Svelte

Review: 21005 Fallingwater

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Name: Fallingwater

Number: 21005

Theme: Architecture

Year: 2009

Pieces: 811

Price: $US99.99, UK GBP74.99

Resources: brickstructures, brickset, bricklink, Shop @ Home

Introduction:

Based on Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Pennsylvanian house designed and built in the 1930s, 21005 Fallingwater was the first Architecture release to break out of the small-scale and monumental sets produced earlier by brickstructures architectural artist Adam Reed Tucker. I was never particularly interested in the earlier sets, although I liked the concept, but Fallingwater seemed to be a more interesting and detailed design than the silhouette approach of smaller models like the Empire State Building or Space Needle. Since these sets are not available in Australia, even via S@H, this was a special purchase directly from Adam's own website. It was certainly one of the most striking and original sets released in 2009, even nominated by designer Jamie Berard as one of the must-have sets of 2009 in an interview here on Eurobricks. Read on and see if it lives up to its reputation in this Reviewer's Academy 2nd anniversary special!

The box front:

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A box signed in silver Sharpie by designer Adam Reed Tucker himself! US citizens complain about the high price on these sets generally ($US99.99 for this one) but what many people don't mention is the extremely high quality and luxe packaging which make the opening and building of these sets such a tactile and gratifying experience. The Fallingwater box isn't some cheap collapsible cardboard - it's reinforced with an opening flap and the inside is a matt black to match the outside. It really takes you back to the days when opening a new set was like being an archeologist gently prying open a tomb of mystical delights!

Box rear:

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The rear of the box has lots of information, a line drawing plan from Frank Lloyd Wright, and a diagram of how the puzzle box model splits apart. The inclusion of Frank Lloyd Wright's signature suggests that part of the cost of the set is also due to licensing arrangements between LEGO and his estate - licensing isn't just for Disney and Star Wars, kids!

Box opened:

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You lift the front flaps and open the lid to reveal a matt black inside finish on the cardboard and a secret message on the outer rim when you open the box :laugh: Stylish!

Instruction manual:

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This isn't a booklet - it's a spiral-bound tome! Again, the quality production values add to the high-end feel of the total package for the Architecture line.

Inside the manual:

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Instead of warnings not to shoot yourself in the eye, or mix bricks on grass, the instructions contain a very detailed precis of the original building, including photos and design notes from the original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It's like Wikipedia in paper form! (Yes, that was a joke.)

Message from the artist:

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Adam Reed Tucker provides his own message explaining the inspiration and challenges behind the decision to add this set to the Architecture line. Like a bley ninja, Adam's sweatshirt blends seamlessly into the storage buckets of his Chicago LEGO lair! :grin: There's also a flyer with a link to an AC Nielsen survey which seems to pre-date the other survey LEGO did and the subsequent launch of these sets for some countries in Europe.

Parts:

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The parts include a 16x32 baseplate, an 8x16 dark bley brick, lots of tan, a touch more dark bley, a splash of dark green, and loads of 1x2 trans-clear tiles. There are 52 of the latter in this set - prior to its release, you could only get a miserly 1 per set from the 2003 Coastguard HQ set (although in 2010 you can get 4 from the 5893 Creator set Off-Road Power.)

Parts, debagged:

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Tantastic! This set is full of very useful small tiles and pieces and would make a great parts pack... if the price was a little lower.

Parts of interest:

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A sample of the more 'interesting' parts - the trans-clear tiles, dark green plates and 1x1 bricks, and a printed tile with the building name, as per all the Architecture sets.

The build, part 1: The base

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The first part of the build constructs the natural landscape base which the house sits on.

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The sparkly waterfall is added and the footprint of the building takes shape.

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With all the small, intricate and repetitive colour-work, the instructions helpfully outline the new parts to be added in each step in red. Here, the insta-forest is added!

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The base section is complete!

The build, part 2: the mid-structure

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Next to be added is this extraordinary concoction of plates and tiles to form the bulk of the building, including the glass-enclosed interior staircase (represented by the trans-clear plates). This set is really very interesting design-wise since it isn't just a solid structure, but takes the form of an interlocking puzzle box, where this mid-structure (and the later upper floors) lock together, not via a studded connection but through tiled angular fingers. It means you can quickly take out sections of the set and see how they fit together. It's a fun and clever building conceit, although whether this reflects anything integral to Lloyd Wright's actual building design is more doubtful. It definitely adds to the unique feel of the build.

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Here through all the insane platage you can see how complicated this apparently simple part of the build looks!

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The view of this midtrsucture from the other side looks totally different - this is true of the model as a whole, which is wonderfully complex and unique.

The build, part 3: upper floors

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The third part of the build is to add all these mini-floors, which stack on top of each other when placed in the mid-structure, to build up the bulk of the house itself. These all slot on top of each other and into the mid-structure like pieces of a three-dimensional puzzle.

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Here's the next one.

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And another!

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And another...

