Number – 3185
Name – Summer Riding Camp
Theme – Friends
Year – 2012
Minidolls – 4
Pieces – 1112
Price – £89.99
Links: Brickset, Peeron not listed yet, BrickLink, Shop@Home
Information from LEGO Shop@Home:
Spend the summer at the LEGO Friends Summer Riding Camp! Head off to camp with Emma, Stephanie and their friend Ella in the mini-bus, complete with a trailer for bringing everything you need for a summer with horses. Practice your horseback riding skills and learn to pull the cart with the help of the Instructor Theresa mini-doll figure! Take lessons in the classroom then take the horses out for a ride. Learn to put on their saddles and hold the reins before you ride around the pretty pastures. Then serve up a yummy meal in the canteen, clean up in the bath house and hang out by the campfire! The LEGO Friends love roasting marshmallows and reading each other stories before they go to bed in the cool camp bunkhouse with 4 beds. Includes Emma, Stephanie, Ella and Instructor Theresa mini-doll figures.
- Includes 4 mini-doll figures: Emma, Stephanie, Instructor Theresa and Ella
- Features 2 two-story buildings: the camp canteen, classroom, 2 bedrooms, bath house with toilet, horse staging area and paddock
- Includes a mini-bus with seats for all 4 mini-doll figures and a detachable trailer
- Animals include hedgehog and 3 different colored horses: Champion, Foxy and Sunshine
- Accessories include camera, storybook, riding helmets, croissants, salad, sausages, dining furniture, blackboard, 3 saddles, 3 bridles, pitch fork, whip, bonfire, marshmallows, cups; animal accessory set: brushes, comb, bows, hairspray, soap and prize ribbons; and flower accessory set: flowers, ladybirds and butterflies
- Load the LEGO Friends into the mini-bus!
- Ride, groom and feed the horses!
- Rebuild and create new ways to play!
- LEGO Friends pieces are fully compatible with all LEGO System bricks
- Collect all of the LEGO Friends sets for a whole city of LEGO Friends fun!
- LEGO Mini-dolls are figures made especially for the world of LEGO Friends, with thousands of customizable fashion and accessory combinations!
- Measures over 9” (23cm) tall, 20” (51cm) wide and 6” (17cm) long
- Mini-bus and trailer measures over 2” (6cm) tall, 1” (5cm) wide and 7” (20cm) long
The Summer 2012 wave of sets (of which we've presented exclusive preview reviews here on EB) have continued the focus on the Friends' homes and recreational activities in their expansion of Heartlake City. In the same way that the original wave of Friends sets had a large 'showpiece' set, the summer line does too, and this is it. It's not a home like Olivia's House, the first 'showpiece' set, but instead a large Riding Camp with loads of features for the Friends to interact with. It's the largest set of the new wave, so how does it measure up? Read on to find out more...
I would hope we're all getting used to seeing the familiar purple Friends boxes in our LEGO stores, with their multitude of bright colours, distinctive shape and careful detailing. As one might expect, the box for this set is satisfyingly large, and satisfyingly Friendly. There's a gorgeous scene on the front displaying all of the different aspects of the set, once more with the careful background that enhances the set without overwhelming it. If you drink in the details of the picture, you find yourself saying "ooh, there's a van" and "aww look at the hedgehog" and I personally spent a good while "oooh-ing" and "aahh-ing" over the build inside. Not too long though, as at least I knew I could just open the box. The bottom left has a veeery small inset showing the set from the back, and the bottom right shows the minidolls included, of which there are four. We'll see exactly who they are a bit later on.
On the back of the box you can see lots and lots of fun things to do with the minidolls once you've built the set, plus there's a ton of other informative pictures. One inset shows some of the interesting parts, another reassures you that the bags will come out of the box numbered, in order to build different parts of the set, while yet more show how the set can be configured differently thanks to the modular-style nature of the builds. Yet again there's masses of detail here, but it's partitioned and sectioned neatly so as not to be overwhelming.
The top of the box has the minidolls and horses arranged with various accessories, including an interloping hedgehog, as they go about horse-stabley things. No manure seems to have been included, the pitchfork is strictly for hay. There's a standard 1:1 actual size picture of a minidoll, so you can breath a sigh of relief that they haven't grown or shrunk scarily out of SYSTEM scale. The bottom of the box is rather plain, containing only the requisite safety information.
