21018 UN Headquarters

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The latest Architecture set, 21018 UN Headquarters, is released today. LEGO has kindly sent us one to review. Before I start, I should confess that I own 13 Architecture sets but that this is the first one that I've actually opened the box of and built, which is pretty shameful, isn't it...

The UN Headquarters is in New York, USA and was built just after the second world war. It was designed primarily by Oscar Niemeyer, who went on to design Brazil's capital city Brasilia. It's said to be in the 'modernist style' of architecture. You can find out more about it on Wikipedia, or by buying the set which, in common with other Architecture sets, has extensive notes about the building in the instruction manual.

On with the review...

Box and contents

21018 UN HeadquartersThe box has the all-black distinctive styling of other sets in the Architecture range. It's a well made box that can be opened without destroying it, and can be used to store the model in. It's a shame that not all LEGO boxes are made this way.

 

21018 UN HeadquartersWith the flip lid open, you can see that it's pretty much full of LEGO.

 

21018 UN HeadquartersThe instruction manual is a hefty 116-page perfect bound book which has notes about the building, its construction and a brief history of the UN at the front, and a 'word from the artist' Rok Kobe, at the back.

 

21018 UN HeadquartersThere are five bags of parts, one of which contains nothing but 1 x 2 transparent light blue plates, and three 8 x 16 dark grey plates.

 

Construction

I've photographed the main steps of the construction to give you a feel for how it's put together. First of course, you build the base plate which features printed tiles showing the name of the building; these are unique to this set.

21018 UN Headquarters

Much of the base is tiled, and the building foundations have been laid.

21018 UN Headquarters

Here, the base of the main tower block and the conference building at the back, has been built.

21018 UN Headquarters

The conference building is a trapezoid shape which has required some sophisticated 'half-plate-offset' techniques to achieve. This method is often used by AFOLs but I think it's the first time I've seen it in an official set (but then, this is the first Architecture set I've actually built...)

21018 UN Headquarters

Next, the general assembly building, front left, is completed. This features gently curved sides which also use the half-stud offset technique to achieve.

21018 UN Headquarters

Finally, the tower is completed using all the 1 x 2 trans-light-blue plates, sandwiched with 2 x 4 light blue plates. The effect is quite pleasing. If you look closely at the top, you'll notice that it's 9-studs wide, sitting on a building that is 8-studs wide with brackets and tiles down the sides. An interesting technique was used to achieve this, while maintaining the brackets down the side. I won't spoil the surprise of how's it's done, you'll have to build it for yourself...

The flagpoles are a bit of a nuisance to line up :-)

21018 UN Headquarters

The finished model

The finished model looks great from all angles...

21018 UN Headquarters

21018 UN Headquarters

21018 UN Headquarters

21018 UN Headquarters

Overall opinion

Prior to building this set, I had thought that Architecture sets were expensive and parts-light sets that put style before substance, but this build has changed my perception.

This is a model aimed squarely at adults and older builders, and which uses tricks and techniques that are not seen in regular sets. Consequently, I learned a thing or two when I built it.

The finished model really is a joy to behold and, as far as I can tell, accurately depicts the UN building.

Everything about the set is quality: the box, the instructions, the attention to detail in the design and the parts selection. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending it.

It's priced at $50 in the USA, which for a 597-piece set is not too bad. I don't know the UK price, but I suspect it will be around £40. It should be available from shop.LEGO.com today (01 October) but as I write, it hasn't been added to all countries yet.

Now I'm off to crack open my other 12 Architecture sets to see if they are as good as this one...

23 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Where are the mini protestors that are usually out front? Kidding... :-)

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By in United States,

Now all it needs is a Reaper from ME.

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By in Italy,

i've seen it yesterday in a shop in north-italy. Quite strange that here we are the first to have the architecture sets and the last to have sets like The palace cinema or Arkham asylum.

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By in United Kingdom,

Imperial Hotel is a joy to build too.

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By in Canada,

Great set, but expensive here in Canada.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Huw, just one minor correction, under Box and Contents you state it has "three 8x16 baseplates", looks to me like they are actually plates, much better in my opinion.

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By in United Kingdom,

Its up on the LEGO UK website, but what is with the pricing compared to the US site? Looking at other LEGO Architecture sets for example, the White House is $49.99 USD = £39.99 GBP, but the UN Headquarters is $49.99 USD = £49.99 GBP. How is this worked out? Even with todays USD:GBP exchange $50 USD is approximately £30 (maybe a little more). I don't get how this is a fair pricing for the UK.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Huw, it was in the process of being built when I popped into the Watford Store today, and I can confirm it's £49.99 in the UK. looks great, though!

