December 22, 2019

Review: 41395 Friendship Bus

Hop on board the Friendship Bus for a tour of HLC! You'll just have to wait until after a quick tennis match.

Box front shows the bus parked on the outer part of HLC, in a park or wooded area. The 2020 purple adjacent corner framing, standard flanges, BFF heart inset, mini-doll cameos, and another image of the bus being driven as an inset, all take back view with this big bus!
It's a very large, long box -- which is needed for 778 parts!

Box back shows a few functions of the bus, with insets showing even more things to do. The animated image of Olivia with her remote-control flying heart robotics challenge creation (from Midwinter Nights Dream episode), makes me happy.

Box scene slice side shows the bus in action, with Stephanie on the roof, Olivia sliding down the slide, and Mia getting purple paint roller ready after feeding a pet.

Box side with brick collage and LEGO Life ad shows us a hamster and food elements.

Box top is very busy with parts, a picnic scene, and mini-doll images; Olivia is our 1:1 ratio example.
Box bottom has the brick collage, Stephanie with her sports gear, and the choking on parts warning in 33 languages.

Box contents: Instructions book (235 pages) with sticker sheet safe in a plastic sleeve, a bright yellow slide piece, and six bags of parts.

Sticker sheet in perfect condition, and instructions book. I really like that tree canopy behind the BFF heart inset. The mini-doll telling us we can scan our set code for the LEGO Life building app indicates these instructions are pre-2020.

Bag 1 parts: No real new parts, just a lot of Technic pins in the small bag. The grey 2x3x1 1/3 brick with plates on the left (look like steps) indicate vertical building.

Mia's new top has her Lightning Bolt icon in Autumn colors. I like the diagonal pattern. Belt and collar graphics carry around to her back side. The shirt bottom's olive green matches her shorts. The orange and green sneakers finish out this color blend. Not all mini-dolls have back print -- I hope we get more of this.

We build a bulletin board type work table for the renovation blueprints, hammer, paint, and a snack (that you'll wish you had for building the rest of the bag).
Then we get straight away at building the floorboard of this bus. We use lots of Technic bricks with side holes and pins. It's not too complex, yet I recommend building this set while fresh and alert. Removing Technic pins placed in the wrong hole isn't fun. We only get a few spares; no spare tan longer pins.
The designers have had to pay attention to quite a few aspects that must be added at this stage. I've included a photo of the underside to give an idea of the complexity.

Bag 2 parts: More grey brick with plate (looks a step) to continue building bus framing.

First we build Olivia and Stephanie, a tennis net, umbrella and camera. Love x 2.

Then we get back to serious structure after that brief fun break. The pool is built as a separate section and then slides under the bus floorboard. Then we flip the bus bottom and build a coral and teal circle float. The tan corner plates get red round tiles, installed underside, they act as stoppers so the pool won't pull all the way out. We add more support bricks, and the back bumper with sticker. A few spare parts just in case.

Let's get a better look at Olivia: She has a cool yellow vest with buttoned-back lapels. It has small pockets and goes over her center-gathered dark azure top and skirt. To finish off her signature color trio, she has bright pink shoes.
Her vest has details on the back -- sort of vertical pleats.

Seeing more of Stephanie we notice her palm trees at sunset (or sunrise) on a raglan (athletic) sleeveless top. It has a beach vibe. The pale pink collar and grey shoulder print continue to her backside. Plus a small fold in the fabric at the small of her back. Very detailed! She doesn't have any yellow (other than her hair), yet the azure skirt and dark pink tennis shoes round out her colors.

Bag 3 parts: Smaller bag has new color of 1/2 circle tile in dark pink (bright purple). Otherwise not many new items.

We continue building frame and the interior. Benches are built, then installed (love that). As you can see we have one colored cushion for each main friend -- just like the Friendship House. The rest of the kitchen and the driver's seat and gearshift. The front engine with grille gets built separate and then installed. Fun! Not sure what the sticker means, except the set number -- the "EB" must be the designer's initials.

Windscreen, windows, cab top get added on at this point. Apparently there is an animal above the cab. I thought this was a hamster from box art; yet this presentation with cheese seems more like a mouse. No whiskers though. Hmmm ...

Front of the cab gets stickers showing Heartlake Tours; so that must be another venture they have going on now. We get a decent amount of spare parts too.
Even at this stage in the build, this bus is hefty. I went to pick it up for photography ... and I was surprised. Considering this is only 3 of 6 bags of parts -- it's gonna be a beast!

Bag 4 parts: Not really new, yet smaller baggie has dark pink 1/2 circle tiles.

With all bag 4 parts added to the bus, we now have a bathroom, utility panel (sticker), solid side windows, and dark pink tiled frame tops. You can see the top green gardens of the opening doors on the other side.

The double-door entry allow us to reach inside. They each have shelf type pockets on the inner side -- for tennis rackets and such. I like the use of 3 rounded 1x2 white plates, with pink 1/2 circle tile capping it off to give the door a curvy edge. It even has its own mailbox!  We've added the bright yellow slide at 2 point and topped with brick, plate and tile. It's secure.
There's a tan tiled space with the trans purple round tiled clip as a way to secure items. The back trans-clear door with stickers (photos or postcards of travels perhaps?) seems to also be storage compartment. We get 3 spares from bag 4; one extra of the 1/2 circle tile new in that shade of pink.

Bag 5 parts: Brick with plate (like we've already used in grey) appear to be new in white for 2020 (on the left). That means more vertical building.

