The recent paucity of original content on this blog has been contributed to somewhat by picking up LEGO Friends: Heartlake Rush and allowing it to distract me from writing for a week or so. In return for this, I feel obliged to review it.
Inspired by the ‘Design a Friends Go-Kart’ competition running on LEGO Rebrick, I downloaded Heartlake Rush, an endless runner game. Here, you can take the residents of Heartlake City out for a drive: dodging obstacles, accumulating studs and gathering prizes to complete missions. Heartache Rush is available on both iOS and Android platforms for free. As a bonus to parents being nagged to the point of exhaustion, there are no in-app purchases!
You start the game by selecting your character: there is the range of the five friends: Andrea, Stephanie, Olivia, Mia and Emma, as well as Liam, Stephen, Ethan, Daniel (trapped here in his Hot Dog Suit) and Emily jones, on sabbatical from Elvendale! Each character has their own specific car. The figures depicted are shown following the 2018 design update.
Further characters can be unlocked after gathering an ever increasing number of studs. You can take any unlocked car out with any unlocked character, and apply any set of decals. Unfortunately, this is the extent of customization.
The race is on to create your own LEGO® Friends GO-KART racing scene! What sort of GO-KART can you create for Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Emma, Stephanie, and their other friends in Heartlake City? Create the ultimate scene for a chance to win!
After visiting the Melbourne Toy Hobby and Licensing Fair last week, I was really excited to see the new Friends GO-KART sets due to be released in the second half of the year. Now LEGO Rebrick has announced a competition to win all of the second half year’s Friends sets (with just the Go-Kart sets for the runners up…), as well as a LEGO Shopping Spree.
Ready… Set… Go…
To enter, build a vignette depicting a racing scene – no more than 8×12 studs, and include a GO-KART. Your entry should fit into the Heartlake City universe, and not include any mini figures, or cross over into any other IP licenses from 3rd parties or LEGO (so… no Superheroes, Disney Princess, Star Wars, HJarry Potter, NEXO Knights, LEGO Elves, Ninjago etc.
You have until May 5th to take photos of your model, and submit up to 5 of the best to the Rebrick Website.
The toy fair season is now starting to wind up for now: We have had Nuremberg. We have had New York. Now we have had Melbourne…
The Melbourne Toy, Hobby and Licensing Fair is a bit of a mouthful. Predominantly a trade show, taking place in Melbourne in early March each year, LEGO Australia have a strong presence. There has traditionally been little ‘big news’ coming out of the show, as visitors have not been able to take photographs at the LEGO® booth, a trend that was reinforced at Nuremberg this year.
I had the chance to visit the Fair last weekend, and visit the booth displaying our favourite Danish Plastic Brick. Once I got past the big displays outside the booth, I had to put the camera away, and make do with words and memories.
After the recent New York and Nuremberg Toy shows, there is little to be seen in left field, unexpected presentations. Unlike New York, there are no Direct to Consumer sets on display (for example: Hogwarts Great Hall; Ultron Hulkbuster). There were also no Brickheadz or 40th Birthday Minifigure sets on display. There were no sets associated with unreleased movies ( such as Jurassic World; Solo; Incredibles 2) , unless they were already on sale (Avengers: Infinity War went on sale the week before the toy fair).
There were plenty of sets on display that are already on the shop shelves, readily available to purchase in real life shops, or on line. And everything else that I saw already has an entry in Brickset’s 2018 database. However, there were some sets from the second half year on display, of which few details have previously been available, or for which some additional clarity was able to be gained. If you wish to avoid spoilers, look away now. If you have read everything coming out of Nuremberg and New York, there may not be a lot that sounds new… but certainly a few points of clarification.
Recently, we have seen images of the new LEGO Friends Sets for 2018, and there have been a few interesting surprises. Not only the presence of teal, but our protagonists have had a bit of a makeover. In fact, this is possibly the most obvious aspect.