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks, I was £10 out then, and ^^ I agree, there are a lot of discrepancies in pricing these days. Normally unlicensed sets are not so bad, but in this case we do look as if we're being ripped off...

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By in United States,

@Huw, which would you think is more worth your money, the UN Headquarters or Falling water?

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By in Romania,

Falling Water was a great set to build, though with the 1x1 quite a lot of fiddling to keep everything straight. I have ordered my UN HQ today, though may end up popping to Westfields after work.

With Falling Water you have the ability to view the different layers of the set, sliding them out easily. Having visited Falling Water I can certainly say that it captures the essence of the architecture and style very nicely. It is a great reminder to view the set and think of the enjoyable day trip.

I have found the problem now is that I want to visit each of the Architecture series sites, so now have on my bucket list a trip to Chicago for Robie House (21010) and France for Villa Savoye (21014)... Lego, you are taking over my life!

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By in United States,

^^ I completely understand wanting to visit each one. We had to take a family trip to Chicago for my son when Robie House came out. At least you get to see 3 Architecture series sites at Chicago. Falling Water is one of my favorite sets. My son prefers the Robie House. This set looks awesome even if the flag poles will drive my OCD crazy.

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By in United Kingdom,

I learn't a few years ago from a lego employee that the prices are based on what the market will pay and that was why lego is usually more expensive in the UK than the US- shocking but good business which is probably why lego are doing so well! Oh and I love this new architecture set and will still be popping it on my Christmas list for Santa to bring!

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By in United States,

Great review Huw! I don't normally pay much attention to Architecture, but this on might be worth picking up just to see this 'technique' you speak of...

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By in United Kingdom,

^ I don't really pay attention to Architecture either,but the sets look pretty cool.

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By in United States,

Damn. Did you have to make it look and sound so desirable? I wasn't originally impressed with the pic on the box nor of pics of the finished model when I had seen it a while back, but your step by step pics of the build make it look quite interesting and worth doing. One more to add to my wish list now. Thanks(?). ;)

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By in United States,

I don't care for the UN myself but I will likely get this one for parts.

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By in United States,

I've never been a fan of architecture,but this one has changed my mind.It has some great building techniques that I would like to learn.Not only that,but this is a butiful set,it has a lot of detail.As usual another great review from you,Huw.But every time you do a great review like this,you make me want to buy it!Stop making me spend my money! LOL!

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By in United States,

And for the people going to Chicago for the Architecture sets, the Farnsworth House is about 50 miles southwest. A train runs to the nearby town, but I'd be hard pressed to tell you how to get from the town to the Farnsworth House. I assure you, visiting the house will make you want the Architecture set.

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By in United States,

Re: visiting architecture sets, i've lived in NYC my whole life and unless we went on a school trip i don't remember as a kid to the Guggenheim I've never been in there, in the Empire State Building, or inside the UN, though i've spent countless hours on their blocks. I did go to the WTC once as a kid, didn't get to go to the roof, but did go up to the top floor to look down, I think I was about 6 or 7, don't remember it well. I really should go check these places out.

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By in United States,

Oh, and Rockefeller Center. Been there many times, there's a lot there, including the Lego Store, but haven't been to the "Top Of The Rock" or much else inside... i know my grandfather worked there before joining the NYPD in the late 40's early 50's but other than knowing the underground corridors to come out where I want to avoid snow and rain after getting off the subway I don't know it well either.

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By in Australia,

I second what LegoMom1 & tjyeldon1 said; I originally had no plans to get this set, then went and read Huw's review with the great build pictures, and hints at interesting build techniques, which got me interested in getting it 'one day'.

It retails for $69.99 here in Australia, but one of our department stores has 20% off LEGO atm, and lo and behold they actually already had this out on the shelves, so I'm now the proud owner of it. :-) With exchange rates, it works out to be about the same price as the US retail (which is pretty good for Aussie prices). Not looking forward to lining up all the flagpoles though...

Prior to this set, I'd been limiting myself to only buying Architecture sets of places I've actually been to - well, I've been to NYC, but not the actual UN building - so I may have just opened a can of worms for myself to get some other Architecture sets of places I haven't been to (yet). Oops! ;-)

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By in Germany,

Man, it took me quite some time to figure out the technique for the top. (Obviously I'm not spoiling it, either.) Still a must-have for me. Still a ton of surprises left, look at all that goodness, half-plate offsets everywhere. Crazy.

I only own one Architecture set so far, and only for its parts anyway. This will be the first one I'll be buying for the model, thanks to this review. Brilliant.

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