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Review: 21301 Birds

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Set#: 21301

Name: Birds

Theme: Ideas

Year: 2015

Pieces: 580

MSP: $44.99

Brickset

Bricklink

The box

The box is nicely laid out, with a wood grain pattern overlaid with photos of the flowers and trees where the birds naturally occur. It's a tasteful package, suitable since the content is, compared to anything LEGO makes other than the Architecture series, appealing to builders who like to display more than play.

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The back shows the birds' natural habitats. Looking at the front, I doubt many who aren't ornithologists would know this from the front of the box. I only know the blue jay, since it's an iconic Canadian bird, but I was unaware that Europe had its own species of robin.

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The box is small, but is surprisingly heavy, so I thought it was densely packed with pieces, but the main reason is because of:

The booklets

I should have known, since the other ideas sets I have also had square-bound, glossy instruction booklets. This set comes with one for each bird. While most of the content is unique to each book, there is an introduction and some post-ads repeated in each, repeated in three languages, which seems wasteful and redundant. Likely, they couldn't squeeze it all into a single book easily, so they decided to separate it into three books rather than two, since there are three sets, but the repetition wasn't necessary, in my opinion.

Regardless, the booklets live up to the high standard set by past sets from the deluxe Ideas series.

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There is also a short collection of statements from the original designer of the series.

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Each book has a description of the bird of each book. It gives the set a very deluxe feel.

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The back of one repeats the box back, and collects the sets.

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This is my first time seeing a non-screaming boy WIN! page. It's a treat. A massive difference is that Japan has been replaced by China as the non-Euro language. LEGO has been massively increasing in presence in Japan over the last five years (for example, it's pages four and five of the Japanese Toys R Us Christmas catalog this year), so this was a surprise to me. I guess as China's economy has eclipsed Japan's already, it is the major world growth market, and it makes sense, but it's still kind of a surprise after years of seeing Japan's 当てよう! on the back of set instructions.

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The European Robin (Erithacus Rubecula)

The first build comes in two bags.

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The parts selection is all pretty standard parts. If you have a fair amount of LEGO, there is a chance you could build this without the set.

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The first part of the build is the base. This is an identical base to that of the second build.

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The robin starts with the underbelly, a real SNOT style build.

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When turned over, a centre block is added, to affix the sides to.

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A second block is placed on top, and the first wings are placed on the side. I've seen similar techniques in sets to get SNOT done, but I thought this was really cleverly made. It is truly a creative build.

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In back, SNOT techniques are used again, and the tail is clipped in with three separate parts, allowing you to splay them if you so choose.

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The other side's wings are attached, and you get a very solid block of a bird.

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Finally the head and breast are placed in. A stick is made to stand on, which is dropped into the base. The connection is loose, meaning that the bird will spin around whichever way the base is tilted. Since most will display it on a shelf, it's not such a relevant point. It looks really nice.

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A shot from below. The SNOT on this could be renamed, SFES (Studs From Every Side). It's really fantastic, cute, accurate.

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The tail is a little splayed here. It really has captured the dimensions of a robin. Not a North American robin, which is a little more elongated, but I've seen birds like this. Except for the red colour, it captures the feel of a chickadee.

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A few pieces remain.

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The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta Cristata)

Build two also comes in two bags.

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The pieces, for the most part, are nothing I don't already have, but I would say I don't have much in baby blue.

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These pieces are new for me though. I've seen some new shapes with SNOT studs in the last two years, so these don't shock me, but their shape is a little off the beaten path, having six studs length flat, and four studs perpendicular. <edit> Apparently, this piece was in some City truck sets recently, and is therefore now classified as a "common piece," as City trucks are the most common sets.

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The blue jay as well starts off with the bottom, studs out. Its feet aren't nearly as developed as the robin's was. At first, it was a little disappointment, but on the finished build, it's not really a big deal.

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The base of the blue jay connects to the tail with a clip, and the tail is attached to a pivoting slope to help get a natural contour.

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It looks pretty good.

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The wings use a ball connection, allowing them a little movement.

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The head also uses a click attachment, which pivots a little, but not much. Mainly it allows the head to connect at an odd degree, not square or perpendicular.

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The finished product is pretty beautiful. The crest on the head, the organic angles.

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It's striking. Since the wings are on a ball-socket, if you move them upwards, you can see inside, but that's a complain only a non-AFOL would make.

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And a few pieces remain.