All sorts of theories have been bandied around: colored contact lenses, eye damage due too much time in the tanning salon, extreme perms, but perhaps the most simple answer is that after five years, the line is getting a bit of a refresh…
Here is the official word from the Friends Design Team about the new looks that we are seeing in 2018:
Every year we strive to innovate and make our products even better for children all over the world. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the LEGO characters and universes across our entire product range, so it makes us very happy when changes are noticed.
LEGO Friends in 2018 looks a bit different than what it has in the past. To be specific, the 5 main characters have a slightly different look but also the city and the citizens of Heartlake City have changed.
But what are the reasons for the change?
Firstly, we want to assure you that all 5 friends are still there in 2018.
Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia – they all still exist! Also the character’s main interests and personalities remain mainly unchanged.
What you will see in 2018 is an evolution of LEGO Friends, a progression of the story and characters to make sure children get an even greater play experience. Every year more than a million children and parents reach out to us and share what they love and what they would like to change. In the LEGO Friends range children told us that they would like even more differentiated characters and also suggested improvements to Heartlake City.
We always take great care to listen to input from children, and the LEGO Friends team has worked hard to make even more engaging and relevant experiences for children – and also make the LEGO Friends universe more true to the actual world children live in.
Taking a starting point in reality, we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance and have added more depth to their personality. And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story.
The changes we have made does not change the fact that previous and new LEGO Friends sets will cater for great building and play experience in 2018 and beyond, and we hope to inspire even more stories and play opportunities for children in the future.
While we can think what we like about the changes, it will add to the ongoing diversity in our characters. For the last five years, Heartlake City has been a relatively homogeneous town- it will now go on to reflect more closely on the world that the target market wish to play in. For those of you who who have a Minidoll based city layout, you have a whole new collection of faces for the town.
Personally, I like the fact that we now have vintage Friends Minidolls to collect. What do you think about the new look? Why not add your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick for new stories, updates and random opinion.
As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP. By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.
This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalised in LEGO form.
I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens… Continue reading →
Please don’t get me wrong with the title here: I can find stickers to be as irritating as the next person. However, after looking at Stephanie’s House last week, I came to realise that some LEGO elements are used in a recurring fashion, but that the final appearance and effect is dependent on the labels used.
On this occasion, I am specifically thinking of the humble laptop computer. Design number 18659. This piece is currently available in two colours: black and medium lilac. It appeared in black in 2010, and medium lilac in 2016.
It appears simple enough: Slightly less than 3×4 studs in area when open, there are no clear system connections. No studs, no tubes, no clear handle. However, when closed, there is an indentation in the upper and lower parts of the laptop that accepts a clip type attacment such as a minifigure hand. Actually, when open, a lip along the bottom section allows a clip connection there as well.
Now, these laptops appear simple enough. But they are a little plain. I can see the benefit of only having one part, without printing it. From the manufacturing point of view: every new element – a part in a new colour – needs a new bin in the warehouse for storage. Once you go the next step, and print on that part, each printed design has a new element ID, and therefore requires a new place to store it too. For the MOC Builder, the role of this element is not locked in: It’s a little hard to pretend that a part printed with decorative bows is, in fact, a vital tool in the war against crime!The medium lilac laptop (Element ID 6141902) appears in three distinct sets, all in the Friends theme: 41314 Stephanie’s House, as discussed already; 41115 Emma’s Creative Workshop and 41116 Olivia’s Exploration Car. Each set has a new sticker added to the sheet, which can (if you wish) be attached to the laptop present in the set, and allow you to give it an appearance of functionality.
When we last met, we caught up with Fenella and Ricardo, from the LEGO Friends design team, and we spoke in part about the preliminary models from Stephanie’s house, and how some things came and went during the design phase.
Today, I thought we would put this set together, and look at some of the features that make these sets so popular with the target demographic.
This is one of the larger sets in the first wave of Friends sets to be released in 2017. It has 613 pieces, and a recommended retail price of $AUD99.99/£64.99/$US69.99/€69.99. It comes with 3 minidolls: Stephanie, her mother Alicia and father James. It is laden with accessories and play features, as one would expect with a Friends set of this size. Continue reading →