17 October 2022

LEGO® Ideas review + MOC: 21333 Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night

Posted by Eero

Vincent van Gogh is undeniably one of the most beloved painters in history. His paintings are adored by both the art professionals and the greater public, and the tragic aspects of his life affect the way they are perceived. Nonetheless, due to huge popularity his paintings adorn a mass of memorabilia from fridge magnets to calendars and lunch boxes, and via LEGO® Ideas program, a buildable miniature set.

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO®  Ideas 21333 Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night
US$169.99/ £149.99/ 169.99€/ AU$259.99
2316 parts
Buying from LEGO.com? Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop/for Europe 'Change region'.

A brick version of Starry Night was submitted to the LEGO Ideas website by legotruman in July 2020. As usual, the project went through a major overhaul in the skilled hands of professional set designers, and for once I perceived that AFOLs were happy with the update. Often the changes on the submissions are somewhat sneered upon. I don't mean the original submission would have been bad - it's pretty, and several aspects like the cypress tree, the close-up bushes and the landscape on the right side of the painting remained quite unchanged. However, I think omitting the transparent plates in the background was the right choice, as the smooth surface of different-hued blues work beautifully whereas transparency areas make it look busy. More on that later.

The Minifig and Parts of Interest

Vincent van Gogh joins Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare and Amelia Earhart among the real historical people released as minifigures. He comes with a painter's stand, brush and a suitably-coloured palette of oil paints.

The colour scheme of the minifigure is very pleasant and the parts have brush stroke patterns on them resembling Van Gogh's portraits. While stylised, I think they can also work well in other settings. I only wish the emotion wasn't so strict; I would have preferred something more solemn. Vincent is truly hard to capture in noseless minifig form, as his nose is quite prominent - especially in my favourite, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat (1887).

  • Minifigure, Head Orange Eyebrows and Beard, Black Eyes with White Pupils, Cheek Lines Pattern - Hollow Stud in Light Nougat (3626cpb3026)
  • Torso Jacket with Creases, Wrinkles, Buttons, and 2 Pockets, Sand Blue Vest Pattern / Medium Azure Arms with Creases and Wrinkles Pattern / Light Nougat Hands in Medium Azure (973pb4737c01)
  • Hips and Legs with Reddish Brown Shoes and Belt with Buckle, Creases, and Wrinkles Pattern in Dark orange (970c00pb1383)
  • Minifigure, Hair Combed Front to Rear in Orange (6397185 | 92081) - also in 60336 Freight Train

Unique printed parts in set 21333

  • 1x Minifigure, Utensil Paint Palette with Yellow, Medium Azure, Blue, and Dark Blue Paint Splotches Pattern in Medium Nougat (93551pb02)
  • 1x Tile, Modified 4 x 4 with Studs on Edge with The Starry Night Painting Pattern in White (6179pb222)

The tile with studs on one edge has been used as a painting before, but it feels a bit cumbersome to me. It's hard to imagine what the huge unpainted area on the bottom would present. I would have preferred a 2x3 tile. The print looks great nonetheless.

  • 1x Dish 6 x 6 Inverted (Radar) - Solid Studs with Bright Light Orange and Orange Crescent with White Brushstrokes Pattern in Bright Light Yellow (44375bpb18)
  • 2x Dish 4 x 4 Inverted (Radar) with Solid Stud with Yellow, Medium Blue, and Bright Light Yellow Brushstrokes on Yellow, Medium Blue, and Blue Background Pattern in Medium Azure (3960pb070)
  • 2x Dish 4 x 4 Inverted (Radar) with Solid Stud with Bright Light Yellow and Bright Light Orange Brushstrokes on Bright Light Yellow and Light Aqua Background Pattern in White (3960pb071)

Using unique printed dishes to represent the celestial bodies is one the major changes between the submission and the set. I think absolutely think it was the right choice, as the stars made of grille tiles didn't really flow. The prints are beautifully coloured and truly inspiring MOC material. 

