May 31, 2014

Review: Heartlake Shopping Mall



Summer is near, it’s that time of the year again! Let’s go for a stroll down at Heartlake City shopping mall. Our friends might need to buy some new clothes, sporting goods, or they just may want to hang out and go window-shopping, or take advantage of the many activities available there, from the photo booth to the music scene… all in a bright and colourfull atmosphere!

The FriendsBricks community wishes to thank TLG’s CEE Team for generous support of this set to review and share with fans.


Box art:



When looking at the front of the box, you are a little overwhelmed by all that’s going on. We can see some buildings in the back, many small elements in front. But wait, there is also a cool looking car and four minidolls! Even when holding the box in your hands (it is almost as big as a Lego Creator Expert set, you know, modular buildings and such) it is hard to settle on one specific detail!

On the back, the image of the building modules side by side without the other elements suddenly makes the set look a lot smaller. And the small side images show only a fraction of what you can do with this toy. I think the idea here is to get our attention but still keep room for suspense and fun surprises while building the set. There would be no way to show all the details anyway. So without further ado, let’s open the box, already!

Box content:



There are eight numbered bags, in another one are some large plates, and all the paper goods are neatly stored in yet another bag, secured with cardboard reinforcement. It has happened to me before to open boxes only to find all crumbled up sticker sheets. So this is a nice attention.

When opening up the non numbered bags, we find a total of six baseplates plus two smaller plates, two sticker sheets and four numbered booklets.

Bag n°1:



It looks like we are going to start with the smaller elements of the set.


First let’s put together the minidolls. The back of the box showed Stephanie as the main character when in fact Emma is also present. It is very rare (if not the first time) to see more than one of the five main friends in one single set. Already this is looking good! And apparently they even brought along their poodle for the day!

Stephanie is wearing the new hair piece she already wore in her beach house (#41037) and Emma has cool purple DJ headphones!



The handbag cart puts me immediately in the mood! There are always smaller cart type shops in your typical mall!

I love how the ribbons are attached to the yellow headlight bricks using classic flowers. It almost seems like an AFOL builder has designed the set!



On to the photobooth. A simple build with just the right amount of Lego Technic parts to make something happen…



1) Stick the printed photo tile of Stephanie and Emma in the slot at the back of the booth.
2) Turn the knob…
3) Magic! The photos come out just like in a real photobooth!! :D



Other elements are a setup for disc jockeys, what looks to be a turning dancefloor, two palm trees, and what I assume is advertizement for jungle themed excursions (or is it advertizement for the new Friends Jungle sub-theme?). It could also be a non-profit campaign to raise awareness towards endangered species.



Bag n°1 in its entirety, including spare parts (down, left). You can also see the spare parts in the paper plate on the right. At the time I took the photograph I didn’t realize there were two bilboards to build.

Bag n°2:



There is going to be another minidoll. I also see two huge magenta round plates/tiles. This is exciting. Let’s continue on.



Julian is a new character. Always nice to have some more boys around! He is wearing a new hooded sweatshirt (well, at least from the front it’s hooded!)



On to serious building… Love the pink and blue tiled floor. I appreciate the magenta 2x2 tiles with one stud (jumper), combined with the blue tiles leaves just enough studs sticking out to easily position minifigures/minidolls without giving the floor an all studs look.



We build up the walls. I like the arches on the sides that add some room and bring in more light to the interior.

The front door is soooo cool!! (I have no idea what the name of this contraption is!) And with the turntable underneath it it actually turns! I am not so fond of these types of doors in real life, but to see it in Lego bricks is awsome! And it’s a very simple build too!



Bag n°2 in its entirety, including spare parts. One module down, five more to go!!

Bag n°3:



It is also time to open up instructions booklet n°2. First impression: I see a lot of gold, including those three palm leaves!!



Here are the building steps for this module. An interesting way to attach the «A» shaped medium lavender pieces with the golden leaves on top of them.



