It's the usual story: I went out to buy a tumble dryer, and returned with something vastly more exciting. Actually I had only ventured into Toys R Us because the appliance retailer was closed, and I wondered whether TRU might have some of the new Pirates of the Caribbean sets, so imagine my delight when I saw this set on the shelf!
I'm a big fan of the underrated CREATOR line, and I love the direction LEGO have been taking with these increasingly detailed and attractive houses. I'm not alone in having been looking forward to this latest addition to the series, and was excited to see how the addition of a minifigure, vehicle and the mysterious Sound Brick might augment the CREATOR house line. Read on to see how I found the new set.
Review: CREATOR 5771 Hillside House
Name: Hillside House
Price: GB £49.99
Links Brickset ... Bricklink* ... Peeron* ... Shop@Home
* Not Yet Listed
No matter what sort of home you dream of, this 3-in-1 hillside house is packed with details to please every style. Ring the sound brick doorbell, hear the dog bark, open the roof to access top floor and walk up the stairs in this two story dwelling. Park the car in the garage or pull up a folding chair as you grill your lunch on the patio! For a change of scenery, rebuild into a smaller home with a greenhouse or create a more contemporary home, sure to impress the whole neighborhood.
- Includes minifigure, dog and blue car
- Features a 2 story interior with hinged roof, sound brick, stairs, fireplace, garage, patio with grill, opening windows and balcony
- Packed with accessories including grilling charcoal, hotdogs, translucent elements, water spout and realistic lights
- Ring the door bell or hear the dog bark with the LEGO® sound brick!
- Open the roof to play inside or remove the second floor to play downstairs!
- 3 models in 1: hillside house rebuilds into smaller house with greenhouse or a modern home
- Hear the doorbells of the Modern House and the House with Greenhouse!
- Lift the roof or open the doors to play inside the Modern House and the House with Greenhouse!
- Measures over 10” (25cm) long, 10” (25cm) wide and 7” (17cm) tall
- Blue car measures over 3” (7cm) long and 1” (2cm) tall
- Modern House measures over 10” (25cm) wide, 10” (25cm) long and 7” (19cm) tall
- House with Greenhouse measures over 10” (25cm) wide, 5” (13cm) long and 5” (14cm) tall
The box is quite large and deep, measuring 474 x 371 x 90 mm (W x H x D). In common with most CREATOR sets, it's also surprisingly heavy; containing as it does three instruction manuals and a good piece to price ratio. The front cover is almost entirely taken up with a shot of the main build, with two insets showing the alternative models. The 'sound brick' features in prominence in the top right corner. There isn't much yellow on the front, but this is made up for by the yellow surrounds on all sides.
There's no yellow on the back. The alternative models gain prominence in this faux-street layout; two insets highlight the modular construction of the larger models; again, the sound brick is highlighted. Note: visible musical notation does not float out of the sound brick when it is activated.
In keeping with today's CREATOR range, a full inventory is included in case you're only after parts:
Click the picture for a full-size image.
Each model has its own manual. Unfortunately, LEGO's new tendency to ship manuals separately wrapped and with cardboard backing does not seem to have reached the CREATOR line yet: these were a little crumpled, but not too badly. The paper quality is good for all three; the covers feature lovely sunlit photos of the build for each one.
The back of each is different:
The main build extends all the way to the back cover; the tertiary build features a plug for the CREATOR site http://creator.lego.com/designers, and the back of the secondary model I'd rather not talk about
The tertiary model, being simpler and smaller, allows room towards the rear of the instructions for other stuff. On the inside back cover is an advert for the highly anticipated 5770 Lighthouse:
January's Log Cabin release is also plugged here.
Further back in the instructions is found the full inventory:
You can see close-up pictures of the inventory pages here: Left and Right.
The instructions themselves are surprisingly pacey, but clear and with no issues about colour differentiation despite the prominence of dark bley and black. There are usually several parts per step but piece call-outs are a great help. I would recommend sorting the pieces carefully before building.
Interestingly, the main, secondary and tertiary builds are labelled by LEGO as 'Quick', 'Intermediate' and 'Advanced' respectively; however, I didn't really notice any difference in difficulty between them. Actually, I found the Quick build the most difficult, but this was because I foolishly poured all the pieces into a box and tried to build by shuffling pieces around like a nine-year-old - hence my comment above.
The 700 parts come in eleven polybags, with five 16x16 plates loose in the box. These replace the usual baseplate which, like in the Log Cabin, is absent from this set.
