25 January 2024

LEGO® Icons review and interview: 10331 Kingfisher Bird

Posted by Thomas Jenkins

LEGO® Icons is testing the waters with new subject matter. 10331 Kingfisher Bird is the latest black-boxed 18+ set and hopes to entice new builders with its entry-level pricing. Can it succeed? Let's dive in...

Our review features excerpts from our roundtable discussion with Senior Designer Sven Franic, who was responsible for this set's design. Some text has been edited for readability.

Products in this article were gifted by The LEGO Group; the author's opinions are their own.
This article contains affiliate links to LEGO.com; we may get a small commission if you purchase.
10331 Kingfisher Bird
US$49.99/ £44.99/ 49.99€/ AU$89.99
834 parts
Released 1 February 2024

Set 10331 on LEGO.com

A new icon: the designer explains

10331 Kingfisher Bird is unique among other LEGO Icons sets in that it is the first time a brick-built creature has appeared in the line (apart from maybe, Super Mario's Mighty Bowser). So what prompted this? Sven Franic explains:
We've had an ambition to make animals before, we're just not always sure how to approach something new for the first time. It's much easier with collections – Vehicles and Modular Buildings are already here but when you start something from scratch, it's always a question of which should we do first? 

LEGO® Creator 3-in-1 is making very realistic looking animals now, so it was also a case of how do we fit this in to make it more of a display piece and an 'adult interpretation'? The Botanical Collection was an inspiration as [The Kingfisher Bird] uses lots of curvy elements and bright colours as well.
...and why a kingfisher?
We initially had several birds and I would love to tell you what they are, but we might actually decide to make some in the future, so I'd rather not! The kingfisher is a bird that fits a specific niche that we needed for a new SKU: bird lovers appreciate it a lot but it's also not so specific that casual consumers wouldn't know what it is.


Like the sets in the Botanical Collection – perhaps the closest LEGO Icons comparison we can make – the construction of the kingfisher relies on existing parts rather than introducing new elements. As such, plenty of organic-shaped elements with compound curves have been recoloured to recreate the bird's iconic blue and orange plumage.

Let's look at the blues first, starting with Dark Blue:

  • 8x Slope Inverted 33° 3 x 1 with Internal Stopper and No Front Stud Connection in Dark Blue (6470090 | 4287c)
  • 2x Large Figure Armor Plate, Small in Dark Blue (6470086 | 28220)
  • 2x Slope Curved 3 x 2 with Stud Notch Right in Dark Blue (6470085 | 80178)
  • 2x Slope Curved 3 x 2 with Stud Notch Left in Dark Blue (6470066 | 80177)
I was surprised to see such a basic element as the inverted 1 x 3 slope making its first appearance in Dark Blue; this will surely please builders.

Next, some cool Sand Blue:

  • 8x Plant, Leaf 2 x 6 x 1 with 2 Studs in Sand Blue (6470078 | 3565)
  • 12x Slope Curved 2 x 1 Inverted in Sand Blue (6470070 | 24201)
The LEGO designers are getting some great mileage on that new palm leaf mould. This appearance in Sand Blue brings the total available colours to 8 – and all in less than a year! For some building inspiration using this new element, be sure to check out our Bug Fest series of articles.

The last of our blue recolours is a big one:

  • 1x Windscreen 10 x 6 x 2 Curved in Dark Azure (6470071 | 45705)

We also get some rich Dark Orange compound curves:

  • 1x Slope Curved 10 x 2 x 2 with Curved End Right in Dark Orange (6476897 | 77182)
  • 7x Slope Curved 2 x 1 with Stud Notch Right in Dark Orange (6470079 | 29119)
  • 1x Slope Curved 10 x 2 x 2 with Curved End Right in Dark Orange (6470074 | 77182)
  • 7x Slope Curved 2 x 1 with Stud Notch Left in Dark Orange (6470068 | 29120)
It's always great to see the large bows first used in 10295 Porsche 911 in 2021 make an appearance in a new colour. Originally written off by many as another specialized element, Dark Orange is the tenth colour of the element and the kingfisher marks its 16th appearance in a set. Who would have guessed this would be such a useful element? Sven explains that even LEGO designers were doubtful:
I do like how initially we thought they were super-specific elements but now we get to use them in so many different ways. Even internally I hear people who are naysayers coming around to it. So I love using those pieces!

