Minecraft has become a sensation worldwide since its release in 2009, and therefore it is no surprise that LEGO Minecraft is the first theme to sever ties with Cuusoo and have sets produced independently of the website. Nobody can question the huge success of 21102 Minecraft Micro World, which sold out on LEGO Shop at Home in the US only a matter of days following the release. It will be interesting to see if these new models can replicate this popularity now that the initial excitement has died down a little.
The second of the two sets released today is 21105 Minecraft Micro World: The Village, priced at £29.99 or $34.99 and containing 466-pieces. This set represents the villages which can be encountered in the game, and includes many of the features which you will be aware of if you are familiar with Minecraft. Touches such as the inclusion of TNT and mine cart tracks underground will delight fans of the game and show the impressive attention to detail on the part of the designers.
Finally, before I get into the main body of the review, many thanks to Kim from the LEGO CEE team for sending these Minecraft sets out for review, and to Huw for sending one of them on to me.
Box and Contents
Much like 21102, the packaging for this set is almost unique in that it is shaped like a cube as one might expect for a Minecraft set. The box is mostly brown in colour, which is not particularly attractive, and I suspect it might look rather dull beside the vivid green of 21102 and the sharp red of 21106. Nevertheless, I appreciate the design as it allows one to place the completed model inside should you wish, as well as giving extra area for artwork on the sides of the box, where one finds the model from various orientations and in different formats. On the back the other two sets in the theme are advertised.
Inside are two folded instruction booklets and four bags, none of which are numbered. The contents are tightly packed in the box and it has a fair weight to it when full of pieces.
Three Micromobs are included in this set. Like Steve and Creeper from 21102, two of these figures utilise 1 x 1 plates which are printed on the side to provide facial features to the characters, and this works very well indeed in my opinion.
The first of these Micromobs is a simple Villager. Being bald, his head consists of a tan 1 x 1 tile and two 1 x 1 plates which are printed with eyes, a nose, a mouth and most notably of all, a black unibrow. It certainly captures the appearance of villagers in the game and is very recognisable as one. His tunic is brown, marking this character out as a farmer, and he has a dark tan 1 x 1 plate which act as his legs. I was impressed at how little printing can still create a Micromob in the original Minecraft set from last year, and this trend seems to have continued into these two new sets.
Next, we have a Zombie, one of the most prominent threats in the world of Minecraft. This figure is formed using a mixture of green shades on his head, which is printed very sparsely with a pair of eyes and a small mouth. His blue shirt is represented with a blue 1 x 1 brick and he makes use of a black plate as his legs.
Lastly, and most brilliantly of all in my opinion, is the Pig. I think this basic little character is quite adorable really using only a 1 x 1 brick with studs on two sides and a tile to form the figure. The head is printed with eyes and a snout, which is charming in its simplicity. What makes this Micromob for me is the slight tilt of the head which adds a huge amount of character and the fact that the stud on one side of the 1 x 1 brick represents the tail.
I will briefly mention that despite being pleased with the figures which are included, I would have been delighted to see an Iron Golem included in the set. The village seems incomplete without one, although there are a few custom designs available online which might do the job should you wish.
This is a set which you are either going to greatly enjoy building, or absolutely loathe putting together. The set is constructed in eight sections, four underground areas, and four surface ones. Each is constructed using only plates and bricks stacked upon one another, with tiles to complete the surface.
The offset roofs on the huts are well done, using jumper plates, although beyond that there are no building techniques of interest. It is difficult to go beyond stacking plates when you are building a world which consists only of cubes. The placing of tiles can be repetitive, and although the build is very simple, it is pleasing to note that the modular nature of 21102 has been retained in this model.
The Completed Model
I rather like this model as a stand alone piece. The set is split into four sections, each of which contains different landscapes above and below ground. The scale is a little way off when compared with the Micromobs, although I see no way to avoid this without making the set much larger and therefore more expensive, the figures certainly could not be any smaller.
The first section one constructs has a water feature of some kind on the surface, presumably a well for the village, which is lined with plants. A wall (which could double as a footpath) runs around the edge of the area and there are a few trees dispersed too. What I have referred to as trees may in fact be small hillocks, but I will continue to describe them as trees on account of the reddish brown lower half of each one. This entire top section can be removed on each portion of the model to allow easier access to the abandoned mine beneath the village. Down here is a torch on the wall, some wooden props for supporting the ceiling and a chest (represented using a 1 x 1 tile and 1 x 1 plate). Perhaps the most interesting detail here however is some TNT, which is a lovely touch for Minecraft fans. A portion of the wall can be removed here to recreate an explosion and there are spaces for Technic pins on all four sides so one can attach it to other sections of landscape securely.
The next area includes a hut with two windows and a few more trees. Underground are some mine cart tracks, constructed using tan 1 x 2 grille plates, another chest, a flame, and more mine props. Like every other section, we have places for Technic pins on all four sides.
In the third portion of the model is another, larger hut. The L shape which is evident on all these large homes in the Minecraft game is also present here, and once more there are some short trees here as well. Underground are more mine props, a length of track, and a second piece of TNT hidden in the corner. This same corner can be pushed out, which is a nice little feature if you ask me, although there is no mechanism for performing the function.
The final area contains the highest point, with a snowcapped mountain dominating the landscape along with some more trees which are two plates in height. Underneath the mountain are yet more line cart tracks, another torch fixed to the wall, and a third chest to be discovered. Technic pins are once again used to connect these 6 x 6 sections together, as well as either of the other sets in the theme.
By no means is this a set for everyone. Minecraft fans will no doubt see the appeal and I can imagine this set will fly off the shelves, although perhaps not as rapidly as 21102 or 21106, which are both slightly more interesting to look at than this model in my opinion. I like the Micromobs which are included and the modular design of these Minecraft sets are excellent, especially since it would be so easy to create your own landscapes in a similar geometric style (even the spare pieces in this set would make a reasonable start to such a project).
The only negatives I can find are the lack of an Iron Golem Micromob, although this is less of a complaint and more of a suggestion which might improve the set slightly, and more importantly, the price. The piece count does of course consist almost exclusively of small plates and tiles, and the model one is left with certainly feels quite small for £29.99 or $34.99, although this is at least an improvement over the £34.99 the previous set cost.
My final point concerns how this model links with the other two sets. Personally, I think the models look rather odd placed alongside one another as the colours clash horribly, with some stark changes from lush forest in 21102 to snowy mountains in this model, 21105. With some 6 x 6 sections to ease the change of scenery from one to the next however, this could make for a marvellous display piece.
Parts: 3.5 - If you are looking for 1 x 1 plates and tiles, what better set than this? Otherwise, not much of interest other than perhaps the printed pieces.
Playability: 4 - There is a lot to discover and probably more fun to be had with this set than the other two in my opinion.
Building Experience: 3 - As I mentioned in the review, one will either love or hate this build experience, and I did not see much appeal to be honest. However, if you enjoyed building 21102, you will like this one even better as it is a little more varied.
Value for Money: 3 - The set does not feel substantial enough to cost what it does for me, the addition of an Iron Golem and perhaps another Villager would make it a little more palatable.
Overall: 3.5 - I do not doubt that this set will be popular as Minecraft has an incredibly strong following. The Micromobs will be popular as they represent important characters and the set itself is densely packed with details.
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