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REVIEW: LEGO Friends 3933 Olivia's Inventor's Workshop


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#1 lostcarpark

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 10:50 PM

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With Lego Friends apparently the most controversial things Lego have produced in recent years, I thought I would have a look at one of the sets, and post a short review, along with my thoughts on the theme.

The set I chose was 3933, which is a small laboratory/workshop. I picked this set because it promotes women in science/engineering, which I feel is a positive thing, and because it was relatively inexpensive, being one of the smaller sets in the series (price in Ireland, €11.99).

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The most noticeable feature of this set and the theme in general is the figure, or "mini-doll". Each one has a name, and in this set we have "Olivia".

Having collected "minifigs" since they were first launched in 1978, she is a fairly radical departure (though by no means Lego's first deviation from standard minifigs). However, unlike most of the non-minifig lines, she is to roughly the same scale. She is very slightly taller than a minifig, but a lot skinnier. Her body is just a little wider than a 1x1 Lego brick, and a bit thinner than one from front to back (by comparison, a standard minifig being the width and depth of a 1x2 brick. The overall shape reminds me a little of the CB Doctor Who figures, though the similarity is fairly superficial. I snapped a photo of the three figures together for comparison. I do think that minifigs and mini-dolls fit reasonably well together (though she does make the Harry look a little obese), and with a bit of imagination playing with both types of figures together shouldn't be a problem.

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The body and legs come as two pieces, packed in separate bags (probably meaning they come from different factories). The torso pushes onto the legs over a flattish tab that is completely new to Lego, and I haven't worked out any way of combining this with other elements. I was also surprised that the legs couldn't move independently, so the figure can stand or sit, but walking poses aren't possible. The head is similar in size to a minifig head, but more shaped, and the neck is much thinner (the same width as the handles of accessories, so you can stick a mini-doll head on the end of a light-sabre blade, if you feel so inclined). However, the top of the head has the same profile as a minifig head, so hair and hats are interchangeable, as can be seen in the photos below.

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The arms are also noteworthy. They are super-skinny (too thin for other minifigs to hold on to), but have standard minifig hands on the end. This means that they can hold all the minifig accessories, and you can push a standard 1x1 Lego brick on top of the hand. This means that all the cool new Lego Friends accessories are also available for minifigs. One slight reservation is that the hands can't turn as standard minifig hands do, so the angle accessories can be held at is much more limited, so she can hold a guitar, but not play it.

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I'll also say a few words about the printing. The upper body is actually made of flesh coloured plastic, with the orange top painted on and a printed heart pattern. This means that the head and neck colours match perfectly. Unfortunately the legs are green plastic, with the feet and sandals painted, and there is a distinct colour difference between the flesh tones on the feet and the rest of the figure. The face has quite detailed printing with the whites of the eyes included (something minifigs normally don't have), and brown pupils.

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So enough about the mini-doll, lets have a look at the set. The lab is made up of a number of distinct elements, so I'll say a few words about each of them.

First is the blackboard. It's a pretty easy build of bricks, plates and slopes, with a brick with studs on the side to hold the large tile of the blackboard. Unusually this is a printed part - there are no stickers in this set. Most people would consider this a good thing, and hope we'll se more of it in the future. I found that when built as the instructions show, Olivia can only reach half-way up the board, and I think that it looks better with the board lowered by one stud, as I've shown in the next photo.

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Next we have some shelves of chemicals. This is a straightforward build. One very small criticism is that the set contains 1x1 round plates in both light and dark grey, and it's a little hard to tell which should be used for the lids of the jars in the instructions (it's the light grey ones). This ambiguity is a little frustrating since Lego have at last sorted the problem of black parts and dark grey being ambiguous (the black ones are now printed with a white outline).

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The third section of the lab is my personal favourite, a microscope. Although simple, I think it's an ingenious build using a set of binoculars. The flask of some green goo is a nice part I haven't seen before, and I'm curious about the manufacturing process since the green seems to be completely surrounded by clear plastic.

