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REVIEW: 3188 Heartlake Vet


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  3. Average (6 votes [14.29%])

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#1 SilentMode

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 09:12 PM

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Help the animals back to health at the Heartlake Vet!

Previous reviews
3065 Olivia's Tree House - 8/10

This is SilentMode with the second Lego Friends set review. It turns out there are at least 14 sets in this first wave, and some of the sets I've planned on reviewing have already been by other people.
For the time being let's look at today's selection, which is one of the more expensive sets in the line-up. Both of the smaller reviewed sets have received a welcome reception, but how will something more pricey fare?

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Heartlake Vet
Set 3188
Release year: 2012
RRP: GBP 39.99
# of parts: 343
# of figures: 2

Links: Brickset

More pictures in my Brickshelf folder.

The second largest of the current Friends sets. I have a soft spot for hospitals, as even though I haven't owned a hospital-themed set, I remember playing Theme Hospital with its awesome soundtrack. This particular set, however, is for animals.
We've already seen Olivia's dedication to animals in the last set, so let's see what this one has to offer.


The Box
As with the other Friends sets, there is no part count anywhere on the box. At the time of writing there's also no part count on Brickset, but you can find out by looking in the LEGO catalog or on the S@H web site. Don't bother manually counting; you'll always be wrong.
But seriously: if this is by design, it would be interesting to know what was behind the decision and what difference it makes.

Back of the box
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Again showing the play features of the set, this time Mia the redhead is revealed to be the featured Friends member. We also have a glimpse of some new animals, including the Friends horse, and some rather unusual accessories.

The back of the model
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This is what we'd hope to have by the end of this build, from the back. There's a very real danger of the horse wandering into the main building, but as long as that cart is in the way the customers should be safe.

To scale
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One of the long sides of the box shows the scale and appearance of the featured Friends figure. The other sides have the usual warning about choking on small parts, and small pictures of the completed set.


The Contents
From the weight of the box, we'd expect there to be quite a few parts to play with inside. Here they are...

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The first half of the contents includes bags #1 and #2, which both have fairly large bricks and parts, but also have a lot of space in them. Perhaps the extra space also serves as padding for when the box is transported?
We also have a very useful 16x16 plate in Bright Green, and an 8x16 and 16x16 plate in the new Bright Light Blue colour. Already we have a reason to purchase this set - the two Bright Light Blue plates are exclusive to this and another Friends set (the café).

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Included in the above picture is the individually-wrapped Friends horse, complete with evil side stare. More on the horse later.

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The second half of the contents includes bags #3 and #4, with smaller but more colourful parts, along with the instructions. Bag #3 contains the hedgehog.

The Dreaded Sticker Sheet (DSS)
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Tucked inside the instructions is this sticker sheet, full of designs inspired by the 2012 Olympics colour scheme. I don't use sticker sheets when building sets anyway, but I'd be very concerned about using stickers in these colours on a model. Then again, maybe young girls like bright fluorescent stickers.
The designs for these stickers also appear to have been inspired by manga!

The figures
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Not one but two Friends figures in this set, which means a small range of torsos, hairpieces and legs to interchange. There's not much difference between the two heads: the only ones I can see are the eye colours and presence of freckles, and also that one has an open mouth.

Mia and Sophie
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Please welcome Mia and Sophie to the show. (applause)
Without even looking at Mia's official profile, I could tell she was either a vegetarian or vegan. Whether or not it has anything to do with being a redhead, whenever there's a group of girls there's always one vegetarian/vegan, it seems.
Sophie (left) is a supporting character in this set: she runs the vet (which is suggested by her outfit), with occasional assistance from Mia. To be honest, she doesn't look much like a veterinarian; she's missing a white jacket (reference picture).

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As someone will invariably request: here I've switched the hairpieces between the two. All of a sudden we actually notice Sophie.
In both cases Sophie is visibly older than Mia, which is strange given that they have the same proportions. Initialy I thought it had something to do with the face, but it seems to be  the hairstyles - Sophie looks younger in this picture than the previous one, while Mia has gained a few years.

