The LEGO Super Mario theme is quite divisive amongst LEGO and Nintendo fans, partly because it’s not a typical minifigure-centric theme, and also partly because the phygital play (a portmanteau for physical and digital) isn’t really geared towards adults or older LEGO fans, who contribute most to the online discourse, on blogs, social media or whatnot.
Thankfully, LEGO have not completely forgotten adult LEGO fans, with 2 Nintendo-licensed exclusives – the first being the 2020’s 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System and the 71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block, which was released last year in 2021.
This cycle of large, highly detailed buildable Nintendo objects are incredibly exciting if you have a long history and affinity with Nintendo.
Apologies that this review is a little late.. I’ve been sitting on this one and procrastinating, but this week’s Mario Day and Princess Peach’s Castle reveals inspired me to finally type out this review!
Special thanks to LEGO for sending this set for review
71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block Set Details
Name: 71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block
Set Number: 71395
Price: AU$289.99 | US$169.99 | £159.99 – Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA] [UK] [Amazon] [Amazon Australia]
Exclusive to: LEGO.com / LEGO Retail Stores
Theme: LEGO Super Mario
LEGO Designers: Carl Merriam, Daire McCabe, and Benjamin Ma
Release Date: 1 October 2021
The Question Mark Block in particular is a homage to one of the most influential video games of all time – Super Mario 64, which defined the 3d-gaming era, from the Nintendo 64 onwards.
Despite being a Super Mario 64 set, the iconic yellow Question Mark Blocks do not make an appearance in the game (the block were red, with exclamation marks), so this really is a mish-mash of Mario elements in itself.
It’s a quintessential icon and I can see why LEGO would want to
The build was incredibly satisfying, and novel – unlike anything I’ve ever built. It’s first and foremost a mechanical model, with many moving parts, housed in a smooth yellow shell.
It has a bit of everything, with plenty of system building, some Technic wizardry and micro-builds as well which kept it fresh. Not to mention the incredibly satisfying practice of tiling the entire exterior.
I was enamoured through the entire build, mostly because I was so fascinated to see how it would all come together and work.
And here is the finished model – a yellow Question Mark Block that’s close to a perfect cube.
It measures approximately 18cm on each side and is mostly smooth, with studs on the Question Mark giving it that LEGO touch.
The corners are masterfully done, and it has soft, rounded corners which feel nice in hand when you’re grasping the question mark block.
The white Question Mark being the only parts of the exterior with studs works really well aesthetically, and I like the raised texture and uniformity of the studs, and how well they contrast against the flat yellow tiles.
A very interesting quality of the Question Mark Block is how the lines in between the tiles appear differently, when you look at it from different angles. It’s a pretty neat visual trick, and it’s best to display the Block at an angle to trick your eyes into seeing it as a fully flat surface.
So what’s contained within the Question Mark block? You press the top panel down to reveal its secrets.
The Question Mark Block transforms effortless, revealing an intricately-packed together world that flips into an upright position.
The transition is extremely seamless and smooth, and the designers, Carl Merriam, Daire McCabe, and Benjamin Ma have done a thoroughly impressive job getting this function to work so smoothly and satisfyingly.
Pictures can only showcase so much of this feature, so check out the video of this set in action on my Mario Day Instagram post.
The central section opens up to reveal 4 micro-worlds based on levels from Super Mario 64. The top section (with Peach’s Castle) pops up as it’s held down by the side worlds which fold outwards.
Once again, it’s mind-boggling how well this is engineered and designed, especially how smooth the functionality works.
The top world is the “hub” of Super Mario 64 – Princess Peach’s Castle. These worlds are all micro-builds, and Peach’s Castle features the iconic red roofs and spires.
There are micro version of Mario and Peach, and in front of the castle is picture-perfect green pipe, as well as Lakitu in his cloud.
Her’s a closer look at one of the most recognisable feature of the facade of Princess Peach’s Castle – the stained glass, which is represented by a printed tile! It’s a small but crucial bit of detail that brings the castle together.
There’s also another cool secret hidden within the Castle – the front pops off to reveal the interior, where there are printed tiles to represent the portraits that serve as portals into the different levels and worlds – the painting with Bob-Ombs marching is especially iconic.
Each painting leads to the different worlds featured in the set – Cool Cool Mountain, Lethal Lava Land, and Bob-Omb Battlefield.
There’s also a LEGO Super Mario tile which unlocks some new playable features when scanned with the LEGO Mario figure.
Here’s a look at Princess Peach outside her castle.
Oh and the best part? Yoshi is hidden behind the Castle as well!
The next section beneath Princess Peach’s Castle is Lethal Lava Land, the seventh level in Super Mario 64, and is characterised by pools of lava, and even a volcano in the middle.
Lots of iconic elements from Lethal Lava Land are here, including the eyeball (Mr. I), the Bowser puzzle on the floor, and various paths throughout the level.
The “boss” of the level, Big Bully is also present here – he yields a star which pops up on the platform behind him when pushed into the lava.
On the right, we have the next world – Cool, Cool Mountain – the ice level of Super Mario 64. The ice-covered mountain is replicated well here, but it’s mostly the exterior that’s featured.
If you played Super Mario 64, you’ll know that a huge chunk of the level takes place inside the mountain, so it doesn’t really capture the facets of the level well in that regard.
