It’s about time I did a Lego Friends review! More than a year has passed since my last one and I feel it’s a great time to revisit Heartlake City with this Summer’s (American Summer) wave of Friends sets. I picked this up a couple of weeks ago during a Target sale and managed to score this sweet set for about $50 during one of their recent sales. I’d also like to note that my wife helped me build this set after having so much fun with the other smaller sets that she’s built!
And if you’re wondering, yes, I am a pretty big fan of the Friends theme and there isn’t anything wrong with that 🙂
Name: Heartlake High
Set Number: 41005
Price: AU$69.99 (Shop@Home Link)
Exclusive to: N/A
Year of Release: 2013
I’ll be frank. I bought this set because of the new bright light yellow bricks that make their debut in this set. Friends sets have always been extremely generous with brightly coloured bricks and normally rare pieces and Heartlake High is of no exception with the bevy of bright yellow bricks as well as dark blue slope pieces.
Regarding the new bright light yellow bricks, I’ve heard crazy rumours that they were apparently born out of a manufacturing error that occurred in the moulding process of making regular yellow bricks but Lego decided to run with it and insert them into sets anyway since the colour came out so nicely. Plausible, but you need a pretty large tinfoil hat to believe that!
We get the instructions in two parts as well as the usual sticker sheet. Curse my luck as the sticker sheet was warped out of shape.
Here’s a closer look at my sticker sheet. It’s filled with bright pastel-y coloured stickers that you’d expect in a Friends set but I was pretty disappointed that it was so bent out of shape. You’d think that for a set this large, they’d have the sense to pack the instructions and stickers in together with a cardboard back.
Let’s get into the
minifigs minidolls with Stephanie, one of the main characters in Lego’s Friends theme. She’s got her trademark blonde hair which is remarkably similar in colour to her school’s walls. Her look is unique to this set, sporting a white cardigan tied in the middle with a ribbon as well as a purple skirt and pink shoes.
I’m not the biggest fan of the minidolls so I don’t feel like I have much authority talking about how she looks, all in all she looks like a regular Friends minidoll to me. Being a main character, I think I have close to 5 Stephanies by now so this iteration doesn’t excite me too much. For accessories, she has a neat light blue and a large pink handbag. She’s able to ride the bike but looks pretty clumsy doing so, as are all Friends minidolls since they don’t have as much articulation as regular minifigs.
Meet Matthew who is sort of a special person in the Friends universe as he is only 1 out of the 3 other males that reside in Heartlake City, the other two being present in last year’s Olivia’s House and this year Dolphin Cruiser. Can you even call him a minidoll? Anyway, Matthew is a tanned individual and he sports a green polo shirt and dark blue jeans. The collar printing on his torso is a little wonky but since I reckon most Friends sets are manufactured in China, I’ve kinda gotten use to the slightly shoddy paint job, He’s got jet black messy hair swept to the side and a very pleasant face on him. Is he supposed to be Stephanie’s love interest?
One thing I like about Matthew’s pants is that he has pockets moulded on his pants. Pretty generous of Lego to add this detail on. As mentioned getting a male Friends minidoll is always a great thing since they’re so rare so if you’re into collecting Heartlake City characters, the school would be a good buy to complete your collection.
Lastly, we have Ms. Stevens, the lady that teaches at Heartlake High. Ms Stevens rocks a pretty cool bob haircut. I’ve never come across this particular hairstyle and I like the look of it, so it’ll come in handy if I’m ever dressing up my regular female Lego minifigs. She’s wearing a purple top and a white skirt, which has 2 vents (I finally know what these are called after copious amounts of research online!) at the bottom which is another cool bit of moulding detail that Lego included.
From behind you can see another vent running down the middle, as well as some more neat printing detail on her shoes. The painting is a little sloppy for my standards but you’ll only notice if you stare really closely at it, so it’s not a huge deal breaker for me.