Hairpieces on a minifigure
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Mia's hairpiece on our generic female minifigure, whose name is now officially Angineryka. Note, in a clever moment of inspiration, how I've given Sophie the minifigure equivalent of the hairpiece - proof that compatability goes both ways. I think the minifigure version looks better than the rubbery Friends one on both figures.

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While Mia is trying on the S2 Pop Star's hairpiece, Sophie's hairpiece turns Angineryka into a Monica Lewinsky minifigure - for the genuine article use it in conjuction with the S1 Cheerleader's head.
I don't particularly like this Monica hairpiece, simply because it adds age and width to both a Friends figure and minifigure head. It does give off a 60s vibe, however, and it might be useful for that purpose.

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Finally, Mia tries on Olivia's hair. If you don't like the hairstyles of any of the Friends characters, you can always change them. For now I think they're fine with the hairstyles they come with.

The animals
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The set introduces three new animals, all designed for the Friends theme.
Most anticipated was the hedgehog, which is officially in Tan with brown paint on the body. I'm not really sure why it was so anticipated, as I think it just looks okay, but it's an unusual choice of animal given that we've seen so many dogs and cats in other sets. It is able to sit on two studs, so you can place it on a large plate with no problems. More importantly, this is currently the only set you can find the hedgehog in.
Both the puppy and the horse are in BrickLink's Dark Orange. The puppy also sits on two studs, and while it looks far too cutesy for my tastes, it's a big improvement on the Tree House's kitten.

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The horse is a much smoother and more realistic design than the minifigure horse, and while I'm not really fussed about horses I think it looks good. Although the shape of the mould is generic, the eyelashes suggest that this particular horse is female. We're given a curved brick and a 2x2 plate - both in Dark Orange - to fill the 2x2 chunk taken out of her in the packet.

As for how to utilise the horse...

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...you can have a Friends figure stand on it, or remove the filling to simulate riding it (which is probably why the gap is 2x2 rather than 1x2)...

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...or you can give your animal friends a ride.

One important thing to note here is that, unlike minifigure horses, the Friends horse is in one piece - so there's no bending of the neck. If it wasn't for this limitation the Friends horse would be perfect, but I still prefer it over the minifigure horse. I'd be very surprised if this horse didn't appear in other sets in the future, perhaps in different colours.

The Parts

New colours
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In addition to the Bright Light Blue and Medium Lavender seen in the Tree House set, we have one more that appears in this set: BrickLink calls it Medium Azure, and it's visibly lighter than Alien Conquest's Dark Azure, which was introduced last year. Particularly if you were into Alien Conquest, Medium Azure could be a very useful colour in the future, since Dark Azure mostly appeared as minifigure parts. The S6 Surgeon's torso and legs are also Medium Azure.

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The two Medium Azure round bricks have some kind of animal print on them, possibly representing pet food. This would be an odd choice of colour for a food container; I'd suspect it's for some kind of powder to make animals smell fresh.

Friends accessories
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Here's the first introduction to Friends accessories: little bits you can add to the figures and even the animals to make them more appealing. BrickLink has decided on Light Aqua for the colour name. These are all counted as one part, as with the new flower parts.

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Here to model the accessories on a Friends figure is Sophie. Unlike with minifigure body wear parts, the stethoscope can be applied without having to take off the head.
One thing the Friends figure makes [widely] possible is the option of having a hairstyle with or without accessories, as is demonstrated. Given that Friends hairstyles can be worn by minifigures, this opens up new possibilities; there are currently only two minifigure hairstyles that allow the addition of hair accessories, and even then the only real option was the tiara. I'm sure this feature's going to be popular with the target audience, because how many of them buy clothes and accessories for dolls (and perhaps even new dolls for their clothes and accessories)?

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Angineryka shows how the Friends accessories can also be used by minifigures. Be warned that the handles seem to be slightly thicker than on other elements, but they do fit.
Most of the accessories, including the clipboard and nurse's hat, are far more suited to Friends figures - but the ones pictured here go particularly well with minifigures.

