22 December 2022

LEGO® Friends January 2023: New blocks on the kids

Posted by tobymac

We're nearing 2023, which means a new wave of sets will soon be upon us. Over the next few weeks, here on the website and on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts, I'll be taking a look at 17 of the LEGO® Friends sets that have been announced. A lot has changed in Heartlake City, and this brings a lot of new elements. Let's take a look at those changes, and all the new elements!

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.

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The LEGO® Friends reboot

LEGO Friends turned 10 this year, and the LEGO Group has decided to shake up the 'Friends Universe' for the January 2023 wave of sets, to give the theme a 'soft reboot'. The theme is taking a jump forwards in time to when the five familiar original characters have grown up, and have children of their own.

Children have been at the core of this redevelopment. The target age group of 4 to 12 year old girls and boys (a very wide range for one theme) were involved in extensive user testing of potential characters and scenarios. This was done in conjunction with the Geena Davis Institute, with the idea of helping children navigate friendship in the modern world and be more representative of how things are today. Also, a Play Well study by the LEGO Group found that 3 in 4 kids say the toys they play with are not representative enough, while 8 in 10 want more toys that look like them.

A new generation of Friends is introduced, consisting of 5 girls and 3 boys. The changes have been in the planning stage since February 2020 and the Friends team worked to make the characters more inclusive and representative in terms of ethnicity, abilities and interests. They tried to avoid stereotypes, with the personalities being developed first, then the characters' looks.

Personally, Nova seems to represent me the most. She’s described as someone with a dark sense of humor who can appear rude or mean to people who don’t know her very well. She is longing for close friendships, but has a hard time opening up, often being too honest and hurting the feelings of other people. This idea of not having a good grip on social skills feels very familiar, as in my work I’ve been in discussions with the HR department multiple times, because I was misunderstood and written off as rude.

The theme's new visual identity also tries to break stereotypes. The logo gets a new treatment, and the main box colours are now Dark Turquoise and Dark Purple. The box art consists of a photorealistic background and doodles, to convey energy and emotions. It is hoped that these branding changes will appeal to a wider audience, irrespective of gender.

The instructions have been given a makeover as well. My favourite new addition is the map in the start of each booklet that shows where the building or scene lies within Heartlake City.

New elements in 2023 LEGO Friends sets

A reboot naturally comes with a load of new elements. I received the complete January 2023 wave of sets (excluding the 4+ sets and polybags), and after a long study of the instructions and the parts, I have found a whopping 223 new elements to present to you!

Animals

We get 3 new moulds for animals. 

The first animal is the dachshund Pickle, who lives with Nova. Pickle seems to have a problem with its hind legs, as it comes with a harness. The harness connects to a 2496 Wheel Skateboard/Trolley to keep the hind legs off the ground. Pickle comes in 2 versions: with Vibrant Yellow Harness (6416764) found in 41727 and 41755, and a Sand Blue Harness (6416763) found in 41741. Looking at the underside, there is only an anti-stud underneath the front legs, confirming Pickle can’t stand on its hind legs.

A second dog, with mold number 3168, comes in 2 colors. The White version (6429439) is Daisy, found in 41730. The dog Grace appears in Tan with 2 different prints. The version with the sad face and scratches (6416780) is found in 41727, and a healthier version is found in 41732.

The new mould that got the most reaction online must surely be the grumpy cat. The white version (6428858) is called Churro and can be found in 3 sets: 41729, 41735 and 41754. The Reddish Brown version (6416449) Pixel has taken residence in the 41742 Cat Hotel.

