LEGO is persisting with its efforts to appeal to Football (soccer) fans and to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, has designed 40634 LEGO Icons of Play which features minifgures of Megan Rapinoe, Yūki Nagasato, Sam Kerr and Asisat Oshoala playing the beautiful game on half a LEGO Football pitch.
It’s no secret that LEGO has firmly kept its eye on the football world in its hopes to appeal to non-LEGO fans, offering massive LEGO Football Stadiums, and last year’s poorly-received Foosball Table set. Now, in hopes of inspiring builders and footballers of tomorrow, LEGO are attempting a new approach – hoping to appeal to fans of women’s football and also LEGO fans who yearn for a return of the LEGO Football sets of the late 90s.
Like most niche offerings, LEGO probably isn’t expecting to appeal to mainstream LEGO fans with 40634 LEGO Icons of Play, which releases on 6 June 2023, but it will likely find a home amongst women’s football fans, especially supporters of Megan Rapinoe, Yūki Nagasato, Sam Kerr and Asisat Oshoala.
If you don’t watch football, much less women’s football, and have no affinity for the LEGO Football sets of the late 90s, this set really isn’t made with you in mind, but if you happen to fall into LEGO’s target audience set, this set has it moments albeit in a slightly incomplete and pricey package, with some fun flourishes thrown in.
It’s almost time for kickoff, so let’s dive into this review of 40634 LEGO Icons of Play!
Who is this set for? Fans of women’s football, LEGO fans who want plenty of diverse minifigure parts, and those wanting a modern take on the late 90s LEGO Football sets
Special thanks to LEGO Australia for sending this set over for this review.
40634 Icons of Play Set Details
Set number: 40634
Set name: Icons of Play –
Retail Price: US$99.99 / AU$169.99 / £89.99 / €99.99 / CAD$129.99
Theme: Seasonal / LEGO Store Exclusive
Release Date: 6 June 2023
Why does this set exist?
40634 LEGO Icons of Play is a brand play by LEGO, and they really couldn’t have timed this any better.
LEGO’s mission is to “Inspire and Develop the Builders of Tomorrow”, but for much of its history, it was mostly perceived as a “boy’s toy” with a very limited selection of sets catered towards girls. It wasn’t until the success of LEGO Friends that LEGO firmly won over young girls (and their parents!), helping the brand to further embed itself in the mainstream toy industry.
In the background, women’s football has been going through a tremendous period of growth, following increased investment by top tier leagues and clubs, and attendance records keep getting smashed by clubs, and national teams.
While the professional side of the sport continues to soar, it also coincides with the grassroots growth of the game, especially among girls in the United States, LEGO’s biggest and most important market. National pride and improved investment in the youth system feed off each other, and with the US Women’s National Team being one of the best in the world, it has also helped soccer being played almost equally amongst school-aged kids in the US.
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicking off in Australia and New Zealand on the 20th of July this year, LEGO have obviously seen this confluence of factors align with their focus on Welcoming Adults, developing more young female builders and foray into the Sports passion-points culminate in the Play Unstoppable campaign, which sees four Icons of Women’s Football start in the campaign, and get immortalised as LEGO minifigures in the 40634 LEGO Icons of Play set.
It’s a pretty clever campaign, and timed really well to also target kids who grew up with the LEGO Football sets from the late 90s, who might now be parents of young girls who play football, or have a keen interest in following the inspirational stars of women’s football.
Here’s a look at the instructions for 40634 Icons of Play, which contain profiles of the players featured in the set.
There’s also a really large sticker sheet, featuring some really lovely illustrations emphasizing the diversity and global nature of the beautiful game. I really like the styles of the graphics, and just how colourful they all look.
40634 Icons of Play Minifigures
One of the best parts of 40634 Icons of Play is the fantastic minifigure selection, with 15 unique minifigures that feature an incredibly diverse cast of roles and characters.
It’s of note that there are no yellow-skinned minifigures here, but instead you get a massive variety of wigs, skin-tones and outfit selections that almost rivals 21337 Table Football. In fact, you’ll notice many similarities from the red and blue jersey designs, to the faces and wigs.
The stars of the set are Asisat Oshoala, Yuki Nagasato, Megan Rapinoe, and Australian forward Sam Kerr, who are represented as minifigures in the set. Each player has a unique and exclusive face print, and feature red jerseys with their names and numbers printed on them.
The minifigure designs rely heavily on wigs to ensure that fans can identify each star.
Here’s a look at their back prints, featuring their names and squad numbers as well as dual-sided head prints.
