The Successor to 31313 MindStorms EV3 is 51515, not 41414: Emma’s Summer Play Cube [Unanticipated review]

It was a simple enough mistake.

Anyone could have made it, really. The new Mindstorms Robotics Invention kit has been in the wild for a few weeks now: a new paradigm for LEGO Mindstorms, and I am curious to take a look at it sometime soon. Set 51515 is set to replace the 31313 EV3 as the LEGO Robotics set of choice at some point. Probably when the EV3 enthusiasts have all moved on to using Arduino…

But this wasn’t the problem I found myself with. So… when I was asked if I wanted any LEGO picked up, while a friend was out shopping,, I had a failing in my internal logic. I remembered that the third generation of Mindstorms, EV3 was set 31313. I also remembered thing that the new set followed a similar pattern, and it was the fourth generation.

And so I asked that if set 41414 could be picked up, that I would be grateful.

It was, so I did the appropriate thing, and went to reimburse my friend, paypal login at the ready.

‘It didn’t cost as much as I was expecting…’

There were some sales on, so I guess that was possible. But it was such a new, and expensive set, I was uncertain that this was likely to be the case.  Now the rod I have made for my own back over the last few years is that by being interested in just about all things LEGO, no one questions my set choices any more.

And so, when I saw the set that had been collected for me, a feeling of disappointment washed over me, realising that a small communication failure had resulted in the wrong set being bought. 

So, it turns out that the new Mindstorms set’s number is 51515. And 41414 belongs to one of the Friends play cubes. Whoops. Lessons learned. At least I didn’t make the mistake in the other direction. Spending only $13 was much more palatable than spending an extra $500 would have been…

So… I suppose I should do my review 41414 Emma’s Summer Play Cube.

It’s actually pretty hard to find a LEGO Set for under $15 these days. collectable minifigures, Mario buildable characters and keyrings – sure. But a set? Not so easy. As such, I thought I should make the most of my numerical confusion, and take a closer look.

There have been several waves of these play cubes released over the last year. With parts of the world going in and out, and back in to lockdowns due to outbreaks of the Coronavirus, perhaps the production of a solo minidoll, ostensibly living in a cube with their pet, is an appropriate metaphor for the year.

Emma’s Summer Play Cube was released in September 2020, and is part of the 3rd wave of these play cubes to be released. As mentioned, they are relatively inexpensive, but what do we get for the money?

Inside a cardboard pack we have our cube, a bag of elements including our minidoll Emma, instructions and a small cardboard pillow containing our mystery pet. We know it is a turtle…the colour however is a surprise.

Emma is wearing a ‘mint’ coloured skirt, and has an interesting print on her tank top, which looks like either a jellyfish, an alien, or the dread Cthulhu.

Knolling out the elements reveals a number of decorative elements, a few potential spares as well as a plate with studs on the side. The number of elements is allegedly 46. It may have been stretched slightly.

There are three printed elements: the ‘register slope’, money and the mini figure head, with pineapple print. Tan and medium lilac are the dominant colours, while we have flower elements in vibrant coral, lavender and bright green.

The body of the cube is made up of two halves: 8x3x 6 2/3 each. There are two groups of 2 knobs with holes in on the top of each half, 6 studs apart. There are anti studs, similarly positioned on the bottom. Internally, there are two anti studs at the bottom, and two knobs with holes, one module from the top, in line with the external connection points.

There are overhangs on the right hand side of the cubes: a 1×2 – studs on the opaque element, anti studs on the opalescent. On the left, there is a clip/bar arrangement that works as a hinge. They are the ‘standard 2.8mm connection

I was impressed at the number of stickers present in this set: they are used on the fridge, flag,sun and also makes up the back window of Emmas Beach Box. I do worry about the roughness of the sea, and the safety of those on the yacht approaching the crest of the wave.

In the Mystery Pillow, we have a turtle, of unpredictable colour. It’s fairly small, with a single anti stud, as well as the potential to wear a hair accessory.

Construction is pretty simple, in two halves: stocking up the 2×2 plate with studs on the side. We start by decorating the back of the cubes.

We have a sandcastle/beach lapping waves on one side, and an ice cream kiosk on the other

If only I added the trans blue elements…

And these plates clip into the anti studs at the lower part of the back of the cubes. Thee are lots of small elements left over, even after remembering to complete the build.

As you can see, there are plenty of small elements left, to customise your ice cream and sundae in the store

I value the availability of the SNOT elements in this sets: the plate with Studs on the side is remarkably versatile. Despite all the trimmings present here, it turns out that not all stickers were used: there are still quite a few left, to go on the outside of the cube, on your pencil case, note book or where-ever: these were depicting various beach and summer flavoured designs.

I find these small pods fun: not a lot of building, but two role play scenarios, as well as the mystery creature. Well, a mystery colour anyway.

With only one figure, in a confined space, could it be that these sets have been perfectly timed to coincide with the pandemic, and introduce the concept of self-isolation to our kids?

This set has not been the introduction to robotics that I had hoped for when I asked a friend to pick a set up by number alone. It could be that I should be more specific in my requests next time. It might also be that this was intended as a cautionary tale all along…

As an AFOL, I like the printed register slope, the turtle and the metallic spade. The SNOT plates are interesting elements to work with too.

As a parent, I would love the play value, the extra elements and the fact that it makes it easy to pack up the set in a simple box. And the cost. these are real pocket money sets, and not beyond the scope of an impulse buy (with a full retail price of $AUD 12.99). Overall, it may not be great value for the parts, but for the play: I think many girls will have endless fun with these sets. Then we can introduce them to Mindstorms…

Until Next time,

Play well.

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