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The small roof section is the final part of the puzzle.

Assembling all the small structures

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Finally we can assemble the entire model! We start with the finished base. Note the little bridge and the SNOT waterfall.

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The middle structure sits snugly in place with the cantilever supports overhanging the river.

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The middle floors are added.

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And voila! The wonderful Fallingwater is complete. As in the spirit of Lloyd Wright's design, the model seems to integrate with the landscape that surrounds it rather than just being a bare, detached silhouette.Colour-wise it isn't at all accurate but 'realistic' colours would detract from the way the eye takes in the overall design.

The finished model:

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Front elevation.

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A close-up of the cantilevered balconies.

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Overhead view shows how expansive the house is at the rear.

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This model really is a small-scale delight!

Extra parts:

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Conclusion:

Parts: 8/10 - Great for tan enthusiasts.

Build: 9/10 - A fascinating challenge, introducing a whole new system of studless modularity

Playability: 7/10 - The puzzle-box aspect of the separating floors is kind of addictive in itself!

Overall: 8.5/10 - Easily the most appealing of the Architecture sets in terms of design, complexity, and build. If you only buy one Architecture set, make it this one! It makes a lovely display piece and is also tactile and inviting. Yes, it's pricey but it's also surprisingly hefty with all those teensy parts and definitely a deluxe item - like a fine wine, or couveture chocolate, you get what you pay for :wink:

Edited by WhiteFang
Indexed

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Wow. This review made me really admire the architecture of this building, and this set. Looking at the Google Earth model and real pictures, I think they could've added some dark bley for the rocks in the actual house like this:

fallingwater.jpg

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Thanks Svelte. I was looking forward to see this review. This architecture is very complex and tedious in terms of its building process like the mid-structure which you mentioned. It involves a lot of patience to pull this right but in the end, it will leave lots of satisifaction behind. This is the next and only Architecture set which I am looking forward to. :sweet:

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Unbelievably awesome! I've been waiting for a review for this for such a long time. Too bad they don't ship the set to Sweden. Thanks for the review!

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Unbelievably awesome! I've been waiting for a review for this for such a long time. Too bad they don't ship the set to Sweden. Thanks for the review!

You can order this from BN.com for list price ($US90) plus shipping (very cheap at $US13 to Australia flat rate, not sure about Sweden!) With the exchange rate it's better than picking it up anywhere else.

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It's tile-tabulous!

I love your reviews, Svelte - always entertaining and informative, and here you've made me pine for a set that I probably would never have looked twice at otherwise.

It's interesting that they appear to have piled up plates when, in many places, bricks would have done the same job, but I guess it helps to texturise the building. The beautiful box and manual make this a great collectors' set. :thumbup:

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I already saw the pictures and read much of the description on flickr. I'm amazed at the complexity of the build and that so much is done with 1 * x tan plates. I just couldn't ever get myself to spend this kind of money on a non-minifig scale set. :tongue: But it's a great display model.

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Thanks a lot for the review, Svelte - now I found it just too hard to resist!

You can order this from BN.com for list price ($US90) plus shipping (very cheap at $US13 to Australia flat rate, not sure about Sweden!) With the exchange rate it's better than picking it up anywhere else.

And thanks a lot for that tip - I picked up Fallingwater at $90 plus The White House at $45, at a very reasonable priority airmail rate of $22 (to Norway in about a week). Now I can't wait for them to arrive - the only other Architecture set I own so far is the Empire State Building, which I picked up on a visit to NY last September, and these sets are in another league.

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Great review, Svelte - thanks. I wasn't expecting one to appear for this set, so it's a nice surprise.

I have the 4 original Architecture sets (21000 - 21003) which I picked up on a trip to the U.S.. I was delighted to find that the 'second wave' including Fallingwater is now available in the UK, but have been hesitant to splash out what I consider to be silly money for them. Very interested therefore to hear that I might be able to buy them in $U.S. and have them shipped for a more reasonable price - I will investigate.

Looks like a typically luxurious Architecture experience - sweet box, nice spiral bound instructions, info about the building itself and an interesting (if fiddly) build. Clearly not for the 'average' Lego buyer (if such a person really exists) but a great niche product let down by the premium price which would even give Lego Star Wars fans nightmares.....

Cheers,

Dr. D.

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I have the 4 original Architecture sets (21000 - 21003) which I picked up on a trip to the U.S.. I was delighted to find that the 'second wave' including Fallingwater is now available in the UK, but have been hesitant to splash out what I consider to be silly money for them. Very interested therefore to hear that I might be able to buy them in $U.S. and have them shipped for a more reasonable price - I will investigate.

If you're in the UK I hear Customs is fearsome. I think the limit is 18 pounds before they stick on tax but in Australia we can receive shipments worth up to $AUD1,000 without attracting duty. Crazy!

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If you're in the UK I hear Customs is fearsome. I think the limit is 18 pounds before they stick on tax but in Australia we can receive shipments worth up to $AUD1,000 without attracting duty. Crazy!

