March 16, 2021

Review: 41443 Olivia's Electric Car

"Road trip!" Olivia and Mia, with their puppy pal, are out adventuring. They pause in their travels to power up with a snack, a stretch, and a car battery recharge.

Here’s a cute set that I expect will be especially popular with families who have (or wish they had) an electric vehicle at home. "Goodbye, Octan!" At first I thought the idea of such a car-charging station was a bit fanciful, but a little research revealed that, indeed, these hybrid solar/wind facilities have been built for years. You can even order a kit to set up your own off-grid power point. So cool! And it feels appropriate that STEM-loving Olivia would make use of this technology for her Earth-friendly EV.

My N. American box was dense and smallish—a perfect size for a Spring holiday gift. It sports the standard Friends branding (no sub-theme). Looking at the pictures, I see we will have: a rolling car, spinning windmill, park setting, an animal figure, and TWO (yay!) minidolls. This set seems a great deal for the suggested price of $15 USD. I wonder if minidolls are getting less expensive to manufacture. There seem to be quite a few dual-figured sets lately in the $10 – $20 range.

Looking at the car, I’m a little surprised to see medium azure with the dark pink and white. Since Olivia got her distinct color palette a few years ago, her vehicles have been using dark azure. Maybe my eyes are just trained to expect it, but I think I prefer the darker color. We’ll have to watch the release of other new sets and see if this trend continues. 

Her paler yellow (think 41366 Cupcake CafĂ© and 41425 Flower Garden) is also replaced with the more common bright yellow. I noticed this change in the 41430 Summer Fun Water Park, where marketing photos of the ice cream truck were surprisingly divided between light and bright yellow roofs! It can’t be easy for LEGO to keep all these color options in production and available.

Opening the box, I can see that the set contents divide beautifully in half—perfect for splitting the fun between two building sessions or sharing with a real-life friend or relative. Builder number one can get to work on Olivia and her car, using the bag of parts and instruction booklet labeled “1”, while a second builder can tackle Mia and the charging station, with parts and booklet “2”. A small sticker sheet is shared.

Booklet 1 provides us with a scan code for accessing digital instructions, in case we’d rather use those. I gave it a try and it opened a LEGO Instructions app on my phone. While I prefer the build experience of paper booklets, I did appreciate that the application tracks which sets I own into a personalized database.

Stickers for this set feature green energy logos that make me think of electrified plants.

Flipping through the two instruction booklets, they each show off distinct selections of set advertising. I see Friends, City, and DOTS lines presented. 

In the interest of time, I’m skipping my usual knolled-out parts shots. You can find this set’s complete inventory at the end of LEGO’s second booklet .pdf, but here’s a look at some notable highlights.

Building starts with the assembly of Olivia. This version of her boasts a brand new torso print! It’s wonderfully double-sided and depicts some simplified silvery constellations on a dark blue sleeveless top, with a satiny pink ribbon sash at the waist. I’m not sure if it’s intended to have a “home-made” look, or if my print is less than perfect, but there seems to be some mis-alignment of inks. The heart-shaped constellation was on her starchart at her observatory in 2016's 41116 Olivia's Exploration Car. This face, hair and legs have all been seen before.

Construction is straightforward and simple. A sturdy chassis holds Olivia’s car together.

Applying stickers can be a delicate procedure! These days, I align mine with aid of an X-Acto blade before pressing them down. Tweezers are another good option if you don’t have tiny or steady fingers.

The steering wheel has an interesting way of locking in that allows for realistic angular adjustment. It sets a pneumatic T into clips.

The cockpit can hold two minidoll passengers and could easily be flopped if you wanted your driver on the right. There’s a large Tesla-style screen display showing what appears to be a music player and GPS navigation.

Olivia’s car literally has a green engine. Haha. Nice touch.

I wasn’t familiar with these particular wheel hubs, but apparently they’re also in Speed Champions sets. Looking closely at the pattern on them, it’s a sort of swirling spray of dots. They get a pink heart on each, which could be seen as cute or as over-the-top sweet. If they’re not your thing, it’s easy enough to leave them off or swap them with another choice (Look to your collection of DOTS.), then keep the hearts as Valentines or pink cookies that Olivia might be delivering. I did notice that when play-driving and stopping the vehicle, the hearts rarely were aligned correctly to be upright and in sync with each other.