We build roof as a separate section, adding beds and bedding for each 5 main Friends. A small garden patch, where we've planted a tree via a blue Technic pin.

Now we slide the rooftop onto the bus along the grey groove plates; it's a very snug fit -- so aligned it straight.

Once the rooftop is slid into place, we add a 4-yellow-light angle plate on the front. Here is the bus with all parts through bag 5 added -- before trans canopies and stands to slide roof out; plus we get 2 spare pieces. Oops ... The 1x1 white plate actually goes on the side by Stephanie's bed; I only realized when starting next bag/step.
This set has a lot of plates -- so be ready! The box does have 8+ as the age range.

Bag 6 parts: Pretty much same as all bags, not really new parts for 1HY 2020 Friends in this set. I think other new themes, like Trolls, account for new part quota (or limit) overall at TLG.

Now that all parts from bag 6 have been added -- we have a groovy, colorful Friendship Bus! I love the upper loud speaker megaphone construction, using the grey bucket piece. I'm still getting used to the tree being so high; tunnels are gonna be a problem en-route.
The pink heart hub caps are just perfect and they move due to being connected with Technic pins. This bus is big and heavy -- you need to pick it up with two hands!

The bus is ready to roll and we have a few spare parts. The leg stands for the rooftop to slide out are obvious from this side. They stay horizontal by the bottom leg connecting to that lone purple stud near the purple arch piece; which then holds the other leg. You just have to mind it while moving the bus around.

On the front we've added a number 12 sticker. Ideally the entire graphic should be flush -- yet I applied the sticker so good to the one half of that 2x4 yellow tile, that I didn't have the guts to pull it off. I was so proud it was square on!

We've added a ladder behind the slide for access to the roof. Now you can see the rooftop slid out with support legs extended.

View inside with the rooftop slid as far as possible.  The rooftop section slides smoothly and fairly easy -- while still remaining secure.  You can slide, then extend support legs -- or deploy the legs, then slide.  I am impressed at how rugged it is for play.  Having said that, still I wouldn't drive it off a cliff or couch ...

Open double-doors with rooftop slid over. This is how we get our removable table and benches out, thanks to the tan jumper tiles.

With the table and benches taken out to the other side, we can use the rooftop as a canopy. Yet, we also have an umbrella -- just in case.  It could be used on the rooftop, since it's no doubt sunny there.

Bus number 12 -- Heartlake City Tours -- I Love HLC -- can all be broadcast using the microphone at the driver's seat. Probably "12" for the year 2012 -- the first year of Friends.

Here is your view if you get behind this bus on the highway. The winch doesn't reel out, so whatever you tug will be close.  The ladder with faux green wooden steps is interesting.  The BFF poster has icons from the 5 main Friends. It also appears to be covering an orange-yellow color; perhaps it was an old school bus ...

Stephanie is relaxing in the pool after that Tennis match.  The slide out pool is beautiful!  It's very secure, yet slides out easily.

Mia checks on the rooftop garden.  The tree is lovely in person; It was odd to me in set images.  Even so, I'd probably go with a more carrot garden that apple tree.  It can swivel, yet not collapse -- due to the cross axle.

Olivia is checking the star charts on her laptop.  The roof canopy covers raise and lower easily for access.  I like that they have beds, instead of just mats on the floor as other sets.  A builder could easily remove those and put mini seats in rows to make this even more like a Tour Bus.

Close-up of sticker sheet: As I mentioned, the BFF sticker looks like poster over the old bus color. The blueprint sticker seems to have a sticky note that says David. All the bedding match the 5 Friends colors and personalities.  My fave is #7 :-)

All the equipment is now stowed away in the two compartments. The one with trans door and stickers looks like it could be a rinse-off shower room.  I love the dark tan cheese used for steps!

Friendship Bus is ready to roll -- hopefully to pick-up Andrea and Emma! Olivia is driving while Mia and Stephanie relax in the Kitchenette Lounge area.

One more look at this new extreme mobile Friends hangout set!

Summary: When I first read the set name before seeing images -- I thought this would be a renovated old school bus. Thinking of how the Friendship House was a renovated fire station. Only a few clues to its former life are here.

The largest set in this first 2020 wave, it is recommended for builders age 8 and up. Even though I used up time taking pictures of parts and build aspects along the way, this isn't a set you'd want to start if you only have an hour or so. There are lots of plates of many sizes, and a few aspects I had to re-visit. Perhaps you can spot some in my photographs.

Although it is quite sturdy once built, I still used both hands to move it around. Even though it's heavy, it rolls on its wheels just fine. These are the wider tires. The little heart hubcaps still make me smile -- even though they rotate on their, making a photoshoot trickier -- they are just the type of details we'd expect for Friends. I hope I've covered most details here. There are still loads of play options to explore. Plus it would be fun to get all 5 Friends together.

For AFOLs this would be a fun addition to a city layout. Bus tours are so common around the world. For its target audience, this is a serious addition to HLC.

For me the tree is just too tall. I'd rather have a fuller garden patch. The trans-blue top canopies are executed well in the build, yet I would probably have a more flat top that hinges on one side for access. The umbrella is redundant, since we have the extending rooftop to serve as a canopy.  Being able to easily remove the benches and table is awesome!

As a large vehicle in the Friends theme, it's bigger than Mia's Camper Van and Pop Star Tour Bus -- it's loaded! So many functional aspects packed into every square brick of this bus make it a worthy challenge.   It's also an adventure in building techniques! 
Update: TLG designers apparently created some re-builds using the parts:

Lots of fun possibilities with 778 parts!

Disclaimer: This set was provided by 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.


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