As an added bonus, LEGO have also included alternate wigs for Sam Kerr, so you can switch up her hairstyle.
Asisat Oshoala has multiple hairstyles, with a blonde wig, as well as an awesome new dreadlock-style wig, which looks fantastic. Asisat recently won the La Liga F title, as well as the UEFA Women’s Champions League just two days ago, but unfortunately missed the final through injury.
Overall, the inclusion of these female football icons are great, and should be a great draw for fans looking to own little minifigure versions of their favourite players. I do wish that we got more than 4, I think an additional player would’ve gone a long way in justifying the price of the set, and Canadians are probably gutted that Christine Sinclair wasn’t included as she currently holds the title of most goals scored in international football.
Also included are some supporters of the red team in the stands, 2 goalkeepers, a manager/coach and a referee in a lime green top.
Here’s their back prints and dual-sided heads.
And here are more casually-dressed supporters, as well as 2 supporters of the non-existent blue team. If you want minifigures from the blue team, you’ll have to harvest them from 21337 Table Football.
And these are their back prints and alternate faces.
With 15 minifigures, the lineup is a big draw for the rest, especially for LEGO fans who quickly want to beef up their collection of non-licensed, regular minifigure heads and torsos. At US$99.99, it’s much more affordable than the Table Football set, plus you get more “stuff” as well.
Price-wise, 15 minifigures isn’t that bad of a deal, especially when you compare it with the LEGO German Football Team minifigures from 2016. At current Collectible Minifigure prices, even if you apply a slight discount because only 4 characters are named, the cost adds up pretty quickly.
An interesting new recolour are these new yellow footballs that are included in the set! GBC fans will be delighted to have more brightly-coloured balls for their displays.
Here’s how the new yellow ball stacks up against the other LEGO balls!
The Completed Model
Here’s the completed model which includes half a football pitch, supporter stands, a coach’s technical area, and ceremonial stage.
When building it, I was surprised at the size of the football pitch, as the official photos made it looks quite small. It is only half a football pitch, so you’ll really need to build out and expand it further to make it look complete.
The smaller builds kinda help fill the set out further, as they’re all things you’d expect to see at a football game/stadium. Here’s a look at the Technical Area, which features a shaded bench, with seats for the substitute players.
The coach also has an umbrella attached to the covered area. Perhaps a nod to Steve McLaren aka the Wally with the Brolly?
For training sessions, there’s some cones, a barrel with ice/water, and a crate full of water bottles.
There’s a ceremonial stand for the trophy presentation, which is constructed quite attractively. It even has a section in the back for other players to stand on while the captain hoists the trophy.
I also like the Octan Energy sticker, mimicking how pervasive corporate advertising is in football.
One of the more interesting builds is the Supporter Stands, which feature a two-tier standing design for fans to spectate and cheer their favourite teams on.
Shoutout to the lady waving the Football flag! The extra minifigures work great here, and give the set a festive and energetic atmosphere.
Here’s a better look at the artwork that adorns the stands. The artstyle is great, and while it was a little challenging aligning the stickers, I really enjoy just how vibrant and distinctive these designs are.
A neat little play feature is this adjustable scoreboard, which you can swivel to change the scoreline.
One of the key features of the set is that the crowd stands function as a LEGO automata, and by turning a crank on the side, you can make the crowd bob up and down.
This is achieved by these slices, which slot into the stands that you can attach minifigures onto.
Here’s a video of it in action! The mechanism works smoothly, and it’s great to see LEGO incorporate more movement-based play features into sets.
Here’s a look at the mechanism that powers it which is quite simple.
And here’s the football pitch, or at least half of it. This is one of the main points of contention of the set, that it feels incomplete as you’re only getting half a pitch, which I do agree with, somewhat.
The half of the pitch is actually quite large, much larger than the official photos and box makes it look, so I was pleasantly surprised by the overall footprint, which is the size of a standard 32×32 baseplate, so it’s not small at all.
Apart from the white barriers to keep the ball in play, there are a few minor builds, such as this TV camera and crate to store the balls.
And controversially, a LEGO VAR (video assistant referee) station!
One of the most clear signs that Icons of Play pays homage to the LEGO Football sets of old is the goalkeeper, which is attached to a Technic arm that can be swivelled from side to side to defend the goalmouth.
So… how does the set play? Not well unfortunately.
The players have small plates attached to their feed, which you use to knock the ball about the pitch. The jumper plates have blue and red variants, but because the players all have the same jersey, it’s a little confusing that it can be played with another person.