If Olivia wants to have a look at her car’s battery, she can “pop the hood” (or, “raise the bonnet”) of her vehicle by removing the front slope and setting it on its back. 

There’s a nice cargo area in back, perfect for their four-pawed passenger.

Looking at the rear of the vehicle, Olivia has what seems like a bumper sticker in place as a license plate, declaring her love of renewable energy. Looking through the tinted window, we can see what a tight fit there is in the front seat. Two figures do fit up there though, so long as their arms are strategically positioned.

Olivia’s car easily transforms to a sporty convertible, and this option is depicted on the back of the box. I actually prefer to omit the pink roof, both aesthetically and for playability (and getting it back on top can be a bit fiddly), but I’m glad it’s included.

On to bag number two! I love Mia’s outfit. It feels sort of... military-fresh. Her leather belt with high-waisted cargo shorts seem both practical and stylish. Lightning bolts are a powerful statement. I remember seeing this ensemble in the 41395 Friendship Bus. The olive/orange color combo is a frequent go-to for me in real life. It compliments Mia's hair and skin-tone nicely. Quality-wise, the color matching between the torso and shorts here could use improvement and the neckline looks a bit rough.

Her canine sidekick is a black-spotted white puppy, in a mold that’s new for this year. The name of this dog, according to LEGO’s marketing materials, is Elliot. However, a nougat and brown version of this pup is also seen in the 41446 Heartlake City Vet Clinic and at the 41691 Doggy Day Care where there’s no question that that pup’s name is Elliot, as it’s printed on a sticker, labeling him. So, is this the same pup, only washed up? Or, is Elliot a really popular pet name this year? Probably LEGO just didn’t track their story closely, but you can decide the pup’s identity for yourself! The B&W version also appears in 41442 Vet Clinic Rescue Buggy where the marketing text refers to it as Stephanie’s dog. Also, if you like this element, a colorful (random-of-four) version of the pup can also be found in 41663 Emma’s Dalmatian Cube.

Dumping out our remaining elements, Mia looks ready to take on a building project! That big propellor, by the way, is newly available in white through this set only.

After assembling a lovely patch of greenery, Mia snaps the bench together. Meanwhile, the pup builds a playlist for the next leg of their journey. I wonder what songs he’ll choose...

Building up the windmill, its core strength comes via a Technic axle and a rod running through the bricks. We certainly don’t want this thing snapping in half during a wind-storm!

Done! Time for a snack. Mia has a delicious croissant to enjoy, while her friend munches on a bone that’s equally supersized. Mia’s ponytail conveniently grips the bench’s back support, holding her steady.

Joining up the characters and their builds, we now can try out the charging station. The black cable easily connects to Olivia’s car and a readout indicates charge level. If this is a remote station, it might be showing us power available from the location’s battery. The solar panel is quite small, and I’m inclined to think it wouldn’t power much more than the display.

Charging done, it’s time to head out. In front of the bench, that brown 1x1 plate with top clip is never clearly explained, but I imagine it’s meant to be a pile of dirt to hold Elliot’s bone. Still, seeing it there underfoot, I’m tempted to have Mia scoop it up with a spare green bit and take it away for proper disposal.  ;)  

I will admit to wishing Olivia had packed herself a wrench or other tool in her car, so that she could tinker with the charging station. It would be fun to see her modify the tower for phone charging, repair a cable, or try out the solar panel on her car’s roof. I also wonder where Zobo is. With the 41333 Mission Vehicle retired, it would have been nice to see him integrated here. 

But this is a fun set and I recommend it. With multiple characters, it has great potential for role play. The idea of such a satellite power source makes me wonder where the girls are headed. Somewhere remote? Or, maybe this is part of a broader green initiative right around Heartlake City. 

I personally might modify my set to add more solar panels, forming a little roof over a fleet of e-bikes—as I saw done at a ferry harbor in Sweden. That could make a nice addition to the city park. I hope you get a chance to check out this set for yourself! If you do, let us know how you “made it your own.”

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.

1 comment:

Joe Bowling said...

Getting 2 minidolls in a $15 set might be the best part of this one. Odd that Zobo is missing (although there are probably 15 other Zobos around our house), but more minidolls are always welcome.

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