The box sides are relatively plain too, although plain in Friends terms is purple with a repeating pattern of bows and stars etc, and a swatch of purple and dark pink across it. It's plain, but it's not plain plain.
There can be no better sight when opening a LEGO box than seeing the various instruction booklets wrapped up in polythene with a piece of cardboard backing to keep them flat and uncrumpled. After receiving mangled instructions and sticker sheet in 3189 Heartlake Stables, I was braced for similar disappointment, but it seems that there is no such worry with this set. The instructions and stickers are pristine.
As one might expect, the front of the instructions all show the entire scene as it is displayed on the front of the box. The first instruction booklet is slightly smaller than the others, and I assume this is only because it need not be any larger and as an effort to save paper. On the back of the instructions you can see the various adverts for the online sites - Friends, LEGOClub, and the survey websites - all advertised in bright colours and with emphasis on the Friends theme.
Some of the most useful pages of the instruction booklets are the inventory pages, and here they are, detailing every single part included in the set. There's no difficulty determining the colours of the various parts on the lavender background. The pictures are all links to high resolution pictures, so click if you'd like to see more detail.
Ah, the sticker sheet, beloved by some and loathed by others. The sticker sheet is actually shiny-shiny, but I've photographed it this way to display the details. Aside form the expected horsy and girly stickers, there are perhaps more useful stickers for the washrooms and some flowers. Obviously their usefulness will really depend on how much you're likely to use the stickers yourself, but I like to see a way of adding more detail that isn't necessarily girly.
There are two tan 16x16 plates that will provide the basis of a couple of the modules; useful for desert scenes, perhaps.
Additionally, there are two 8x16 bright light pink plates, and one each of white and light bluish-grey, so a proportionally small amount of pink as a basis for the modules. There are three horses, and here you can see that each comes individually wrapped and protected in its own polythene shell. We'll have a closer and better look at the horses later.
Of course plates and horses are all well and good, but it's pulling out the bags of LEGO that are the most exciting part for me. Here you can see that there's a satisfying haul of LEGO in this set, all separated into 9 numbered bags for sequential building. So what do these bags contain? Just a load of bright light pink and lime green? Nope...
Ok, so a little bit of lime green and a tiny bit of bright light pink, but there is one of the new red wheelbarrows, seen only so far in 4206 Recycling Truck and 4434 Tipper Truck, both released this year. We can also see a few of the dark tan 1x2 modified bricks with masonry profile, which have been prevalent in Ninjago sets this year. It doesn't look like there's that many of them here, but you'll see them cropping up in bag after bag. There's all sorts of other useful bits and bobs here, from a pitchfork to cartwheels and whips, and a lovely dark pink Belville bucket - which isn't that exciting if you pick up 3189 Heartlake Stables as that has one too.
The bright light pink and medium blue saddles are old news from 3189 Heartlake Stables, but there's a third colour now, Friendly medium lavender (which also appears in 3186 Emma's Horse Trailer). There's a ton of the Friends accessories in dark pink, and a ton of Technic-y stuff too. I thought the tan Technic pins might be interesting, but they're disappointingly ubiquitous. The same can't be said for the modified 1x2 bricks with the masonry pattern in dark nougat (as opposed to dark tan this time). They've only appeared in two sets this year 4440 Forest Police Station and 4438 Robbers' Hideout, although there are high amounts in each.
Bag three is a smaller bag and contains a nice selection of medium blue, white and yellow. The wheel arches will be useful for those who like to build vehicles, and the 1x2 medium blue inverted slopes are relatively easy to get hold of, as is the chest with lid, so this bag isn't hugely exciting.
And nor is this bag, really, unless you're a big fan of white, although these are more interesting white parts. You can see the wheels and tyres are oddly numbered, and that will be explained in the build. The little light azure/medium lavender bag is a brand new piece, though. It looks a little like a veterinarian's bag, and considering there are already two different coloured handbags in a different mould, I doubt it's just another handbag. There are modified curved bricks and 2x2 jumper plates for the medium blue collectors, too, both of which are mostly found in newer sets.