Glass parts
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If you're a fan of transparent parts, this picture might float your boat. We have no less than seven glass panes for door frames, and four of the Trans Light Blue panels (which appears to be a new variation for 2012, although it appears as an alternate part in the last police station).

Tiles
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Lime features very prominently - I'm not a huge fan of Lime, but at least these are mainly 1x3 tiles. The rest are very useful for one's other exploits, particular the White 2x4s.

New flower parts
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As with the Tree House, we're greeted with some of the new flower parts in the Friends theme. This time they come in Bright Light Orange, which means there's now a little variety - but most people I'd imagine would want red roses.

Stars of the show
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My pick of the entire set, minus the large plates (which speak for themselves). Twelve 1x4 SNOT bricks in Tan. Seven glass panes. A metallic silver dish. But probably most impressive of all are some of the accessories on offer: these are just a sample of the official parts we were sorely missing. Having said that, most of this selection could be obtained from other sets, perhaps for less of an investment.
While the animals will probably be the main focal point for most people looking at this set, I wouldn't want more than one of each.


The Build
The puppy cart
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Te small build before the main event, similarly to the cat basket with the Tree House.
The design is reminiscent of Paradisa; there's a similar build in set 6403 where it serves as a pram.
This cart is used for transporting Mia's puppy, but we also saw it being used earlier for serving the horse carrots. Simple but effective.

The vet, part 1
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The beginnings of the main building, focusing on the exterior. Those frames with the bars across them work very well as multi-paned windows; I would never have considered using those frames before now, but I think I'll start doing so.
(Fun fact: at the vet's grand opening ceremony they had a giant dog perform a hurricane kick, which is how the sign got that paw print. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.)

Fish tank
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This fish tank build is genius; I'm going to steal/adapt it for my own ends at some point.
Normally one would apply some stickers to the outside of those blue panels, used to simulate the contents of the fish tank. There's no way I'm going to do so, particularly with those colours. Instead it might be more impressive to somehow place a decal or sticker inside the tank.

X-ray machine
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Inserted into the building, along with the fish tank, is an x-ray machine. Again a sticker would be placed on the transparent panel to indicate it's an x-ray machine, but without it we can pretend it's something technical.

More machinery
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Another clever little machine, making use of a "space arm", goes in the back corner of the building. I don't know exactly what it does - perhaps it gives your favourite pets a secret blend of 13 herbs and spices? Rumour has it that a fryer is on its left, but because that's where the building cuts off we'll never know. Again, this machine can be anything you want it to be.

The rest of the inside
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The rest of bags #1 and #2 fill the room with a front desk, some more equipment (including some weighing scales), and a special bed for our stray hedgehog. It certainly looks like the inside of a vet, albeit on a much smaller scale, and even with all the equipment it looks like there's enough space for figures to move around.

Adding foliage
Similarly to the Tree House's instructions, you'll end up adding the new flower parts in different sections - yet they are grouped together in one step.

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The first time you'll be presented with all 20 pieces, but only two butterflies are added. Basically this is an indicator to get these parts ready to add at any time.

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The second time, from out of nowhere, 12 more parts are added. At least in this set you can tell which parts to add and where.

That leaves six pieces, all of which are added to...

The vet, part 2
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The second part of the building is home to the horse, who has been christened Ray Harryhorsey (even though it is officially female - I probably should have guessed from the pink stable door). This section can stand on its own, or be paired with the main building to create the "super-vet".

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The back of the horse unit, where the horse hasn't finished all its hay. Any ideas what that vial above the door is?
Actually, I'm a little confused as to why there's a door leading into a closed-off section. It looks like it's meant to be a feeding area, but there's barely enough room for the horse to face in that direction (hence the use of the 1x6x5 panel as a wall). Interestingly, the trough is where some of the accessories are stored, according to the instructions.

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Government funding is obviously no issue for Heartlake Vet: gold taps for horsey water.

The completed set
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The two sections side by side, as pictured on the box. Put together it looks like a big building with room for expansion, but you'll have to line them up carefully.
I'm actually not a fan of the odd offset bewteen the two buildings. If they're meant to be arranged side by side like this, I think they would have worked better as one big model, or at least have some way of connecting the two buildings to hold them in place. I'd assumed the latter would be the case from the box art.

