Number – 9349
Name – Fairytale and Historic Minifigure Set
Theme – Minifigures
Year – 2011
Minifigs – 20 (plus 2 Skeletons)
Pieces – 227
Price – GB £39.99/ EURO 47.99/ US $49.99
Links : LEGO Shop@Home, BrickLink, Brickset, Peeron
Information from LEGO Shop@Home:
Build a fairytale!
This set features a variety of minifigures that enable children to create and act out beloved fairytales and popular themes. A great addition to any LEGO® brick set.
- Includes 22 minifigures: pirates, a witch and wizard, a king and queen, mine workers, a mermaid and merman and many more
- Features a variety of accessories
- Explore the differences of real life, make-believe and historic roles!
- Provides endless hours of creative play!
- Teaches storytelling through characters and their functions!
- Promotes the development of fantasy, imagination and imitative skills!
Given the success of the Collectable Minifigures, it’s fair to assume that Minifigs are somewhat sought after by many. This set promised a full complement of minifigs for various occasions, arbitrarily ascribed to the theme of Fairytale and Historic, and with accessories to boot! So the question is, is it worth it?
The box doesn’t actually state “Fairytale and Historic” anywhere, but the large print is reserved for “education”, which didn’t make much sense to me, as I thought that was what LEGO was all about. However investigating further reveals a whole new world of LEGO I didn't know existed - the education line.
From the education website:
Are you LEGO® smart?
LEGO Education offers unique solutions to day care professionals and teachers who want to bring more innovation and creativity to their classroom practice.
Using our tools and hands-on teaching methods your children will be better able to learn by experiences, collaborate with their classmates and think creatively to come up with unique solutions.
That’s LEGO smart.
Exploring this site further reveals many desirable sets, my favourites being 9337 Harbour, 9311 City Buildings and I know someone who'd just love 9333 Vehicles!
The specific information about this set states:
Age Mark: 4+
Key Learning Values:
- Exploring differences to real life, make-believe and historic characters
- Storytelling through characters and things they do
- Developing fantasy, imagination and imitative skills
- Brick Type: LEGO® System bricks
- Related Products: 9384, 9279, 9386, 9286
- Piece Count: 227
9349 - The Set
So lets have a look at the box. It has a pleasant minimalist feel, yet still manages to show all the minifigs, some of whom are in scenes with an attractive background. The blue colour is very pleasing to the eye and there is a more mature design to the box, as it is intended to be bought by adults to use to teach children.
The back of the box shows pretty much everything that’s in it, and for some reason LEGO chose the shortest pair of minifigs to put in the “actual size” picture.
The base of the box is bland and uninteresting, but continues with the attractive blue colour.
The box top is similarly blue, but has a fine print warning that “colours of and decorative designs on elements may vary”, so in theory you could open the box to find everything is trans-nougat or something.
The left side shows where all the parts are made.
And the right side shows a very small warning in English: “Warning! Choking hazard. Contains small ball”. Because the only thing you can choke on in this set is a small ball? Really? ( Although I must admit, I haven’t personally tested that theory.)
There are no instructions inside the box. There are five poly-bags of assorted items each – in this, the largest, you can see torsos, legs, hair and bricks.
The second largest contains an equally disorganised mix of minifig parts and accessories, and plates.
The three smallest poly-bags contain the remaining small parts, with the only organisation being to keep the male and female heads in separate bags.
Decanting the poly-bags and removing the items for the minifigs themselves leaves an assortment of bricks and plates and remaining accessories:
Plus a few bits of greenery:
A few containers:
And an assortment of critters:
For the minifigures, I have tried to pose them similarly to the scenes on the box. As there are no instructions, one has to rely on the box to ensure the correct torso is paired with the correct legs, assuming that that concerns you.
The first pair are the shorter of the bunch, are they children playing dress-up as a knight and a princess, or are they actually a knight and a princess who happen to be short? I guess it’s up to you.
The second pair are a couple of soldiers defending the world’s smallest fort. They have matching helmets, and brandishing their fearsome weapons, they are ready to fight!
The third scene shows a Jester-girl who is also a juggler. And a weightlifter? Huh?
The next scene has a couple of mer-people, with a few elements for an underwater scene. The crab and the clam-shell are not often seen, and the merman has a nice pearlised gold trident, but it would have been nice if his torso had had a little definition, like the surfer from the collectable minigfigs.
Next up we have a royal pair. The queen looks rather casual, and the king has a rather odd sceptre with ingenious use of a Technic pin. To my eyes red and trans-blue don’t go together well.
We also have a pair of standard scary-but-cheery skeletons, evidently cursed souls from a lost shipwreck given their piratey hats and cutlasses.
The set provides a green-themed wizard, complete with a bottle of something magical. I really like how the bottle has been constructed and this is one of the most interesting items in the set. The wizard’s outfit is a little plain, and grey seems an odd choice for his torso, especially when the Kingdoms line has had dark green wizard torsos and legs complete with printing. He’s also given a matching snake and a stick to hit it with (I know - it’s a wand!)