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The Green Violetear (Calibre Thalassinus)

The last bird is the violetear, such an uncommon bird that my computer spell checks it as 'violator'. Both my wife and I, and anyone I showed the set to, confused it for a hummingbird. Without research, I'm going to assume they are at least cousins ancestrally.

The pieces are also pretty standard overall, but I love the brightness of them.

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The first part of the build is the flower. It's not so complicated, but communicates what it has to clearly and succinctly.

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It's quite effective in its simplicity.

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And a few pieces remain.

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This finished piece should be more effective than the first two, as it's a diorama. Unfortunately, because of the slightness of the build, it's my least favourite. Probably, it is mainly the wings that don't stun me. They are logical enough and capture the shape at a glance, but I would have liked a little more depth and complexity in them.

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More work are spent on the bird's underside than the overside. The two-tones of green done in cheese slopes look nice.

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The overside isn't nearly as impressive. The wings show the back of the studs, and the back is simply two slopes. It's not a bad build by any means, but it's a bit too simple for my tastes.

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All Together

My wife always says "Oh, great!" when she looks at my built LEGO sets, but I felt that she actually meant it a bit more than usual with this set, as it was very at odds with the mini-fig scale that she's used to. I have to admit, I feel about the same way. I have over a hundred of mini-fig scale sets at this point, and simply because of that, this set feels really fresh to me. It's something I'll be very happy to keep at my desk.

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The Final Verdict

Design: 10/10 I need to review them a little separately, since they all have different points. Of the three, the one which piques me the most is definitely the blue jay, but, to be totally honest, is because it was so nostalgic to me. As a Canadian, blue jays and cardinals were hammered into my head as 'Canadian winter birds,' as much as robins were labeled 'spring birds.' I just feel good to have one sitting to the left of me as I type this. That said, I think there is a strong tie with the robin as to which was designed best. The violetear is substantially less interesting as a model, though I'm sure it was difficult to design on the whole, being a slight bird. Ultimately, I can't imagine most (sane) people complaining about this set.

Build: 9/10 The set is non-repetitive, apart from the wings. On top of that, there is a lot of clever SNOT techniques, which change from build to build, making all of it a fresh experience.

Playability: 2/10 I don't think this is a set for playing with.

Price: 10/10 It has a MSRP below 10 cents a piece, so would anyone complain about that? Great colours too. Makes me think those mini-figs might just cost a little too much.

Overall: 10/10 I haven't awarded many 10/10 scores. Some nines, but not any tens that I can remember. Part of it has to be that I've built so many sets over the last few years, that I've gotten a little tired (I bought 15 buildable sets this year so far) . This is fresh. It is memorable. It simply taps into a love of LEGO that I hadn't tapped into yet. It's actually new.

Conclusion: This is a great set. It stands out against my collection of LEGO. If you have a deep LEGO collection, I think this would be a must have. If you are simply a fan of themes and mini-figs, it might not be to your tastes at all. One thing I can say though: if you are an AFOL wanting to get a non-AFOL, non-geek fan, a set, this might just be the one. It's charming. The Architecture series could do the job as well, but I think this is a more appealing set than many of the architecture sets, and priced a lot better too.

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I think this this is the only time I can say that a set has beaten the Architecture line in terms of being "classy-as-a-tux-e" overall.

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Very nice sets. I like the robin, although it is a shame that they did not use the new black pneumatic T part for the foot, and also dark orange for the "red breast" parts, they would have been a little better than the red.

PS The Green Violetear is a hummingbird. Hummingbird is a generic name that covers many different genera / families.

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Thanks for the review - this looks like a pretty solid and well-designed set. I think my favourite bird is the robin; makes me think of winter and Christmas like you say the blue jay does for you.

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I was one the fence, thanks to this review, I'd probably need to get at least one of these now. I am a little bothered by the boxiness of the blue-jay's head, maybe some roof tiles would have worked better around the neck/throat area?

Edited by JGW3000

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Thanks for a great review!

I really like this set, and I agree with you that it feels "fresh". This is by far the best thing that have come out of Cuusoo and Ideas! :thumbup:

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Thoughtful review of a lovely set! Congratulations!

It is such a creative build that it pulls you right in....a must have.

Let's hope that they offer more birds in the future.

It should be a wonderful present for non-LEGO folks as well as the rest of us.