Bag five has yet more tan and white, but there's a larger amount of medium lavender than we've had in the bags so far. What caught my eye (and may have caught yours) were the green window shutters. I had similar in my collection as a kid, but these it seems are slightly different, as they have a handle and in this incarnation (according to BrickLink) they've only been seen before in 6053 My First LEGO Town. They might not be the exact part I had as a kid, but they still managed to induce a little nostalgia.
Yet more tan and a little more medium lavender, but once more there are some fun things here. There's the hedgehog, which you might have if you picked up in 3188 Heartlake Vet, and nobody's going to say 'no' to some weiners and a croissant, and there's those lovely medium blue window inserts. I also quite like the dark red 3x1 curved slopes, and the medium lavender 2x2 round tiles, plus this is the bag that contains the pretty flower and bug accessories (in yellow, along the bottom of the picture).
Hmm, there's a bit of a trend developing; lots of tan, some white and medium lavender and some green stuff, and then some modified 1x2 bricks with masonry pattern (either in dark tan or medium nougat as is here). You can see the 4x6 modified printed tile that debuted in 3933 Olivia's Invention Workshop has reappeared here, and there are a couple of light bluish-grey goblets and a pearl gold goblet. You might also miss the 2x2 light pink tile in there too. Not the most exciting bag so far.
Now this is more visually appealing with a wider mix of colour. There's looooads of medium lavender, especially in 1x6 tiles, and some light pink, yellow and lime green. I do rather like the lime green containers, and I'm now gathering a nice collection of them, thanks to Friends sets, meaning I don't have to delve into Belville to get hold of some. I also like the bright light orange flag here, and I'm a bit relieved it's not pink, and this the first time we've seen a flag in this colour (and there's another one in the next bag!)
This is the last bag, and there's a good number of really nice things here. Once more there's a nice amount of tan and medium lavender; more of the lime green containers, more of the medium blue window inserts, more of the lovely dark red slopes that we've been seeing but studiously ignoring in the past few bags, and the other blight light orange flag. The medium azure 1x1x1 corner panel is pretty much exclusively a Friends part - you can find it in a number of sets, but they are all Friends sets. As with each bag, there's actually really too much to mention each time, but once again you can see there are elements here for SNOT building, as there have been in a few bags, and I'd just like to reinforce the point that the contents of these bags aren't just basic bricks and pretty flowers, there are elements here that allow for more than just 'brick-on-brick' building in this delightfully girly set.
Once you've dug all the instructions and polybags out of the box, you might find this in there too. This piece of paper, telling you that the tan 1x4x2 arches in the polybags are evil and must be
At first glance these 1x4x2 arches look pretty much identical. The polybag one is on the left, and the replacement is on the right, but really I could tell you it was the other way round and you wouldn't know. It's only when we look a little more carefully that we can spot small differences...
The upper arch is the original, and the lower is the replacement. From this angle you can see that there is a slight notch in the top of the underside of the arch in the replacement. The significance of this will be seen during the build, however the essential point is that, in each polybag with these arches, there's a white 1x2x2 2/3 arched window to fit under each arch, and it won't fit, as the stud on the top of the window won't connect to the arch unless it has that little notch in it. So that's that mystery solved, and there are five 'free' tan 1x4x2 arches to boot (as long as you don't try to fit anything underneath them).
So here are the stars of the set, the Friends themselves. This really is quite a big set, and that’s reflected in the number of minidolls. There are four here, including two of the original five Friends (Stephanie far left and Emma second from right) and two new Friends (or friends of Friends), Ella and Theresa, so from left to right we have Stephanie, Ella, Emma and Theresa. Most of the outfits have been seen before, however. If Theresa's torso looks familiar, that’s because it has been seen before in pink in 3061 City Park Café and in this colour in 3188 Heartlake Vet. It works nicely with the jodhpurs and riding boots legs to look like a riding outfit, but there’s something ever-so-slightly 1950’s about it. The only new torso here is Ella's, which is perhaps the most welcome, as it allows Andrea to have a new torso too. As you can see, safety is a priority, so all the girls are provided with riding helmets (complete with corresponding hair) as well as their own ‘normal’ hair.