Aside from new moulds, there are also existing moulds to be found sporting a new print:

  • Aira - Animal, Dog Pup with Tan Spots, Mouth, Paws Print. Not only a new print, but it is also the first time this mould appears in Dark Orange (6416470) in 41740
  • Animal, Dog Pup with White Paws, Face, Reddish Brown Spots Print in Medium Nougat (6416594) in 41738
  • Animal, Hamster, White Face, Pink Nose Print in Black (6430306) from 41731
  • Mittens - Animal, Cat, Kitten Sitting with Closed Eye, White Mouth and Paws Print is new in Nougat (6416353) in 41732
  • Shadow - Animal, Cat, Kitten Sitting with White Mouth and Paws, Bright Pink Nose Print is also a recolor: Black (6416645) in 41728 and 41742
  • Popcorn - Animal, Salamander with Black Eyes, Dark Orange Spots print is new in Bright Light Orange (6416784) in 41735 and 41739
  • Animal, Squirrel with Brown Eyes, Winking Print in Dark Orange (6416486) in 41735
  • Gertrude - Animal, Cat, Sitting with Dark Bluish Grey Face, Paws, Bright Light Blue Necklace, Gold Pendant Print in new in Light Bluish Grey (6416450) in 41742
  • Dash - Animal, Dog, Pug - Standing with Light Bluish Grey Mouth, Dark Bluish Grey Closed Eyes Print in Black (6416651)
  • Animal, Rabbit / Bunny, Baby Sitting with Medium Nougat Eyes, White Nose Print is new in Sand Blue (6416680) in 41735
  • And at the back we see Peanut - Animal, Horse / Foal, with Brown Eyes, White Pupils and Black Eyelashes Print in Medium Nougat (6416478)

Minidolls

The 27 new characters all need minidoll parts. I won’t risk you getting a thumb injury by making you scroll through all 109 new prints (you can enjoy that when I release our monthly new elements list), but I will list the new moulds and recolors here.

The new character Autumn has a congenital limb reduction, meaning she is missing her left hand, so a new torso was developed for her. Her lower arm is a bit thicker than that of the standard minidoll: it is the same size as a standard bar at 3.18mm. This means the arm can fit clips, as shown in the torso above far right.

  • Minidoll Torso with Left Limb Reduction, White/Dark Turquoise Shirt, Fox on Bright Light Orange Background print (6423982) in 41730
  • Minidoll Torso with Left Limb Reduction with White Shirt, Lime Globe, Leaves, Bright Light Orange/Coral Paint Spots print (6429023) in 41739
  • Minidoll Torso with Left Limb Reduction with Dark Green Shirt, Gold Mushrooms print (6411924) in 41729
  • Minidoll Torso with Left Limb Reduction with Sand Green Shirt, Flower, Ladybug, White Shirt, Coral Trim print (6428612) in 41727 and 41731

Aside from a new torso, we also get 2 new moulds for legs:

  • Minidoll Hips and Turn-up Trousers with Nougat Legs, Black/White Shoes print in Sand Blue (6418003) in 41733 and 41741
  • Minidoll Hips and Turn-up Trousers with Nougat Legs, Dark Turquoise/White Shoes print in Sand Blue (6430007) in 41755
  • Minidoll Hips and Turn-up Trousers with Warm Tan Legs, Black/White Shoes print in Dark Azure (6430919) in 41732
  • Minidoll Legs Wide Pants with Lavender/White Shoes print in Bright Light Blue (6416612) in 41740
  • Minidoll Legs Wide Pants with Lavender/White Shoes print in Sand Blue (6416452) in 41742
  • Minidoll Legs Wide Pants with Dark Blue Shoes in Light Aqua (6416494) in 41735

The new characters need new hairdos, of course:

  • Hair Long Wavy/Curly in Tan (6409761 | 2632)
  • Hair Long Wavy in Black (6430962 | 2645)
  • Hair Long Wavy in Dark Red (6409769 | 22645)
  • Hair Long, Bun in Black (6409763 | 2633)
  • Hair with Medium Azure Helmet in Reddish Brown (6429015 | 2137)
  • Hair with Bright Light Orange Helmet in Black (6406097 | 2137)

  • Hair Big Curly, Braids in Dark Brown (6409768 | 2644)
  • Curly, Smooth Back (6409770 | 2646)
  • Oops, this one is a recolour actually: Hair Big, Curly in Dark Orange (6431025 | 1685) 
  • Hair Short, Wave in Bright Light Yellow (6409759 | 2631)
  • Hair Curly with Thin Braid in Dark Orange (6409765 | 2640)

