April 24, 2018

Review: 41330 Stephanie's Soccer Practice

It’s a beautiful day in Heartlake City Park. Let’s follow Stephanie and Dash on a sporty adventure!

This set was provided by the AFOL Engagement of The LEGO Group for the purpose of sharing set details with fans. Opinions provided here solely reflect those of our reviewer. Photographs are property of Friends Bricks and are not directed by TLG in any fashion.

Just days ago, I looked out my window to see yet another coating of snow. Ugh. How nice would it be to feel the sun on my face and run on a grassy field, in shorts? Those days are just around the corner. But, until then, I can play along with Stephanie at her soccer practice! Let’s take a closer look at this fun set.

This small box lacks the extra two curved sides of larger kits, but they are implied. New branding art for the Friends line depicts the five girls in a “hands-in” pose to form a heart at upper-right with logos to the left. A detailed and inviting background illustration sets us on a grassy area. In the distance, we can see the lake, its dock with gazebo, and a performance stage beyond. Tall buildings poke up beyond the treeline.

The set’s color scheme uses Stephanie’s palette of medium azure, light pink, yellow, and dark blue with white. Her name and portrait, framed in azure, indicates that she is the featured character in this set.

Dashed white lines indicate the set’s movable parts and functionality.

The back of the box does an excellent job of demonstrating play scenarios. It indicates how a figure is constructed and that there is an included instruction booklet. We see Stephanie thinking in emojis, reminding me of the LEGO Life app.

This European packaging includes warnings and other info about the contents in many different languages. I love, love, love the new tall photos appearing on the sides of set boxes this year. So inviting!

Inside the box, we find: three un-numbered clear plastic bags of parts, in various sizes; a sticker sheet; and an instruction booklet that’s been (ouch!) folded in half to fit inside the box.

Taking a look inside the largest bag…

I’m loving those white 4x4 quarter-round bow tiles. Yum! Stephanie and Dash are in here too. This year, I’ve noticed that minidoll parts are no longer arriving in their own tiny sealed bags. 

Opening the medium-sized bag…

Above is a nice assortment of colorful parts. I am delighted to get more of these new bright green leaf pieces. I hope to cover an entire tree in these, at some point! 

Inside the smallest bag we get some versatile dark blue elements and pink cheese slopes which will surely come in handy for any future Stephanie-themed creations of my own. Those clear 1x1 “nipple” pieces are super useful also.

Below is a cheat-sheet of what’s new. Stephanie’s soccer outfit is currently exclusive to this set. Dash, the puppy, also appears in the Friendship House set [41340]. The new printed Heartlake City Park map, 5-petal flowers and wonderful leaf elements are plentiful in other 2018 Friends sets.

Let’s assemble the figure!

I really like Stephanie’s sporty clothes. Her v-necked jersey has colorful stripes and a star logo, matching her symbol. The back of her jersey is plain. She wears dark blue shorts with practical pockets, banded white gym socks, and medium azure sneakers. Her blonde hair is, as usual, down and long. The art for her face has gotten a slight adjustment this year, making her features larger. Her open-mouthed smile has dark pink lips. Dash, the brown puppy (a chocolate lab?), has short floppy ears, brown eyes, and pink tongue.

As building gets underway, we create a variety of accessories for the characters to interact with. There’s a snack table with water cooler, sports bottle, and hot dog with bun. Dash has a pink dish with dog bone. A whistle on a string sits atop the water cooler, indicated by a sticker. There’s also a map of Heartlake City Park that Stephanie must have picked up on her way in. Each of the character’s models that are set in the park (five in total) include this tile. It’s also in the Friendship Pod set. Standing on a bit of grass is a chalkboard which indicates strategic plays via sticker. It includes a gray eraser and a clip to hold a chart pointer. Are you ready for your lesson, Dash?

Moving on to building larger portions of the set, directions are easy to follow. Steps 6 and 7, using some Technic bits, is about as complex as it gets. Here, we are assembling the ball-kicker.

A friendly reminder (below) from LEGO tells us to not bonk our friends in the head with soccer balls. Good advice! But here you can see how the launcher is operated.

Next, we build the large goal with white net. This will have a movable stand for Stephanie (or Dash!) to block the ball from entering the goal. It uses a long Technic lift-arm. As is standard practice in LEGO building instructions, there is a handy 1:1 measuring guide to check you’ve got the right size part. While there’s no possibility of confusion with the parts given here, I can imagine this being useful if you were re-building the set from a larger collection of pieces.

I did have to double-check my point at which I had this beam secured by a gray peg. (Thanks to the angled perspective in the instructions, one Technic peg hole was blocked from view, confusing my count.)  You could adjust this point intentionally, to change how far out of the net the goal keeper stands.

At the rear of the goal, Stephanie is showing us how two pink cheese slopes will secure the net in place.

With build complete, these are our spare parts:

And here is the finished set:

“Goooooooooooaaaal!” Scored by… a puppy? YES! After eating snack and learning strategy, helpful doggie Dash is launching balls for Stephanie to practice blocking.

There are some nice details here, like the light under the goal post and heart symbol above, some decorative red flowers, and a single-sided flag that’s stickered with Stephanie’s star logo. 

Fans who’ve been collecting for a while may recall that there was a set with this same concept and name, back in 2013. You can read about set #41011 Stephanie’s Soccer Practice on this page.  This earlier version had about 30 fewer parts. But it did also include a puppy, who was more reddish with longer ears, named Scarlett. That set’s orange practice cones and specially-printed soccer ball were neat. I don’t own the older set to directly compare play value, but I’m guessing that the shoot-and-score functionality is much improved with the 2018 set. Now it’s more of an actual two-person game.

Playing around with my review copy, the new ball launcher is comfortable to use and pretty foolproof. It has just the right amount of free movement to flick the ball a few inches, low to the ground. It’s quite easy to score a goal with no defender in the net. When I put Stephanie in as goalie, blocking shots is also pretty simple. She can be moved right and left from behind the net, using a stick. My only frustration came when I was playing offense, trying to reposition the ball launcher (aiming for an open corner, say), sliding it around quickly, and the ball would topple off it’s tee position. 

I see future re-build potential here for the white net. I’d love to try it out as a trampoline for Stephanie and Dash to jump upon; or a gazebo/arbor roof for them to dine beneath.

Overall, this is a great set. It’s fun to play with and the price and parts selection are good. The only addition I might wish for would be an extra soccer ball or two. I know they are a pricey element. However, while playing, it would be nice to line up a few balls to fire in succession. Also, I can imagine this part getting lost.

Finally, if you’re living in the U.S., as I am, you might be curious if this set has a different name in other countries (because the game we know here as “soccer,” is called “football” elsewhere in the world). Sure enough, when I tried changing countries on the LEGO online shop, non-English-language product pages did make the switch. Interestingly though, other English-speaking countries (Canada, UK, Australia…) all still showed “Soccer.”

Thanks for reading!

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