  • 3x Dish 3 x 3 Inverted (Radar) with White and Bright Light Yellow Brushstrokes Pattern in Trans-Light-Blue (43898pb011)
  • 2x Dish 3 x 3 Inverted (Radar) with White, Bright Light Blue, and Bright Light Yellow Brushstrokes Pattern in Trans-Dark-Blue (43898pb010)

The smaller stars remind me of energy shields of some sort, or maybe the eerie glow of starship engines. I hope space builders find cool uses for them.

Unique Recolours:

  • 12x Arch 1 x 3 Inverted in Bright Light Blue (6392576 | 70681)

  • 1x Minifigure, Weapon Spear Tip with Fins in Bright Light Blue (6396057 | 24482) - with on extra
  • 3x Arch 1 x 2 Inverted in Bright Light Blue (6383091 | 78666)
  • 3x Slope 45 2 x 1 Double / Inverted with Bottom Stud Holder in Bright Light Blue (6164352 | 3049c)
  • 2x Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Pin Hole on Bottom in Dark Bluish Grey (6396058 | 18677)

The Dark Bley connectors seems a bit out of place among the Bright Light Blue parts, but it's an useful part and nice to see in more colours. In general, I'm also very happy to see recently introduced inverted arches used in sets.

Rare Parts

  • 4x Slope 33 3 x 3 Double Concave in Black (6144756 | 99301) - also in 10273 Haunted House
  • 1x Slope, Inverted 45 2 x 1 in Bright Light Yellow (6070301 | 3665) - in 3 other sets
  • 4x Bracket 1 x 2 - 1 x 2 in Bright Light Yellow (6296497 | 99781) - in 4 other sets
  • 1x Slope 45 2 x 2 Double in Dark Orange (4242396 | 3043) - in 3 other sets
  • 2x Slope 45 1 x 1 Double in Dark Orange (6374150 | 35464) - also in 21057 Singapore
  • 2x Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Open O Clip Thick (Vertical Grip) in Dark Orange (6340735 | 44860) - also in 76956 T. Rex Breakout
  • 4x Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 2/3 with Studs on Side in Dark Orange (6361813 | 22885) - in 4 other sets
  • 1x Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Angled Bar Handles on Side in Reddish Brown (6361174 | 92692) - also in 76391 Hogwarts Icons - Collectors' Edition
  • 1x Minifigure, Utensil Paint Brush with Molded Blue Bristles Pattern in Reddish Brown (93552pb06) - with one extra, also in 43205 Ultimate Adventure Castle
  • 2x Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Open O Clip on Top in Dark Green (6375006 | 44861) - in 2 other sets; The old mold 92280 appeared in 2 sets
  • 4x Plate 3X3 in Dark Green (6253285 | 11212) - also in 10309 Succulents
  • 8x Slope, Curved 2 x 2 x 2/3 Double Corner in Black (6370961 | 79757) - in 2 other sets

The rare black parts are used to build the frame, absent from the original model, while the earthy tones are mostly used on the landscape. The corner curved slopes are beautiful pieces and would definitely be interesting to use in large quantities. 

  • 6x Tile, Round 1 x 1 Quarter in Medium Blue (6332368 | 25269) - with one extra, in 2 other sets
  • 31x Tile, Round 1 x 1 Quarter in Dark Green (6315608 | 25269) - with one extra, in 5 other sets

As Medium and Dark Azure quarter tiles are very common, it's surprising that this is only the second appearance of Medium Blue ones. There sure are lot of different light blue shades!

