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When the LEGO Minecraft series was announced, I, like many AFOLs, was baffled. I’d heard of it, but never even considered playing since it was aimed at kids, and the graphics were already blocky. But that time has passed, my daughter, now seven, talks about Minecraft daily, to the point of me coming home sounds like this: Me: I’m home! Her: Daddy, how about Minecraft? Me: STOP TALKING ABOUT MINECRAFT, AT THE VERY LEAST GREET ME WHEN I COME HOME: Her: Maybe Minecraft later? (English is her second language, so her sentences are a little broken.) So, I know Minecraft now. And last Christmas, more than LEGO, more than Inside Out toys, Minecraft was the present that made her head spin. Thanks to LEGO for providing this set for review. Set #: 21125 Name: The Jungle Tree House Theme: Minecraft Year: 2016 Pieces: 706 Minifigs: 4: Steve, Alex, Skeleton, Creeper MSP: U.S.$69.99, £74.99, 89.99 euros Peeron Brickset Bricklink So, I called her in the room, to say I had a surprise. “Daddy, it says LEGO!” “Minecraft, I love it, we’re gonna make together?” Impatient building assistance from my daughter. The box It’s a fairly large box showing the main features. The back shows the action features as well as the additional build feature. The booklets The set uses three books. The first two are for the main build, the third for the alternate build. The Pieces The set has four bags of bricks, and three plates. At this point, Lego prices fluctuate so much between the changing dollar rates and licensing fees, I have no idea if this is a good deal for the price. There appears to be slightly more to it than a similarly priced Star Wars set. The Build Bag One Bag one has the smaller pieces of the set, as well as the minifigs. Alex and Steve are the protagonists of basic Minecraft, and Steve comes with a helmet. I’m guessing Alex has a diamond pick axe. Diamond weapons and armour are a thing in Minecraft The back printing on Alex is interesting in how subtle it is. I wonder if it was worth it, relative to cost, but I’m happier with it there. The set also has Creeper and Skeleton, bad guys in Minecraft world (apologies, the Creeper is missing a piece, it was the kid who built it). The sheep I’ve seen in a Minecraft set I got the kid for Christmas, but the Ocelot is new. Not a particularly exciting build on it though. I quite like the sheep, especially the legs. Imagine that Creeper has a 3*1 green studless piece on the side. The creeper is one of the more interesting in game designs of Minecraft, with its freaky little legs. The bag has an assortment of vegetation. It also has decorations and equipment for the set: torches, a bed, a bucket, and some stuff I don’t clearly know. The bed is a fundamental item in Minecraft, that you can place pretty much anywhere in the game. Bag Two Bag two starts the base of the set. From bag one, so vegetation and a fire are placed in. One of the notable things about the Minecraft LEGO series is the use of 2*2 plates with a single stud in the center. This is used to make parts easily removable, but also as a place to put single stud objects while maintain the blocky world of Minecraft. The flowers occupy a 2*2 space, as almost everything in the set does. At this point, my daughter was getting uncontrollable. Me: Give me that! I have to take a picture! Her: But I wanna play! Me: Wait! It’s almost cruel to make a kid sit through an EB review before she can play with it. Bag Three Bag three continues the build. The set has translucent green and blue pieces. These were driving my daughter crazy, “It’s so beautiful!” She insisted on putting those on herself. The atmosphere is quite clear here, the first tree placed on the set. Bag Four Bag four finishes off the set, with some odds and ends pieces left over. It’s a nice sized structure, with almost no Technic building. The Finished Product In the tree house, we can see the bed. A waterfall has a platform that locks into place at the top, and can be used like an elevator. In front of the bed is a trap door triggered by sliding the vegetation. At the foot of the stairs is a button that causes them to collapse. Another feature is to move the top of the bedroom over the sheep’s pen. It’s a small change, but gives the set versatility. Overall, it’s a lush, detailed set. Alternate Build The third book has instructions for a separate build. To start, you need to clear out the waterfall, and everything over the upper platforms. After, you are can build this. One feature is a cactus, which is important in Minecraft. Or it was important to my daughter at least. If I recall correctly, you can get water from them, and inside this, there are translucent water blocks. As well, a wall is made with Creeper’s face, slightly hidden behind vegetation. This made my daughter happy. The Final Verdict Design: 7/10 It’s hard to rate the design of Minecraft LEGO against other modern series. Overall, the whole of it feels retro, with its simplified build. Almost no modern pieces are needed. You could have made this in 1980, minus some colours and the minifigs. That said, though there are no “wow” techniques like in the modular buildings, there is something endearing about this dense, brick-built set. Build:7/10 It’s a fun build, not too repetitious. At the same time, nothing to learn from the techniques here, except the value of mapping a build out in advance. Playability: 10/10 There is a lot of play value. Good guys and bad guys, animals, action features. My daughter was thrilled to get her hands on it. Minifigures: 10/10 I like the figures here, and Creeper is its own unique part. Four figures (plus the animals) is enough to populate a set this size. Price: 8/10 (America) 6/10 (world) While I think the American price is reasonable, the international price is not for me. You would have to be a Minecraft fan to justify it. Overall: 8/10 This is a really good set. I wish LEGO would make more sets like this in their regular lines so we didn’t have to pay a licensing fee for brick based sets. A lot of sets these days have a hollowness to them which is a turn-off. It’s economical to produce and sell, but less exciting to build and play with. Another thing I really liked, this set has more abstraction in its design; a torch? Let’s use an orange and yellow translucent instead of a fire piece. Leaves on a tree? Let’s use plates blocks instead of a custom piece. There’s a hypocrisy here, since these custom pieces were super exciting and fresh when they were new, but they aren’t as exciting and fresh now. If anything, they can easily get lost in the mountain of LEGO that so many of us EB users have. Making stuff from bricks feels fresh. This set (and the Minecraft set I gave at Christmas) really taps into what I enjoyed about LEGO to begin with as a kid. The bricks have a lot more room for reinvention than a lot of other series. LEGO sets go through trends, depending on the staff at a moment, I guess. This Minecraft style is a good thing. I would love to see some of the brick principles of these sets filter through to other series. I love the minifigs of the Superheroes lines, but am pretty burnt out on the vehicles that are omnipresent there. A bricky, Minecraft style room or street would be amazing in that series. I recommend any AFOLs out there who had no interest in the series due to the license to check this, or any Minecraft set, out. It is very pleasant. Not an overwhelming recommendation, but a solid one.