And bag n°3 in its entirety, including spare parts. I love the Heartlake sign, the heart, the leaves, of course, tables and golden chairs… But this particular area looks like it’s going to be a very tight squeeze for our minidolls!

Bag n°4:



As we can see from the last image of the previous bag, the two modules we have built so far go on top of one another.

And now we shall build the car!!!





Lego car frames always differ slightly, they are never exactly the same. But here the way the car is made ressembles a lot other ones from the Friends line (ex: #41013, #3183).



Final result for bag n°4. The car has a very different look from the ones previously mentioned. I believe this to be a small sporty 4x4. Me like!

Bag n°5:



On to booklet n°3. Bicycle (red again, huh?), soccer and basket balls, skateboard, snowboard, could this be a sports shop?



I am really enjoying this. Up until now, it seems that every bag I opened was used to build radically different things. I am now up for another module and it has absolutely nothing to do with the previous ones!



Continuing on, building up the walls. The trickiest part here, but fear not, it is anything but mandatory, is to actually fit the two diving flippers and the tennis racket in the storefront rack, just below the playing balls.



Bag n°5 in its entirety, including spare parts.

Bag n°6:



Yet another module. I see pizza, could this be the food court?



A very simple build here. The bag of french fries is way cool! I especially like the little oven, it is made with very little pieces, but it is so lifelike! I can already smell the woodfire oven cooked pizza ;-)



Bag n°6 in its entirety, including spare parts. I misplaced the 2x16 blue plate with the safety rail. The instructions are not very clear on how to place it. I didn’t realize it when I took the pictures. The space between the counter and the edge is already pretty small when placed correctly, but here even more so.

Bag n°7:



So far there has been a lot of the colour tan to build up the walls. This time we’re onto white. A nice bright change. I also see a lot of pink and purple :D



The minidoll. Forgive the photography. White on white is not that easy.
If you’re like me and have meticulously inspected the box, you know this one is bound to pop up at some point. And now is that time. It is nice to have a simple white skirt, the hairpiece is funky and nice too… but that face!!! Now that is a minidoll that could make the set worth buying just by itself! Allthough for the creative ones, I have yet to find another way to use it. I can’t wait to see what other fans of Lego will make of it, well, at least those who can afford a $100 set! Unfortunately, maybe there will finally be profit oriented speculation on minidolls like there is on some classic minifigures. Time will tell.



Building the beauty salon. For those early Lego Friends fans, if I remember correctly, the original one went out of stock worldwide in a flash (Butterfly Beauty Shop #3187). At the time it was very interesting for the lipsticks. And looking back, it came with bright light orange hair pieces and accessories, which is probably the least common colour to this day. Here in the mall salon, the accessories are medium azure, probably one of the more common colours for these and there are no spare parts for each colour of lipstick.

I would say this here beauty salon module can make up for those who missed out on the original one, but it would have been a nice attention to provide us with the same orange hair pieces and more lipsticks (I think they definitely fit the «easily lost» definition!)



Bag n°7 in its entirety, including spare parts. The salon is very cute and packed with details, including a little outdoor retail shelf containing perfume or cosmetics.

Bag n°8:

I wish I could stop this review right here and let the rest be discovered by those lucky few who will acquire the set. If you are an adult and are thinking of buying this set for yourself (as opposed to for your children), I recommend closing this window now and pretend nothing ever happened ;-) Otherwise, stay with me, we are far from over!!



And finally the last of the bags. Pink, pink, and more pink (any name reminding you of an existing she-FOL is slightly intended ;-) )



White walls, lacy window display, tiara, flower bouquet, diamond, ring…



You guessed it! Last but not least here is bag n°8 in its entirety, including spare parts… every mall should have a bridal store!! There is even a mannequin wearing a wedding dress! All that’s left is to find Prince Charming… but more on that later!

This time I did not mispace the 1x2 blue plate with the safety rail!

