Two new Minecraft sets are released today and we've been sent one of each by the LEGO CEE team to review. In this review, I will take a look at 21106 The Nether. Later today, capnrex101 will publish his review of 21105 The Village.
Judging by the difficulty of getting hold of the original Cuusoo Minecraft set, 21102, particularly last year in the USA, it was a tremendous commercial success for LEGO and it is therefore not surprising that more Minecraft sets have been produced. These are not Cuusoo sets though (this we've been asked to stress), but they are perhaps the start of a long-term Minecraft theme.
The original set featured a part of 'The Overworld', known as 'The Forest'. We found this out, and that there'd be more sets on the way in June this year when it was renamed.
The two new sets represent different parts of the universe. This one is of The Nether, which according to the Minecraft wiki "is a hell-like dimension accessible only by entering a Nether Portal from the Overworld. It is home to several hazards, including flames, widespread standing and flowing lava, and Nether-exclusive mobs, as well as exclusive items and blocks."
The wiki goes on to say that "Locations in The Nether correlate to Overworld coordinates" which implies that it is underground, to me at least, and certainly in this model all the 'action' and details are underground.
The box is the same, dimension-wise, as the original set, and is 12 x 12 x 14cm in size. I received the European version of the set which does not show the number of pieces on the box.
The three sets, and the Mobs they feature, are shown on one side of the box.
The box is packed to the brim almost.
The box contains two instruction manuals and five bags, three of which contain small 1 x 1 and 1 x 2 parts.
Here are all the bags emptied ready for building. Like the original Minecraft set, there are a lot of 1 x 1 plates and tiles throughout.
The Mobs and the Portal
The first things to be constructed are the mobs and the Nether Portal. Apparently, The Nether can only be accessed via the portal which appears to be a doorway with a 'purple mist' in it.
The pink mob on the left is a zombie pigman. The wiki states that "Zombie Pigmen are humanoids covered with a mixture of pink flesh (like a pig's), and green rotting flesh, with some bones visible. They wield a golden sword in their right hand, and wear a loincloth." It looks as if LEGO has done a good job of capturing the likeness, then...
The 2 x 2 white creatures are Ghasts which are aggressive mobs found only in The Nether. They "are very large, jellyfish- or ghost-like mobs that float through the air and shoot fireballs from their mouths. They are lava and water resistant. Their bodies are 4 blocks tall and 4 blocks wide with 9 tentacle-like limbs hanging from the bottom and eerie-looking eyes." Again, comparing the rendition by LEGO with the picture on the wiki, they've done a good job. Note how they've been built upside down so that cheese slopes can be used to represent the tentacles.
All of these parts are way too big to actually be used in the model itself and I guess are only included to make the set more appealing to Minecraft fans.
The model is constructed in four sections, on 6 x 6 plates, which are connected via Technic pins, just like the original set. However in this one, all the detail is underground, and the sections do not have removable top parts.
It features lava pools, lava 'waterfalls', flames and, hanging down from the roof, glowstones (1 x 1 trans-yellow plates) that provide light within The Nether. The lava is made from 1 x 1 plates in normal yellow and the same size tiles in 'Chima lion' light orange and are thus quite rare.
Two of the modules, those shown above, are designed to be connected together, as are the two below. The platforms continue from one to the other.
The top of the sections is 'the void' area above The Nether which, apparently, "is an extremely efficient and safe place to travel since it is flat and there are no naturally spawning mobs". It's certainly not flat on the model: I guess that was considered to be too boring.
(This paragraph has been rewritten in light of comments made by people who are actually familiar with Minecraft :-))
Here's a shot of the 'open' sides of the four sections: The black one, on the right, has a hole in the back for some reason.
Here's a view of the backs, which are all fairly boring.
Combining with 21102 The Forest
As you would expect, the set connects with the original. It looks okay like this, (2 x 2) + (2 x 2), but...
...I actually like it better when it's configured (1 x 4) + (1 x 4), so you can see all of The Nether at once.
There was tremendous excitement around the release of the original Minecraft set, which was of course the first product of the LEGO global Cuusoo programme. This was partly because we didn't know what to expect. Now that we do, these are perhaps not as exciting as the original and are really just 'more of the same'.
What that means then, is that if you loved the original, you'll want this and the other set released today, to display with it. If the first set did nothing for you, then this one won't either, unless you look at it purely as a parts pack given that it features more interesting and rarer colours.
Take a look at my review of 21102 and the conclusion I drew then, much of it is relevant for this set as well.
So, marks out of 5:
- Parts: 4 -- Small parts, but lots of them. Some rare.
- Playabilty : 2 -- Once built there isn't much you can do with it, other than connect it to other sets and rearrange the sections. Mobs can't be played with in the model.
- Building experience: 3 -- A bit of a nuisance lining all the 1 x 1 plates and tiles up squarely.
- Value for money: 3 -- At £34.99, it's certainly not cheap in the UK. At $34.99, it's a bit more reasonable.
- Overall: 3 -- An enjoyable set to build and display that packs in a lot of details.
- If you're a Minecraft fan and/or you liked the original set, buy it!
- If you're not, and you didn't, don't bother!
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