As a kid, I loved the idea of a treehouse: a place to escape and refashion the world in my image, where my dreams could come true. As my kids grew up, they would have great fun hiding out with their cousins in the Treehouse my father built for them. I suspect this love of arboreal habitation is not restricted to my family, as we have seen multiple LEGO treehouses popping up every year for the last decade. They ensure Kids have a place to call their own and think big.
The 71461 Fantastical Tree House is another of the heroes’ location sets, released as part of the first wave of LEGO DREAMZzz in August 2023. These builds are set in a dream world, where objects are shaped by the imaginations of the dream-crafting heroes of our Story, Izzie and Mateo and their friends. With 1257 pieces, this is the second-largest set in the wave. It has 4 minifigures, 3 ‘li’l guys’ and two buildable characters. With multiple rooms, personal spaces and striking blue foliage, this set has a lot to offer.
With this set, we are entering uncharted territory: while the manual features the same fantastical Art Work as other manuals in the series, the size of this set means we have 348 pages to contend with. Unlike other themes, where we might expect the instruction books to be in multiple parts, this book has not been broken up. At this point, the online instructions have not yet become available, so I do not know if there is a way that multiple builders can be easily brought in using online instructions. Otherwise, the instructions feature the same great artwork, building the story up as the model comes together in fantastic colour.
Here are the elements incorporated in the set: At first glance, this looks like a great set to harvest for landscape elements: lots of green and tan plates, while the body of the tree is predominantly Reddish brown, dark orange, with a few nougat elements for good measure. We have ladder/fence elements, doors and windows, along with 2×2 round bricks and large macaroni bricks in reddish brown. The foliage is quite eye-catching, with the basic foliage elements appearing in blue for the first time, while we also some individual leaf elements in azure.
The final bag is a lot more colourful, with coral, lilac and light azure We have small and large windows, as well as plenty of ball joints and clips. The sticker sheet is relatively simple to use – the majority of the stickers are rectangular, while some are rounded oblongs. There are several street signs pointing towards various sleep states and some stickers identifying the presence of the Night Bureau. We have signage for Izzie and Matteao, while Mrs Castillo appears on a … doughnut sign?! Wait: rereading the product description, these are bagels. Posters showing Z-Blog, and Bunchu the Bunny are also present.
There are no exclusive Minifigures in this set. However, the selection is still strong. We have Mateo, with his cape, armed with his pencil and is accompanied by Z-Blob – Also seen in 71469; 71460 while Izzie has her shoulder Armour and a small skirt element – this is the same as 71469, while the armour alone is in 71453. She is armed with her blue edged sword. Izzie’s hairpiece remains a highlight of the theme.
Mrs Castillo continues in her role of She Who Knows More Than She Is Letting On. Every time I look at her, I imagine Yoda, preparing to battle Dooku, and I would not be surprised if we see her in open conflict with Night Hunter or Nightmare King before the series has run its course.
We also have one of the Dreamling Villagers: There were two in the Stable of Dream Creatures, and this now feels as if I have enough to make a small town with. We get more of these little guys with regular hats in 40657 Dream Village. Perhaps the time has come to start building build my own little house? I have discussed the geometry of these little guys in this post.
We have the wonderfully mysterious Night Hunter, with his ominous scarf and crossbow, on behalf of the forces of Darkness. Snivel, one of the Grimspawn with an oversized head, accompanies him. Night Hunter is certainly one of my favourite figures of the theme, and Like the Nightmare King himself, there are plenty of eyes here. These figures are the same as those seen in 71458 Crocodile Car.
Snivel suffers from overbalancing regularly, and I am grateful that there are a few s 2×2 round offset plates around the base of the finished model, ideal for securely placing him. There are a couple of other Brickbuilt Grim Characters to be assembled, but more on them later.
Let us start the Build
We start laying out a base for our tree – approximately 14 studs x 14, with a cutoff on one side, which we cover in floor tiles and offset plates. We install a small oven, with biscuits cooking. We use inverse arches as roots in four directions and work up to the next level. We are actively building rooms into the tree as we install an angled door.
Top Tip: technic pins are poking out from the truck at intervals. We use technic beams to secure these, and maintain the tree’s strength.
Moving up, we add two more levels – one containing a bedroom for Izzie and another for Mateo. Our entry hall has been converted into a lounge room with a TV (where Izzie can watch Bunchu the Bunny ). Both kids’ bedrooms have been furnished with beds and posters. The mushroom lamp in Izzies room looks great, but I knock it off its table many times before I finally complete the build.
Externally, we add a few platforms associated with small clips on the wall: these will be the places for additional rooms in the ‘choices’ phase of the build.
We have added paving around the tree’s base, along with a small mushroom patch.
We install a small rooftop area, along with a crow’s nest. The Night Bureau’s flag flies high from the crow’s nest – as if the tree house is partly evolving into a pirate ship. We add a third platform for an additional room.