Aside from new moulds there are some recolours:

  • Hair and Hat, Long with Sand Green Hat Pattern in Dark Red (6430738 | 79989)
  • Hair Coiled, Tied Up with Ribbon, Dark Turquoise Pattern (6427493 | 79984)
  • Hair Ponytail Long French Braided in Red (6430170 | 88286)
  • Hair Spiked in Light Aqua (6428177 | 98385)
  • Hair Smooth Combed Sideways (6430374 | 99930)

The new character Luna, found in 41751, sits in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop her from going to the skate park. We've had some brick-built wheelchairs for minidolls previously, but I always found them a bit bulky. Luna gets a sleek new design with Minidoll Wheelchair in Dark Purple (6429030 | 2135). The chair uses Wheel Skateboard (2496) for the front wheels and the bigger wheels are Wheel Wheelchair with Fixed Black Hard Rubber Tire, with Pin Hole (80441c01), the same as used for the 80440 Equipment Medical Wheelchair introduced in October 2022. Underneath we find 2 anti-studs in the back. I noticed there are no handles for people to push the wheelchair; Luna controls it independently. 

New building elements

With all these new animals and minidoll elements, one could almost forget there are also some ‘normal’ new moulds to be found.

First up is the Cupboard 2 x 3 x 5, which comes in White (6424600 | 2656) in 41731, 41735 and Orange (6409779 | 2656) in 41729, 41730. It can best be viewed as the taller sibling of Cupboard 2 x 3 x 2 (92410). The lower 2 openings can both fit the Cupboard Drawer 2 x3 (4536 and new 78124).

The cupboard comes with a new door: Door 1 x 3 x 5 which appears in Orange (6427395 | 2657) in 41731, in Trans-Clear (6424601 | 2657) in 41729 and White (6409780 | 2657) in 41730 and 41735. Note that the door does not connect if any drawers are placed in the cupboard.

In front of the cupboards is the last new mould: Cable, Flexible 21L with 2 Connectors and Bars in White (6409728 | 2630). 

It can best be described as a hybrid between the Zipline, 22L (27965) and String with End Studs and Minifig Grips 21L (14210). It lies in the centre in the image and combines the flexible cable from the zipline with the bar sections from the string.

Now get ready for the biggest group of new elements....

Recolours

Aside from the animals and minidolls, the new wave of LEGO Friends sets gives us 58 recolours to feed our MOCs. 

I’ll start with the largest parts:

  • Plate 8 x 16 in Orange (6117636 | 92438) in 41731
  • Plate 8 x 16 in Dark Turquoise (6424332 | 92438) in 41731
  • Plate 10 x 10 Half Circle in Tan (6379418 | 80031) in 41751
  • Wedge Plate 8 x 8 Cut Corner in Lime (6424330 | 30504) in 41731
  • Plate 6 x 10 in Dark Turquoise (6427403 | 3033) in 41730
  • Plate Round Corner 4 x 8 Double in Sand Blue (6424447 | 22888) in 41740
  • Wedge Plate 6 x 6 Cut Corner in Dark Turquoise (6427404 | 6106) in 41730

  • Slope Curved 8 x 8 x 4, Ramp in Coral (6425511 | 75538) in 41751
  • Slope Curved 8 x 8 x 4, Ramp in Yellow (6421291 | 75538) in 41751

Modified plates and tiles:

  • Tile 1 x 6 in Coral (6425367 | 6636) in 41727, 41339, 41741, 41754
  • Plate Special 2 x 4 with Two Center Studs in Yellow (6424448 | 65509) in 41730
  • Tile Round 2 x 4 in Bright Light Orange (6422096 | 66857), found in 41730 and 41742
  • Tile 2 x 4 in Lavender (6325969 | 26603) in 41732
  • Tile Special, Splat with Rounded Sides in Bright Light Pink (6424476 | 80677) in 41729 and 41739
  • Tile 45° Cut 2 x 2 in Medium Lavender (6424621 | 35787) in 41732
  • Tile 45° Cut 2 x 2 in Dark Purple (6424624 | 35787) in 41732
  • Tile 45° Cut 2 x 2 in Lavender (6424622 | 35787) in 41732