Spare Parts:



Here is all that’s left when you’re finished building the set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many spare parts!! Coins, flowers, stems, ribbons, rings… and much more!

The finished set:



Here are all the elements put together. The car is not present as I parked it in the parking lot ;-) I will now show you all of this in better detail.



The car easily fits one person. Add one and they might fight over who gets the armrest!! A third person fits in the back, but she looks pretty uncomfortable. This being said, I find this to be a very cool car! It is relatively small and still fits three! I like the elegant colour scheme and finally, it somehow looks like it can really zip around through traffic!



The music scene (and palm trees). Somehow I find it weird that Emma would be the DJ at Heartlake mall, but hey, why not? She must be very good as Stephanie and Julian are really shakin’ it!!

I also find that the dancefloor is strange and not very useful, but then, it doesn’t bother me either. At least with all the studs you can easily place the minidolls in all kinds of dancing positions (if only they could move their legs individually!)



The photobooth and Handbag cart. I already went over the photobooth. I think it is a very smart build! And it looks good, too.

As for the cart, I don’t recall seeing ones with wheels inside shopping malls. It seems the small shops that sell gadgets like cellphone covers are usually fixed stands. I could be wrong. Nonetheless, this is a very cute one!!



The mall entrence/front. It is a very inviting façade with large doors and windows. And with that humongus sign I bet the place is easy to find within Heartlake City. The inside is spacious and pleasant. Makes you want to visit some more.

Only regret is that there is no direct acces to first floor. And even if there was, it is too narrow to sit comfortably.



The bridal store sits atop the beauty salon, how convenient! Storefront on first floor is again pretty narrow, but without tables and chairs, it doesn’t feel as tight.

Ground floor offers plenty of activities to play with, hair, nails, spa, massage… whereas top floor offers plenty of space to dream!



The other side of the mall is more down to earth. Sports shop on ground floor offers everything and anything you might need to fulfill your exercising and playing needs, from skateboarding to snowboarding to weightlifting, tennis and diving equipment, team sports, energy drinks, cycling, you name it!. They even sell clothes and accessories!

On top is the food court. I guess nobody works in any of these stores. You just have to help yourself ;-) Wood-oven pizza, or sandwiches, fries and water. Interesting choice. There is also a nice looking grill, but I don’t see anything to be grilled. Unless it is the deep fryer for the fries. You cannot see it in this picture but have a look at the back of the box (2nd image in review). In any event, that’s still a lot of detail for two such small restaurants!



Here is a look at all the figurines. Four complete minidolls, a poodle, and two mannequins. Extra wardrobe, yay! New items are white skirt (long one of the bridal gown), the masked face, wrap-around towel (new in white) and Julian’s top.

Pieces and colours:



Shown above are the parts exclusive to this set, no less than 14 new references:

- 2x2 modified tile with stud in midle (jumper), in magenta
- 2x1x2 slope, 65°, in magenta
- 1x6 tile in dark pink
- A-shaped wedge plate, in medium lavender
- 3x1 slope, 33°, in lavender
- ear protector/headphones, in dark purple
- 1x6x2 arch brick, in bright light yellow
- 2x1x3 inverted slope, 75°, in bright light yellow
- 1x1 cristal rock, 5 point, in yellow
- 8x3 small palm leaf, in pearl gold (as a matter of fact, first time it ever appears in a colour other than regular green!)
- 1x1 tile, in medium azure (hard to believe, but yes!)
- 2x16 plate in bright light blue
- 1x1 round tile with 5 cents pattern
- 1x3 tile with photobooth pattern



Then you have a massive amount of purple and pink pieces (none of the new references are picured here above). Noteworthy are:

Purple:
1x2 bricks in trans purple, 2x2 round bricks in dark purple, 1x4 tiles and 2x2 corner plates (L plate) in medium lavender


Pink:
8x8 round tiles and 10x10 octagonal plate in magenta (both of these already existed in the 1990’s in Belleville and Scala sets. They are still pretty rare and could almost count as new exclusive parts in my opinion)



There is also a very nice amount of pearl gold pieces, a colour most commonly found in Ninjago sets.

