Last time, we spoke about some of this year’s Pizza related sets. One of the things I found lacking in the Heartlake City Pizzeria was a Pizza maker, similar to the one to be found in 60150: Pizza Van. It left me wondering: can I just swap my figures over?
Crossing the Streams
At a public display earlier in the year, I had a chance to talk to lots of people. One of the ongoing topics seemed to be along the nature of LEGO® City: A lovely little place to get robbed, burnt down, go power boating, volcano exploring or monster trucking, but not so great if you just wanted to go to the mall, bakery, supermarket, hospital, recreation centre or school. By the end of the year, Heartlake City will have had all of these things and more.
Now, many people were a little disheartened by the Friends’ mini-dolls when they were first released: issues with body shape, unrealistic proportions, legs unable to move independently and wrists unable to rotate. However they have now spread across a wide variety of themes… not just ‘City’, they can also be found in Elves, DC Super Hero Girls, and Disney (princess?) sets. Mini-dolls can now be found spread across a broad range of thematic material.
So, do I need to work any magic to make this set (or any other Friend’s set) work at Minifigure scale? Can I just give the mini-dolls to the children next door, and put my Minifigure in? I took my figures and situations from the 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria, and the 60150 Pizza Van to find out.
Now Minifigures and mini-dolls are proportioned a little differently to each other. But what are the real differences, and how does this work out in real life?
So, lets look at these two sets, and think about the alterations that may need to be made to cross them both over.
Fitting your Minifigures in Heartlake City:
In areas where the figures are standing, there is little need to make adjustments to the original model to swap mini-dolls for Minifigures.
Most of the pizzeria works quite well with Minifigures. The kitchen benches are around the height you would normally use with Minifigures. Even the pizza oven is at the necessary height as is the dessert bar and the cash register. In fact there are only one or two things that need to be adjusted to make it feel like a city scale set:
The seating: Often seating for Minifigures has studs to fix the figure’s legs to. Perhaps use plates rather than tiles on the stools, or use chairs, as are used in many LEGO City sets. However the tiles provided are satisfactory, even if your Minifigures slide on them a bit.
Most of the problems I encountered were in the various vehicles, where the legs are of significantly different length. In the delivery van accompanying the pizzeria, I replaced element 6093479 (Foot, Plate) with a steering wheel, and replaced the 1×2 tile with 2 green flower elements- providing studs (because they were spare) for the Minifigure’s legs to bind to.
Fitting Minidolls into City Sets:
There is already a precedent for the mini-dolls working in a food cart: last year’s Amusement Park Hot Dog Van 41129. As you can see in this image from shop.lego.com, Stephanie’s hips are a plate or two higher than the counter. (i.e. counter top is 4 plates above the floor). It would seem to be the same height in the food truck, with the transparent screen rising above this height, but in the name of food safety, I think this is acceptable.
So… the food service aspect of the truck is no problem here. As you can see, Emma fits in here quite easily, to feed the masses at the back of the van. The main challenge seems to be to securely fit the mini-doll into the driver’s seat. By tiling the seat, and placing the ‘foot, plate’, the mini-doll can fit securely into the seat. We then move the steering wheel forward in the cabin. This is not too tricky, but does require a little modification, and a couple of extra pieces.
The next challenge is the motor scooter: the handlebars included in this set are incompatible with mini-dolls. Hands can only clip on if they run from side to side. Mini-dolls’ hands run at approximately 90º to this. Motor scooters in other LEGO® Friends sets use element 98397 for the handlebars, which are designed to fit the minidoll grips. It is compatible with minifigures, but is not the ‘go to’ motorbike handlebar in LEGO® City. It appears to be readily available in LEGO Friends and DC Super Hero Girls sets, as well as a few other themes- especially LEGO Ninjago.
Don’t be afraid:
If the colour scheme does not cause you concern, you can safely integrate the architecture from Heartlake City directly into your regular, Minifigure populated town layout, with minimal alterations. Every one will fit, and you will add a higher level of functionality to your town.
Likewise, it’s not too hard to move City sets into Heartlake City. The colors may be a little more subdued, but it will allow our LEGO® Friends to get some proper danger and excitement into their life. And you can exchange hair pieces/hats. But your city may descend into anarchy if you have no police force to maintain civil calm. (At least there are the DC Super Hero Girls?)
Myself, I am quite happy to merely ensure the figures can safely sit in the driver’s seat without excessive peril. But, if you are bothered by the lack of interesting businesses in your LEGO city, but feel that investing in the complete back catalog of Modular Buildings is a little extreme, why don’t you take a look at the Friends sets. Remove the mini-dolls, and replace them with random minifigures… you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Have you tried moving Friend’s Buildings into your regular city? Have you taken them the other way, with a layout occupied by minidolls? Or are you happy to have them all live together in one big town? Why not leave a comment below.