Another thing I noticed is the amazing amount of detail and diversity that the Lego Friends torsos have. I’ve never had an adult or male minidoll before so I was pretty surprised at the torso detail. I was expecting Ms. Stevens and Stephanie to share the same torso type, but I was pleasantly proven wrong. I guess they needed some way to differentiate between older and younger minidolls.
First up, we constructed the outdoor furniture – the picnic bench and basketball hoop. Nothing completely unique here, the picnic table is assembled with rudimentary parts although I like the use of the tan low arch pieces for the legs as well as the purple tiles. The basketball hoop is kinda neat since we get a net piece and an orange ball. The net is huge, you could fit a whole minidoll into it. The backboard has a sticker with what I’m assuming to be Heartlake High’s basketball team logo on it. It makes the backboard look a little less plain, so this is an example of a decent use of stickers.
Here’s a look at the school building once you’ve completed building it. I think they captured the school building look really well. The one thing I’ve really enjoyed about the Friends sets is that the structures are always well-made. They look and feel like Lego buildings of old and not the skeletal frames of buildings that we seem to get these days with City sets.
From the swinging door entrances to the old school white windows complete with flowers on the window sill, Heartlake High makes me feel nostalgic, reminding me of building old City and Town sets.
The only thing that I found kind of odd is that there’s a restroom right next to the main entrance. It makes more sense if it was fitted down the right hand but I understand why it’s in the position it currently is in – to balance out the structure and prevent it from being too lopsided.
Another great thing about Heartlake High is that it is designed in a modular fashion, meaning that each “room” is a self contained unit that you can shift around, changing the entire look and feel of the set. Unhappy with the original recommended layout? Switch it around to create a flatter single-storied school.
Want to make a learning institution that towers above the rest? The sky’s the limit! The rooms can be stacked on top of each other and detached rather easily or they “click” into one another through the use of technic pins via their sides.
Here’s a look at Heartlake High from behind. It has a very dollhouse look going for it, which is nice and in my opinion, a lot better than stuffing it with tons of play-features. Each room has a distinct look and feel to it and filled to the brim with a ton of items and accessories. This dollhouse concept works exceedingly well in Lego form due to how customizable Lego bricks are, which I guess is one of the main draws of the Friends sets.
Due to its modular nature, I’ll be featuring each room separately as they make for better pictures on their own! First up is the Science classroom. Despite being pretty tiny the designers managed to squeeze in a ton of detail into the classroom. We get a blackboard, 2 desks and a shelf for books, a microscope and an owl.
The owl seems to be the topic of the day since there’s an illustrated owl on Ms. Steven’s blackboard. Don’t ask why she’s holding a beaker of green goo.
Here’s a closer look at the bookshelf and neat little telescope. It can technically swivel and be pointed outside the window but you’ll need to detach it and reattach it.
Here’s Matthew being all sciencey and checking out the microscope. I like the blue petri dish at the base. Since this is a girly school, I totally respect the purple microscope.
The main entrance of Heartlake High is decorated by two flowers flanking the classic white doors. There’s a little 4×8 tan patch of studs in the front which look kinda odd. I feel that it would’ve looked a lot better if they were tiled up, perhaps with some mosaic pattern to make the entrance look a little bit more complete.
Here’s the main entrance of their school, which also curiously houses the cafeteria as well. Is Heartlake High suffering from staffing issues that require Ms. Stevens to man the cash register when she’s not educating and moulding the minds of young Heartlakeans (or is it Heartlakers)?
Great use of the grills and small car window panes to recreate the look of a typical American cafeteria.
On the other side of the cafeteria lies a small bench under a notice board. Seems like a great place for Heartlakers to hang out in between classes.
What American-inspired high school would be without its iconic lockers plastered with stickers? They look pretty neat and make use of stickers in a great way. Come to think of it, despite all the hate that Lego fans have for stickers, they seem to work really well in Friends sets.
Here we have the Arts room. It’s great to see that Heartlake High places equal importance to the Arts as well as the Science, which IMHO a great message to send out to kids. The Art room is my favourite classroom in Heartlake High.