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The last part of the lab is a workbench with a set of funky purple tools and some pink drawers. I really like the vice on the end of the desk.

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The other highlight of the set is a little robot. It's not clear whether this is Olivia's assistant or a project she's working on. Again it's not a complicated build, but it's a clever use of a small set of parts. The white, grey and orange colours seem to be based on the NXT robotics series, so is this an example of product placement in a Lego set? It's the first time I've got my hands on the new 1x1 round tile, which is a nice new part.

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Putting them all together, it's a nice little lab, though putting so many elements in a small set means none of the building is very challenging. That said, all of the elements have a reasonable amount of building, and there's certainly no less building than a similar sized set from any other theme.

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The one thing that I felt was obviously missing from the lab was any sort of computer. It would have been a nice opportunity to resurrect the laptop from the Agents sets a couple of years ago.

So what do I think of the set, and the Lego Friends theme in general? Well, I think the set does what it sets out to do very well. There are interesting aspects to all of the mini-builds. I think it might have been better to pick one of those elements and do a larger build than to have so many tiny builds. The other possibility would have been to make this into a full laboratory set at a higher price point.

Should Lego produce a theme aimed at girls? Well, they already produce lots that are aimed at boys. While I would be happier if all Lego was just Lego, and not targeted at boys or girls, I have to accept that there are all kinds of social pressures telling young people what toys are gender appropriate. I think this theme will attract girls to the world of Lego and building, when they might otherwise choose a toy with very limited creativity and "traditional" gender roles.

Edited by Pandora, 20 December 2012 - 10:35 PM.
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#2 Huntleyfx

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 11:22 PM

I can't believe I am saying this, but...this actually looks like a pretty good parts pack. I might have to pick one up, since that blackboard is a printed piece, I am already picturing the possibilities.
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#3 Rufus

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 11:36 PM

Moving to town ... Thanks for the review!  :sweet:

#4 lostcarpark

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 11:58 PM

View PostRufus, on 30 December 2011 - 11:36 PM, said:

Moving to town ... Thanks for the review!  :sweet:

Thanks. I didn't think "Friends" should be part of "Town" since it's a non-minifig theme, but whatever you think appropriate.

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#5 DrWeevil

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!

Though this could lead into the phase II set: Monica's Trauma Theatre - where she can operate on Olivia after she drops her power drill onto her foot.

Edited by DrWeevil, 31 December 2011 - 12:30 AM.


#6 EM4CZ

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:36 AM

:thumbdown:

Edited by I Scream Clone, 31 December 2011 - 01:01 AM.
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#7 Oky

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:41 AM

Thanks for the review. This looks like a neat set and I'm somewhat tempted to buy it. The white in the eyes is actually quite common in themes like Star Wars and Toy Story. Olivia look pretty good with Harry's hair, but not vise-versa. :laugh: Could you show us a picture of Hermione with Olivia's hair? It seems to me that it would look much better than the Castle Princess hair.

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!

Though this could lead into the phase II set: Monica's Trauma Theatre - where she can operate on Olivia after she drops her power drill onto her foot.
:head_back: Ha! Good point!

#8 TheLegoDr

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:58 AM

Looks like a great little set. New colors are always welcome and some of the new pieces will look good too. I am excited for new hair for my minifigures. Plus I like them showing little girls that it is okay to be smart instead of just pretty.

Keep up the good reviews.
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#9 I Scream Clone

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:00 AM

Thanks for the review lostcarpark. I must admit the appeal of brightly coloured pieces is alluring. Maybe I will pick up one or two of these for my 'daughter'  :grin:

View PostEM4CZ, on 31 December 2011 - 12:36 AM, said:

:thumbdown: :thumbdown: :thumbdown: :thumbdown: :thumbdown: :thumbdown:
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#10 SilentMode

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:05 AM

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!
I had the exact same thought, funnily enough!