Not much to see from the back, except take note that long hair is definitely ‘in’ this season in Heartlake City. It’s nice to have different colours of the same hairstyle (Theresa has the red version of Emma's hair), but then that’s not exactly a new thing for LEGO, is it? The other noticeable thing from the back is the detailing on the backs of Emma's sandals that are a nice touch, just like Stephanie and Ella's flip-flops, and the printing on the torsos and legs.
I think it now becomes clear why everyone has long hair in Heartlake - it means all their hair looks the same when tied back in a pony tail and topped with a riding hat, albeit in appropriately corresponding hair colours. The material for the riding hats is the softer plastic that the Friends hair (and indeed the mad scientist from CMF series 4) and this riding hat is exactly the same part as is found in the Team GB Collectible Minifigs (for the horse rider, somewhat obviously) and in 3189 Heartlake Stables.
The back view here only further illustrates that the hairstyle/riding hat combo are all the same basic shape, with different coloured pony tails. The lighter blonde colour of Stephanie's hair allows you to see the little holes in the back of the helmets (they're present in each) that allow you to attach some of the accessories (bows and suchlike) to pretty-up the girls. This adds another level of customisation and creative play, so I like it, even if it is remarkable simple.
It would be an immensely boring riding camp it there weren't any horses, and given that the Stables had two, the Riding Camp has had to up the ante, and so has three. I have no idea if these horsies have names; I can't find any in the set or instructions, but I have no doubt that any little girl building this set will soon come up with their own name for them anyway. The horses are identical, aside from their different colouring; the dark orange and dark brown horse were both in 3189 Heartlake Stables and the white Friends horse can also be seen in 3186 Emma's Horse Trailer.
The right side of the horses shows off their long flowing manes, and now's a good time to point out the pretty printing of their eyes - the dark orange and white horses have blue eyes while the brooding dark brown horse has dark brown eyes to compliment his (differently coloured) black mane and tail. I have said it before and I'll say it again; I'm not a huge fan of horses overall, but as LEGO horses go, I really do like the design of these. They're pretty and smooth with rounded features, without being unrealistic or outrageously girly. And now I have three more.
As is always the way, the beginning of the build starts you off slowly, as if expecting you to have not built for a while and needing to get back into the swing of things. The first thing we build are these container stands and place a few bits and bobs inside them. Similarly we add a yellow 2x2 modified brick into the now constructed wheelbarrow to represent some hay. Yup, my fingers are nicely warmed up and I remember how studs attach, so let's move on.
This is more exciting, we have a campfire for the camp, and some benches and mugs of hot chocolate (hot chocolate not included) and.. and.. marshmallows on sticks for roasting on the fire! Yummmm. Instantly my mindset in building this set is that it's a camp and that it's fun place to be. A camera rests on the bench, along with a magazine about horses (which is what the white 2x2 tile is, as it is lacking its sticker) and I feel that this little build really sets the scene. I can already see the Friends sitting around chatting about horses and telling ghost stories while drinking hot chocolate and roasting the giant marshmallows.
The next part of this first build is the front gates. Once more I've not applied the stickers (which should be on the light pink 2x2 tiles on the posts) which is my own personal choice. This really is just some nice gate-posts with gates and greenery, and I suppose it will act mainly as a boundary during play. Kids are supposed to have boundaries, right? I guess it delineates the entry for the grounds and if you have a vehicle ( ) then you could drive it through the gates. Hmm...
The last part of the build is to build a pony and trap using the dark orange horse. The slightly annoying thing is that you'll have just placed the 2x2 dark orange plate and curved brick in the horse to fill it out, and now you have to take them all off again. Oh the hardship! Anyway, having the extra plate width to fill out the horse means that the horse hitching fits nicely (with a 1x2 plate) and the curved 2x2 brick sits smoothly on top, making it look like it's attached at the side and overall looking more natural (to me) than a similar use in the new Lord of the Rings sets (e.g. 9469 Gandalf Arrives). The yellow 1x2x1 panel with divider works as a footrest for the Friends, but you might notice there's no backrest, meaning that you do have to rely on balance to keep your Friends positioned in the gig. And balance sometimes sucks. The seat is of course light pink, because it's Friends.