Slopes and curves:

  • Brick Curved 1 x 4 x 2/3 Double Curved Top, No Studs in Coral (6422238 | 79759) in 41728, 41730 and 41751
  • Brick Curved 1 x 1 x 2/3 Double Curved Top, No Studs in Coral (6422223 | 49307) in 41728 and 41731
  • Brick Arch 1 x 6 x 3 1/3 Curved Top in Dark Turquoise (6390729 | 6060) in 41728
  • Brick Arch 1 x 3 x 2 Curved Top in Coral (6422087 | 6005) in 41729
  • This one doesn't belong here but  we are just checking you are paying attention... Slope 30° 1 x 1 x 2/3 (Cheese Slope) is not new in Light Aqua but it did get a new Element ID (6429264 | 54200)
  • Brick Curved 2 x 1 with Inverted Cutout in Reddish Brown (6385885 | 78666) in 41730
  • Brick Curved 1 x 2 x 1 No Studs in Bright Light Yellow (6422378 | 37352)  41741

Panels and frames:

  • Panel 1 x 6 x 5 in Dark Azure (6421703 | 59349) in 41739
  • Door Frame 1 x 6 x 6 in Medium Nougat (6422084 | 42205) in 41732, 41729
  • Door Frame 1 x 6 x 6 in Bright Light Yellow (6376998 | 42205) in 41728
  • Door Frame 1 x 6 x 6 in Dark Pink (6429932 | 42205) in 41743
  • Door Frame 1 x 6 x 6 in Yellow (6424331 | 42205) in 41731/41727
  • Window Frame 1 x 3 x 3 in Medium Nougat (6422086 | 51239) in 41729, 41740
  • Window Frame 1 x 3 x 3 in Black (6424625 | 51239) in 41732
  • Window 1 x 2 x 2 Flat Front in Lavender (6422081 | 60592) in 41735
  • Window 1 x 2 x 2 Flat Front in Yellowish Green (6429931 | 60592) in/41743
  • Window 1 x 2 x 2 Flat Front in Yellow (6424329 | 60592) 41731

Transportation:

  • Wheel Arch, Mudguard 4 x 2 1/2 x 2 in Lavender (6429737 | 50745) in 41735
  • Equipment Shopping Cart in Bright Light Orange (6422089 | 49649) in 41729
  • Sports Skateboard with Trolley Wheel Holders in Bright Pink (6421704 | 42511) in 41751 and 41739
  • Bicycle Frame, Reinforced Headlight in Dark Azure (6424327 | 65574) in 41731/41738
  • Vehicle Body, Scooter Base in Dark Pink (6422091 | 36273) in 41733/41751

Miscellaneous:

  • Door 3 x 6 in Trans-Clear (6424464 | 80683) in 41728, 41732, 41731, 41751
  • Door 4 x 6 with Pet Door in Bright Light Yellow (6422092 | 79730) in 41735
  • Flag 7 x 3 with Rod in Dark Pink (6424328 | 30292) in 41731
  • Plate 4 x 8 in Light Aqua (6421475 | 3035) in 41755
  • Technically not a recolour, but this is the first undecorated version of Windscreen 6 x 9 x 1 2/3 in Trans-Clear (6395529 | 1874) in 41729

