"Have some fun in the sun with Emma’s Splash Pool!"
3065 Olivia's Tree House - 8/10
3188 Heartlake Vet - 7/10
This is SilentMode, aka that guy, with yet another Friends review. This time we're going to take it back to basics - no animals, no risk of incorrect colour names/references, and no new moulds other than on the Friends figure - with one of the smallest sets on offer at present.
And all of a sudden Brickset now has part counts...
Emma's Splash Pool
Release year: 2012
RRP: GBP 4.99 / USD 5.99
# of parts: 43
# of figures: 1
Links: Brickset Lego S@H
More pictures in my Brickshelf folder.
Promotional image (render)
This is currently the least expensive way to get one's hands on one of the new Friends figures (which apparently is officially called a minidoll). There are a few more sets of a similar size listed on Brickset, but at the time of writing this and 3930 are the ones available. In today's episode we join a fully-clothed Emma in the hot tub - which turns out to be a very small pool.
The back of the box
The back of the box, given that it's so small, simply shows our featured, literally green-eyed Friend Emma. One thing we'll be pleased to know is that, despite the anatomy of the figure, she fits rather well on the sun bed.
The long side
Instead of a minidoll to represent the scale, strangely we have a picture of the ice cream sundae. I suppose it was the only thing they could really use, as even rotated (as with the larger sets) there wouldn't be enough space to show the figure. We also wouldn't want people getting any compulsions to steal the figures from the boxes.
The short side
This picture's here to show what I'd mentioned in the Tree House review: that smaller Friends sets don't have the curved edges on these sides. To make up for it, they have the dark purple curves to give the same impression.
Bearing in mind that again the part count isn't shown on the box, we're probably curious to see what the box holds. Open it up!
My theory over the oversized bag acting as padding seems to be confirmed, in which case I suppose it's forgiveable - even for only 43 parts. As we'd probably expect from the pictured model, there's a very colourful assortment of parts waiting in the bag, just begging to be released. The instructions book has been folded to fit inside the box, but remains surprisingly crisp.
As has become customary, here are the minidoll parts in all their glory. The head seems to have the same basic features as the other Friends, resembling Sophie from the Vet set but with green eyes. Well, as everybody knows, all Friends figures look alike.
Please welcome Emma to the show. (applause) Emma says she's fed up of being in the shadows, while her friends Olivia and Mia get all the attention - so she's turned to swimwear modelling to turn heads! Actually that's not too far off the mark: Emma's official profile states that she's into modelling, and is a budding fashion designer.
First thing's first: I'm going to suggest that Emma is meant to be of Hispanic origin. Look at her head on the back of the box!
I don't have any problem with her being Hispanic, or from any other part of the world, because it shows diversity on LEGO's part. One interesting thing that I haven't seen mentioned, amongst all the controversy, is that the Friends line-up of minidolls are "fleshies"; three of the five main figures being Caucasian, and probably for the first time ever (outside of Duplo) we have a brown-skinned female in Andrea. This must have been an important issue in the development process, otherwise we might be seeing yellow figures again.
However, Emma's minidoll parts are the same colour as those on Mia and Olivia, despite her darker appearance on the box and on the Friends web site. It might be because it would be easier to produce her in an existing colour rather than create a new one, or that there isn't that much of a difference. What would be interesting is if (or when) someone kicks up a fuss about Andrea's limited interchangability with other minidoll parts.
Second point: If the set's meant to be of a small pool, I would have preferred Emma to be in a swimming outfit rather than plain clothes. I personally don't know anyone who gets into a pool (or a hot tub) in their clothes, because I'm not that crazy. Perhaps a one-piece would have been considered too racy (no pun intended).
Having said that, I particularly like the torso design.
Emma with minifigure hair, 1
Here's Emma with her minifigure equivalent hairpiece - and once again I prefer this to the one she comes with. Three for three! Plastic on plastic just seems right.
Emma with minifigure hair, 2
For an interesting alternative, try using the S3 Hula Dancer's hairpiece on Emma. No need for a flower accessory, if there is one.
Minifigure with Emma's hair
Emma's hairpiece turns Angineryka into an 80's rockstar throwback, at least from the front anyway. This is the first Friends hairpiece I've seen that actually masculinises a minifigure.
Also of note: Emma's hairpiece has holes on both the top and back for any accessories you come across. This set doesn't come with any.
Seeing as there's so few parts to deal with this time, let's focus on the brightly-coloured ones: those in Bright Pink, Lime and the new Medium Azure colours. Even if you disagree with the theme itself, these sets are becoming a great way to pick up parts in these colours - but again, how can we put them to use in MOCs? That's up to the builder, and I'm still figuring it out.