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This review has made me reconsider getting this, although I still wish the Cdn price was closer to the US. It is also a set I would consider getting non-Lego fans as a gift (both my Dad and co-worker come to mind as bird lovers). I do wish the hummingbird has some more color or metallics. Can't wait to learn some SNOT techniques.

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Nice review! I might get one of these sets, just for the heck of it.

These pieces are new for me though. I've seen some new shapes with SNOT studs in the last two years, so these don't shock me, but their shape is a little off the beaten path, having six studs length flat, and four studs perpendicular.

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These are quite common and everybody who has a recent City 6-wide truck has at least one of these. The come in a variety of colours, I must have at lest 10 of these white ones.

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These are quite common and everybody who has a recent City 6-wide truck has at least one of these. The come in a variety of colours, I must have at lest 10 of these white ones.

I have hundreds of sets, and got over a dozen 2014 sets, and somehow I haven't seen it before. Are you sure it's "quite common"? I would have called this one quite common:

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I had already decided that, while it is a really pretty set, I wouldn't be getting it. Now after your review (as well as Tim's over at New Elementary), I am more on the fence. I probably still won't get it though; even though the price per piece ratio is good, it's still a big price tag for what is essentially a lot of basic parts. Nice parts, no doubt, but basic.

If they were available individually, I would certainly grab a blue jay, and possibly the hummingbird. While the robin is also nice, those two have the best parts IMO.

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Hey there! Thanks for the great review of my set!!! I'm very happy you rate it as 10/10. The birds are very similar to my original designs. I notice you have made an error with the building of the Robin, the breast plate needs to be rotated 90degrees so the red plates are not sticking out at the sides. I'm really happy to read all of the great reviews for this set and it looks like it's going to fly off the shelves! ;-)

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I have hundreds of sets, and got over a dozen 2014 sets, and somehow I haven't seen it before. Are you sure it's "quite common"? I would have called this one quite common:

It's not as common as a 2x4 brick, but it's been around since 2010 and has appeared in lots of trucks in the City line.

http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=87609

Great review!

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This set is very nicely made. If I saw this at Brickworld, I would be very impressed and would talk to whomever made it. But I won't be buying it because there aren't any interesting parts in the set, and I don't buy sets just to set on a shelf.

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Hey there! Thanks for the great review of my set!!! I'm very happy you rate it as 10/10. The birds are very similar to my original designs. I notice you have made an error with the building of the Robin, the breast plate needs to be rotated 90degrees so the red plates are not sticking out at the sides. I'm really happy to read all of the great reviews for this set and it looks like it's going to fly off the shelves! ;-)

Great job with them!

Neither I nor the grand overlords at EB noticed the building mistake. Oops! I'll fix it and take a few replacement pictures when I'm home from work.

Cheers!

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Playability: 2/10 I don't think this is a set for playing with.

Not even for swooshing?! Are you sure that robin's beak isn't a flick-fire missile?

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Not even for swooshing?!

No handles on it, nothing to grip :sadnew:

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Nice set and even better after this review :classic: and I put 87609 into my wanted list, I have never seen it before.

Edited by bjorkan

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Great review of a great set! I'm sure the pieces in the set will enable people to make other birds, just by changing the colours or maybe the head, wings or tail.

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I have hundreds of sets, and got over a dozen 2014 sets, and somehow I haven't seen it before. Are you sure it's "quite common"?

Yes. As I said: I have at least 10 of these white ones and quite a few in other colours too. All in all I would say I have more than 30, maybe around 40 even. SpacySmoke has already pointed out which sets contain them.

I guess it all comes down to what sets you have. ;)

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Hey there! Thanks for the great review of my set!!! I'm very happy you rate it as 10/10. The birds are very similar to my original designs. I notice you have made an error with the building of the Robin, the breast plate needs to be rotated 90degrees so the red plates are not sticking out at the sides. I'm really happy to read all of the great reviews for this set and it looks like it's going to fly off the shelves! ;-)

Hey, congrats on your Ideas success, and welcome to Eurobricks!

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I can see why the three different birds are sold together, but I wonder if it wouldn't be better if they were sold separately. I can imagine, for example, that Toronto baseball fans and supporters of the varsity teams at Johns Hopkins would be interested in the blue jay but not the other two and wouldn't buy the set because of them.

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An excellent review on a lovely set. I got a chance to admire these (and many other) birds at Brick2014. Actually, my favourite was the turkey!

It's nice to see an artistic, non-licensed theme join the Ideas mix. (something for everybody)

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