The next couple of elements are new in natural hues:

  • 12x Technic Pin Connector Round [Slotted] in Olive Green (6470069 | 62462)

  • 2x (+1 spare) Pneumatic T-Piece (T Bar) [New Style] in Tan (6470076 | 4697b) 
The Olive Green connectors will surely be useful for creating trees and other flora and I'm always reaching for my T-bars, so these are great gets for me!

These T-bars are used in the feet of the bird. Colour was a hot topic of conversation during our roundtable chat and the question was posed why Tan was chosen as opposed to a brighter pink colour which is often seen among kingfishers:
There's a consideration for recolouring pieces as we do have a limitation. We wanted the more subdued color tone as well, so Tan worked well for us. If we have a very bright color that is not commonly seen as a distinctive feature of that species, we wouldn't really want to emphasize it.
Personally, I'm glad for the Tan recolour as it seems like a more generally useful colour, at least for my own MOCs. I think large figure builders will appreciate this new colour as this element is particularly useful for building hands on light-skinned characters.

Let's round off (or should that be square off?) our list of recoloured elements with some transparent plates and tiles:

  • 36 x Tile 1 x 2 with Groove in Satin Trans-Light Blue (6316987 | 3069b)
Satin Trans-Light Blue has been around since 2020 but we've seen less than 50 elements produced in the colour. A number of these parts are specialized elements like minifig accessories or animals, so it's nice to see the inventory expanded with some objectively useful elements. This recolour might open up new colour options for representing water for MOC builders.

We've saved what is arguably the most surprising recolour for last:

  • 14x Plate Special 2 x 2 with Double Inverted Curve, 1 Stud in Trans-Clear (6469803 | 4190)
We looked at this interesting new element extensively in our dedicated article about part 4190. Who could have expected the Pagoda Plate to appear in Trans-Clear of all colours? 

The element is used to great effect to create rippled water in the kingfisher model and I'm struggling to think up uses outside a water effect... perhaps some unusual windows in an architecturally-themed creation? Or maybe it could be used in conjunction with a curvy windscreen in a vehicle MOC? Hopefully a builder with an imagination better than myself can think up a use for this unique element.

Rare elements

We usually categorize rare parts as those appearing in 3 other sets or less. These are the rare elements we found in the kingfisher; please check the list below for the quantities in which they appear:

in just 1 other set:
  • 3 x 29119 Slope Curved 2 x 1 with Stud Notch Right in Dark Azure (6453302 | 29119) 
  • 1x Wedge Sloped 45° 4 x 2 Left in Dark Orange (6470093 | 43721) last seen 2003
  • 1x Wedge Sloped 45° 4 x 2 Right in Dark Orange (6470073 | 43720) last seen 2003
The Dark Orange wedges are particularly noteworthy having last (and only) appearing in 4491 Trade Federation MTT- Mini way back in 2003. I always like seeing bricks resurrected and reintroduced into circulation.
in 2 other sets:
  • 3 x 29120 Slope Curved 2 x 1 with Stud Notch Left in Dark Azure (6211418 | 29120)
  • 2 x 15395 Brick Round 2 x 2 Dome Bottom [Open Stud] in Reddish Brown (6365627 | 15395)
in 3 other sets:
  • 4 x 73825 Bracket 1 x 1 - 1 x 2 Inverted in Earth Blue/ Dark Blue (6450823 | 73825)
  • 2 x 49307 Brick Curved 1 x 1 x 2/3 Double Curved Top, No Studs in Earth Blue/ Dark Blue (6403899 | 49307)
  • 2 x 80796 Brick Special 1 x 2 x 1 2/3 with Four Studs on 2 Sides in Transparent/ Trans-Clear (6411394 | 80796)
  • 2 x 3262 Brick Round 2 x 2 Dome Top - Vented Stud with Bottom Axle Holder x Shape + Orientation in Reddish Brown (6429060 | 3262)
  • 2 x 29119 Slope Curved 2 x 1 with Stud Notch Right in Cool Silver Drum Lacquered / Metallic Silver (6385509 | 1124) -unfortunately, no Left counterpart in this set!