Again a good review of the set, and great quality pictures!
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#11 Esurient

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 02:29 AM

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!

Though this could lead into the phase II set: Monica's Trauma Theatre - where she can operate on Olivia after she drops her power drill onto her foot.

I agree lol. Where are the safety goggles and first aid kit?
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#12 Gabe

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 05:40 AM

Thanks for the review "lostcarpark"! It's great to get an early look at these sets.  :thumbup:  After some initial uncertainty, i'm liking them more and more, and i'll def be getting this one. I am a bit sad about the limited posability of the dollfigs though.  

Just a minor edit to your review btw - the coloured part of the eye is called the iris, not the pupil.  :wink:

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!

Though this could lead into the phase II set: Monica's Trauma Theatre - where she can operate on Olivia after she drops her power drill onto her foot.

Haha, too true!
Also, what is on that blackboard? I'm no mathamatician, but it looks a bit :wacko: to me...
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#13 petamas

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 11:57 AM

A few thoughts I had while reading the review:
  • The flask was available with the S4 Crazy Scientist figure.
  • The Agents laptop doesn't need to be resurrected - it's in the 7066 Earth Defense HQ set too, so it's absolutely "alive"! I think it could have been placed in this set, too.
  • I'm glad to see you noticed the similarity with the Doctor Who figures! I haven't seen anybody else (besides myself) who noticed it. Unfortunately, I find them superior to the minidolls - their heads are compatible with minifigs (mostly, my Silent's head doesn't fit well on a minifig), their hands are movable and their legs can be moved separately. The minidolls' hair-interchangeability is pretty cool, but I'd preferred a version with the DW bodies and the minidoll heads. (I didn't have the chance to compare them "in flesh" 'cause Friends isn't available here yet. Could you post a picture with Olivia and the Amy Pond figure?)
  • Printed blackboard? Hip-hip-hurray! This exceeds all my hopes.

Thanks for the nice review!

Edited by petamas, 31 December 2011 - 12:50 PM.


#14 David Thomsen

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:24 PM

View Postgabe, on 31 December 2011 - 05:40 AM, said:

Also, what is on that blackboard? I'm no mathamatician, but it looks a bit :wacko: to me...
I believe she is designing a valentine trebuchet. For the girl who is really, really proactive.

I know these sets are supposed to be all sexist and yadda yadda, but I kind of like them. In a 'brony' sort of way.

#15 Esurient

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 01:56 PM

I suppose Olivia's workshop is more of a backyard DIY sort of thing. I would definitely get this set.
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#16 brickmack

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 02:11 PM

Looks nice, I'll probably have to get a few, for the blackboard and that blue color. I only wish the blackboard had some more... interesting stuff on it, what's shown is sorta...

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

We should be worrying less about the pinkness of the set and more about the fact that BMI-challenged Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab! Occupational Health and Safety experts will be up in arms!

Though this could lead into the phase II set: Monica's Trauma Theatre - where she can operate on Olivia after she drops her power drill onto her foot.
Bah, barefoot is the best way to do science. And she could probably build herself prosthetic legs.

#17 Gryphon Ink

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 02:18 PM

View PostDrWeevil, on 31 December 2011 - 12:27 AM, said:

Olivia is wearing flip flops in a science lab!

This was the very first thing I thought of when I saw the first pics of this set.  The SECOND thing was "wow, purple tools?  That's not sexist at all, is it?"

However, despite my issues with the purple-and-pinkness of it all, this is a neat little set with some cool parts and inventive building - that vise is a great idea.
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#18 lostcarpark

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 02:41 PM

View PostDavid Thomsen, on 31 December 2011 - 01:24 PM, said:

I know these sets are supposed to be all sexist and yadda yadda, but I kind of like them. In a 'brony' sort of way.

I don't buy that. They definitely seem to be promoting non-stereotypical female activities. While not perfect, I think it's a heck of a lot better than toys like Barbie.

