collect em all’ given how expensive this set is on its own. 

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter


The combination of yet more Mixel joints used to achieve the folded paper effect was satisfying to see come together.


And so, as the grand finale to a superb building experience, the infamous letter is clipped into pride of place, clasped in Hedwig’s talons. 

Hold on a moment though. Just who is the intended recipient of this letter?


I was gobsmacked to learn the intent of the dotted line is to *gulp* write directly onto an element. With no magical self correcting ink for us muggles, I dread to imagine the number of requests the replacement parts service will receive. Even those gifted with flawless handwriting will have to contend with the unsightly dotted line and the immovable comma.

I hope alphabet tiles or a series of 2x6 tiles (some blank to write on, some with printed canonical character names) were considered as less potentially destructive means of personalisation. Assuming the trio of 8x16 tiles was the only viable option, I personally would’ve much preferred to just have the canonical ‘Dear Mr Potter’ printed instead, especially as the whole set is awash with Harry’s possessions anyway.

The Assembled Hogwarts Icons 

My reservations towards the letter quickly pale into insignificance as we zoom out to see the full extent of the completed model.  


It was a challenge getting everything in my light box and harder still to capture all the items in a photo. Anyone hoping to display this on a shelf had better check how much space they have to play with as it’s a sizable 50cm/19.5inches wide and stands an impressive 44.5cm/17.5inches tall. 

Conclusion

Hedwig is the undisputed centerpiece of the whole thing, her brilliant white plumage and impressive wingspan composed of individual feathers is breathtaking to behold. The remaining items mustn't be overlooked though. All are faithful to the source material and packed with interesting techniques, making the build experience varied and nicely divided up into bite sized chunks.

In contrast, the price of LEGO sets is a bit like Skele-gro - always a bit harder to swallow. I’ll never trivialise spending such amounts on indulgent display items but between the approx. five hour build time and the spectacle (and the spectacles!) of the finished thing, I do feel the value for money is here. Plus there’s  three highly desirable exclusive figures to further soften the blow. Considering my other complaints amount to mere nitpicks, If it weren’t for that dotted line on the letter I’d happily call this a perfect set.

All in all, I'd say 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors Edition is a set any LEGO Harry Potter superfan would want, and one anyone else can at least appreciate as an extraordinarily good looking display piece. 

Launching 2 September 2021, LEGO® 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors Edition contains 3010 pieces, 3x 20th anniversary of LEGO® Harry Potter minifigures and will cost €249.99/ US$249.99/ £229.99/ 1999 DKK/ AU$399.99/ ¥29980/ NZ$449.99/ CA$349.99. 

[EDIT: it will now launch on September 15th in the US, Canada, and Mexico, rather than September 2nd as originally planned due to a shipping delay in the US. The set will be available for online only pre-order at LEGO.com beginning September 2nd. The product will be available in LEGO Retail stores on September 15th. ]

In Part 3 I’ll return my attention back to the parts, exploring more techniques and building some mocs with the wondrous new moulds.

READ MORE: Check out our 5x5 fest where 5 builders each receive 5 sets to build with

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4 comments:

  1. The price is large, but $0.08per part seems entirely reasonable, doesn't it? And its got a bunch of straightforward bricks and parts that are easily used in MOCs.

    In a weird way this almost seems like a Creator set to me.

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    1. As Tom pointed out above, the three entirely exclusive minifigures really do add significant value to the set, not to mention the 3 large exclusive printed plates. I expect this set, like all HP D2C sets, to gain significant value over time. Hedwig looks phenomenal… strongly considering bumping the other Hedwig build from my shelf entirely!

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  2. Speaking of your glossary, under the "Modular Buildings" entry, the three links to Brickset no longer work, could you update them please?

    And on a tangent regarding NPU t There have been so many new parts introduced during my 30-year dark age. Do you have an article that lists out many of the specialized parts and their original purpose? Things like the frying pan are obvious, the 1x2 ingot tile or the binoculars less obvious but figureoutable, while parts like "Gray Bar 1L with 1 x 1 Round Plate" or various "Door Rail" pieces or the "Modified 2 x 2 with Vents" - I have no idea about their original intended use. If there isn't an article could you make one?

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    1. I'd guess many of them were intended for functional solutions of various kinds. One thing you could do is look up the oldest sets on Bricklink or Brickset and then download the instructions to look up the usage.

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