TobyMac (@toby_mac83) reviews the LEGO® Friends 10th anniversary set, 41703 Friendship Tree House. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop/for Europe 'Change region'. Products in this article were provided by LEGO; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO has marked several theme anniversaries in recent years: LEGO Star Wars turned 20 in 2019, LEGO Harry Potter did the same in 2021 and LEGO Ninjago turned 10 that same year. For Star Wars there were promotional micro-builds and several remakes of older sets. Harry Potter celebrated with a relaunch of the Hogwarts modular sets and released golden minifigures of the main characters. Ninjago featured golden figures too, albeit with some added colours. With LEGO Friends turning 10 in 2022, I was looking forward to what LEGO will be doing to celebrate. Will there be golden minidolls? A remake of some classic sets? Or maybe a set packed with references?
When 41703 Friendship Tree House was announced as the 10th anniversary set, well, to be honest I was a bit underwhelmed. Yes, it’s big and looks great, but where are all the friends? Where are the 10 years of theme history? So it was not love at first sight. But I’ve been tricked by box art before; often sets look better in real life than in photos. So, eager to discover what I’m missing, I climb into the tree house.
|©2022 The LEGO Group|
The box is mostly as we’re used to from Friends, but the differences are important. It features a '10 Years of Friendship' logo, already giving us a clue as to why the set is different from what I was expecting. Rather than focussing on the Friends theme’s history, the anniversary is seen as a 10-year long friendship between The LEGO Group and everyone who has enjoyed the theme in the past 10 years.
Also gone is the group of the 5 original Friends in the top-right corner. This is the same in all sets for 2022. I do have to say, I’m glad to see this. The original group consists only of girls, and doesn’t seem to fit with the LEGO Group's new efforts to make all products gender-neutral. Without holding onto the original group, it will now be easier to create sets with more new characters, making Heartlake City more diverse. And with 10 years of sets with Olivia, Andrea, Mia, Stephanie and Emma, I’m more than ready for some sets without them.
The copy I received, as a gift from LEGO, came in a special sleeve. As far as I can tell this only comes with the gifted sets and customers will receive only the standard box. On the back are images showing significant Friends events from over the years.
- Not entirely new, as it also appeared in December 2021 in the Encanto sets, is the Animal, Butterfly in Flame Yellowish Orange/ Bright Light Orange (6370534 | 80674) and Cool Yellow/ Bright Light Yellow (6379176 | 80674).
- Same goes for Equipment Cutlery, Fork in Silver Metallic/ Flat Silver (6361354 | 79741). It’s the first fork to appear solo because the only predecessor appeared in parts-pack 93082 Equipment Kitchen Implements Kit [Complete Set].
- The third one, Cupcake in Aqua/ Light Aqua (6361352 | 79743), was also mentioned in our review for 10297 Boutique Hotel.
The new Butterfly mould makes this set extra special for me. My wife has a nickname for our 3 children: Bird, Butterfly and Flower, and all 3 can be found in this set.
There are 4 recolours:
- 5x Fence Spindled 1 x 4 x 2 [4 Top Studs] is new in Medium Nougat (6273936 | 15332)
- 1x Panel 1 x 2 x 1 with Rounded Corners and Central Divider in Bright Orange/ Orange (6382664 | 93095)
- 8x Brick Round, Half 1 x 2 in White (6382983 | 68013)
- 2x Window 1 x 2 x 3 Shutter with Hinges and Handle in Bright Reddish Violet/ Magenta (6325956 | 60800)
In the top left we find Olivia:
- Minifig Headwear Beekeeper Hat, Trans-Black Visor in White (6319534 | 69938) has only appeared in 71029-7 Beekeeper in 2021
- Minidoll Torso Girl with Bee print, White Arms and Hands in White (6382943) is a new print
In the top right is River, who appeared previously in 2 other sets in 2021:
- The head on the doll is Minidoll Head Male Dark Brown Eyes, Open Mouth Smile print in Nougat (6350024 | 78962), and is unique for River, used in both of his other sets as well. Same goes for the hair Minifig Hair Coiled and Short in Dark Brown (6350643 | 36060)
- The head next to him is a new print: Minidoll Head Male Dark Brown Eyes, Open Mouth Scared print in Nougat (6373408)
- The torso is a new print: Minidoll Torso Boy with Red Plaid Shirt/Jacket, White Shirt, Flesh Hands in Nougat (6379473)
Bottom left features Stephanie, with her traditional red hair:
- The torso is a new print: Minidoll Torso Girl with Blue Overalls, Bright Light Yellow Plaid Shirt, Light Flesh Arms and Hands in Light Nougat (6396420)
- The legs are also new: Minidoll Hips and Trousers with Back Pockets and Sand Green Boots Print in Bright Blue/ Blue (6373398)
- And the head-on-a-pike is a new print: Minidoll Head with Green Eyes, Freckles, Crooked Smile Print in Light Nougat (6373405)
And the last one in the bottom right is a new character, Jackson:
- New head print: Minidoll Head with Green Eyes, Open Mouth Smile Print in Light Nougat (6373399)
- New torso print: Minidoll Torso Boy with Light Flesh Hands with Red Jacket, White Sleeves, Sand Blue Shirt Print in Light Nougat (6373399)
- Minidoll Hips and Trousers with Back Pockets and Light Flesh Legs and Red Sneakers, White Laces Print in Bright Blue/ Blue (6382001)
Besides the new elements, there are some other elements worth noting:
- Slide Curved 180° in Bright Reddish Violet/ Magenta (6029583 | 11267) has only been seen in 2 sets back in 2013.