After the warm up exercise that is Bag one, we move onto Bag two and start building some... building. This is the first opportunity to see the arched white window underneath the tan 1x4x2 arch brick, and thanks to the replacement, it fits perfectly, yay! This is the overall colour scheme for the building - tan with a plate-line of medium lavender, dark red roofing and masonry detailed bricks in with the medium blue latticed windows. You'll see this style used throughout the build and now's a good a time as any to comment on it. I really like it, it looks great. The tan keeps it based in reality, but the lavender makes it 'Friendsy' as just a small element. The medium blue lattice windows are really pretty, and the occasional interspersed masonry bricks are really effective at adding stonework detailing.
This is an outside construction; a sort of outdoor tack room, with storage for the saddles and bridles. There's a handy sink for scrubbing down the horses, and all the accessories you could ever need are within easy reach and neatly organised. If you want an apple, it's right there in.. something. I'm not sure if that's another sink or just a mini feeding trough, but it looks nice, whatever it is (I think it's another little sink). This is a nice little stand-alone build, and not only does it make keeping the accessories easy, but there's scope for interactive play already.
You may remember a whole load of Technic rods and axle and pin connectors, well this is how they're intended to come together; to make a pen of sorts. When the whole set comes together, this pen sits out the front of the camp building, as an enclosed area for the Friends to ride their horses, presumably in case one of these docile-looking horses bolts and gallops off into the Heartlake countryside with a screaming girl on its back. Putting this together doesn't much feel like building LEGO, but then I do tend to stay away from Technic, and these are all legitimate LEGO pieces and who knows, maybe the change in construction style might be stimulating to some?
This can't be right!? What is this?? At the end of Bag three there's just the shell of something or other. It's got a nice colour-scheme, but that's about it, because it's not very useful. Ah, quite obviously this is the beginnings of the cutest campervan evah, and really the opportunity is here to have a little look inside before it's completed. Once more the yellow panels with divider are present to delineate where the Friends can sit. The steering wheel is already in place (lefthand drive ) and you can also tell that something will be attached to the back...
The view from the front shows that the interior has plush yellow cushions for the Friends to lean back against, and the SNOT on the front of the model indicates more detailing to follow.
So it's looking good so far, I wonder how it'll turn out and how soon we'll discover that? Oh who'm I kidding, it's finished with the next bag, and the subtitle of the review indicates already what I think of it.
I love this. It's so cute, and such a fun build. There are indeed some extra details added to the front of the camper - some lights, and some obligatory pinkness; the medium lavender 2x2 round tile is supposed to have a sticker on it (the round horse one, in case you're wondering) but it looks just fine without. You can start to see the smooth rounded front of the camper, with the medium blue curves, that start to make me feel as though this is some sort of art deco design, but that roundedness is just delightful. You can spot here that there's a little trailer at the back of the camper, and we'll see more of it in a bit.
The glorious curves continue at the back of the open top camper. I'm glad there's no roof; it's designed to put figures in and take them out again, and the lack of roof certainly doesn't impinge the design. There are lots of windows for the Friends to see out of, and there's a truly summery feel to this camper. It doesn't come from a land with much rainy weather, at any rate. On the back shelf there's what looks like a veterinarian's bag, although it's new to this set and wasn't seen in 3188 Heartlake Vet (which would have been a logical place for it) and it's a nice little bag and more business-like than the other Friends handbags we've seen so far. The back of the camper has a spare wheel attached (gorgeous feature!) and underneath the trailer is attached by the tow-bar. The trailer has a matching colour-scheme and matching wheels and you can see the chest that was left at the end of Bag three sits in there.
I really love this side view of the camper, as I think it shows it off really well. The contrast of the top line starting so bluntly at the front and smoothing round and down at the back is gorgeous, and that works brilliantly with the curve of the front part of the body and round wheel arches (yes, I know it helps for wheel arches to be round). The long bank of windows gives a good, clear view into the camper's interior, and there's great attention to detail on the back of the trailer.
Mmm, the camper is still gorgeous when viewed from the other side. It took a lot of restraint not to include all the pictures I took of this beauty, as I really do love it. Here I should draw attention to the wing mirrors fashioned from the modified 1x2 light bluish grey plates, and the pleasant surprise is that the surface of the trailer underneath the chest is actually composed of two lovely 2x2 medium blue jumper pates. What I haven't shown is that all of the spare dark pink accessories are stowed in the chest, because obviously they are important enough to be locked away in their own chest and transported on their own trailer. Obviously.