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And here are Mia and Sophie outside the vet, with the puppy. It's obvious that Mia is a volunteer at the vet, but is the puppy her pet or a patient? Hey, it's your set; you decide. I'm going to assume it's a patient she's grown accustomed to.

Leftovers

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Not the kinds of extra parts I'd expected, but a surprise nonetheless. I'm not even sure I'm supposed to have that many round plates.
There is actually one Green flower plate that was supposed to be here, but I'd misread step 20. There is also probably meant to be a Dark Pink one, but I must have lost it.

Back of the instructions, 1
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This page reveals there are at least 14 preliminary Friends sets, of which I have six (for reviewing and part collecting purposes, thank you). It also serves as a checklist, as well as a handy guide to the actual figures you'd get with each set.

Back of the instructions, 2
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A map of Heartlake City: possibly a play on Salt Lake City, and the newest alumni of the Cringeworthy Saccharine Fictional Place Names Group, joining such legends as Sweet Valley High and Summer Bay.
One wonders if some of the places depicted on this map will turn up as future Friends sets, if the theme does well. Possible areas include the lighthouse, the pier (or something to do with boats) and perhaps a school.
One also wonders how many male figures will turn up in the theme, given that the city has a multitude of pink houses and heart-shaped features. Even the plane near the mountains looks a little... odd.

Back of the instructions, 3
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The five members of the Friends, doing what they all like to do individually. Which is your favourite?

Back of the instructions, 4
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Gewinne!th is back bigger than ever, having just gotten a promotion. Actually she's roughly the same size as Gewinne!son on a similar-sized instruction book, but quite frankly I don't know who's more menacing.

Fun with the set
Just another regular shift at Heartlake Vet...

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*dinglingling*
"Welcome to Heartlake Vet, how may I help you?"
"Nurse Sophie, I'm wondering if you can help me - my pet Rufie is very tetchy, and I can't get him to keep still."

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"Why don't you bring him in, and let's see if we can't fix the problem?"
"Um..."

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The Verdict
This was a very neat build, and it was quite surprising to see so few pieces go into such a large but detailed building. It's very reminiscent of a doll's house, especially because of the colour scheme, the basic equipment and the specialised figures, yet it has the charm of a Paradisa set - this is probably what we'd be seeing if that theme was around today.

The selection of parts are the set's greatest strength: there seems to be a mix of elements from different themes that go into making the building, and there are plenty of parts that could be put to use in MOCs and other areas. There's that little hedgehog and the other animals to add to one's collection, which depending on your taste for animals might find their way into minifigure worlds. Two Friends figures in the set is a bonus, but at this price point should be expected.
I'm particularly excited about the  accessories, none more so than the pen. I've actually been developing a pencil accessory through 3D printing (shown below, albeit slightly rushed):

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But while the official figure-sized pen is very welcome, I'm concerned about how widely available it and some of the other accessories will be made.
Apart from the issues with placing them while building the set, my worry was that the fact these accessories and flowers are all classed as <i>one part</i> respectively might limit the sets they're included in, as well as their colours. It might not be possible to include the the pen, for example, without including all the other, medical-based accessories.
I for one would like to see some of these new parts - especially the pen - in other colours, and in other themes, <i>and</i> in greater quantities.
There is hope, however, in the fact that the syringe features on its own in the new Dino theme, as well as having been included with the S1 Nurse and the S6 Surgeon minifigures. Maybe the pack of accessories, like the tool and plume wheels, is what counts as one part.

One thing that's missing, given how the set is shown on the box, is a way to keep the two sections of building connected. A simple connection with two Technic bricks and a pin would have done; it's what they do with modular buildings, and there was certainly room for it in terms of part count and space. But apart from with the paw print sign on the main building, Technic parts haven't really been used in the theme.

Design: 7/10
A very good use of different shapes to create the building, particularly the curved bricks at the front. The inside of the main building isn't too cluttered, but a little more could have been done with the smaller (horsey) building's interior.