Stars of the show
Also an okay set to pick up for those round flower plates, in Bright Light Orange. The inclusion of the goblet, transparent blue panels and the bamboo brick are reminders of the similarly-sized Paradisa sets from way back when. If I ever stumbled across an open box of this set in a department store, these parts probably wouldn't be in there.
As a side note, as some people have already noticed, LEGO has gone back to using white outlines on black parts in the instructions, as it should blooming well be. They were outlined in black, and made a shade very similar to Dark Bluish Grey, in the instructions for the Winter sets I'd reviewed a while ago, which made things awkward.
This time around the set is divided into three builds, all of which go together to create the scene.
An incredibly simple but effective build using only four parts. If you have trouble figuring out how to build this from the picture... I don't know you.
But seriously, the combination of bamboo plant and flower plate makes a very nice little plant - or it could even be a cactus.
The sun bed
Another simple and clever build, and not a SNOT technique in sight. The flower on top of the parasol is unnecessary, but you can add it or take it off depending on what suits you. Emma fits perfectly on the sun bed, as was shown on the back of the box, and depending on where the light hits the parasol you can even see the shade.
The use of a 2x4 plate to join the table and the bed, rather than having used four stud pieces for the sun bed's legs, was a great idea. How many people would have done the latter?
The flower plate fit surprisingly easily into the goblet, to form the ice cream sundae shown on the box. But we only get one in this set; how are we going to "serve up cold ice cream to the girls"? Don't even think about having them share - I'm still trying to forget the one time I saw it happen.
The splash pool/hot tub
Splash pool my foot; even if there aren't any controls to be seen, this is a hot tub in my book.
Again, this is a very simple build, and the use of panels rather than bricks ensures there's enough space for a minidoll to sit inside it. But even just for one minidoll it looks very small - a lot of other parts would be required to extend it so that the other Friends can join in. This model probably serves as a tutorial for new builders in making curved shapes.
If you don't like the colour scheme you can always make one completely out of white parts, or perhaps a combination of white/grey/blue/tan.
The completed set
As you can see, all three models go together to make a small scene, and there's nothing out of place. Add some more plants, either from more of this set or made from parts in your collection, and you can have part of a health spa. Add another figure and you can simulate a day at the beach (because I'm sure Emma feels lonely). Having seen the review, I think this would suit the back yard of Olivia's House. Just remember, SilentMode says it's a hot tub.
As we'd expect from such a small set, there's not much left to put in our collections - but another flower plate is always a bonus.
The back of the instructions shows a much smaller but no less intimidating Gewinne!th, who has been confined to less than half the vertical height of the page. Her power level is sufficient to levitate her side of the book!
Fun with the set
Even if it is a small pool, right now it's a jacuzzi.
Even if this is one of the smallest Friends sets available right now, I think it's worth the price of entry. It works out at around GBP 0.12/part if you go by that figure for value, and a very easy way to obtain useful Bright Pink and Medium Azure parts if (like me) you don't. It is also, as mentioned above, currently the least expensive way to obtain a minidoll by retail. At GBP 4.99 this collection of parts doesn't feel like a rip-off.
Given how well this set stands on it own, it could have been designed as an extension of Olivia's House, or any of the other larger sets for that matter - even the Vet. Imagine the Tree House with its own pool or hot tub! It essentially means that you don't really have to buy the big expensive house to have somewhere for the Friends to hang out.
Having said that, the Friends are obviously not meant to exist in isolation, so anyone collecting these sets will probably be stumped as to how to extend the pool to fit more than one minidoll. It could be left up to the recipient as a challenge, whether they'd stick to the colour scheme and design or not. Or maybe, given the direction this theme is going, each of the Friends can have their own pools!
Apart from that one issue, It's hard to find fault with this set. What to do with all those Emma minidolls, should one decide to purchase multiples, is another thing altogether.
Even I'm not sure how to extend the tub without things getting messy, but otherwise it's a complete scene and a very impressive design for only 43 pieces.
Virtually foolproof, and evidence that you don't need countless SNOT techniques or hundreds of little pieces to put something impressive together. The sun bed's construction was a valuable lesson.
Not as much Medium Azure in this set, but the parts that are in the set are useful ones. A little less Lime would be an improvement.
On its own or part of a larger scene, there's a few things that can be done with the set - but unless we're using minifigures that pool will eventually be far too small.
I'd say it's worth the retail price for what's inside, but probably not worth buying multiples (more than two) for your own use unless it's discounted.
Based on these scores, Emma's Splash Pool/Hot Tub also gets an 8/10, and one of these:
And on a completely coincidental note, I'm off to take a bath. Stay tuned for more. Reviews.
Edited by Pandora, 20 December 2012 - 10:30 PM.