I've divided the parts into three sections, roughly based on size:
The larger plates, bricks and tiles come in a nice variety of colours. It's great to see green featuring prominently; the tan window and door frames will always be useful, and I must of course mention the 27 white 1x8 bricks.
Next come smaller bricks, and a good quantity of roofing pieces:
It's nice to see that, unlike the otherwise wonderful 6754 Family Home, this house has the nice double-slope pieces to 'finish off' the roof. There's also two of the newish 2x4 tiles in dark bluish grey, and we start to see some dark green .
Amongst the smaller pieces, we find a nice collection of tiles, and some more dark green slopes :
I could live without the dark bley grille tiles after my latest PaB wall acquisition, but the white and bley 1x1 and 1x2 bricks will always find a place in my collection.
I've isolated a few pieces of interest:
The four dark orange tiles, while nothing new, are welcome; the 1x3 arch I haven't seen before, and neither the 2x1 red plates with clip. The dark bley feather piece will be familiar to minifig collectors, having appeared as an accessory in the Series 1 American Indian fig. The 1x4 trans-blue tile is new this year, appearing only in some Police sets. We'll meet the glorious Sound Brick later.
Minifigs are new to the CREATOR line. We first met one in the Log Cabin. This one is rather plain:
I can't see people buying this set just for the figure! The face is modern, but otherwise the hairpiece and body are oozing Classic Town charm. Personally I can't really see the point of including a figure; my LEGO town is swarming with people who have a nice job but nowhere to live - however, it does help as a point of reference to show how the set can be integrated into a town display, and also serves to bring a sense of realism to the set in a subtle way I can't quite put my finger on. Without the fig, the set would just be a model of a house; with the figure, it's a place to live.
The flagship of this set is the Hillside House. As you can see, it's not really on a hillside, but the garden is stepped up to a higher level than the ground - about a brick and a plate higher, at least. The house features a balcony and opening patio doors, a barbecue and garden seating area, some 'flowers', a tree, and a car port. The base measures 256 mm x 256 mm, and the height is 184 mm from the base to the apex of the roof.
You can also see how the feather piece is used - garden shears! I'm sure I've seen them used like this before...
I haven't included build pictures in this review, but it is worth showing how the stepped construction is created:
Two large plates sit at ground level, and some long bricks will support some more large plates which form the house floor and garden.
Let's have a look around the house. From the front:
From this angle, the frontage of the house looks quite small. Some nice tan tiles pave the steps up to the front door, and a few bley tiles form a 'stepping-stone' path to the garden. The obligatory, but welcome, nicely-designed porch light illuminates the entrance, and some trans-clear wall elements bring extra light to the entrance. Note the pearl-gold 1x1 round plate which marks the doorbell. More on that story later.
The garden-side profile is larger, and we get a good view of the garden. We can see how the 1x4 trans-blue tiles are utilised - as a solar panel on the roof. I could live without this nod to eco-friendliness, and I'd rather see a gable window here. Still, it's better than the stickered tiles of the 8403 CITY House.
Now is also a good time to have a little look at the doggie. He's not a bad little brick-built mutt; the 1x3 arch is a nice touch, as is the 'collar' formed from a red 1x1 round plate. By the looks of his cute face, I'd guess he's a West Highland Terrier.
The rear clearly isn't meant to be on display:
You can see how the chimney is more of a flue, but is capped nicely. The tree is an odd construction of dark and lime green slopes. I'm disappointed by the black plate at the base, which even on this rear view looks ugly and misplaced. Here you can also see how the construction of the patio doors leaves a 1x1 brick gap at the corner.
In keeping with most CREATOR houses, windows haven't been wasted on the not-to-be seen sides:
However, there are windows aplenty on the roof on this side. As you can see, the whole side of the roof is designed to lift to allow play access to the upper floor. Note the use of these pieces in red, which sit flush with the roof bricks but allow the panel to open. Genius!
An aerial shot concludes the 'overview':
This particular shot makes the set appear rather compact. However, its footprint is 32x32, the same as the baseplates on most other CREATOR houses.
Let's now have a closer look at the Hillside House.
Firstly, the front door. As I've already mentioned, the steps up to the front door are nicely tiled in tan; the four dark orange tiles make a delightful doormat. To the left of the entrance, the pearl gold 1x1 round plate represents the doorbell; to the right, two trans-clear wall elements make a window to allow extra light into the entrance hall. The Sound Brick can be seen behind; it appears a little intrusive, but actually serves to demarcate the entrance hall well. Some dark and lime green bricks make a fair representation of bushes.