Build: 8/10
Nothing difficult about the build; it was very interesting watching the progression of both sections of building, particularly as it's a clean design.

Parts: 7/10
A good selection of parts to use in MOCs, but for that purpose there's not really anything (apart from the Medium Azure parts and the accessories) you can't get anywhere else. Perhaps not worth purchasing the whole set just for one or two specific parts.

Playability: 8/10
A "super-vet" or a small vet + stable: the choice is yours. The accessories, the machinery and the various containers of things give the figures plenty to do.

Price: 6/10
I can't help thinking it's on the high side, particularly for less than 400 parts (even with new colours and moulds); GBP 29.99 would be a different story.

Based on these scores, Heartlake Vet gets a 7/10. Watch out for in the sales.

A public service announcement from Heartlake Vet

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This is an urgent appeal on behalf of Henry the hedgehog.
Henry was found in the park, curled up into a ball to keep warm, and surviving on a diet of grass and insects.
In the summer months he's even forced to drink water that falls from the sky.
All that has changed, thanks to Heartlake Veterinarians.
Heartlake Veterinarians gives animals like Henry the hedgehog a second chance at life, thanks to their state of the art facilities here in Heartlake City.
Our team of trained, highly-paid volunteers give them the food they need to survive, such as our Friday special of foie gras sandwiches on a bed of royal vegetables, served with an animal-friendly Grey Poupon, complimented by our unique blend of Jersey cow milk and triple-filtered spring water.
They make sure animals have clean, silk-lined bedding to sleep in, with their own private rooms individually air-conditioned and heat regulated, and have access to 1000 acres of private land, protected 24 hours a day by the best security in the country.
But they can't do this without your help.
Please ensure the safety and well-being of Henry, and others like him, by giving just $2000 a month.
Thank you.

Edited by Pandora, 20 December 2012 - 10:12 PM.
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#2 Darkdragon

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 09:36 PM

Excellent review and love the pictures. I was so excited by the accessories and animals in this set that I had to run out and buy it on Monday.

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#3 AllanSmith

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 09:50 PM

View PostSilentMode, on 03 January 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

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One wonders if some of the places depicted on this map will turn up as future Friends sets, if the theme does well. Possible areas include the lighthouse, the pier (or something to do with boats) and perhaps a school.

The Camper, Horse stable, Horse trailer, Speedboat and Plane are in the Summer release  :classic:

Edited by AllanSmith, 03 January 2012 - 09:58 PM.


#4 lightningtiger

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 10:02 PM

Thanks 'SilentMode', now if my wife sees this set she might become an AFOL herself...just because she's into vet shows on Animal Planet and our niece is a vet in Queensland. :sweet:
Oh, that medical accessory pack  :wub: - if only the new city medical centre later in the year has these parts...... :drool:  :innocent:
The build looks solid with plenty of cute play features, what does Lego think girls do more role play than boys ? :innocent:
Colours are actually very typical for a vet clinic anyway and would fit a Lego city layout perfectly. :sweet:
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#5 Flipz

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 10:42 PM

View PostSilentMode, on 03 January 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

Fun with the set
Just another regular shift at Heartlake Vet...
    
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*dinglingling*
"Welcome to Heartlake Vet, how may I help you?"
"Nurse Sophie, I'm wondering if you can help me - my pet Rufie is very tetchy, and I can't get him to keep still."

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"Why don't you bring him in, and let's see if we can't fix the problem?"
"Um..."

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:laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh: Now see, if Lego had released something like this with the official announcement of Friends, everyone would have been too busy laughing to get upset.  This was the best part of the review for me.  :thumbup:  And now I must go buy this set...

May be slightly depressed due to learning that Shortpacked! is ending in a year. :,-(
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#6 Solitary Dark

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 11:05 PM

You swine, now I have to buy my daughter one of these for her birthday.

She is in love with the hedgehog thanks to you and your review.  :laugh:

Great review.

