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INTRODUCTION The research institute was the 6th Cuusoo / Ideas project to be released. It was a very short-lived set with an unexpectedly large following. This set got popular outside of LEGO circles due to its feminist message concerning the lack of portrayal of women as job workers in sets. (or something along those lines) This might have been unintentional, but got a lot of attention which may have influenced the sets early retirement, seen as The LEGO Group usually goes to great lengths in order to avoid being used as a tool to promote any political, religious or otherwise socially sensitive messages. It’s a set of 3 individual vignettes built on a 6x6 base, representing three jobs. A paleontologist, astronomer and chemist. TECHNICAL: Set Name: Research Institute Set Number: 21110 Number of Pieces: 165 Theme: Ideas Designer: Alatariel (Ellen Kooijman) Availability: LEGO Exclusive / retail Year Released: 2014 Price: $ 19.99 / € 19.99 Stickers: 0 New elements: 0 Exclusive minifigures: 1/3 Brickset entry Bricklink Inventory The set consists of 165 pieces and three minifigures. It’s easy to build but a small child may need some help, especially with the dinosaur. There are a lot of tiny pieces, so keep your cat and baby clear while building. The box is a step nicer than we are used to, Ideas sets tend to have non-standard box dimensions and fold open from flat like a box of chocolates. Inside you’ll find the instruction booklet. Unlike most sets, with Ideas you get a thicker, sometimes differently binded book with a smoother paper finish. Before the actual build you can read a story about the author, how the idea for the set was born and a short description about the Ideas project. The research institute booklet also describes each of the portrayed scientist jobs. PARTS SELECTION: There are no new or very special parts except a printed blackboard, but you do get a nice selection of lab accessories including a purple colored Erlenmeyer flask which isn’t very common. MINIFIGURES: You get three figures for three scientists. The white lab coat with an orange shirt is a torso print exclusive to this set. The other two minifigures use common parts seen in other town themed sets. I think the white coat chemist is a representation of the sets author which is why it might have gotten special treatment, even though this isn’t outright mentioned anywhere. All the characters have double faces if you want to get them angry or shocked. The paleontologist doesn’t seem to be having a good day either way. BUILD: After you are done with the little gang of scientists, you better give them something to do. We start with Alatariel’s, I mean the chemist’s workplace. This build is the quickest and simplest, but she gets all the nice glassware and other fancy bits and bobs. I would have liked some tiles on that floor but I guess the design team responsible for parts optimization and price boundaries at TLG would disagree. Some scientists get fancy flasks, others get floor furnishing. Moving onto the next gang member and probably the most interesting build of all. The dinosaur! After we are done mini-building this cool microscope stand which stalled us from getting to the dinosaur, we can finally begin work on that menacing T-Rex! … I mean research reference material. This is where the build gets slightly more interesting. The parts that make the skeleton are quite imaginative, someone put a lot of thought into this, hopefully not during work hours. (; No tiles here either, but with a prop this cool, you don't need them. Moving on to the third and last scientist. The astronomer. The build is tiny, but I like how the telescope is built. The use of a sextant and the bucket element for the lens is pretty genius. I think white might have been a better choice of color, but probably not worth the extra expense as some of these elements aren't available in that color. The floor tiles give it a nice finished look, and overall, in spite of the dinosaur, this is my favorite build of the three. And there you have it, the collective institute of researchers. Chemists are a common sight in many research institutions, but I don’t really think you would find a paleontologist and astronomer together in the same building, or at least not very often. I was thinking how to make use of these vignettes in a town setting, and finally chose to use up the empty space in my town hall set as a form of exhibitional and educational area. Leftover parts: Ideas sets are nice enough to always include a brick separator even with smaller sets. Nice to get an extra bone and syringe, but nothing rare or of great use is left from the build. CONCLUSION: I feel like this set is a piece of LEGO Ideas history, it’s the one that baffled with popularity, it held a message and gave us some variety. I’d love to see more specialized themes in LEGO, ones that aren’t firemen and cake shop vendors, something you could put on a bookshelf just for display even if you’re not a regular builder. I don’t think the set was targeted primarily at children, but I feel it could work quite well as a play set. The build is simple and instantly recognizable. Overall Design: 7/10 - All the props are within reach of the limited minifigure limb articulation capabilities except the microscope. Maybe the floor furnishings could be more consistent between the builds. I appreciate the choice of printing in place of stickers. Parts selection: 6/10 – Most of the elements and colors are common, you do get one or two interesting items. Play features: 7/10 – This set is probably not primarily intended for play, but would be up to the task nevertheless Challenging build: 7/10 - The set has a couple of interesting builds despite its small scale Minifigures: 6/10 – One is great, one is acceptable and one is dressed inappropriately for the job description. I think they could have done slightly better. The choice of faces is great though. Overall: 7/10