That said, I like the use of white slopes that lead up towards the summit, where you’ll find the baby penguin that you’re meant to reunite with the mum at the base. Of course, as is tradition in the games, you can always yeet the baby penguin off the edge into the abyss.
And here’s the other side of the mountain, with the wooden bridges.
The shape of Cool Cool Mountain, with the curves, and angles are spot-on, and I was really impressed with how accurate the re-creation is.
And last but not least, we have Bob-Omb Battlefield, which is iconic because its the first level of Super Mario 6, in which you enter through the Bob-Omb Painting.
For many gamers who had the privilege of playing on the Nintendo 64, this level was pure magic, as Mario, freed from his 2D plane was free to move around in all three dimensions.
There are many familiar sights here, such as Chain Chomp, many bridges, wooden stumps, and cannons.
There’s even the floating island, which contains a red block where you can find Mario’s Wing Cap, a powerup that gives him the ability to fly!
At the top of the hill is a Big Bob-omb, which has its white moustache printed on – a very nice touch that adds a lot of accuracy to this iconic level.
We’re not done yet! There’s another cunning secret hidden in the Question Mark block! On the front, there’s a discreet flap that you can raise, revealing a hidden compartment with a micro-version of Bowser, Mario’s nemesis!
But that’s not all – removing Bowser from his little chamber, you can press the platform that he rests on to pop the bottom section of the block out to reveal..
The bottom flap opens up to reveal the hidden Dark World, which is the first time Bowser level where you get to navigate a tricky level, but also simulate a boss battle!
There’s a disc which you can spin, thanks to the upside down black splat gears.
And yes, you can “mount” bowser to the middle disc thanks to a hole in his tail, and Mario can twirl him around, and with enough force, you can actually fling Bowser into the abyss.
This was a really nice surprise as Bowser and this level isn’t present in any of the product shots or product pages, and really underscores just how much attention to detail the designers put into capturing all the memorable bits of Mario 64.
Here’s a look at the micro figures included in the set – Bowser has eyebrows printed on, and the little Mario figure has a printed moustache on the side of a singular stud. They’re really simple (and tiny), but capture the characters well enough, making great use of colours and shapes.
And here’s a size comparison with the larger digital Mario Figure.
What I liked:
- A superb display piece, either open or shut
- Filled to the brim with nods to Super Mario 64
- Micro worlds are well designed
- The play features work flawlessly
- One of the most innovative and unique LEGO sets ever produced
What I didn’t like:
- More printed elements for the figures would be nice
- Won’t appeal to non-Nintendo fans
This is a set aimed squarely at Nintendo and Super Mario 64 fans, which I fall into, so I absolutely adore this set, and everything represented here.
Mario 64 was an incredibly groundbreaking experience, and for many gamers who were there to witness the transition from 16-bit pixels, to 32-bit, to 64-bit during the Nintendo 64 era, it cannot be stated just how futuristic it felt at the time – something that’s forever seared into my childhood memories.
The set is incredibly unique, and one of the most innovative and peculiar sets that LEGO have ever design.
The seamlessness of the mechanism is mind-blowing, and despite being envisioned as an adult display piece, it’s really meant to be played with to showcase the engineering brilliance. I have mine proudly on display next to other gaming/Nintendo items, and even then, I always feel drawn to pop the Question Mark block open and close it again just because I can.
The worlds, characters are perfectly captured in micro-scale. I have a soft spot for all things micro-scale, so I really don’t mind, and really like how the iconic worlds and levels are depicted, and the attention to detail despite the size is remarkable.
It can be quite jarring as the model is housed inside a yellow question mark block, which does not make an appearance in Super Mario 64, but I’ve reconciled this in my head as the yellow block is such an iconic Super Mario element that it wouldn’t feel right if it were a red block instead, which by the way, would’ve been a poor aesthetic toy.
Regardless of accuracy – most people and Nintendo fans would immediately connect to a yellow question mark block. Super Mario 64 did away with many iconic elements, such as Super Mushrooms, so I can let it slide.
As a Nintendo fan, I’d give this an instant 5 out of 5 because I love everything that this represents, but that’s also the biggest drawback – if you’re not a Mario or Nintendo fan, you likely won’t appreciate it as much.
The price is also I think quite high, putting it out of reach for a lot of people, unless you happen to have a large LEGO budget or are a huge Nintendo fan. Despite not containing many unique elements, or even exclusive minifigures, or even anything particularly gimmicky, it really should’ve been priced a lot lower.
Whatever the case, LEGO should be celebrated for creating and putting out to market such a unique and special set that works exactly as it needs to, and this remains one of my personal favourite sets of 2021.
Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★✰
Build  – An incredibly fun and varied experience, and I had a lot of fun watching to see it come together.
Real Value  – The set is a little pricey, especially as it doesn’t come with exclusive minifigures
Innovation  – It’s mind-blowing how innovative the design is, and how well its executed
Coolness  – As a Nintendo fan, this is as cool as it gets, and I like it more than the Nintendo Entertainment System, which I also like a lot
Keepability  – This is one that’s never going to be broken down into pieces, and looks great next to my gaming display items and consoles
Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this long overdue review of the 71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block!
Special thanks to LEGO for sending this set over for a review.
What do you think of the LEGO Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block?
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