January 20, 2017

Review: 41307 Olivia's Creative Lab

Zobo is back – and now he has a family! Let's meet them as we check out this fabulous updated version of Olivia's lab.

This set was provided by the AFOL Relations & Programs team (AR&P) 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.

Up-front warning: I may be biased in this review... Olivia is totally my favorite Friends character! Her love of science, building, and technology, and even her brown wavy hair, are all things I relate to. As we all waited for the January 2017 Friends sets, this one had me the most excited. Why? Five years ago, my first foray into the Friends line was "Olivia's Invention Workshop" (3933), which could be described as an earlier incarnation of this set - and it got me hooked. So, naturally I was curious to see how The LEGO Company would re-imagine my fav character and her metal sidekick in a new workspace. Well, I wasn't disappointed! I'll take you through everything I found...

My copy of this set was kindly provided by the LEGO Company and came from Denmark. This European box printing differs slightly from the North American, but the artwork is the same. Selling for around $10 USD and containing 91 pieces, the packaging is of expected size. 

The cover shot shows everything well except for a few additional tools and the baby bottle element. Motion lines in the picture indicate that Olivia is controlling Zobito. The lower left corner illustrates Zobo waving at us, while the lower right shows Olivia with her remote control. We are told there that she loves ...remote controls? Haha! With that big antenna, it almost looks like a retro cellphone to me, but ok. The back of the box does a great job of showing the elements that were missing from the front plus some play ideas. It also suggests additional small sets featuring the other Friends characters.

Note: Background artwork on the box front places our model in what looks like a ground-level setting. We see flowers, gravel and sunlight beyond some large double doors - implying that we may be in a large shed or outbuilding next to a garden. This differs from the recent official video setting which places Olivia's lab in a finished basement (see below). Personally, I'd prefer working in the lovely sun-lit spot. But I do also love the idea of constructing a lower level for my copy of "Olivia's House" (3315), just to accommodate this set! 

Inside, I found a sticker sheet, four un-numbered bags of parts, and a folded instruction book. Thanks to LEGO Customer Service, you can actually download this booklet right now as a .pdf file and follow along as I build. Just type in the set number "41307" at this URL: [www.lego.com/en-us/service/buildinginstructions] Flipping through the pages, beyond the set's instructions, you'll also find advertising for other sets, some nicely illustrated mini-activity pages, and a standard-issue inventory showing all the parts used for this set.

The instructions suggest we organize our parts upon opening. Here's a breakdown of what was in each of the smaller bags plus notes on what appears to be new for 2017.

Starting the build, the first things to assemble are: the Olivia minidoll with her remote control, and a pink heart charm.

This version of Olivia, minus the sunglasses – er, I mean, protective eyewear (she is in a lab, after all), was seen previously in the 2016 LEGO Juniors set "Mia's Vet Clinic" (10728). Note her white undershirt here, because a version of Olivia without that has appeared in at least three other sets (318430102, and 3315). Also note the heart on her shirt - it's Olivia's identifying symbol. She wears a lavender skirt and pretty pink shoes. Honestly, I think her delicate footwear is an odd choice for this setting, but... I am no fashion expert!

Her remote control is actually an old-timey black walkie-talkie element, made hi-tech by a dark azure tile and sticker. This new design really makes her old one look clunky! Graphics show a pad of directional controls, a small display screen, and two buttons or lights. On the screen is an atomic symbol like the one we've seen on her shirt in "Olivia's Exploration Car" (41116). The symbol is also on her whiteboard, pictured later. Fun fact: three electrons circling a nucleus like this would indicate a lithium atom!

The heart charm is a simple pair of dark pink coupler plates (so called because they were originally used to join LEGO train cars). This is a new color for this element and a welcome addition. An illustration in the back of the booklet implies that we're to trade our charm with a friend (Aww..!) and maybe collect all five. They are found in other small sets, in different colors. They do make lovely tokens on a bracelet or necklace - and they're something I've seen for sale at AFOL conventions for many years. This made me wonder actually: Who was the first person to popularize this style of LEGO heart? I asked my friends on Facebook and got many answers. But the best one, in my opinion, came from a Master Builder friend who commented (unofficially) that the first person to do that was probably a machine operator in the LEGO factory when the part was first made (around 50 years ago!). I bet he's right.

