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Review: 4996 Beach House


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#1 def

def

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 01:16 AM

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The Beach House, wouldn't we all like a full sized one?  Or three?  I'm pretty much a Star Wars LEGO guy, but every now and then a different series catches my eye. The concept behind the creator theme is great; cheaper sets with multiple builds. Unfortunately, a lot aren't at a mini-figure scale, so they don't hold any interest to me. But this set, for some reason, the color, the shape, I really really wanted to get it. How is it?

Set#: 4996
Name: Beach House
Theme: Creator
Year: 2008
Pieces: 522
MSP: $29.99 U.S.,  £19.55, 5,775 yen (but less than 4,000 on Amazon :wink:)

Peeron
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From Lego.com

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Build a house on the beach!

Need to get away? Relax in your very own beach house! This colorful building is packed with fun and realistic details, from the big sunlit windows to the barbecue and umbrella.

    * Includes instructions for rebuilding into a cozy café or towering apartment building!
    * Second floor lifts off to see stairs and fireplace on the first floor!
    * Second floor has a balcony and a skylight that opens!
    * Outside there is a patio with table, umbrella and chairs, and even a barbeque grill with chicken!
    * Realistic details include mailbox, doorbell, flowers, walkway, light fixtures, chimney, tree and lots of windows!
    * Beach House stands over 6½" (16.5cm)high and includes a 5" x 10" (13cm x 25cm) baseplate!

The Booklet
This comes with three books, one for each build.  No action shots here  :tongue:
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The Pieces
There is a fantastic variety of new pieces here, for me.  Very common everyday pieces, windows, slopes, corners, and grates.  I don't quite know what to do with them, but they seem really useful.  They were all a welcome addition to my collection.
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One gripe though, the black slopes seem to have different manufacturing processes.  The 8-stud long ones are perfectly smooth, while the two and four-stud ones are textured.  I saw the same thing in the Republic tank set.  I suppose TLG is shifting from one style to the other, but it'd be better if they could keep sets consistent within themselves  :angry:  I tried to photograph it, but black pieces barely show up, much less the texture of them.

Build 1
The main set is the best of the three.  It uses 99% of the pieces, so it clearly was the main set.  I think the tree was thrown in after though, to give some pieces for the other sets to use.
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This set has some great features, the satellite dish, the barbecue...
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The back's alright, nothing special.  Interesting though is that there is a fireplace inside to go with that chimney  :thumbup:
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The other side.  I really like the balcony and the sky light windows.  The mailbox is very classy too.
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A shot of the balcony, with its own light, a nice touch.
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The large window opens up so you can put minifigs in.  The detail is great, including the railing down the stairs.
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The patio has nice details, down to the flowerbeds.  The barbecue is amazing,
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The tree is alright, not amazing.  I really like the mailbox though, simple sleek design.
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Best of all, the roof easily comes off, so you can put mini figs inside.  The interior isn't overdone, but the stairs and fireplace do a good job.
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Very few pieces are left over after this build.
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"Hey, you look a little familiar..."
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Build 2
This is the three-story house, and frankly, I didn't care for this much.  It looks alright, but it doesn't work as well as it should.  The rooms are tight, and there are no stairs.  It just doesn't make sense.
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This is a very thin building.
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To further make this less satisfying, the back is open.  I would have much rather had the three levels come apart than this.
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Further disappointment is that the yard is mostly bare, except for the flowerbed.  Not so exciting.
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This area looks nice though.  It looks like a real architectural shape.
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I don't know what this is on the first floor :wacko:
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On the second floor, this room has a computer and chair, which is cool.
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The third floor seems to be a chair and ottoman.
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The balconies look nice enough, but you can't open the windows.
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This set has the most pieces left over.
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"How did you get up there?" "I don't know, there's no staircase."
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Build 3
This is the cafe. It looks great  :sweet:
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From the side it's alright, nothing spectacular.
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The back has a service entrance, and a large window.
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The other side has a nice bench and the same table as the first build.
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The window opens, but the roof doesn't come off.
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You can see the cafe, but my hands are too big to get in there  :cry_sad:
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The book shows this great cafe, which is pretty much inaccessible  :angry:
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A medium amount of extra parts.
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"It's unfortunate that in order to take a picture of this cafe, we had to rip off the ceiling and doors."  "Tell me about it, I haven't even paid the mortgage yet."
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The Final Verdict
Design: 10/10 I would've given this 9/10 just for the first build, but the third build rockets this set up to the perfect category.

Build: 9/10  Building walls is never so exciting, but this set has small walls.  I learned a lot of neat techniques on this set.

Playability: 8/10  It does the job it's supposed to, it's a beach house.  But the other two builds are really display oriented, so they lose some points.

Price:  10/10 A lot of good pieces for a low (near 5 cents/piece) price, this is an awesome deal.

Overall: 9.9/10 I want to give this a perfect score sooo much, but the second build just holds it back :devil:  The set would have been a 10 without it.  But this is a fantastic set, and I recommend you pick it up while it's around.

The beach house is a really attractive set, one that should captivate non-fans of the line (like me).  It's got lots of little details, and a great variety of detail.  A great mid-sized set.

Cheers all.

Edited by WhiteFang, 23 May 2009 - 06:38 PM.
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#2 Natman8000

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 02:20 AM

Great review as usual. I like this set quite a bit and wanted it for a long time. It is a very good rendition of a modern house with nice parts and techniques. I love that they included a stone path and a grill. The alternate models are alright, better than most other creators.
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#3 soc399

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 04:46 AM

Thanks for another great review.  I love this set, although I've only built the primary model so far.  I keep it on a table with 4956 and enjoy repopulating it with different selections of minfigs every week or two.  The review almost makes me pick up another in order to build the cafe, especially since it is such a great parts pack.