To go with our wizard, we have a witch, who is accompanied by numerous creepy-crawlies and a toadstool and cauldron. She has her broomstick poised and ready for her to fly off with her fab red cape flying out behind her, which will make up for the plain torso she’s been given.
The snake-charmer is another of the few who have structures to build. The simple Eastern arch is topped off with a nice pearl gold slope and helps to set the scene. The snake-charmer does have a printed torso, but for some reason our turban-wearing friend appears to be either the Kingdoms’ Prince or Lion King in disguise.
Next up are a couple of pirates, well evidently a pirate captain, complete with telescope and a pearl gold hook, and his first mate with a sextant. The telescope and sextant may be useful, given that they seem to have lost their ship...
Now this is one of the oddest scenes (and that’s saying something). From BrickLink, this female torso is listed as “Bride” (although it also appears as the Admiral’s daughter in the Pirates’ Chess Set), and the male outfit is a Town suit. She has a bunch of flowers, so far so good, but he has... a morning star ready to stove her head in and a ladder to make good his escape? Or is he a chimney sweep, with brush and ladder, but if so, why on this earth is he wearing a suit and a top hat. Answers on a postcard, please. Aside from the oddity, they are a nice pair of figs, and it’s always nice to get a top-hat.
Back to something more recognisable, a male and female pair of Imperial soldiers, the male a drummer with his drum, and female with cutlass. They also have a chest full of butter. It might be gold, but given that the contents are a few yellow studs, I’m going with butter.
Our last minifigs scene has the most going on. There are a couple gold prospectors, and they have actually managed to find real gold, after blasting the mineshaft behind them. The scene comes with a nicely designed cactus, and also has..something on the ground. I really hope that’s dirt, but maybe there’s a good reason why he’s wearing a bandanna? He has a nice tan fedora, that’s common enough, and she has an almost ubiquitous Pirates/Kingdoms torso. Not hugely exciting overall, but nice enough.
Included in the set are also a number of minifigs accessories, including some pith helmets and a shotgun.
After all the scenes are built, there are naturally a couple of bits left over, including a spare red cape!
So have you spotted it?
Yup, all the female minifigs faces are the same. But not only that! All the male minifigs faces are the same! Grrr.
The female minifig’s face, which lets be honest isn’t one of the best, is at least double sided. The male fig’s head has just one placid, passive expression. Here are comparison shots of the two Imperial soldiers to illustrate:
Here are all the girlies together, there are only 8 of them out of the 22 minifigures. You can see the same old face across the picture, maybe they’re all related?
From the back, you can see a few of the ladies have printing on the reverse of their torsos, and it's a bit of a shame the Imperial soldier girl's double sided face is visible. A French Legionnaire type helmet, with a flap of material at the back would cover her annoyed and annoying face.
There are 12 male figures in total (I've excluded counting the skeletons) and so I've split them into two groups for a closer look. Once again, the same bland expression listlessly gazes out.
The reverse of these figures shows most of this group have some printing, but the wizard and merman remain disappointingly plain. I still don't understand why the wizard's torso is grey, not dark green.
The second group of male figures are slightly more interesting to me (identical facial expressions notwithstanding). Here you can see the snake-charmers' Kingdoms torso more clearly, and the lovely gold printing on the pirate captain's torso.
From the reverse, again most torsos are printed, but as with all the others, none of them are new. I'm not convinced the snake-charmers torso fits with the rest of his outfit.
To show the set off as a whole, here's everyone together, with all their bits and pieces.
Design 7/10 – the small structures that go with some of the scenes are nicely designed, especially the arch that goes with the snake-charmer, and the curious magic bottle that the wizard has. Otherwise, the set is mostly minifigs.
Parts 7/10 – there are a couple of nice pieces, the gold that comes with the prospectors is always welcome, as is the dynamite. The use of the red technic pin as a sceptre was unusual, and there’s a good selection of creepy crawlies including a nice bright light orange crab, but there’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen before.
Build 5/10 – mostly consists of putting minifigs together, really, but there are the occasional structure to piece together, none of which are tricky.
Minifigs 7/10 – given that this set is all about the minifigures, they are actually quite disappointing on the whole. I’ve highlighted my thoughts along the way, but overall there could be a lot more printed parts, or even substitution for other, more appropriate parts already in production.
Playability 6/10 – the idea behind this set is that the minifigs and scenes provide a starting point for the creation of stories of a fantasy or historical nature, but really you could do the same with a couple of small Kingdoms or Pirates sets.
Price 6/10 – really this seems like an awful lot of money for not very much, and certainly nothing exclusive. It’s tempting to want a large amount of minifigs, but for the same price you could get 20 Collectable Minifigs and, although you might get a few duplicates and wouldn’t be guaranteed female figs, the overall variety would be better.
Overall 63.3% – this is a somewhat disappointing collection (as it’s not really a set) that seems an expensive way to gain minifigs. Even the yearly advent calendars have more interesting bits and pieces, and they are are good deal cheaper. Given that even small impulse sets have a minifig or two usually, and will have more actual LEGO with which to build a scene, so I tend to think you’d probably be better off sticking to those.
For high-res images here's a link to my flickr.
Edited by Rufus, 22 July 2011 - 09:13 PM.