Round the side of the house, we come to the garden area. The focus here is the patio doors:
The 'patio' is actually a small area of decking, if the brown tiles are anything to go by. A small patio light is formed from a 1x2 trans-yellow brick; this also makes a useful handle with which to open the doors...
... and here they are open:
The right hand door will only open to 90 degrees, the left will open to 180 if the chair and 'flowers' are moved out of the way.
A closer look at the barbecue:
It's clearly one of those monster fancy BBQ sets, with work trays at either side. It's quite nicely built, and opens in two ways: the lid lifts to reveal the grille surface; the grille also lifts to show the 'coals' formed from 1x1 trans-luminous orange plates. There should only be three of these, but there was a spare with the set...
I'm not sure what the dial tile is doing there. Maybe be this is one of those gas barbecues which in my opinion completely defeat the object of having a barbecue. At least there are some sausages included!
The top floor is made accessible by the roof panel which lifts for easy access:
As you can see, the upper floor is light, airy and completely unfurnished save for a rail to prevent falling down the stairs. Plenty of opportunity for adding some custom furniture, but it would have been nice for some to be included in the set.
The upper floor includes a spacious balcony, replete with more colourful 'flowers':
This is a great touch; the balcony wall is well finished with some bley wall elements to prevent our plainly-dressed friend from plunging into the spiky bush below.
The whole upper floor is removable to allow play access to the ground floor...
... not that there's much to do. It's completely bare! It's great to get stairs, and the fireplace (presumably one of those glass-fronted wood-burning things) is welcome, but I can't help thinking there ought at least be a chair and a table . Note the two dark bley grille tiles, which prevent the patio doors opening too far inwards.
In case you hadn't noticed, the set includes a car. I think only 2007's 4954 Town House had previously featured a vehicle, despite many CREATOR houses having a garage. This one is an odd little thing:
The 4-stud wide car has a certain Classic Town feel, spoiled somewhat by the use of the ubiquitous 'one-size-fits-all' CITY wheels and mudguards. It has a simple construction, with basic SNOT at front and rear, and no 'cheaty pieces'. From this view, it looks quite attractive...
... but as we move around the rear:
its stubbiness starts to show. The huge wheels give it a sort of chibi feel.
Our hero (let's call him Brian) looks quite content driving it:
Overall, it's a cute and charming little car, if not particularly realistic.
The small size is essential to allow it to fit into the car port:
Well, it doesn't quite fit. The car port itself is a simple plate roof leaning on two 1x1x5 brown bricks and a tile. Note the garden tap, though why it's placed here so far away from the garden is anyone's guess.
And so we've finished our look around the Hillside House. Here's what's left over at the end:
The usual collection of cheeses, tiles and round plates, but the flame and extra shears might be useful.
Don't let the utilitarian van and sparse, modern looks fool you - this secondary build has the sun loungers and hot tub to suggest it's a seaside holiday retreat. At the time of writing, there is no information from LEGO to indicate what this is meant to be called, so I've called it Holiday Home. Let's have a gander.
This 'front' view is probably actually the side, given that it's dominated by the large glass window and door.
It's also probably the most attractive view of this otherwise oddly proportioned building. You can also see the blocky stairs through the window.
This time, the rear features windows:
I'm not sure what the large bley pillar is meant to be, other than just a pillar. Though it resembles a chimney to some extent.
The top floor features a spacious sun trap, replete with two loungers and a table for Brian's beer:
Brian is starting to look a little lonely. But at least he has his obligatory barbecue. Through the door, you can see the top of the stairs; note the 1x1 dark bley tile which prevents the door from moving too far into the building. This is entirely superfluous as the 1x4 white plate atop the door does the job just as well.
And now, the star feature of this house... HOT TUB!!
I love this. The 1x4 trans-blue tiles come into their own here, and the dial tile highlights the purpose perfectly. Brian really needs a non-canine companion to enjoy this with...
Again, the top floor is removable, to allow access to the ground floor:
The Sound Brick again intrudes into the living space, but to my mind suggests that a kitchenette would be ideal to fill the area in front of the rear window.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, pray silence for the lamest play feature ever to grace a LEGO set:
I guarantee when you've heard it once, you'll never want to press that doorbell again. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to build the set without triggering that blasted noise.
This build features a rather colourful van in place of the car:
My first thought when I saw that simplistic front end was 'bleurgh'! However, I urge you to look beyond that - it's not a bad little vehicle; although it sits on a 4-wide chassis, the sides extend to 6-wide giving it the appearance of an old-fashioned delivery vehicle. The roof lifts to allow Brian to be placed inside.
