Review: 21019 The Eiffel Tower

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This Architecture version of The Eiffel Tower is now available at shop.LEGO.com and also brand stores and, I believe, selected stores in Paris. The LEGO CEE team has kindly sent review copies to selected AFOL sites.

The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most recognised and famous man-made structure in the world. Built in 1889, it was supposed to stand for just 20 years before being dismantled, but Eiffel successfully persuaded the authorities that it was useful for communications and scientific experiments, so it still stands to this day.

This is the second model LEGO has produced of it, the first one being the 1:300 scale, 3400-piece behemoth 10181 released in 2007.

This one is to a much smaller scale, and stands at just 300 mm high.

The box is a standard Architecture box in black, well made, easy to open and useful to store the finished model in, but broken down a bit first, obviously.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

There's not too much wasted space inside.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

Four bags and one perfect-bound instruction book. It's a very monochrome set, only the dark green 'grass' tiles are not black, grey or silver.

Interestingly, the instructions do not say who designed the model: this might be the only Architecture set where it's not stated. But they do provide details on the designing and building of the real structure, in French and English.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

Construction starts with the base which is 14 x 14 square. Two name tiles are provided which is a nice touch.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

The middle section of the tower is constructed first and as you can see, the new-ish clip-plates are put to good use in this section, and in fact the whole tower. The 1x2 grilles are silver.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

Next the legs are attached, again using the clip-plates.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

This assembly is then attached to the base. It wobbles about a bit and can be hard to get level, although the stiffness of the Technic flexi-hoses does help with stability.

21019 The Eiffel Tower

Finally, the top section is built with clip-plates and tiles galore and mounted onto the middle section.

21019 The Eiffel Tower 21019 The Eiffel Tower

21019 The Eiffel Tower

The finished model is a great representation of the tower and in many ways more so than the 2007 version. It's also a lot easier to display!

At $35/£30 for 321-pieces, its price is on a par with other Architecture sets, which many would say is expensive compared to other themes, but when you buy an Architecture set, you're not only getting a well-designed model, you're also getting premium packaging, superior instructions and a proper 'grown-up' model-making experience.

I have two minor criticisms:

  • I think I would have preferred the silver parts (tubes, grilles and octagonal part at the top) to have been light grey for uniformity. I certainly would have preferred the entire tower to have been made in silver!
  • It is impossible to lay the perfect-bound instruction book flat to look at while building. It's a problem with all Architecture sets but worse with this one because it's bound on the long side. I had to rest my Nexus 7 on the top of the pages to hold them flat, which meant a two-hand job to turn them.

Despite these niggles, I have no hesitation in recommending this set and I'm sure it will sell well, particularly in Paris where it will have no problems competing with the tacky souvenirs of the tower available there.

Note if you're interested in photography: I bought myself a Nikon D610 for Christmas. These (and Cloud Cuckoo Palace) are the first pictures I've taken with it. I used the AF-S 60mm f2.8 Micro lens at f22 for these shots, which is now a lot more useful focal length when mounted on a full-frame camera rather than on my old D7000 DX. The model is illuminated by three flashes, diffused by Lastolite soft-boxes: one either side and one above. The camera's sensor is dust-free and hopefully I can keep it that way: I was fed up with cloning dust spots out, which, when you shoot at small apertures, are very noticeable.

20 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

thanks for the review huw, i've always looked at the architecture sets with a "be cool to own that" attitude but never anthing more. for some reason this is the first one i'm actually considering purchasing to display! very cool...

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By in Canada,

It does indeed make a nice display piece.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks Huw - just finished building the Seattle Space Needle, so may have to add the Eiffel Tower to my Architecture collection.

On the photography point (nice pics by the way), do I remember you publishing an article a while back on your set-up? Any chance you could provide a link to it? While I've got a decent camera, my pictures suffer from dodgy lighting, so I'd like to have another look at your rig if poss.

Thanks!

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By in Canada,

It's probably changed since the last time I posted a picture/article, so here's one of it as it is now: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92090133@N04/11688103433/ (complete with a clue as to the next TLM set I'll be reviewing :-))

Lighting is of course key, more so than camera. Having so much light allows for small apertures and for hand-held shots. I'm not one for fiddling about with tripods if I can help it.

The 3 flashes (2x Nikon SB910, 1x SB600) and softboxes is not a cheap solution by any means and there are probably better, cheaper, solutions around, like an Elinchrom or Bowens kit, or maybe even LED arrays. It is however compact and cable-free.

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By in Netherlands,

In my opinion remarks about photography equipment do not belong to Brickset reviews. Even when it's in italics below the review. When it comes to photography, I quit. Let me explain.

Spending thousands of pounds/dollars just to make 'the perfect picture' sounds inappropriate to me. Actually, I do a lot of business with professional photographers and they always seem to be targeted to outdo the other with their own newest (and surely more expensive) equipment. All photographers think they are better than the other. It's just disgusting!

Please stick official Brickset reviews to the facts and hold your private acquisitions to yourself. ;-)

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By in Indonesia,

What is the new-ish clip piece you're referring to? I'm only fairly new to the hobby (out of the dark ages in 2011) so all those clips looks old to me...