- 21229 Fence Spindled 4 x 4 x 2 Quarter Round with 3 Studs in Medium Nougat (6273939 | 21229) has appeared in 2 sets in the last 2 years. We get 3 of them here.
- Tile 4 x 4 Curved, Macaroni in Bright Reddish Violet/ Magenta (6199903 | 27507) has been in 3 other sets.
- Brick Round 1 x 1 diameter Tube with 45 Degree Elbow(2 x 2 x 1) and Axle Holes(Crossholes) at each end in Reddish Brown (6327811 | 65473) was introduced in the 10281 Bonsai, and has not been seen since.
- Plate 2 x 10 in Dark Orange (6351327 | 3832) has been in 3 sets prior.
- Tile 2 x 2 with Groove and Honeycomb with Two Bees (Beehive) Print in Sand Yellow/ Dark Tan (6324015 | 72357) has only appeared in CMF set 71029-7 Beekeeper.
- Slope Inverted 45° 2 x 2 Double Convex in Dark Orange (6325922 | 3676) has been in 2 other sets.
- Technic Beam 1 x 5 Thin with Axle Holes on Ends in Bright Yellow/ Yellow (6371968 | 44864) was, to my surprise, introduced in 2021. I would think such a common Technic part in such a common color would have been seen much more, but it has only appeared in 42131 Cat D11 Bulldozer.
- Tile Round 1 x 1 with Bee print in Transparent/Trans-Clear (6350656 | 79139) was introduced in 21326 Winnie the Pooh and appears here for the 2nd time.
The build is pretty straight forward and feels like a proper Friends build. We start off with the usual side-builds. There is a work-bench to build bird houses, a bunny habitat that reminds me of set 41022 Bunny’s Hutch from 2013, a beehive to collect honey, a stand to sell the honey and a cart to transport it. I have a bit of a love/hate-relation with side builds. They are often nice and add to the play value. They are also small enough to be built by small, inexperienced children, while the grown-ups or older siblings build the main build, but with them not being connected to the main build they are also often the first to get lost.
Moving over to the main build, the whole treehouse is sort of suspended between 2 large trees.
In bag 3 we’re introduced to Jackson who is the first Minidoll to be in a wheelchair. With minidoll legs being unbendable at the knees and a lot longer compared to minifigures, it looks a bit awkward, but I do love the inclusion.
One of the trees is hollow, to house a chair lift. The lift works great, and adds a lot of playability. It is operated by a lever at the top, that also turns the windmill. I was wondering why the designer used a recolour of the Brick Round Half 1 x 2 rather than using the standard 2 x 2 round brick. The standard brick has an axle-hole in the centre, where 2 half round bricks form a clear hole allowing an axle to rotate freely inside.
Some details that caught my eye:
- Above the computer is a poster with a mountain and I wonder if this is a reference. My first thought were the Adventure Camp sets from 2016, but they have a different logo. The Snow Resort sets from 2017 are also not a match. Next to it is a calendar with some days marked.
- The window is held in place by a round plate with 1L bar, allowing it to be askew.
- The toilet is wheelchair-accessible.
- The 4 beds show this set is indeed meant for only the 4 characters in the set and not the original group of 5.
- The red radio could be a throw-back to one of Andrea’s first sets: 3932 Andrea’s Stage from 2012.
- Behind one of the bird houses is a QR-code leading to a special Friends page on LEGO.com.
Here are some more details of the set:
The set in itself is amazing and shows why I love the theme. It’s much bigger than photos do it justice and packs everything you need from a Friends set. The end result is a sturdy structure that can easily be played with and features a lot of small details and play functions. The inclusion of the wheelchair along with toilet and lift are great and just feel like a natural fit within the set.
This is the 7th treehouse in the Friends theme, with many more semi-treehouse builds appearing in other sets. It is not a perfect treehouse, with some crooked wooden boards in the wrong colour, and that’s why some characters have a paint roller or a hammer: Friendship is always under construction and is built together.
But as for my expectations for a 10th Anniversary set, they are not met because I had a very different idea of what we were going to get. I was expecting the focus to be on the theme’s history, but the design team went with a focus on celebrating friendship instead. I don’t think that decision is wrong, it’s just different from what I had in mind. With that being said, 2022 is still young so who knows? I still have my fingers crossed for a Ninjago City-sized set in Friends style!
In closing, I want to show this special spot I discovered in the treehouse. I’m not sure if this is intended, but I got a bit emotional when I saw it. On one of the floors are some rugs for the friends to sit together. A bit behind it, inside the tree, is a magenta tile, seemingly out of place. I see this as a special place for people like me. I really want to be a part of groups, but with my social anxiety and high sensitivity for sounds, this is often very hard for me to do in real life. The magenta tile is the perfect spot to sit, near the group, but distant enough to cope. It just needs a headphone and a book and you can find me there.
Buying 41703 Friendship Tree House? Consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission:
- USA LEGO Shop: $79.99
- Australia LEGO Shop: $129.99
- UK LEGO Shop: £69.99 / for Europe 'Change region'.
Coming soon, New Elementary celebrate 10 years of Friends with a look at what it brought to LEGO.
Editor: Chris Baginski
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