#7 DrWeevil

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 11:05 PM

Cool review - and I like your review method.  :sweet:

I have to say, pastel blocks notwithstanding, I totally would have wanted that set as a kid! As an adult I think I'll pass, but the more of these sets I see reviewed the more I like them and the less they look like TLG complying with the notion that all girls are girly girls.

I think perhaps the biggest factor in making these sets look 'girly' are the boxes! Once the sets are seen away from the box they look 'pretty' yes, but not in a sickly pink way.

I'm still not convinced about the Bratz figures they have going on, and feel Lego maybe could have put effort into designing better female minifigs rather than coming up with a whole new concept - I know I've never been fond of those minifig skirt blocks that prevent those poor women from sitting down, running, riding a motorbike etc etc... So while I think these new figures have better outfit possibilities (unhealthy body shape aside) you still can't move their legs separately, which I think is lame.  

Anyway, my bottom line is that these sets are better than I'd thought they would be.

Also - I believe the piece of equipment with the metallic dish is just the examination table, and the dish is supposed to be the examination light.

Edited by DrWeevil, 03 January 2012 - 11:06 PM.


#8 TheLegoDr

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 11:43 PM

Very informative review. I am getting more and more excited for these sets. Lots of new goodies for MOCing and collecting purposes. I like the windows the most. I like the colors overall, but I probably won't be building too many buildings with these pastel colors..except maybe for Hogsmeade Honeydukes....

My daughter will love the animals I am sure. She goes crazy for the Duplo versions.

It is interesting to see that the summer wave is already planned? That is a little disappointing because too many other themes will be taking my money this year. I can't add another one!

Thanks for the great review. Keep writing them and I'll keep reading them.
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#9 Taaron

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 12:07 AM

Great review.
I'm still a little bit on the fence. Was wanting to get this set for the hedgehog primarily, but the decal sheet hedgehog artwork and accessories has edged it slightly more in favor of purchase, but the price seems a bit much for hedgehog + decal sheet.

There is a little bit of curiosity with the horse, as it looks to have a hole in it's mane. Does that mean it can be 'upgraded' into a unicorn? (response won't adjust the want level of the set, just a mere curiosity. XD )

Edited by Taaron, 04 January 2012 - 12:09 AM.


#10 PirateMatt

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 12:22 AM

Unfortunately hole on the horse's mane is too small for unicorn horn. :cry_sad:

#11 prateek

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:00 AM

Nice review, but I'm going to disagree with you and say this is one of the better sets of the wave, although I could do with a lower price. Nice solid building, with cool parts and animals. I'd still prefer the old horse though. Fun fact, it seems like this new horse is used in the upcoming LotR sets according to the preliminary pictures.

Edited by prateek, 04 January 2012 - 01:01 AM.


#12 slovakiasteph

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 02:03 AM

I'm unsure about this set-- while the build looks fun enough, not as fun as others.  It's mostly the theme that I'm not fond of.

Happy with all of these Friends reviews!   :wub:  Nice work!  I know your reviews will always be good.
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#13 Brickmamba

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:43 AM

the pets in this set would make nice additions to the pet shop, thx for the review!
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#14 dr_spock

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:55 AM

Great review.  I kinda on the fence with this set.

#15 WhiteFang

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:55 AM

Another enjoyable review! I really enjoying looking at these new elements especially the new animals!  :sweet:

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My name is Wilhalm Bloodaxe and I am back to be part of the Ragnarök Now Redux.

Lord Kenneth Valise, Level 1 Knight, 28yrs old human
Power: 4 Health: 10/10 Gold: 10
Inventory: One potion, a Greatsword (WP: 3) and a Shield (SP: 2)


#16 JopieK

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 03:25 PM

I like the new 'iMac' computer in this set very much. Rest is also nice. Nice review Posted Image

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#17 Suspsy

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 04:15 PM

Rufie should've been the Tyrannosaurus rex!