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By in Canada,

^^ Thank you for your frank opinion. However, many people are interested in it because being able to photograph your models is part of the hobby. Given that making 'the perfect picture' is arguably part of my job (which is running Brickset) it is not inappropriate that I spend out to achieve it.

^ The 2x1 plate with clip or bar at the end. They are few years old now. Before it we had just a 1x1 with clip which would not be as suitable in a model like this, and there was no 'bar' equivalent.

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By in Indonesia,

Ah, I see what you mean. They've been around ever since I got into the hobby, so I have the right to be clueless on the age of it!

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By in United States,

Re: photography, this is really funny, as I had just sent a message to Huw asking about photography tips before I read this review. I definitely appreciate the photo guidance. Building/playing with Legos is of course the main interest we all have, but many of us like to share them with friends/relatives/others online, and my photos are always lousy, so this info helps.

Re: Eiffel Tower, I agree that this is actually potentially better than 10181, which I wasn't really a fan of (bought it half off, then used the parts for MOCs in my Lego city). There are a lot of Architecture Series sets that I'm interested in, but the price point always seems to be a bit above what I would have hoped for.

Thanks for the review!

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By in United States,

I have all the Architecture series sets and will for sure be adding this one as well. thanks for the review. It confirmed for me that this is going to be a good set.

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By in United Kingdom,

+1 on keeping the photo information, albeit in italics.

@dutchlegofan5, I'm not sure your views of professional photographers belong in the comments on a Lego website, but since you mentioned it...I don't agree. I too encounter professional photographers both in work and through social circles. Two of them are outstanding, not just my opinion, but I mean awarding winning and their respective work has made people with no interest in photography say wow out loud in my presence more than once! One of them has *all* the kit and still manages to find its limits, he buys pro gear because he needs it, he doesn't however spend anytime trying to 'outdo' people with the kit, he just lets the results speak for themselves. The other, who has been commissioned to take pictures of heads of state and front page events, has a couple of old pro bodies and three lenses in total. He says having decent kit might make it easier but it is what you do with it that matters. Now, there might be a lot of wannabe pro-photographers with 'all the gear, but no idea' but in my experience they are not the real professionals.

@Huw: Thanks for taking the time to do the pictures right with decent lighting. I appreciate it.

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By in United States,

Good review! I really like this model, which (like the Seattle Space Needle from the first wave of Architecture sets) demands some innovative building techniques to really capture the distinctive look of the structure. The splash of silver does break up the uniformity, but at the same time it's spread out enough that it doesn't feel jarring in contrast with the grey elements. There's almost a sort of visual language, with silver being used for horizontal segments and grey being used for vertical supports.

The end result is not as accurate as the larger 10181, but it is definitely a much more aesthetically pleasing model, which really captures the sweeping shape of the landmark better than the blocky design of 10181 could possibly manage.

I find that when I was younger I used to readily dismiss any model that I considered excessively blocky, and these days I sometimes regret it — 3829 Fire Nation Ship, for instance, was a brilliant model full of more or less show-accurate details, even if its exterior looks boring and lacks the sleek, jagged look that defined the original vessel. Today it feels like the set designers are willing to use much more advanced and creative building techniques to create the shapes they want, and the sets look much more impressive as a result.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review, it's always difficult for me to justify the expense of the architecture sets in terms of parts value, so I only have a few, but the fact that its so recognisable and is a nice display piece is persuading me. Thanks for the review and for the great pictures - to me it's one of the things that sets brickset apart as a great site, I'm no photographer but the hints and tips are helpful for AFOLs like me who do want to try to get half decent pics of MOCs on Flickr, so keep the hints and tips coming! Cheers Si

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By in United States,

Hmm, maybe I'll pick it up. We'll see, nice set anyhow and thanks for the review Huw.

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By in United States,

In your second to last photo, the tower is not looking very stable. You might want to center it up a little more so those iner parts are being too stressed.

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By in Ireland,

From the photos I've seen sofar I have two problems with this model. The first is the ugly bar in the middle that apparently is necessary to keep the levels aligned.
The second is the considerable jumps in the outline. In the real tower the diagonal pillars appear to form a smooth curve. In the model that curve steps. Look at the first completed picture above. At the top of the base level pillar the line jumps out to start the next section.

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By in United States,

You know, despite all these complaints, I think that the more recent Architecture models are a great improvement from the 2008 sets...

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By in United Kingdom,

Huw - nice setup on the photography front. I find these extras an interesting glance into the behind the scenes world of Brickset.

As photography is my other "hobby" maybe I'm biased, but I think leaving them at the bottom in italics is the right way to go. Also the occasional blog post on how the set up works is interesting to me too.

Keep up the good work!

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By in United States,

This looks like a nice set, although in my opinion it pales in comparison to the 1:300 scale one (which is possibly my favorite lego set of all time, haven't chosen between it and the Green Grocer). I would have to agree with Dragon_Master that the new architecture sets are much better than their predecessors.

Does anybody think its funny that the Eiffel tower was first an Advanced Model, then an Architecture set, while the Sydney Opera House was first an Architecture set, then an Advanced Model?

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By in Singapore,

Huw, great to have your photography tips here. I think that it's entirely relevant to the site.

On that note, is your colour balance off? The background on the model isn't white and has a bluish cast.

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