You're not wrong ! Personal import thresholds are ridiculously low in the UK if you buy online, although for some reason you're allowed to physically bring back items of a somewhat higher value without incurring tax.

Given the mark up on sets over here vs. the U.S., it can still work out cheaper to import, believe it or not. It's not for discussion here, but I still marvel how LEGO can justify pound for U.S. dollar pricing on some of the sets given the current 1 : 1.5 exchange rate.....

Dr. D.

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This review has got me interestd in something I would have just labeled "nice but expensive" and overlooked.

Nice job, Svelte!

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You can order this from BN.com for list price ($US90) plus shipping (very cheap at $US13 to Australia flat rate, not sure about Sweden!) With the exchange rate it's better than picking it up anywhere else.

Yes... this is good advice. I also have a B&N Member card, I don't know if it's worth it to get one unless you buy books, too, but they occasionally send out coupons and I got Falling Water and the Guggenheim Museum for like 40% off at B&N... I have all the architecture sets except the Whitehouse, which I will probably get if I get another good B&N deal.

The first sets were way overpriced for what you were getting, but I don't know that I'm happier with the newer ones as far as expense goes... I can only afford so much!

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I'm very tempted to get myself one of these, it's a beautiful model of a beautiful building.

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Yes... this is good advice. I also have a B&N Member card, I don't know if it's worth it to get one unless you buy books, too, but they occasionally send out coupons and I got Falling Water and the Guggenheim Museum for like 40% off at B&N... I have all the architecture sets except the Whitehouse, which I will probably get if I get another good B&N deal.

Thanks for the hint. B&N have small discount on White House and Empire States building, provided also a $10 welcome discount, and I was able to get cash back via ebates.com... (let me know if anyone wants ebates recommending - i'd share the dividends).

So 1x Fallingwater, 1x White House and 1xEmpire States on its way to Switzerland. I know i will get stung for tax... but it will be a lot cheaper than my flying to USA for it.

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Thanks for the review, Svelte.

This set has been on my radar for awhile now, yet I won't be getting it for me, but for a good friend. She is entering her 4th year of college and on her way to grad school to become an architect. She has already mentioned to me how much she likes this set, and although she is not as big of a LEGO fan as myself, I know she will enjoy it greatly.

The build looks fairly involved and almost tedious but I'm expecting the satisfaction upon completion to be well worth it. The additional materials included makes this a fantastic collector's set.

I got mine from Amazon.com for $70 US. No tax and free shipping. I'm in the USA however so I don't know what that means for some of you others. I just thought I'd point out where I got it and what I think is a great price for this great set!

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Thanks for the nice review, Svelte.

The real building, located in beautiful Pennsylvanian forests, is amazing. I could see it during my visit in the USA.

The LEGO model is the best one of the already released Architecture sets.

But, as Prateek says, the color scheme of the model does not correspond to the reality, which is shame. Why did the designer decide for that mono-color and rather boring look?

Looking at the Google Earth model and real pictures, I think they could've added some dark bley for the rocks in the actual house like this:

fallingwater.jpg

If the model had the proper colors I would buy it, in spite of its high price. But in this situation, I just downloaded the set instruction file from lego.com and decided to build in a slightly modified way.

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Nice review! I have the Seattle Space Needle set #21003 and I agree, the boxes for the Architecture line is wonderful! :thumbup:

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I have been to the site in Bear Run Pensilvania and must say its an outstanding feet what Frank Lloyd Wright has placed over the waterfall.

Even some of the most intellectual people of that time have visited the site like Albert Einstein who was a regular guest to the Kaufmann family.

Although the model only represent a small part of the complex it is a stunning set and am glad that Lego finally made it available to buy

here in Germany.

A must have set!

Great review and as always great pics! :thumbup:

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Excellent review Svelte. This is great set in my mind - and completely loaded with tan stuff. :sweet:

I agree with the previous post that the color scheme could have been doned differently from TLG. I did a mod some time ago to see what it would have looked like in a more realistic rendering:

FallingWaterMod.jpg

PS: The LDD file, along with the other architecture sets, can be downloaded here

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First of all, the review is superb! :thumbup: So detailed and with great photos!

As for the set - I have it, my first Architecture set. I guess I wouldn't have bought it, but I received it for taking part in the latest LEGO Programme... I love the small black box, great style! Plus, it's not oversized like all other Lego sets these days...

The set is full of small pieces, which is cool. I have to find some time to build it... :blush:

I've never seen the real house, but I know some things about it from an American Architecture course I had at the University several years ago.

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I received this set as a gift yesterday, and I built it last night and this morning. Truly a beautiful set (although terribly overpriced--if I hadn't gotten it for free, I wouldn't have gotten it at all).

I think that, if the color scheme had been more realistic, the architecture itself wouldn't have stood out as much. I like it as it is, and it's now proudly displayed in my apartment.

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