The build

Construction begins with a sturdy base upon which our bird can perch. Blue 'S' brackets (11215) are used to anchor the technic structure into the base. Note how the ends are sandwiched between the Red and Black SNOT bricks on the edge of the base to keep them locked in place. 

The base is filled up with blue elements to create a bit of depth to the transparent tiles that will be added later. A combination of slopes and curved slopes are added to the rim of the base to make a pretty good circle. Those Dark Orange 1x2 Round plates will serve as connection points for the foliage that will be added to the base a little later.

Sven told us that most of the time spent designing this set was devoted to stability and aesthetics, with the weight distribution of the model being the most difficult thing to get right:
Having that [flying] pose and having it so small does require some level of base but we didn't want to make one that is too tedious to build. You want to get to building the bird as soon as possible. We also have to test the rigidity, where we hit the model and test it in different ways to see if it'll fall apart.

The base is filled up with bricks and tiled over with our new Satin Trans-Light Blue tiles. The splash effect is simple but quite impressive: plates with their studs left bare add some texture to the water, while a combination of cheese slopes and the newly recoloured Pagoda Plates are stacked up to add shape. 

I'm on the fence regarding the choice to use those 1x2 tiles to represent the water. While the colour is a great choice, producing a lovely shimmer, the juxtaposition of rectangular tiles on the round base is a bit jarring for my taste. I would have liked to see the water better integrated in the base, perhaps with some more round tiles here.

The model makes good use of the bar into hollow stud trick to attach plates back to back. It's a great, space-efficient technique to reverse the direction of studs, and something I should utilize more in my own builds. You can see an example of this technique in the bird's body but it will later be used in the head, and a similar technique attaches the wings to the body: note the Technic liftarm with bar element sticking out of the side of the body. And yes, that's a 1x2 plate in the new Reddish Orange above the tail feathers! What a shame to hide that new colour away inside the model like that, but how nice to have!

Although the set is aimed at a broader audience, and this may be someone's first LEGO set, Sven told us he didn't want to compromise the building experience for more seasoned LEGO builders:
We do treat 18+ as 18+; that is the standard that we go by. There are sets where we do have a more mindful approach to building, so we do raise the standard of what would be considered a buildable model by an inexperienced builder, but the kingfisher fits the 18+ theme.

The body is placed on its stand, which is concealed by the recoloured Porsche bows, one of the elements Sven is particularly pleased with incorporating into his model.

Another element Sven is pleased to get some use out of is the new Palm Leaf element:
We've always previously used unusual elements to build botanicals, and now we actually have a botanical element that we're using in a different way.  I thought the new Palm Leaf element is also a nice recolour to Sand Blue, which is one of my favorite colours.

Sven has come up with an ingenious solution for the wings, something which could easily be overcomplicated. Dark Blue Lampholders (6328107 | 41632) in combination with bars are used to both attach the wing to the body, and to attach the feather shaped sub units along the wing. 

The only change I would have made here is to add some Quarter Round 1x1 Tiles to hide the bare studs of the lampholder plates to produce a more refined look. But there is plenty to praise here, I particularly like how well the gap between the wing and the body is hidden by the Dark Orange slopes and wedge elements.


There is some lovely NPU in the head: the microphone eye and the long triangular elements used for the beak are good choices. You can see again that the bar- to hollow stud connection has come in handy.

We also see some noteworthy elements here too: the Dark Blue headlight brick used to attach said eye has only appeared in 4 sets, the last of which was released in 2005.

