2017: Year of the Pizza

Pizza.

IMG_0138It’s changed a lot over the last 70 years since it was first introduced to Melbourne. In Australia  it was a  generated by post war migration from
Italy, however pizza has evolved in different ways in different markets. Not necessarily to the taste of everyone. Perhaps the only thing an Australian pizza has in common with an American pizza or indeed and Italian pizza is the presence of a bread like pastry, baked with stuff on it. Some of this stuff is probably cheese. And possibly tomato. But not always.

When I was at school, pizza delivery did not exist. If you needed a pizza, you would find it at your local Italian bistro on a Friday or Saturday evening with your family. It was a food to share, and it brought us all closer together.

IMG_0030Exposed brick, chianti bottles wrapped in raffia serving as candlesticks and red and white checked table cloths. Family run bistros outnumbered ‘fast food’ pizza shops significantly. (At least that’s how I remember it.)

Where are you coming from RB?

This overflow of sentiment was inspired by four LEGO sets recently released:  the LEGO 60150 City Pizza Truck, and the 41311 LEGO Friends Heartlake City Pizzeria, 70910 Scarecrow Special Delivery and the 10834 DUPLO® Pizzeria. They are very different builds, with very different subject matter, but with Pizza in common. I found the Pizza Van and Heartlake Pizzeria particularly caught my imagination, and will focus on them today.

60150: Pizza Van.

Pizza has been the ‘go to’ takeaway food in LEGO city for a number of years now, first appearing in 6350: Pizza to Go in 1994. This is the first time, however that it has been presented on the road, from a food truck. Now, food trucks have become quite a thing over the last few years- a far cry from Harry’s Cafe De Wheels in Woolomooloo: Now they are mobile gourmet specialty kitchens, sets on MasterChef (or your own regional cooking competition for television entertainment);  producing everything from deep fried chips to curries, stews and other culinary peculiarities from around the world.

Pizza however never quite struck me as a ‘food truck’ kind of food. I mean, ovens occupy a definate space, and most pizzas require a finite time to cook. Often closer to 10 rather than 5 minutes. Less than ideal if you are trying to satisfy a long queue of customers. And this was how I initially felt when I saw this set this set.

IMG_0022The Pizza Van (249 pieces, $AUD 39.99) is a fairly straight forward build: a yellow truck – 6 studs + wheel rims wide (Does this make it technically 7 studs?)JPEG image-B45F896E94D9-1.jpeg The cabin seats one, and the rear of the truck contains an oven, condiment dispensers, french fries and a bottle of water.  A row of 3 1x2x2 wall elements on each side stop the dust of the carpark getting into the food as it it prepared, and allows the Pizzasmith to maintain eye contact with his customer base. The Pizza maker has the same head and shirt as the hot dog vendor in 60134- Fun in the park, but no hat.

There is also a small table, with lime green umbrella.  A female figure, with an exclusive torso print for this set, as well as a motor scooter and helmet complete the package.  We get two pizza quarters and one complete pizza. Some white tiles, awaiting labelling as pizza boxes can be carried on the back of the scooter.

The truck is solid, and really looks the part of a food truck, even without any labels applied. It survived several crashes in the living room without problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as a bit odd to get pizza from a truck and then deliver it or take it home on the back of a scooter.  Of course, it is perhaps more logical to consider our people meeting at the food truck, riding on their motor scooters, bicycles and skateboards, and meeting up.  That said, if you don’t use the included stickers, this vehicle looks like a well fitted out food truck, of any cuisine you choose. Then I saw an image of an actual food truck producing actual pizza. In Denmark. And it looks very similar to the set in question. 

41311: Heartlake Pizzeria

Meanwhile, over in Heartlake City, the pizzeria’s build is simple enough, but extremely effective.  (289 pieces, $AUD39.99) The only real indications of it being a Friends set are the lavender floors, the magenta curves and window frames, and the kitchen appliances/ eating accessories in medium blue. The tan walls are quite neutral, and give nothing away to this end. The pizzeria with its red, white and green window shades, checquered tablecloths and wood fired pizza oven never left me in any doubt as to it’s appropriate purpose. Even two different types of pizza. There is also a small delivery trike, with stripes indicating the business’s Italian heritage..

A full 4 quarter tiles make up a different type of pizza to the full round tile print.JPEG image-FB445F5ECDB3-1

I understand the lack of chianti bottle candlesticks. In fact, this set reminded me of almost every Italian bistro I ever visited in the suburbs of Melbourne. At least, it will once I put
the stickers on! The only thing I thought was missing was the middle aged man in the white jacket, crafting the pizzas. Just like the one who came with the Pizza Truck…Hold that thought.

Emma and Oliver  are provided with the team here.  I have not paid too much attention to Friends characters over the years, but I believe this is Oliver’s first appearance. Emma appeared in this uniform once before, with a hair bow, back in 2015 when she was working at the Ice Cream Truck (10727).

Stick Around to Hear My Only Gripe

IMG_0011I only have one real complaint with either of these sets: the use of stickers.  Both sets have printed cash registers.  The Heartlake Pizzeria also comes with a printed smartphone and a waiters note pad.  However all of the branding  and Menus are stickers.  I can understand this for the Pizza Truck: leaving the stickers off means it can be a fairly generic  food truck, capable of delivering non pizza based foodstuffs.
However, both sets use stickers on the white tile pizza boxes.  This IMG_0012is a little disappointing, especially when you realise32160a12003eb7a574beb46751b1a7bf that this printed pizza tile exists, from the collectible minifigure series. My local pizza shop has always used generic pizza boxes, rather than any specific branding on it.  I’d be happy enough if City Pizza and Heartlake Pizzeria used it too.

In summary:

These are both terrific sets, and I am happy to add them to my town. With regards to the 60150 Pizza Van, I appreciate that it does not lose its ‘Food Truckness’ if you do not apply the stickers. It is a sturdy truck, and the minifigs give it a great amount of play value. I would have liked sufficient slices of the quarter tile pizza to make up a full circle.  I give this set 4/5 Arbitrary Praise Units.

The Heartlake City Pizzeria 41311 offers the full Italian dining experience, from the decor, kitchen and wood fired  pizza oven. The delivery wagon is functional and appealing.  The minidolls are both satisfactory in a minidoll kind of way.  I appreciate there are many people out there who do not like minidolls, preferring minifigure aesthetics. I would encourage you to look at this set anyway, and putting it into your city layout.  The only thing it is really missing is a maitre’d or experienced pizza maker.  Like the one in the Pizza Van. I also give this four out of five Arbitrary Praise Units.

This brings me to my next question… How hard would it be to bring the pizzeria over to LEGO city, and populate it with mini figures? And how about bringing my minidolls to the City Food van?

Come back next time when my Friends come to LEGO City for Pizza.

In the mean time,

Play Well!

 

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