There's a nice platform at the back for carrying stuff...
... in this case, a brick-built shrub that looks strangely like a cactus to me.
After building the Holiday Home, here's what remains:
There are a few useful parts in there, in case you decide to keep this secondary model built. And you might; despite its odd appearance, this unique building has a certain unexpected charm, and I found it the most interesting of the three to build.
Finally, we have what LEGO call the 'Quick Build'. It's not particularly easier than the other two, but does require many fewer pieces, and sits on a smaller footprint. I've called it 'Country Cottage' in view of the quaint size, prominent greenery and conservatory feature.
The inside is quite pokey, and requires an opening wall for access:
But there is furniture! Admittedly only a table and chair, but there wouldn't be room for much else, especially as the accursed Sound Brick takes up so much space.
The side of the house features a glassy space which I figure is a conservatory.
It features some greenery, replete with water tap or sprinkler, and again there's a little doormat in dark orange.
The garden features a small pond, not the prettiest sun lounger in the world, and an outside chimney thing which I am reliably informed is called a 'chiminea'.
Again there's some random greenery, some of which seems to be integral to the house. This time, we have a strange robotic dog.
The roof is again removable, but there isn't much room inside - the Sound Brick takes up rather a lot of space.
No stairs, I'm afraid, but then despite appearances, there isn't an upstairs floor in this house.
Somewhat surprisingly, this car is possibly the best of the three vehicles.
The oversized mudguards have gone, and as a result the wheels don't seem quite so ridiculously large. The car could be some kind of open-top SUV in this incarnation.
There's a little space on the back to carry a little flower pot, or whatever that is.
Brian seems to spend a lot of time at the garden centre. I quite like the way the cheese wedges are used here.
There's a huge pile left over after building this house:
You could almost build another house with all that!
The CREATOR series of houses is proving rather popular, thanks in the main due to some beautiful designs. There was, if I recall, some considerable excitement when pictures of this latest offering, the Hillside House, first appeared in the 2011 CREATOR News thread. So how does the set live up to expectations?
On the whole, this is a nice set, but given my high expectations following the beautiful 6754 Family Home and 5891 Apple Tree House, I find myself ever so slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this is an attractive house, with a nice selection of parts; and the inclusion of the car and figure, with dog and barbecue, add a new dimension to play which has been lacking in previous sets... but it seems to lack the 'wow' factor of these previous releases. I'd still heartily recommend it, particularly as an affordable way to increase the choice of living accommodation which is sadly lacking in Studsville.
As I mentioned, Brian's inclusion serves to add a sense of realism to the house - it's a living, working home, not just a pretty model, though Brian's preference for extravagant luxuries like that overstated barbecue feature over simple necessities like furniture goes some way to explain why he seems to be an eternal bachelor!
Design 8 An attractive house, with fun and functional play features, and workable alternative builds that are far more than just an afterthought. The secondary build house is surprisingly good, and deserves special mention here; however, the design doesn't really innovate in a range that has already amazed us in the last few years.
Build 7 The process is interesting rather than enthralling; there aren't really any new techniques, though the use of large plates over baseplates is definitiely an improvement and allows for more versatility in the layout. Again, the second build proved to be the most fun.
Parts 7 There's a great selection of parts and colours, but little that is unique or hard to find. It might be a useful parts pack, but that is more a testament to the good value these sets represent.
Playability 8 Here's where the set does improve on the previous CREATOR houses. There's plenty for the figure to do - he has a dog, a barbecue, shears, a mug, a car, and nice balcony to hang out on. I will not include that wretched Sound Brick here - it is nothing but an annoying gimmick, and I'd much rather have had a light brick, or better still some interior furniture instead.
Price 9 £50 for 714 pieces, many quite large, represents the excellent value for money that is typical for the CREATOR range, despite the Sound Brick. I'm sure the minifigure is too generic to adversely influence things here.
Overall 78% My Score 8/10 I'd recommend this set as a fun and welcome addition to the collection of any CREATOR or Town fan. Provided you don't expect to be overawed.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Be sure to let me know what you think of the set and the review.
If you like my reviews, and want to learn how to make better reviews, please consider joining the Reviewers Academy!
View all the photos on my Flickr page
4954 Town House by Siegfried
4956 House by alex54
4996 Beach House by def
6754 Family Home by Matn
5891 Apple Tree House by def
5766 Log Cabin by The Brickster
I leave you with a comparison with - and tribute to - the wonderful 6754:
Edited by Rufus, 11 May 2011 - 10:12 PM.
Updated with S@H link