Next up: the mysterious package... One detail I was super excited to see up close was this tile representing a labeled package. Would I actually be able to read Olivia's address? Could I finally include her in our list of Holiday card recipients? Taking a close look... 

It's actually a tan 2x2 inverted tile with five colors printed. Sadly the registration on mine appears to be off (see postage stamp). But otherwise, it's certainly nifty! Its mark indicates that it traveled through the post office on January 1, 2017 (How appropriate!), and indeed, there is a [semi]legible address. Does that say "Liv King"? "4732 Hidia Ave, Heartlake City"? ...Arrrghhhh! Your guess is as good as mine. Only the designers at LEGO know for sure what it's meant to say or why. I looked up "4732" but it's not a set number or an interesting part ID. The return address is also cryptic. "Ana Shea? 1906 Purdy Rd, Heartlake City"? Gah! Somewhere, there is probably a LEGO employee laughing at me right now, as I try to guess. Oh well. Perhaps the winner of that super-amazing Friends contest will inquire while they're over there in Billund, then pass the info along to us. ;) 

One thing I do notice is that this house number doesn't match Olivia's as we saw it in "Olivia's House" (3315). There, it was clearly #30. So... I wonder: Is her lab not at her house, as I'd assumed? Or, maybe the package was shipped to someone else...? Adding to the mystery, this wonderful new element also appears in the 2017 "Heartlake Gift Delivery" (41310). There, a same-sized parcel with same label contains a sparkly crystal heart gift. So, the dual-use explains some ambiguity. The less specific a part is, the more ways it can be used in sets and MOCs. (Which is probably why the original mail tile showed simply three lines and a square!) Anyway, inside the little parcel are what looks like a pair of binoculars. Or, is that a tiny jetpack? Whatever the case, assume these are important supplies for something Olivia is working on.

Next up, we build her workbench. It has a tool rack and a drawer with more tools inside. There are nine fabulous tool items in total - in dark azure, a new color for these parts. (Her previous set was from a dark purple tool wheel.) Olivia appears to have left a work-in-progress atop a mat. Something white and blocky... Hmmm. She also left on her bench a dear snapshot (stickered 2x2 tile) that looks suspiciously like it came from the fancy printer in "Emma's Photo Studio" (41305). In the shot we see Olivia, smiling for the camera and making bunny ears over her oblivious robot's head. Mounted behind her workspace is a whiteboard or display showing building plans. Ah ha! There's that white block again, right in the center. She's building... a robot! Oooo – will Zobito be getting a little brother or sister soon? Looking at the plan, we can now guess what the package delivery is for.

Putting that aside, we move on to building what looks like three colorful beds, subtly reminding me of "Heartlake Puppy Daycare" (41124). But this is, in fact, a charging station for Olivia's family of three pet robots. Each one's place includes a colorful light, which I assume would serve as an indicator of either "charging in progress" or "charge complete." A shiny display screen looks to provide any manner of additional diagnostic data. It's a stickered element with gridwork lines that also resemble a solar panel, so this could be useful in later builds. ...And, oddly enough, there's a baby bottle here!

Time to build the robots! Zobo is back, very similar to his form in last year's "Exploration Car" (41116). He holds a wrench, ready to assist Olivia, or even do some building of his own. His partner, Zuzu, has a lovely printed 3x3 radar dish for a "skirt" and trans-pink accents. She holds a mug. Hey, wasn't that Zobo's job in 41116? I guess he's tired of holding Olivia's beverages! Zobito is very cute and uses a black roller skate element for his wheels. Here, I show them imagining how they looked in the official LEGO Friends video, "Finding the Pets, part 3." So fancy! ...Gosh, now I feel inspired to model these three, life size, with working lights, etc. But that's a thought for another day.

Thus far, Zobo has appeared in three sets. I thought it might be interesting to see them compared, so I built them together. He's very Wall-E-like, isn't he? That first version always makes me think of the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit (8547), probably because of the colors used. I'm glad to know that Olivia keeps revising her work and making improvements. That's the process of a fearless inventor! What features might Zobo gain next, I wonder... 