  • 22x Slope, Curved 2 x 1 x 2/3 Inverted in Bright Light Blue (6372146 | 24201) - in 2 other sets

  • 2x Arch 1 x 3 Inverted in Sand Green (6369375 | 70681) - in 3 other sets
  • 5x Plate 1 x 3 in Light Aqua (6146704 | 3623) - in 3 other sets
  • 1x Slope, Inverted 45 2 x 1 in Light Aqua (6306030 | 3665) - in 4 other sets
  • 1x Arch 1 x 6 x 3 1/3 Curved Top in Dark Brown (6266292 | 30935) - in 3 other sets
  • 3x Slope, Curved 2 x 1 x 1 1/3 with Recessed Stud in Bright Light Blue (6411396 | 32807) - in 2 other sets
  • 7x Slope 30 1 x 1 x 2/3 in Bright Light Blue (6372124 | 54200) - in 3 other sets
  • 1x Tile 2 x 2 Corner in Medium Blue (6167572 | 14719) in 6 other sets
  • 2x Plate, Round Corner 4 x 4 in Bright Light Blue (6383102 | 30565) - also in 10298 Vespa 125

  • 68x Slope, Curved 1 x 4 x 2/3 Double in Black (6370959 | 79756) - in 2 other sets

A hefty number of long double curved slopes are used on the frame. These are pleasant parts and will prove useful especially on architectural builds.

The Starry Night

This is a beautiful LEGO set, but it's also simply a beautiful, eye-catching object. Van Gogh's endless palette of mixed paints render astonishingly well to the LEGO colour chart. It also makes this set very pleasant to photograph. I think part of the improvement from legotruman's original submission comes from the fact that this type of model looks so much better in photographs than as a digital render.

The model is surprisingly three-dimensional. There's a sort of forced perspective, with the huge cypress tree in the foreground, the village in the mid-range and the hills in the background. The starry night itself is over everything, a real eye-catcher.

 The original submission didn't include the frame, which is strong and nicely shaped, and the "painting" is can be easily removed from the frame and displayed as a diorama. Some additional plates in blue hues are included, supposedly to replace some of the black connectors if displayed without the frame. It looks decent, but I quite enjoy the weirdness of the floating foreground, popping out of the mundane yet realistic frame. Vincent's painting easel is connected to the small stand supporting the painting. It can swivel around and easily be removed.

The backdrop is made almost entirely of 1 x 4 plates in Blue, Dark Blue, Medium Azure and Dark Azure. It depends on the builder if this task is boring or mesmerising - I didn't mind and the result looks beautiful. Most of these plates were packed separately to make the process easier.

The cypress tree was the first thing that caught my eye when I first saw the photos of the final set. It captures the feel and look of oil paint brush strokes incredibly well; and I really mean that, with some experience on the subject. There's something about the rich but mundane combination of Dark Brown, Reddish Brown and Dark Green. The tree is very close to the original submission.

The model doesn't include any revolutionary, breathtaking techniques. There are plenty of SNOT and mathematics, but a large part of the model is just stacked plates. Much can be accomplished with decades-old tools. The swirls of the Milky Way include some angled connections, made simply with click hinges. I was skeptical if the overlapping brick-thick curves of the swirls would look blocky, but it didn't bother me on the finished model at all. The colours are so well balanced that they melt into each other.

The back of the model looks like... the blue screen of death on an ancient monitor.  The hanger piece is satisfyingly connected... but the unique Dark Bluish Grey connectors look out of place! It's not a problem of course, as it's never really visible, but the fact that they made a recolour for it is quite peculiar.

Eero Okkonen's MOC: The Milky Way / Speed of Light

I am a builder first, and my reviews tend to include a custom creation inspired by the parts of the set. This is not exception and I especially wanted to use the printed dishes. But for the first time, I was reluctant to take the model apart. I have not spared praise above, and it comes from the heart. Therefore, my model ended up being thematically and technically close to the original. The backdrop, the town and the hills use the same techniques, the colour scheme is almost identical and the printed parts serve mostly the same purpose seen on the original build.

However, I am a character builder, and I put lot of it into this MOC. The Starry Night had a forced perspective with the cypress tree, and I took this scale play further with two character, one a more physical figure, built mostly of plates, and an almost two-dimensional abstract being, forming the milky way. Both characters are connected to the main part of the build. The standing figure is connected and angled with two small ball joints. I also added an additional two-dimensional element to emphasise the use of colours: The lake reflecting both the blue sky and the glowing moon on its surface.