Back to building buildings, and once more you can see the white arched window with a tan 1x4x2 arch over it. The building scheme is continued with the interspersed masonry bricks, although you might not spot them down there at the bottom. We can see how the green shutters have been employed, so is this some sort of horsey saloon bar? Well, if I'd attached the stickers to the white 2x2 tiles then you would know that this is far from it. This looks quite nice, though, until you realise what this is...
Helloooo toilet. It's a very nice toilet, and having now built a few LEGO toilets (what a claim, eh?) this is once more a different design, but it does make one think that those shutters are insufficient for the provision of any privacy whilst making one's ablutions. Heartlake only having one bloke (poor Peter, remember him?) who doesn't get a look in here, obviously the toilet seat is down. The 1x1 modified white plate built into the wall makes a convincing toilet roll, and I like the detailing of the toilet. There should be a sticker showing a planter full of flowers attached to the left side of the model.
The other angle shows what's on the other side of the toilet and indeed on the other side of the partition. Opposite the toilet is a sink, with a bottle of soap, and the trans clear panel should have a shiny sticker attached to it to make it a mirror, so that this cubicle is fully fitted out and sanitary. The other cubicle has a shower (or wetroom) very simply built with hot and cold taps, a shower-head and a drain. A sticker can be applied here to show a towel and one of those spongey-swirly things (I'm a girl and I can't remember what they're called) and some soap. Girls are clean. That said, it's clearly a shower, and there's plenty of space to fit a minidoll (or even two, but that would be naughty) and thus play with the build. The inclusion of plumbing speaks to me of consideration of practicalities and realism, and that appeals to me.
The next building is slightly more substantial, and isn't a stand-alone building, but rather is part of the main house. It has a little gardeny section at the front, and someone has kindly left some food out for the hedgehog to nibble at, in front of the beautifully tended flowerbeds. The entranceway to this part of the build is an attractive arch and once more there is a sticker missing - from the light pink 2x2 tile. The addition of the side windows is a nice feature, removing a featureless blank wall, but the interesting part is really on the inside.
Unfortunately, you can't have windows everywhere, otherwise there wouldn't be any space for furniture, so the left side actually is a featureless blank wall. You don't even stick a sticker there (not that I want one), although I should point out that there's a little butterfly sticker detail for the left side of the archway. Once more there are tantalising views of the interior through the archway, as the little hedgehog edges closer to whatever foodstuffs have been left out for him.
It's the canteen! Yay! There's a comfy stool for each of the friends to share their croissant, and a bottle of ketchup in the corner of the bench, because everyone has ketchup on their croissants, don't they? It doesn't look like there's a whole lot of table space, but these girls are close buddies and they can bunch up and share nicely. You can see these aren't the only details in here, there's something going on on the other side of the refectory...
This is more like it, there's a food counter (although I don't know who serves here) with unidentified green stuff (who eats green stuff anyway?) represented by lime green 1x1 round plates, and there's something to put your ketchup on; this is how the hot dog sausages are used. The sausages and salad(?) are on display in a presumably chilled cabinet, and behind stands an imaginatively designed drinks machine. The drinks are simply 1x1 round bricks with 1x1 round tiles on top, and the colours correspond to the buttons. There's a dispensing hatch at the bottom, as none of the Friends would be so dishonest as to just open the door at the top and take the drinks out... and it's such a cute little design that I can see it cropping up in a few other places in time.
So the next build is another little module with an archway, and seating can be espied through he archway. Clearly it's a downstairs module, as there's grass out front and some flowers. I'm not convinced about having the yellow ladybugs on the flower stalks as they look a little impaled there, and makes me think that the sweet butterfly should fly away fast before some nasty person pulls his wings off. Aside form that small and slightly sinister point, I really love the new flower moulds for Friends and I'm glad they're not just available in red. the yellow colour helps to tone down the pink and lavender of the Friends sets, and I'm sure more AFOLs will appreciate having the new moulds in a variety of colours. Once more the frontage is interspersed with the masonry detailed 1x2 bricks and I do think this design gives a country-style sense to the build.