  • Brick Round 2 x 2 x 2 Robot Body in Lavender (6421379 | 30361c) in 41733
  • Brick 1 x 6 in Dark Turquoise (6396079 | 3009) in 41754 is one of those elements I was surprised to find didn’t exist yet
  • Bar 6L with Stop Ring in Bright Green (6423952 | 63965) in 41729
  • Plate 1 x 6 in Coral (6422379 | 3666) in 41741 and 41732
  • Plate Special 1 x 4 with 2 Studs [New Underside] in Lime (6257597 | 41740) in 41730
  • Plate 1 x 1 in Lavender (6099363 | 3024) in 41735
  • Plate Special Round 2 x 2 with Center Stud (Jumper Plate) in Vibrant Yellow (6392236 | 18674) in 41732
  • Bracket 2 x 2 with 1 x 2 Vertical Studs in Dark Azure (6424641 | 41682) in 41727
  • Bracket 1 x 2 - 2 x 2 Inverted in Dark Pink (6422440 | 99207) in 41733
  • Equipment Camera Handheld with Central Viewfinder in Dark Azure (6425512 | 30089b) in 41751
  • Arm, Short, with Technic Pin in Lavender (6421382 | 28660) in 41733
  • Equipment Candle Stick in Reddish Brown (6422088 | 37762) in 41729/41751
  • Wheel Skateboard / Trolley in Dark Turquoise (6421682 | 2496) in 41728, 41741 ,41727 ,41751 and 41755

Printed elements 

And at the end of this looooong list, we find some new prints that are not minidolls:

  • Tile 2 x 2 with Dark Blue Poster, Dog, Tear Tag print in White (6416595) in 41741, 41727, 41738
  • Brick Round 1 x 1 with Dark Purple Spots print in Lavender (6416592) in 41733
  • Tile 1 x 2 with ‘Guble Bubble’ print in Dark Pink (6416635) in 41731, 41729, 41751
  • Tile 1 x 2 with Smartphone print in White (6416469) in 41732 and 41729
  • Tile 1 x 2 with Smartphone print in Magenta (6416593) in 41741, 41733 ,41755

In closing

What can I say other than AWESOME! As an Asperger I have had a troubled childhood trying to find my place in the world. Despite having friends, I often felt alone and different. LEGO was one of the few things I could truly enjoy, because I was able to create my own world with my own, understandable and logical rules. The knowledge that the next generation of children with autism will grow up playing with toys they can identify with, and know they are not alone, impacts me greatly. How many children will be spared from the adulthood I’m in: burned-out, depressed and traumatised?

LEGO Friends 2023 is not just for children on the spectrum. There are so many forms of inclusion to be found across the wave, as we’ll see as I take a closer look at the sets themselves.

As for the new elements: with 223 to be found, there is bound to be something in the mix you can use for your creations. Which element has caught your eye, and what are your plans for it?

Join me next time when I start building the sets.

READ MORE: LEGO® Icons™ 10312 Jazz Club: New parts in the musical Modular

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15 comments:

  1. Very good parts review! I hope that maybe at least a brief review of the sets will follow—there's a lot to like there.

    The new wheelchair piece is a massive improvement over brick-built ones, and between this and the minifig-compatible one introduced last year, it feels like Lego has really considered some of the disabled criticism of their first wheelchair piece (which I saw described as bulky and outdated in its design).

    The new fridge/locker/cabinet piece is also amazing! Previously, tall cabinets like this could be a challenge to incorporate into builds. Tall vehicle doors required a wall on one side (hard to incorporate if you wanted a row of lockers), while four-wide door frames could often feel too wide. These new ones will be perfect for these sorts of applications and will probably see great use elsewhere as well.

    The two new smartphone prints are great. One shows a mobile payment screen (very modern) while the other seems to have a Pokémon Go-inspired game! The strange little character there also shows up on one of Nova's outfits.

    The many recolors this wave offers are also great. In particular, the wide variety of window/door frames (especially in newer sizes like the 1x3x3 and 1x6x6) ought to be incredibly useful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Set reviews will be published across the coming weeks. We wouldn't want to discard all the effort the designers have put into these sets for us to just look at the parts.

      Delete
  2. Good review! Out of curiosity, are you certain about the cat names from the Cat Hotel? I had assumed that Pixel was the grey cat because of the "P" on her collar, and the page for the Cat Hotel set. Also, an image on the LEGO shop site implies that the Dark Brown cat belongs to Olly, and the "Kids Zone" page for that set identifies his cat as Gertrude. But if you've seen something that specifies otherwise, I'd love to know!