As an additional note, Milky Way is sort of cozy term for something so unthinkably large and incredible; the Finnish equivalent Linnunrata, or the Route of the Bird, captures the idea of this creation better.


I've used a lot of praising adjectives in this review, because I like it a lot: as simple as that. It has a beautiful and interesting source material and the development from a LEGO Ideas model by legotruman has been a success. The model doesn't really require a knowledge or commitment on anything; you don't have to have seen a TV show or a series of films to understand it and you don't have to go to MoMA in New York to see the original either, as the painting simply is. (It would probably be a nice trip, but any art museum is generally sufficient). This set is ageless, by which I mean it will age well and it can appeal to any audience, regardless of their age.

It's also a good parts pack. The printed dishes are especially nice, and pretty much all 2316 pieces are generally useful if not very exciting. But as I mentioned - and this has not happened to me in a decade or more - I felt solemn as I took it apart. Of course, the beauty of this hobby is that things can be taken apart and re-built, and I believe, if I ever get a home with some more wall space, I will rebuild The Starry Night and hang it on a wall. 

I can and will call this my favourite set ever. Of course, there are several sets that have had huge impact me as a kid, from LEGO Bionicle warriors to LEGO Adventurers temples and Dwarves' Mines. But now, in autumn 2022, The Starry Night is the set I like the most. So you won't get bigger praise from me.

If you're up to spending US$169.99/ £149.99/ 169.99€/ AU$259.99 on a LEGO set, I have no better "Ideas" than 21333 Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night. Full marks.

Buying from LEGO.com? Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop/for Europe 'Change region'.

Editor: Chris Baginski

READ MORE: In our final Space Tools Parts Fest article, Kev Levell builds with metal detectors and walkie talkies

Help New Elementary keep publishing articles like this. Become a Patron!

Massive thanks go to our 'Vibrant Coral' patrons: Antonio Serra, Beyond the Brick, Huw Millington, Big B Bricks, Dave Schefcik, David and Breda Fennell, Richard Selby, Gerald Lasser, Baixo LMmodels, Markus Rollbühler, Elspeth De Montes, Chuck Hagenbuch, Megan Lum, Andy Price, Jf, Daniel Church, Amy Hays and Wayne R. Tyler.

LEGO® Shop at Home
USA: FREE SHIPPING every day on orders over $35!
UK: Free delivery when you spend £50 or more at LEGO!
Australia: Discover the latest promotions and offers on LEGO.com

All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.


  1. Hmm, I wonder how it would look if you added one of the 1x4 wood grain tiles to the studs on the The Starry Night Modified Tile, or the stickered tiles with wood grain and screws from 79010 The Goblin King Battle. If the colors would match, I figured it could look like an easel support plane, or whatchamacallit.

    1. I know what you mean! has a little container for stuff?

    2. Yeah, and also to keep the canvas steady, I guess...

  2. Wow, that Moc is spectacular. Very well done. Looks to come straight out of some opera scene.

    1. Like an Art Nouveau backdrop or something...

    2. Thanks! I aimed for "signing" pose with the figure.

  3. Absolutely stunning MOC!

  4. Yeah that MOC is gorgeous, well done!

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you! Fantasy was what I was aiming for.

  6. Uh oh! That MOC almost puts Vincent to shame... Incredible work, Eero.

  7. Anybody else hearing "Vincent" by Don McLean playing in their head while reading this review? Or is it just me?

  8. Now I need a version of this with an painted exploding TARDIS added on....

    1. Hahaha! But it's not a good sign apparently...

  9. Wow that's an astonishing MOC! Really cool use of all the colours! Is it made by only using the parts from the 21333 set?

    1. I believe it is "inspired by" rather than limited to just parts in the set.

  10. Thanks! Yes it's not an alternative model, and additional parts are used. I believe that 75 % of the parts are from the set and maybe 97 % of the blue-ish and yellow-ish parts!