You pinch the minifigures and move them around the pitch, trying to smack the ball into the goal, with another person defending with the goalie.
Another issue with this chaotic play system is that the pitch is partially open, so the ball tends to escape the pitch. This isn’t an issue if you get 2 sets, or seal it off, but it can be annoying especially when younger kids play with the ball and play gets frantic.
At its core, the set is an homage to the LEGO Football theme of the late 90s, which some of you might fondly remember. Here’s a comparison of Icons of Play alongside 3409 Championship Challenge, which I had fun revisiting as part of this review.
Back in the late 90s, to coincide with the 1998 World Cup in France, LEGO devoted an entire theme, complete with expansion packs, team minifigure packs, accessories and more, along with a custom spring-based ball kicking system.
Icons of Play does try to allude to the aesthetics and influences of the 90s Football sets, but ultimately, the core football play feature isn’t as fun and as dynamic.
Of course, for fun, I took the players from Icons of Play, popped them into the older 90s Football set to merge both of them.
By revisiting this set, I got a chance to remember just how fun these sets were, and the stark difference between Icons of Play, which is more static and leans towards being a display piece, than an actual interactive playset.
What I liked:
- Great to see women’s football legends get immortalised as minifigures
- Huge and diverse selection of minifigures
- Plenty of references to older Football sets
- Automation function for the stands work well
What I didn’t like:
- A little on the pricey side
- You only get half a pitch
- Football play feature offers little to no replayability
If you’re into women’s football, or want a modern take on LEGO Football, 40634 LEGO Icons of Play will somewhat scratch your itch, but it still feels like it could’ve been so much more,
First the good parts. Looking at the age range intended for the set, it’s clear that LEGO is really aiming this at fans of women’s football, and in that regard, the set will do quite well.
In trying to be both a hybrid display and play model, it unfortunately also compromises on complete-ness with the half-pitch, and play features with the knock about system leave much to be desired.
Thankfully, the aesthetics of the set remain its strongest selling-point. If you change your perspective of this needing to be a full-pitch, it can actually work as a set that revolves around a half-pitch practice game, with the coach directing play and formations to work on different attacks on the goal.
This is partly what I think is the design intention, as there’s training paraphernalia such as cones, but the end consumer will likely fixate on the fact that it’s half a pitch. Which isn’t bad per se, especially if you have the budget to buy another and join the stands and pitch up for a full-sized experience.
The minifigure selection is outstanding, and fans of Megan, Asisat, Sam, and Yuki will no doubt be excited to get their hands on their football heroes as LEGO minifigures, and for the most part, the set does a really good job of promoting female empowerment, and diversity without being too overt about it.
The price is a little on the high side, but I don’t think its ludicrous, especially as you’re getting 15 minifigures with a large variety of non-standard faces, in a wide mix of skin-tones, expressions and genders.
At its core, Icons of Play feels like a LEGO City set, and is a fun little minifigure-scale Sports-themed addition, which is quite a rarity these days. While being a very niche set because of the focus on women’s football, it shouldn’t dissuade you as it’s not spectacularly overpriced, has plenty of usability.
Even using the flawed price per piece ratio, it comes down to about $0.11 a piece, which isn’t too shabby, and for most people, the 15 diverse minifigures alone would be worth the price of admission.
If you’re excited for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and have young football-loving fans at home, this would be an enjoyable set, but if you’re content with watching on the sidelines, I also think it’s worth waiting for a discount, especially after the Women’s World Cup has concluded.
That said, with the LEGO world dominated by pop culture licensed sets, endless Star Wars sets, and hugely expensive sets, I’m more than glad that a set like this exists to help inspire and develop the future builders and footballers of the world.
Build  – Very simple build that’s approachable for younger and/or inexperienced builder
Real Value  – A little pricey but with 15 minifigures and a large structure, it doesn’t feel too overpriced.
Innovation  – It’s great to see more crank-based automation mechanisms in sets, and how the designers adapted older LEGO Football influences into a modern set
Coolness  – A really unique and cool product, featuring real-life athletes, underpinned by a strong message of inspiring young kids to play and be active
Keepability  – Will be a nice set to display if you’re a football fanatic, or during the World Cup, but it does take up a bit of space, and will likely get superseded by more design-oriented sets or harvested for parts when the novelty wears off. Minifigures can at least be kept on display on the ceremonial stand
Rating and score: 3/5 ★★★✰✰
What do you think of Icons of Play? Will you be picking it up, and would you like LEGO to produce more minifigure-scale sports sets like this?
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