    On a related note, there are a couple pet names you didn't mention — the new hamster is named Bunsen (a fitting name for the "class pet" of the International School's science class), and Paisley's pet rabbit is named Melody! That said, I hadn't seen Mittens and Peanut's names anywhere before reading this review, so thanks for sharing those!

    The new cabinet/locker/fridge piece will no doubt be VERY useful. I'll admit, I'm slightly surprised they made it 5 bricks tall instead of 6, since the latter is much more common for frame and door pieces these days. Perhaps this was to avoid confusion between its door and the double doors for the 1x6x6 window frame, which would be slightly too wide to fit in a 3-wide frame. Or perhaps the designers just preferred the proportions of the shelves and the cabinet as a whole this way.

    The rubber cord element also has some neat potential, though needless to say, many of its uses will be similar to its "plate with string" counterpart. It'd be nice to see it in the future in some shade of green for use as vines, or a color like Medium Nougat or Sand Yellow for use as ropes.

    The first recolor that stood out to me when the pics of the new sets first surfaced was the scooter, since that had previously only been available in Bright Bluish Green. But the new bike recolor is also exciting, as are the recolors of the more basic building elements like plates, tiles, and window/door frames.

    A recolor that surprised me slightly was the arm piece from the bubble tea mascot, since it would have been easy for the designers to simply use a color like White that the arm piece already exists in. But more colors of this part are always appreciated for designing brick-built figures (such as those in the Super Mario theme).

    Thanks for this thorough overview of the new parts from this wave! I'm eager to read your reviews of the full sets!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have all the names taken from the instruction manuals. It shows Gertrude as the Light Bluish Grey and Pixel as the Reddish Brown chubby cat. Getrude is indeed described as to be matched with Olly according to LEGO.com

      Delete
    2. Oh! I'm impressed that the pet names are shown in the manual! I hope that will be the new norm. Sure beats having to scour different parts of the LEGO website in order to find them. :)

      Delete
  3. Forgot to mention, the connectivity on Autumn's arm is nice—so far she seems to do all right without a prosthetic but if they ever decide to give her one, or reuse the arm mold for somebody who does use one, having that connectivity might be useful! Does a part like 44873 fit over the end?

    ReplyDelete
  4. The new cupboard is a long overdue new part indeed, and actually very similar to the 4 brick tall one that appeared in just 3 sets 1983-1985: https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=4534&name=Container,%20Cupboard%202%20x%203%20x%204&category=%5BContainer%5D#T=S&O={%22ss%22:%22SE%22,%22iconly%22:0}

    ReplyDelete
  5. So many fabulous parts to throw into a pab order when they eventually land there (it's unlikely the budget will stretch to buying any friends sets this year)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Question: is the hair for Zac, included in the “new hairdo” section of this article as:

    Curly, Smooth Back (6409770 | 2646)

    Actually a new part? To me, it appears identical to 79688 that we got this year. Maybe it’s just an alternate name for the existing part?

    But I don’t have it in my hands, you guys do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking at the pics of the sets, Zac's hair looks a little longer and seems to flare out in the sides and front more than the hairdo you mention.

      Delete
    2. Andrew is correct. The curls are pointier and the whole hair is fuller with a part pointing out forward. Hard to see on the straight-ahead photos.

      Delete
  7. Initially, mostly interested in the new hairpieces, vehicle parts, printed parts (particularly the smartphones) and the animals.

    But hasn't the bicycle frame been produced in Dark Azure before? Is that a slightly different mold. (I'm still wishing for a classic Bright Blue frame, though...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The older version of the bicycle frame had been produced in Medium Azure, but not Dark Azure. The mountain bike frame has been produced in Dark Azure as well.

      Delete
  8. Great article, thanks! I think Autumn's torso is actually an old style torso, as it seems to have the Lego logo on the back, something that Lego removed from mini doll torsos (and placed inside the torso instead) a while ago. Maybe the old torso just holds the different limb element better than the new torso does?

    ReplyDelete