The bit that's confusing me is what age are the characters supposed to be? Because they have girls' body shapes, but seem to be involved in grown up activities.

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#19 Tragic Banjo

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:26 PM

Thanks for the review! I was pretty ambivalent about Friends at first, but I think it's an overall very positive move. About the several mini-builds - that's sort of the point. I think it was in the Bloomberg Businessweek article about Friends that one of the designers said a key element of the sets would be that much of the building is done in separate stages, so that you can still play with it even before it's "fully" built. I think that's a pretty good approach - it lessens building time without necessarily de-emphasizing building or using big "juniorized" parts.

And the laptop - we do see that in another Friends set, the design studio, on the desk next to the enormous sandwich.
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#20 vexorian

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 05:27 PM

Does it come with an extra round trans green tile?

The friends sets are cool, it is the mini-dools that are an aberration to all that is good. On one hand, I have double thoughts about buying this set. I wanted the little robot ever since the leaked pictures appeared, and the purple tools shall be useful for some mech ideas I have, and then we have the trans green round tile. On the other hand, if I buy this set there is a chance LEGO would take it as a message that it is fine to use these non-minifigures in sets. So I might have to stick to HF :/


View Postgabe, on 31 December 2011 - 05:40 AM, said:

Also, what is on that blackboard? I'm no mathamatician, but it looks a bit :wacko: to me...
It is just math giberish, of the sort you would catch at any blackboard in an animated cartoon series. The 1->2->3 could be interpreted as stuff I would write in my own notebook when solving graph theory problems, but I doubt they intended it as such. (And of course, since she is a girl she would also alternate flowers and hearts with the mathy stuff)

Edited by vexorian, 31 December 2011 - 05:29 PM.


#21 Leela

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 06:43 PM

I really like this set, will definitely get it. I like the idea of the lab/workshop, the overall look, the accessories. I really love the Friends theme  :classic: .
I agree there should be a computer in the set, but I'm glad it's a small set rather than a big one (therefore it's less pricey).
Thanks for the pic comparing the figures to the Doctor Who ones.

View Postlostcarpark, on 30 December 2011 - 10:50 PM, said:

The arms are also noteworthy. (...) One slight reservation is that the hands can't turn as standard minifig hands do, so the angle accessories can be held at is much more limited, so she can hold a guitar, but not play it.
I'm glad someone finally paid attention to it. I don't like how the legs can only move together but the limited articulation of the hands is even worse. So even though I think these minidolls are actually very cute I'll be putting minifigs in their place.

#22 lightningtiger

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:24 PM

Thanks 'lostcarpark' for your review of this set, I guess for an AFOL this set is only good for spare parts....pink drawers - ah, for a bedroom....though purple hand tools....well, pity they weren't metallic look ! :wink:
The little robot looks a little like Wall-e eh ? :wink:
A printed blackboard....how many school room MOC's will appear now eh ? :laugh:
Brick On Review On 'lostcarpark' ! :classic:

#23 Aanchir

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:37 PM

Thanks for the review! I also think this is one of the most creative, least gender-role-defined sets in the new theme. I hope this set sells effectively enough that we see more sets like it in future waves! And of course that is coupled with my hope that the Friends theme in general sells effectively and sends out a global message that girls are a viable market for building toys.

(And no, that's not just because I think My Little Pony Kre-O would be an interesting product)

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#24 Echo

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 09:54 PM

A solid parts pack. I'll be picking this set up for Olivia's hair piece, which I shall use to complete my Mikael Akerfeldt minifig.

#25 lorax

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 12:05 AM

Thanks for the review.  

I love that there are no stickered parts (because I am always reluctant to use the stickers).  The dolls (sans hair) will likely find there way into my belville/scala dolls box (which rarely comes out).  But I love the sets themselves.

I agree, the set would have worked will with a computer.

But overall, I think these sets are full of parts I will use and delicious colours.

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