One half of the room is devoted to a painting area where Stephanie can put her artistic skills to work. On the easel, which swivels around as well as tilts backwards there’s a canvas piece with a painting of a flower vase and apple. I really love that they painted it to look exactly like the Lego parts that Stephanie’s using as inspiration. Really neat attention to detail here! Behind her you can also see some bottles of paint above a lime green drawer.
In the other side of the room, we have a little corner devoted to the musical faculty. We have a sheet music that’s a fully legit printed tile (no sticker nonsense!) on a stand as well as a guitar hung up on the wall. There’s also two white stools with punk cushions that seem a little out of space but serves to balance out the room nicely.
Last but not least we have arguably the most important room in any high school (yes, even more so than classrooms), the toilet. You can’t educate when your pupils have no where to defecate. I like that they included a washroom, complete with sink and toilet as one of the modular attachments of Heartlake High.
There’s really nothing to note of here as its built with the most basic of bricks except the cutesy “Missing Cat” poster stuck opposite the pooper. The poster even has one of those tearable bits at the bottom. Actually, I have no idea if it’s a Missing Cat poster. It could be two lonely cats looking for some company. Who knows. Heartlake High is a strange place. Anyway, here’s Matthew looking very happy to go number 2.
Final Thoughts: I was very impressed with the set and I recall my wife saying that she had a really good time building it. Fipping through the instruction manual, I can see why. There’s not a whole lot of repetitive builds, the colours and elements such as the microscope, telescope, lockers and window stills are all very interesting mini-builds. The light bright yellow bricks go together so well with the dark blue roof bits that when displayed, comes together in a very pleasing aesthetic sense. In short, it’s a very pretty, very pleasant looking building. It being a modular build also keeps it interesting as you can switch up the look in a couple of seconds and it looks like you have a new building on display. By far, this is my favourite Friends set that I’ve ever had the privilege of owning.
Should You Buy It?: It’s tricky answering this one if you’re a boy. My friend who owns a Lego store in Traralgon poked quite a bit of fun at me when I told him I bought this set and yeah, I still sometimes cop quite a lot of snarky remarks for buying Friends sets. Minidolls aside, if you look at it through a purely Lego lens, this has all the thing you’d want in a City or civilian-themed set. It’s a school, one of the mainstays of modern civilization which means you can move regular minifigs in and it won’t look out of place in your City collection. Parts-wise, you get a ton of the new light bright yellow and delightful dark blue slopes and tiles. And as a display set, it looks pretty cool as it does now, sitting under the shadow of my Tower of Orthanc. However, don’t buy it if you’re afraid of people making fun of you for buying a Lego set aimed at little girls. But yeah, as a Lego set, you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying build this year than Heartlake High.
Nice review, Jay. I have to say I was pretty ‘meh’ about this whole ‘friends’ business and really wondered why they couldn’t just have used a greater proportion of female mini figs rather than create a whole new style of girly looking figures to go with the sets.
After reading the whole review and looking closely at the pics, I think if someone bought this for me, I totally would NOT be offended and could easily get into the build. I do love that you can still swap out the not-so-likeable minidolls for whatever minifigs you wish to attend school- and considering there are so many children minifigs available, it would be silly not to have them at school! — the fun loving children in the winter sets come to mind immediately.
Having said I’d build and play with it, I’m still wary of having to pay for it. Buying toys is confronting enough as an adult.. Girl toys? Not sure… My gf actually asked me did I like the ‘friends’ sets not fully knowing they were aimed at girls — I think because they were directly next to lego which is typically in the boys section. My response was scarily immediate. I burst out saying “no they are girls toys”. I felt embarrassed considering I’m all for girls in the sandpit and boys playing with Barbie dolls– if that’s what they want.
Summary? Love the set. Too scared to buy it!
Thanks again for your review, Jay.
Thanks! The sets by themselves are really great, pink and purple boxes aside. If you’re afraid of buying it at a store, you could always order them online 🙂