There is something about Brickheadz. While they started off as a way to brick-build characters from popular culture, the theme had been showing signs of slowing down in recent years. This year, we have seen the format reborn with the introduction of the Pets sub-theme. We have seen some awesome animal format Brickheadz this year, and this latest wave has me quite excited with an overdose of cuteness. This wave consists of 3 sets: 40480 Ginger Tabby; 40481 Cockatiel and 40482 Hamster
Each of these sets comes with 2 figures: Adult and offspring. As well as a basket or nest for them to hang out in.
The sets are fairly similar in structure, but each feature various techniques that set them apart from the others. As such, we will wander through each set in turn, and then look at other directions that Brickheadz could potentially turn, away from ‘non human’ character representation.
So, read on for my review, and an idea of what might happen if you cross a nostalgic childhood theme with this character format.
40480 Tabby Cats (269 pieces)
Our first set presents us with a pair of ginger tabby cats, highlighting stripes in bright orange and bright yellowish orange. Just for the sake of curiousity, I put the elements under an ultraviolet (UV) lamp, as I have seen a variety of fluorescing behaviours over the years from both of these colours. I was pleasantly surprised to see that each colour was consistent in the nature of the pigment: all of the Bright Orange was non-fluorescent while all of the Bright Yellowish orange elements did fluoresce under UV light. There were a couple of elements I’df not previously noticed: the medium blue downward brackets for example.
Building of the adult can started with a simple, 4×4 base, and stacking up layers of alternating colour. I like the way that the forward leaning front libs are represented, as well as the hind legs.
On reaching the head, we use adjacent SNOT and upright techniques to align the top and side aspects of the ears – with an upper 1×2 45º slope, abutting a side facing inverse slope.
An offset plate forms the centre of the face, topped off nicely with a quarter circle for the nose. Claw elements are used to found off the facial detail of whiskers.
Teal plates and tiles give the appearance of a terribly sophisticated, well presented cat, wearing a fashionable scarf. I was almost reminded of the look of the anthropomorphised characters from Fabuland.
The kitten is build around a 3×3 base, using an interesting contracted design language compared to the adult: the nose is narrower, the ears are shorter in both height and width. Both cats have a tail, connected via a hinge clip.
Finally, we build a rounded basket for our cats to stay in. The lavender border, using 3×3 macaroni bricks, fits nicely on the base. Giving our cats the look of contentment. Well, until it is apparent to them that you have not delivered a saucer of milk.
Overall, I really like the use of colour with this model: the cats are brights, and contrast nicely with the elegant scarves. I give this set 3.5 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units.
40381 Cockatiels (219 Pieces)
I thought this was a curious choice: the cockatiel is an interesting bird, as far as its colouring, with an orange spot on its cheek. Consulting the all knowing Wikipedia, it turns out that the cockatiel is second only to the budgerigar, world wide, for popularity as a caged bird!
The spot on its cheek was always going to be a challenge, and as such printed elements are used to achieve this look.
We have a few azure elements that will provide perches, while the bulk of the birds are white, dark and medium grey with cool yellow faces.
We start building the tail, and it took me a while to orient myself as to the direction I was heading with the build. From here, however, construction was fairly straightforward. The overall build is probably the most in line with the traditional Brickheadz build.
The adult’s crest is two tiered , while a simple curved slope does the job on the chick. I do like the use of the ‘Nexo pyramid tile’ as the beak for the baby.
Once the birds are built, we fashion a nest out of brown palisade bricks, and install small perches inside for our birds.
I like the cockatiels, but don’t love them. But I am not really a bird guy either. I think they are modeled as well as can be achieved within the confines of the medium. I give them 3/5 Arbitrary Praise Units.
40382 Hamsters (243 pieces)
These little creatures are just too cute! Built predominantly of tan and white, with nougat highlights, there are a few surprising elements on the inside – including an otherwise hidden azure inverse curved slope element.
The adult hamster is built in a seated position, with its feet facing forward, and a curved 2×4 slope capturing the rounded shape of its body. The head is built around the ‘standard’ core of 1x2x 1 2/3 bricks with 4 studs on the side, with the bulk of the ears being built up from the sides. They feature a curve made up using a 1×2 curved slope, and a 1x1x1 1/3 arch brick, which is not quite reflecting the curves on the checks. Almost, but not quite. Moving forward on the face, we have the snout, featuring 1×1 half rounded tiles and a central offset plate on which we again place a quarter circle tile for the nose. Finally, I love the little button of a tail that these models have.
The adult has a small orange cheese slope – I presume representing a small piece of carrot – in its paw to eat.
The young hamster is again built around a 3×3 square base, and features many of the techniques used in the other Pet models, to shrink it down to fit on the new foot print.
The base builds a green framed run, which I presume represents a small patch of lawn for them to play on.
I LOVE these guys. from the seated posture of the adult, to the snack filled cheek pouches, and the shaping of the ears, these are my favorite of the batch. They are going straight to the display cabinet. I give these little fellows 4 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units: they just have a lot going on, as well as a little X-Factor!
I feel that the Pets subtheme has breathed a new lease of life into the Brickheadz, which had started to stagnate in recent years. There have been some enjoyable character builds this year, including Scrooge McDuck and the nephews, but I think the animal builds have just taken the range in a new direction, and an opportunity for new collectors to get in and be a little bit completionist! I am impressed at how well the animal forms translate to the Brickheadz, but not surprised.
Why not surprised? I’ve been down this path before.
The Fabuheadz Project
In 2019, we celebrated 40 years since the release of Fabuland. Now, 42 years ago I was around 10 years old, and about 35 kg. I am now twice as tall, twice as wide and, at the time, was around 3 times as heavy (give or take a few kg).
As such, to celebrate the anniversary of fabuland, my friend ShellyT and I sat down and gave our favorite Fabuland characters the same treatment: roughly twice as tall, twice as wide and much heavier! Which made them pretty well the same size as a Brickheadz figure. And so the Fabuheadz project was launched. We visited a number of the characters that were popular in Fabuland, and set out to expand their buildings and vehicles to suit. And the models have spent a little time, here and their on the road – in Melbourne (Brickvention 2019), Sydney, and Portugal (Paredes de Coura 2019). Recently, they had another chance to come out with a small show that our LUG was engaged with. The builds received a lot of love on instagram, so I thought I’d bring them out here, just as a quick show and tell.
Each character looks a bit different to the original, but hopefully we captured their essence. you might even recognise some updated sets from your childhood.
The new Brickheadz Pets are a reminder that the the LEGO Group knows that the Brickheadz format can do so much more than be the brick equivalent of a Funko Pop-Vinyl model. I really appreciate the direction that these new Brickheadz are going, and I would like to imagine that perhaps they could be used in the future to revisit those themes from back when we were younger… and smaller. I might start to get Ideas.
I really like the new Pets, especially the hamster: the new shapes, colours, and neat parts usage are terrific. They will be coming out on August 1st 2021. Based on Other Ptes Brickheadz, I expect they will cost $24.99 AUD; $USD14.99; £13.49; €14.99; $CAD19.99.
I’d love to know how you feel about these new BrickheadzPetz, as well as our Fabuland reimaginings…
Why not leave your comments below, and until next time,
The new Brickheadz Pets sets were provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own. The Fabuheadz were a collaboration between Shelly Timson and myself, originally presented at Brickvention 2019, and subsequently on the road.