The first sneak peek inside shows that this is a trophy room. I'm not sure if these are trophies the Friends have won, or trophies they can win, but it doesn't matter, it's a nice touch. The goblets are cups and the rosettes are displayed proudly on the wall. Again, this is very much a horsy thing - winning rosettes and trophies, and it feels right that it's a part of the build.
Aha, on the other side of this room we can see that this is also a strategic room, where the Friends can plot their dominion over Heartlake, or possibly their next dressage routines. The benches are lined with the archetypal Friends colour - medium lavender, and the printed plate from Olivia's Workshop we saw in the parts picture is displayed prominently. You can imagine Theresa slamming her riding crop here, demanding excellence from the Friends at all costs. Don't let that meek smile deceive you, she's a tough task-master.
This is one of the upper floors and so combines some of my favourite elements - the bright light orange flag and the lime green containers. Here those containers are used as planters and contain more of the lovely new Friends flowers (and bugs) side by side with good old fashioned flowers. There's a lovely balcony here, topped with medium lavender, that once more makes me think that this camp is situated somewhere with warm weather a lot of the time. I'm still enjoying the occasional 1x2 brick with masonry detail, and here there are a full three white arched windows topped with the tan 1x4x2 arches.
The inside of this module reveals some very comfortable-looking beds, with medium lavender duvets and fluffy white pillows. Each bed has a lovely window over it, with the medium blue window panes, and this looks like a light and airy bedroom. The 2x4 SNOTed white tile might look a bit plain (and incongruous) but it is supposed to have a sticker (with yet more horses) on it, and if I'd added it it would have been more decoration to a very pleasant room.
Yup, there's an identical bed on either side, and I quite like the light pink picture rail that runs around the top of the room. I also really like how it's so easy to see the flowers through the windows, and the wide opening of the balcony.
Aww, noo this is the last build. You can tell this is an upper floor by the lovely dark red slopes on the roof, and there's a clock face sitting SNOTed in front of those nice tan persian arches. There's lots of the lovely medium blue window panes, and more of the lime green containers used as planters, and the other bright light orange flag. I'm happy already, and I haven't even seen inside yet. The countryfied aesthetic with the masonry detailed bricks remains, and the Friends theme continues with the plate-thin lines of light pink and medium lavender. I'm glad the masonry detail 1x2 bricks weren't over-used; overall they've been liberally applied, but not to a degree of excess.
Well, despite those other beds looking ample, it just wouldn't do for people to be sharing beds, so this room has bunk-beds, and what's more fun than bunk-beds? Nothing, that's what; this is camp and that involves serious, competitive play, and campfires and marshmallows and bunk-beds. The duvets are still medium lavender, but with more filigree by way of the studs, and the pillows are yellow. There's a whole lot more colour going on here, which makes these beds slightly more garish than the others, but that might appeal to younger eyes than mine.
The advantage to having bunk beds, though, is that you can fit more furniture into a room, and here it is. A little sink and washstand, complete with a container of something scenty, and a cupboard for no doubt keeping more scenty things in. The sink is composed of those Friends exclusive (so far) medium azure corner panels, and the room is made light by medium blue latticed windows on all sides. Once more there is the light pink picture rail around the top, and another 2x4 while tile sits SNOTed lacking its decorative sticker. Another pleasant room, especially with the curves of the persian arches.
The Complete Build
So having spent so long building each individual module and element, how do they all fit together? Well, simply, any way you damn well like is the honest answer. If you look again at the back of the box, the idea is that you can arrange these elements any which way, so actually there isn't a 'set' way of arranging them, but for simplicity (and because it's convention for me) I've laid out the set as it's shown on the front of the box.
Firstly, looking at the building, the modules fit well together, and the placement of the windows makes sense. It makes the Camp look like both a grand and imposing building, but also light and accessible. The greenery at the front of the ground-floor modules freshens up the build and suddenly the stand alone shower block makes more sense too. The pen made of Technic and the front gates are more appropriate with the addition of horses and the campervan respectively, and those little divots of greenery are moveable pieces of detail. Adding the Friends into the scene brings it to life, especially the gig and campfire, and the whole looks bright and colourful, with lots of detailing, without being overpowering to the eye. There's lots going on here, and lots to see, and that can only be a good thing.