#18 LEGO Guy Bri

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 04:20 PM

Great review 'SilentMode'! I am not a fan of the Friends theme but, this is a very nice set and looks to have plenty of playability. A city or town wouldn't be complete without a vet office. However, this would look a bit out of place in mine. I give a an above average vote  Posted Image
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#19 Aanchir

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 04:47 PM

View PostSilentMode, on 03 January 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

The first half of the contents includes bags #1 and #2, which both have fairly large bricks and parts, but also have a lot of space in them. Perhaps the extra space also serves as padding for when the box is transported?
We also have a very useful 16x16 plate in Bright Green, and an 8x16 and 16x16 plate in the new Bright Light Blue colour. Already we have a reason to purchase this set - the two Bright Light Blue plates are exclusive to this and another Friends set (the café).
Bright Light Blue isn't actually all that new new. That color (officially called 212 Light Royal Blue) has been in sets for several years, although mostly in Belville and Duplo (more recently, it's had some walk-on appearances in Minifigures Series 4 and the Ben 10: Alien Force constraction sets).

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Both the puppy and the horse are in BrickLink's Dark Orange. The puppy also sits on two studs, and while it looks far too cutesy for my tastes, it's a big improvement on the Tree House's kitten.
I don't understand all the hate for the kitten; I think it looks adorable, and could function in System rather well due to its simple shape (less intricate than the Belville equivalent). Of course, I wouldn't likely use any of the Friends animals alongside regular minifigures unless they had simpler face prints, so if TLG decides to use any in regular minifigure sets in the future let's hope they redesign the faces as it is very much within their power to do.

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The horse is a much smoother and more realistic design than the minifigure horse, and while I'm not really fussed about horses I think it looks good. Although the shape of the mould is generic, the eyelashes suggest that this particular horse is female. We're given a curved brick and a 2x2 plate - both in Dark Orange - to fill the 2x2 chunk taken out of her in the packet.

As for how to utilise the horse...

...you can have a Friends figure stand on it, or remove the filling to simulate riding it (which is probably why the gap is 2x2 rather than 1x2)...

...or you can give your animal friends a ride.

One important thing to note here is that, unlike minifigure horses, the Friends horse is in one piece - so there's no bending of the neck. If it wasn't for this limitation the Friends horse would be perfect, but I still prefer it over the minifigure horse. I'd be very surprised if this horse didn't appear in other sets in the future, perhaps in different colours.
I hope the horse, when it appears in a future set, will come with a saddle so that the Friends figs look less absurd riding it! Anyway, it's a shame it's not more posable, but it's still a nice design, though I naturally prefer the more basic minifigure horse for use with classic minifigures-- both because of the prints and the overall shape better matching the classic minifigure's blocky, simplified design.

Anyway, great review! This particular set is a great concept, although it doesn't excite me too much due to the stylistic incompatibility of many of the animals with System. It does, however, show great potential for the Friends theme.

Regarding the accessories all being counted as one part, it's not entirely new. Consider the building instructions for the BIONICLE playset Barraki Deepsea Patrol, which group all of the weapon pieces together. Of course, that set has no step explicitly telling you to attach the weapons, much less a step telling you to apply only a few and reserve the others for a later step! The Batcave from 2006 is another good example, but that set lacks step-by-step piece call-outs entirely.

Posted Image recommends the following sites:
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#20 Redhead1982

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 05:38 PM

Thanks for great and funny review. Althogh this set is not on my ''Wish list'', and it's not getting there after reading your review, I am convinced that there are people who find the set great enough. To me, major dissapoitment is the price, as I find it a bit high for the piece count (having in mind mostly the interesting pieces). Another down-point on Friends series altogether is that they look much better with minifig's hairstyle, and minifigs look weird with Friends hairstyle.  However, I did find you review enjoyable and am likely to haul the interesting pieces on BL.
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#21 Joebot

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 06:01 PM

View PostAanchir, on 04 January 2012 - 04:47 PM, said:

I hope the horse, when it appears in a future set, will come with a saddle so that the Friends figs look less absurd riding it!

Totally agreed on that. I'm very surprised there's no saddle piece. Supposedly there's some kind of Horse Stable set coming out in the summer, so I hope that includes a saddle. That really looks silly with the Friends fig standing in that huge gap in the back of the horse.