A lot of flowers and greenery. The set of red butterflies, ladybugs and assorted flowers was very common in the first waves of Lego Friends but not so much anymore, so it’s nice to see those again.

And more stickers than I’ve ever seen in a single set. I am normally not fond of stickers and of course would have rathered these parts be printed, but I must admit there is a very large and ecclectic selection here. Some are quite nice! And more importantly, if like me you are not very good at applying stickers, by the time you are finished with these, you will have become a master at it!!!



And finally, enough baseplates to build the future diorama of your liking and other neat pieces.

Thoughts:

Considering all the wrath that was felt when Lego Friends were first launched, it seems a rather risky bet for TLC to offer us such a set as a shopping mall. Now if not all girls are «girly» (pardon the mediocre choice in words, I can’t think of another way to put it without writing a ten page essay), some, and probably most, are. Besides for that, malls are nowadays an integrant part of inner-city upbringing as well as suburban. Most girls (and boys) can relate to that. And to my understanding, this is what Lego found to be what little girls wanted in a toy. Not necessarily superficial activities of aesthetic purpose. Nor domestic activities that only comfort the stereotypes of a woman’s role in society. But simply activities they can relate to. Whether it be to go get a chocolate fudge sunday at the local café, play a game of soccer, put together a magic show, go to a dance rehearsal, go to school, be invited for the day at a friend’s luxurious yacht… I know, not everybody has such a friend, right?! but one can dream!

This here mall is pretty accurate with it’s only four stores and offers a lot of different ways to play. Not to mention that each numbered bag containing a separate module, this set can be build over a long period of time. Each bag could be a set onto itself!

Now for my personal opinion, I love that the Lego Group had the guts to offend their political ennemies. I want to play «let’s go shopping»! I want a set that contains crazy amounts of pinks, purples and gold! I want more lipstick! I want to find Prince Charming! Get married, have kids, live happily ever after! Be a woman! Or a woman-to-be! Dream!

Every girl is a princess on some levels and a tomboy on others. Each has her own balance. Let us play girly-girl when and if we want to. But please also let us play with your Lego bricks! I may need to borrow that alien, monster or superhero of yours later on!!

Conclusion:

This is the largest Friends themed set to this day, and as exciting as this fact is, I am happy to say that it definitely meets my expectations. Sure I found a few odd details here and there, but no set can be 100% perfect.

This is a one of a kind toy that not every child will get to play with. It could be a very nice reward for good grades or behaviour.

It is also a toy that will last over time. It can be built in many steps, each of which individually allows for a lot of play time.

We have a very «girly» oriented theme here with a shopping mall, but please come in, you will find there is plenty to do and see no matter what your hobbies are.
I highly recommend acquiring this set as long as it is within your budget. And if you must chose between several small sets or just this one, well, I think I would go for this one. Of course, writing this, I now realize why perhaps the Jungle sub-theme came out at the same time as the mall: to make that decision even harder to make!!

Bricklink was used to verify information regarding new parts and/or colours. It is accurate at time of review.
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FriendsBricks.com

5 comments:

RODO said...

Great review for a great set. I really appreciate the printed photo tile and the cucumber face .

Athanor-Paris said...

Black wheels for a friends set ? Strange, very strange !

fujiia said...

@Rodo: I was thinking, Funny, that's exactly what my friend Rodo said on the phone… but wait, this IS Rodo!

@Athanor-Paris: They are actually some kind of pearl dark gray. Not sure exactly what the colour is. Rest assured, it is dark but shiny!!

Thanks for stopping by, les Frenchies :D

Hannah said...

Whoa! Can I just say..,,
AWESOME SET!

Lego Expert said...

Even when holding the box in your hands (it is almost as big as a Lego Creator Expert set, you know, modular buildings and such) it is hard to ... ilegoexpert.blogspot.de

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