Finished model

Living things – especially animals – are always going to be different subject to build in LEGO form. Luckily for us, The LEGO Group has produced an impressive range of curvy elements in recent years to make things a little easier. Many of such elements are used to great effect in the Kingfisher Bird; Sven explains why this makes character building more appealing to him:
Getting expression, particularly in faces and eyes is very challenging in a medium that is 'rigid' and blocky without making it look creepy. There is a narrow sweet spot with something that is a living thing made out of an artificial material where it is relatable enough, and that really appeals to me.
I'd say Sven has succeeded in building a beautiful display piece.

Although I'm not a huge fan of the subject matter (I'm find myself drawn to the usual LEGO Icons fare of vehicles and pop-culture tie-ins), I like this model quite a bit. I'm particularly impressed with the pose which is very well realized with the Technic stand barely visible between the base and the bird itself. 
A very popular way to photograph the kingfisher is [rising] out of the water: it was pretty obvious that was the most iconic scene. I also tried building the kingfisher perched but it's not often that we have a bird that dives for fish, so this was the opportunity to do it.
Sven also revealed that a few different poses were considered before landing on this one, including diving into the water rather than from it:
There was some slight concern that a consumer unfamiliar with that pose might interpret it as the bird being upside-down. I might be going too far, but there is also a spiritual thing about the way animals are pictured rising. So there is some symbolism there.

When LEGO revealed the set there was much discourse among fans pertaining to the apparently muted colour scheme of the model. We asked Sven about the choice of colours:
[In the end], we tried two color schemes: The one you see [in the final model] and one in brighter colors. We played around digitally to see what best fit. I know that the kingfisher is sometimes remembered as being quite bright, but it really depends on the maturity and gender of the bird. We looked at a scientific database of real feathers of birds; a lot of the make kingfisher wing feathers are fairly dark and it's the body that shines brightly. 

The kingfisher has an iridescent glow and reflects the light differently in every position; something that's very difficult to achieve in our color palette. When something is abstracted in LEGO form and you use very bright colors, it really can look a bit more 'toy-ish' than what we were going for with this model. So that was a choice we had to make: you can get 10 people in the room and you will never get 10 same answers as to what color it should be.   

Closing thoughts

After putting the finished Kingfisher Bird model on display for a few days, the set garnered a fair bit of interest from the less LEGO-literate members of my family, impressed in particular by the bird's dynamic pose. So it seems that LEGO Icons may have succeeded in attracting a more general audience with this model.

I had a good time with this model. Both the finished piece and building experience seem to have been well thought out. The model speaks for itself but as for the build, the base is not over-complicated and the main attraction – the bird – is introduced after just a couple of bags of elements. Constructing the bird is engaging and builders both new and old will encounter some surprising and impressive techniques. 

Naturally, I'll be taking this set apart for the recoloured and rare elements! For the money it's a fairly priced parts pack comparable to the botanical sets that almost entirely occupy the lower end of the LEGO Icons price range. Where the Kingfisher Bird succeeds over these sets is in its engaging build experience: the plant-based LEGO Icons sets tend to feature lots of repetitive segments that can become tedious unless building with a friend. The Kingfisher Bird has only two wings which is (fortunately) about as repetitive as it gets!

READ MORE: Christopher Hoffmann builds a Ma.K MOC using 2023 LEGO Technic recolours

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  1. If I'm not mistaken, I think the new large figure armor piece (28220) is a recolor in dark blue too? https://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?P=28220&name=Large%20Figure%20Armor%20Plate%20Small&category=%5BLarge%20Figure%20Part%5D#T=C

    1. You're right! It's listed along with the other new Dark Blue elements :)

  2. But wasn't 010423 The Majestic Horse an Icons set, too?

    1. Haha they were testing the Fauna Collection all along!

    2. Well, LEGO has definitely succeeded in 'reaching a broader audience' with this set then!

  3. Thank you for such an insightful, detailed, and enjoyable article. It’s content like this that (IMHO) makes NE the best LEGO blog out there!