Design 9/10 I've never given a 10. I really could give the design of the campervan 10/10, because I adore it, and I can't adequately explain why the design of this set only garners a 9, because I really do think the design is spot on. The buildings, as I've said, look countrified and practical, but have small and tasteful splashes of Friends colours, really making this look like a Riding Camp. There are so many great elements, and along with the campervan, the campfire (even though it is a simplistic build, really) is another element that's a nice addition and well designed. I should also mention the cool drinks machine and ingenious toilet here as stand-out design points, too.
Parts 9/10 There is a wide and varied array of colourful parts, and lots of useful tan and white, along with a fantastic haul of those 1x2 masonry detailed bricks in medium nougat and dark tan (yes, I love them) and a continuance of Friends-exclusive parts and animals, along with the introduction of a new element in the veterinary bag. It's a big set, so there are naturally a lot of parts, but I really think there's a good mix of basic usefulness and exciting colours and moulds. Having the dark pink accessories and yellow flowers and bugs bumps up the parts rating, as does having a hedgehog and a triumvirate of horses.
Minidolls 8/10 We have two new characters here, and they're nice to welcome to Heartlake. Expanding the city beyond just the five original Friends makes it more real; seeing the map of Heartlake often makes me think back to Paradisa, but although Paradisa had familiar faces in the minifigs, they didn't have identifiable names like our Friends, so I welcome Ella and Theresa. Ella has a brand new torso, which would be interchangeable with Andrea's, and considering that TLG are going down the route of having different skin-tones for the Friends, it's nice that Andrea has more versatility in her wardrobe now. It would have been nice for Emma and Stephanie to have new outfits, too, but I fear that will become a perpetual moan.
Build 8/10 Like many builds, this started off slowly and gradually built up (no pun intended) to a 'regular' build. This isn't unique to friends sets at all, it's quite normal from the variety of sets I've built, so please let's not hear more about the build being 'dumbed down'. The latter stages of the build are admittedly more interesting than the early stages, but there's Technic and SNOTing here, and people always seem to like to build furniture, so there's plenty in the build to keep the average builder very happy. I found it all immensely fun, most especially the campervan. I have no great love for vehicles, but this really has captured my heart, and it was tons of fun to build.
Playability 9/10 I really think there's loads to play with here. Heck, I could just have the campervan and be happy for hours on end, let alone a fully furnished giant Riding Camp with various rooms and horses and accessories. There's so much you can do with this, I mean, there's so much a kid could do with this. Every eventuality is accounted for, all scenarios for kids at camp is playable; admittedly not invasion by zombies or attack by serial killer, but every usual scenario is. I'm not about to start swooshing horses, or trotting them around the outside of the camp, but I wouldn't feel silly vroooming around the campervan. Have I mentioned that I looove the campervan? I love that campervan.
Price 7/10 It's expensive; I don't think anyone can deny that £89.99 for a set is expensive, so now it boils down to how much are you willing to spend on LEGO, and how much do you want this set. For me, it's a great set, and I would seriously consider forking out that much to get another, however I can appreciate that there isn't the plethora of rare pieces here that would make it a must-buy for some. It's a great set, but a lot of the parts can be BrickLinked, and even the instructions for the campervan will be online in due course. I'd love to give this a higher score here, but in all conscience I can't. Any way you cut it, £89.99 is a lot of money.
3315 Olivia's House was the shining star of the original wave of Friends sets, and it was a large set, but this is even bigger. Sure, it's not a house, but it does have the features of a house, with bedrooms and washrooms and so forth. In addition to the building and its detailed interior, there's also extensive exterior detailing, with the tack room and the campfire, not to mention the horses themselves. Added to all that is one of the best LEGO vehicles I've ever had the joy of building - I'm not sure I've managed to make it clear just how much I love this camper van. So here there's a huge variety of things to build, and with that a variety of building techniques. There's a nice selection of colourful parts in useful moulds, including some of the Friends specific things like the vet's bag and the hedgehog, three horses to play with and four minidolls (with riding hats included as alternatives, not as the sole head-wear). With all the elements of the build, there's a wonderful variety of playability, and even laid out it's a beautiful-looking set. You can't get away from the cost; it is expensive, but it is a great set and I had a ton of fun building it.
Thank you for reading, comments are always very welcome. High-Res pictures can be found on my flickr account.