Then again, I'm not sure how much a saddle would really help hide a Friends fig's big, clompy feet. Seriously, these poor girls, for being skinny little waifs, sure do have big feet!!

#22 Leela

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:18 AM

There are saddles in the summer sets but in my opinion the minidolls still look stupid standing and not sitting on the horses.

Thanks for the review. It's another must-buy for me just because it's a building. I love the hedgehog and the accessories.
I hope the staff at Heartlake Vet can help Rufie :laugh:

SilentMode said:

  
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Everytime I see this piece I think it's garlic...

#23 Lord Admiral

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 07:29 AM

Thanks for the great review! The pictures really give me a good feel for what this set is like.

I think I've read enough of the reviews of this line to finally make an informed comment about the line in general.

The design of these sets are decent, even if the build feels juniorized. I like the pieces that go into giving detail to the individual items of the set. The furniture really is surprisingly good, especially when they're using a lot of generic parts to create this detail. It's on par with the furniture found in the modular buildings. At the same time though, the buildings themselves aren't interesting at all. I know these sets are for girls, but they really didn't have to de-emphasize the building aspect of it that much. They could've at least put some effort into the build of the structures, instead of making it feel like you're plopping down four floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall pieces onto a baseplate and calling the center of it a room.

The new parts are interesting too. This particular set is notable for the numerous new animals pieces. The animals are actually closer to scale against mindolls than minifigures. And they all have the little hole at the top near their heads for attaching accessories, which is a pretty nice touch. The new variety of flower pieces I'd very much like to see in other non-Friends sets. The generic flower while sufficient, is no match for these new flowers. The new colors don't interest me as much, mostly because they're pastels. I have never really cared much for the colors in the past girl lines either. I personally like using darker, more muted colors. The new colors are supposed to be exciting, but not so much for me.

But the dealbreaker is really the minidolls. The more I look at the minidolls, the more I dislike them. It's the way they are designed. They don't really seem to fit the sets or even the idea of Lego bricks very well. They feel more like a doll or figurine whose feet just so happen to attach to Lego brick studs, rather than a figure built from glorified body-shaped Lego pieces. For starters, the lack of a seat and the inability for the head or the torso to attach to (most) other bricks all make them feel like a separate toy from Lego bricks (I'm also not a fan of the heads for Chewbacca and Yoda, though the latter is still a step up from the former). I.e. you can't actually build with the minidoll pieces, and if you can, it's not much. Interchangeability also appears to be compromised, despite being able to swap hairs with other minifigures. I wonder if it's easy to put other minifigure headgear like a helmet on the minidolls. And there haven't been many minidolls thus far, but I have to wonder to what extent will one torso be able to fit onto another pair of legs. Certainly, the defined skin tones instead of the generic yellow makes it limited, but I wonder if the patterns will even match. Not to mention, the fixed wrists and the single-hinged leg make them less versatile and less articulable than a minifigure, a fairly significant reduction in playability on top of it all. As an unintended but related consequence, they're also less posable.

I can understand why the minidolls are designed the way they are, in that they're more realistic figurines with curves that actually resemble a human body, but I can't understand why they didn't design the pieces it so that each minidoll component actually can be used to build something other than a minidoll (like for the torso of a mannequin or a ship's figurehead). For that matter, I'm not sure they've completely solved the problem with shoulders getting in the hair's way of turning with the head, which is one of the challenges that a female minfigure would face. While they've made it easier for the heads to turn with most hairpieces, I still see hair out of sync with the head because of the shoulders. I can't seem to figure out why they would leave this problem open even after going with a whole new figurine design.

The juniorized build and the presence of the minidolls really make these sets unappealing, despite the complexity of the furniture and the plethora of new parts. But since I'm not exactly the target demographic, I guess I'll let the real market decide whether the line will be successful or not.

#24 JackJonespaw

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:09 PM

Nice review, SilentMode! I'd buy the set just for the hedgehog!  :blush:

#25 Esurient

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 01:19 PM

Thanks for the review! Definitely love all the new moulds that TLG include in this set, especially the doctor's accessories, golden taps, animals.
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