The final step of the instructions is to plug the robots into their charging stations. I hadn't realized how this worked, so I'll show you a view from behind. For the larger two, what is usually their third wheel gets extended out like a plug, and passes straight through the Technic half-peg. Neat! And Zobito gets a bottle of ...electrons? motor oil? I'm not sure. Haha. I had wondered why he didn't have a trans-blue round plate on his chest. But apparently that's left open to facilitate feeding/charging with his bottle. Which... (is it just me?) looks a little creepy!

Overall, I think this is a very cute set with plenty of play value. The brightly colored parts are especially welcome. And the theme here makes me think fondly of the many young ladies I see participating in FIRST LEGO League these days. I'm a bit curious as to why the official name is "Creative Lab" as opposed to "Robot Lab" or "Maker Lab." I'm guessing the marketing experts favored a more artsy name. But the idea of a creative lab does make me think of Adam Savage (of Myth Busters fame) and all the amazingly cool things he and his teams build. [He has a great workspace, by the way.]  Oooo! How cool would it have been to see a tiny 3D printer and laser cutter in this Olivia set? Or, even a blowtorch and some duct tape! 

Now, what else might Olivia build in this Creative Lab? I bet we could disassemble her three robots to design our own bigger one.... Hmmm..

Finally, I cannot resist comparing this set to the one of five years ago. Note: There actually have been three Olivia laboratory sets, because a small one was available via a magazine in the UK. This newest set has more pieces, more robots, and more tools - all good. Olivia upgraded her remote control. Her blackboard is gone, in favor of a more modern white one which I'm guessing doubles as a computer display. But, this time around, there's no chemistry set, math equations, microscope or vice (that vice being one of my favorite details back then!). They've been replaced by a family of [essentially] dolls. In general, I feel like the LEGO Company may have intended to not only modernize, but also "girl up" the set in this iteration. Olivia got a makeover that did away with her green and orange clothes in favor of pink and purple. She traded her cargo pants and flip-flops for a mini-skirt and ballet slippers when, really, I would have loved to see it go the other way. How about grease-stained jeans with sneakers or work-boots? Maybe a lab coat (!), or at least her green science/atom shirt again (from 41116). But I'm a minority, I'm sure. And LEGO is not marketing this set to grownup nerds like myself. (For us, they released the Research Institute (21110)!) No worries. I can always build my own sort of Olivia (which I've done). And that's the fun thing about LEGO – You can always change it up. 💕

p.s. Robots can be a lot more than just pets. Check it out! (Some of these were designed by people I worked with at LEGO, long ago.)

Note: All exclusive parts mentioned in the colours noted were applicable at the time this review was posted. Parts may be available in other colours and sets after the post of this review. Brickset and BrickLink were use to verify this information.


Rebecca said...

Way to go Suzanne! Great review!

Unknown said...

Nicely done!

Xyra Silverleaf said...

I am loving your reviews of the new sets and revising my wishlist accordingly! :-D

My collection includes the 2016 exploration car and Zobo has been included in a couple of my calendar rebuilds.

Anonymous said...

Great review! Can't believe how good it is. Very funny the Creator-guest appearence

The set is lovely too, a sure buy

SuzEaton said...

Glad you liked my review! Thanks for your feedback. I hope you get the set and enjoy it. :-) I'm currently having fun building alternate models. New robots and lab equipment... There's lots of potential with those little pieces!

Blondwave said...

So adorable description!!! There's everything what would future owners of this set know!!! Great job!!! Can I ask you how old are you, Suzanne Eaton (I'm 13 and I love descriptions, lol)? Because it's totally incredible!!!

SuzEaton said...

Hey there, Blondwave! Thanks for the praise. I'm glad you liked the review and are "detail oriented", like me. :-) As for your question: I am living proof that you're never too old for LEGO. Lol. I am soon-to-be 47! (And I have many LEGO-fan friends who are far older, so I'm sure there's no limit.) Nowadays, I may need eyeglasses to read instructions clearly, but I otherwise feel the same thrill from building as my 8-year-old self. :-D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review! I'd also have liked to see more science tools, microscope etc. and would have styled Olivia with a lab coat! I hope Lego bring out version of the workshop with the best features of this and the old one, and maybe bring in some more scientist Friends characters!

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