We start to put those technic axles and 2×2 round bricks to good use, constructing the first main branch. We get into the swing of adding foliage to the tree by stacking the leaf and gem elements into place while we hang a swing for the kids to enjoy.
We added the foliage throughout the tree, and while it was on the verge of feeling like a tedious process, I completed the build before malaise set in.
We proceed to add some additional signage and a small bird sitting on its perch. A happy little post box has also joined the build. I don’t recall them from the series, but I can see they could come in handy.
Somehow along the way, a vicious carnivorous plant has entered the fray. Bearing the colours of the Nightmare King, I shall refer to this as a Grim Weed.
And at this point, we see the rest of the Grim Army Arrive: Night Hunter, Snivel, and a modified version of the Grim Keeper – it is a little smaller than the version seen in 71455 Grimkeeper the Cage Monster; its body is based around standard door frames, with fences closing up. There is not quite room inside for a minifigure to be carried, but otherwise, it uses the same head and very similar hands as the larger version.
At this point, the tree is completed. There are 3 small platforms with a brick with a vertical clip incorporated in the nearby trunk. This gives us potential to install different rooms in these spaces. The base is quite simple: 6×8 plate with a 1×2 rounded brick with vertical bars in the middle of one of the long edges – from here, building your own versions would be simple enough. In the meantime, we get 2 suggestions from the instruction manual.
As it was in Paradise
Here we add 3 rooms, one for each of our humans: Izzie, Mateo and Mrs Castillo.
Izzie’s room is bright light orange, with some balloons flying from the edge. The azure roof provides a chance for the room to integrate in with Izzie’s colour palette. I love the use of fences along with the wall of windows. The flowers on the roof incorporate some inverted rocket tailfins to great effect. There is a spiralling sign on one end of the room pointing towards Izzie. Aspects of the roof are fenced off for safety reasons.
Mateos room features several different shades of green, vertical stud shooters and a whiteboard reminding him to Zleep. There are a couple of spray cans tucked around the treehouse in different colours, and we find Black and bright reddish violet tucked away in Mateo’s room.
Mrs Castillo always seems to have breakfast and baked goods on her mind, and she dreams of moving away from Breakfast Burritos and into bagels. She even has a pop-up toaster, capable of launching a bagel high into the air.
Cry Havoc and Let Loose the Dogs of War
The imminent arrival of the Grim Army leaves the residents looking to defend the Treehouse in a variety of creative ways.
Izzie’s balloons are converted into missiles, while she maintains her signage and the cupcake on the table.
This was possibly the most disappointing build for me, for no other reason than the instruction manual showed the roof of this room as medium nougat, rather than tan. A small gripe, but it had me baffled for a little while as I struggled to find the correct plate. Unfortunately, this error was consistent through this part of the manual.
Mateo adds a cannon, along with the stud shooters to his room. M outed on a turntable, it can spin around to keep the Grim spawn at bay. While I’m here, I’ll shout out to the clips on Mateo and Izzie’s rooms which act as convenient storage for staffs and swords.
Mrs Castillo turns her toaster on its side to fire bagels at the bad guys but lacks the same security offered to the kids through the use of walls.
Overall, both choices are fun options, but I probably had more fun preparing the Treehouse in defence mode, with lots of extra weapons, along with the chance to take on the attacking Grims.
I have not taken to many of the larger Treehouse sets in recent years since the LEGO Ideas Treehouse back in 2019, but I really enjoyed the entire build process here. There is a great selection of brown and dark orange (and the occasional medium nougat) elements for landscaping, along with the few brightly coloured foliage elements and the greens and yellowish-orange of Izzie’s room. The blue foliage looks great, and I now feel bitterly disappointed that real trees are not such colours!
The rooms included within the trees are functional, while the external rooms of variable forms add some brilliant colours to the build. The idea of the Defence Mode is great fun, and I am still picking up bagels and studs from when I let the defences loose on Grim Keeper, although the ‘Party Mode’ is also fun.
I appreciate the bonus bad guys: not just Night Hunter and Snivel but also the Grimkeeper and Grim Weed – they add such drama to the model, and the artwork in the manual provides some great inspiration and play-starter ideas.
This treehouse feels like it could equally easily belong to either Friends or Elves and perhaps we could consider it a launching point for Friends characters into the Dream realm. I love the way that it is easy for builders, young and old, to easily build their own rooms to incorporate in the treehouse.
We get core characters in our minifigures, and it is great to see the skirt element added to Izzie, while we have seen the others in their current form in cheaper sets. Admittedly, the figures here include most of my favourite figures of. the theme (except for Nightmare King, Mr Oz and Zoey)
In short: Fun build! Great heroes! Awesome Bad guys! Crazy Post Box! The instruction manual is hefty, and the artwork really enhances the build experience. I am curious to see how it might translate into App form.
The set is available from 1st August 2023 at LEGO.com and is priced at $179.99AUD; $139.99CAD; €104.99; £94.99; $109.99USD. for lots of characters and 1257 pieces
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This set was provided by the LEGO Group for review purposes. All opinions are my own.