#4 YG-49

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 07:45 AM

When I saw the picture at the end of the first one I thought it was where he's in the nuclear test town
SPACE FOR RENT

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I'll miss it.

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#5 Legoist

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 08:20 AM

PERFECT REVIEW!!

I don't own this set, I've been going through different moods about it... one month I am sure I'll get it, next month I am sure I won't... Quite obviously your review has marked another change of mood, and I'm back in the "want it" mood now  :classic:

In my opinion, all the Creator sets suffer a bit from the fact they are indeed meant for building fun + display, and not playability. This is why Creator houses have no interior (the beach house is actually a huge improvement, at least it has some features inside) and the architecture has some illogical things, such as lack of stairs or doors which would be impeding the passage when open, or windows that cannot be opened and so forth. Because these sets are not designed for gameplay.

This is something we have to live with, although as I said, the Beach House is an improvement already. What bothers me a little more, is that the sets come with just enough bricks for the main model. It would be better IMHO if it had more extra pieces, something like 10% more pieces, because a Creator series is supposed to be used for creating, and instead it's actually quite difficult to even just MODIFY the main model. We have the white Creator house, and it was really difficult to "fix" a couple of things we didn't like about the main model, because the pieces available were preventing it (it was the first set getting out the dark ages, so we had no other Lego bricks around to help). For example, I wanted to remove the back wall to reach inside (as in old-school Legoland buildings) and I couldn't properly "shape" the opening because there were too few small bricks.

From what I see in this review, the Beach House is actually very close to be just fine for minifigs. I actually like the 2nd building as well. Yes it's very "thin", but I do not mind the minimalism too much (I do want "touches of realism", but I still think Lego is perfect as minimalistic), and I am actually in favor of "no 4th wall" buildings, if you can't afford to make a hinged opening such as the roof in the 1st model.

What I actually would rather change of this set is:

- The colour scheme. It's not terrible, but yellow is really one of the most uncommon colour for real houses.

- The tree. For a Creator set, it makes perfect sense you have to build the tree. However, I will always prefer the classic 1-piece Lego trees.

- The flowers. As per the tree... I will never have too many classic Lego flowers (especially if coming in uncommon colours), but I do already have too many 1x1 round plates. There are too many of this tiny pieces everywhere nowadays.

- The stepping tiles colours. Why all the houses have the same checkers pattern in MdStone+DkStone? Make a little variation...

#6 prateek

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 10:02 PM

this is the best creator set of 2008. but as other people said, creator is just for displaying and the sets get a bit boring after a while

#7 Loganwan

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 08:23 PM

I went back and forth on whether or not to get this set.   I finally did, and it is great.  The main house builds up nice.  I have not built the others yet, just due to time and other sets to build.  I do however really like the idea of the cafe as well.  It is a very nice set, and it will be a welcome addition to any City.
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#8 Eilif

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 10:05 PM

Great Review.  Thanks for going the extra mile and reviewing all three builds.  I have all the Creator houses except this one.   While I think this is definatley the second best of the 4 (Model Town House is my favorite) this is definitley the most minifig-compatible, and due to it's size it probably fits in best with the LEGO Town/City asthetic.

As I already have all the pieces in this set, I initially wasn't planning on purchasing this one, but seeing your review makes it much more appealing to me. I didn't realize that it had 9 of the small windows and 5 of the segmented picture windows. Hmmm....
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#9 Derek

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 02:35 AM

This review does this fantastic set justice! It is one of my all-time favorite Lego sets! Thanks for sharing!  :sweet:

View PostIgnited_Impulse, on 20 September 2010 - 01:51 AM, said:

Dude, you've got a Final Fantasy sig and you're on a lego forum....arguing about elves. Try not to think you're some cool guy because you don't play D&D
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#10 Carbohydrates

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:27 PM

Nice review. Thanks to this, I went out and bought one for myself and it really is a great little set, even better than it looks in promo pictures or on the box since it's well built from every angle.

Are the other Creator houses as nice as this one?

#11 Grimer

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:47 PM

View PostCarbohydrates, on Apr 3 2009, 09:27 PM, said:

Are the other Creator houses as nice as this one?
No. This one stands out as excellent.
I've got two of them.

#12 def

def

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 04:50 PM

View PostCarbohydrates, on Apr 4 2009, 05:27 AM, said:

Are the other Creator houses as nice as this one?

The only other Creator set I have 4954, and it's nice, but not as good as 4996.  I think the Creator series isn't aimed at adults so much.  It's not so interesting to me, but it is a smart move for TLG.  But all the sets seem to be a great set builder.  For me, zero regret on the Creator sets I've got.

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#13 Bricks

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:14 PM

Thanks for this really great review :thumbup:

I love such beautiful 'CREATOR'-houses.
This is one of my favourite ones.
I especially love the letterbox :wub:
So thanks for sharing!

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#14 yumiyoshi

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 02:25 PM

Thank you for the review def!
Got this set yesterday as an early Xmas present, and it's already on the Lego Shelves Location.

What I really like of your review, it's the highlighting of the leftover pieces based on which of the 3 design one pick.
I don't do MOC (for my mixing fear), and I keep sets and relatives pieces well divided one sets from another.

The set looks very neat and quiet... totally the beach mood i'd like to have at my own beach house (if only I had one!)

To me it's a good set, and it won even my friend compliments when he was the one calling the set plain.
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#15 def

def

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 04:10 PM

I love the original build of this, but all the same, I consolidated it for pieces this year.  I'm not opposed to rebuilding it, but I liked it more as pieces than as a set.

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#16 exon_from_youtube

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 05:11 PM

I bought three of them already and used one as a MOC/MOD Car dealer that turned into a gokart store




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