The Minecraft range has proven very popular since the first minifigure scale sets were released in 2014 and most of the ten sets released during that time have been well received by Minecraft fans. However, there are still a number of important biomes and mobs yet to be represented in an official set, an issue which the latest wave goes some way to redress.
21123 The Iron Golem is the smallest of the four new sets, priced at £19.99 or $19.99 and containing 208 pieces. The presence of an Iron Golem alone will probably be sufficient to justify this purchase for many collectors, although the baby pig is also a significant draw given its exclusivity.
The Iron Golem is brick-built and looks fantastic, closely resembling the utility mob seen in the video game. I like the intricately printed tiles used on his torso and left arm and am pleased that the proportions of the figure are correct, with a large upper body and relatively narrow hips. Admittedly, the legs are a little too long, although I am not sure how that could have been easily improved upon.
The articulation is also fairly impressive as the arms are mounted on ball joints while the legs and feet are hinged. The new head, which will also be used in 21128 The Village, is attached to the chest using a new element which resembles a jumper plate but features a minifigure neck like those found on standard torsos. Time will tell whether this component will see future use in other sets.
Alex has appeared in several sets but this is the least expensive of them so far. Her orange hair is faithful to the game and the simple printing on the front and back of the torso looks good too. Unfortunately she does not include pearl silver legs as in 21225 The Jungle Tree House but a reddish brown pair instead.
A diamond pickaxe is included as an accessory for mining the iron ore source hidden in the model. This item has only appeared in 21116 Crafting Box and 21122 The Nether Fortress before now so I am glad to see it in a cheaper set.
The Zombie is the most common minifigure in the Minecraft range other than Steve but one can never have too many, so its inclusion here is welcome. The head and torso printing is exceptionally simple but matches the mobs in the video game, as does the unusual azure colour of the torso.
The Baby Pig is exclusive to this set and looks adorable. I like the printed design on the head which is the same as that of the adult pig in 21115 The First Night and the pink 1x2 brick with groove pieces which form the body and legs look great. These are notably rare, having only appeared in 21125 before now. The black 2x2 plate which represents trotters looks very nice as well.
Minecraft animals are one of my favourite aspects of the entire theme and it is delightful to see them included in even the smallest sets. Hopefully more gaps in the roster will be filled in subsequent sets.
The Completed Model
Minecraft sets are often criticised for the simplicity of the models included and I think such a comment could be made about the appearance of this set. A typical range of basic bricks and plates form the bulk of this section of land and I think it looks fairly plain, with few notable visual features other than the small waterfall. The combination of colours is appealing though and I am particularly satisfied by the mixture of reddish brown, bright green and light bluish grey which looks very organic.
Fortunately, there is much more to this set than first appears. A furnace, torch and crafting table are included along with a hidden source of iron ore which can be extracted by removing the light bluish grey blocks surrounding it. A number of 2x2 jumper plates are distributed around the set so you can easily rearrange the blocks if you wish and these are also useful for posing the figures.
My favourite aspect of the set, other than the Iron Golem itself, is most definitely the transformation play feature which replicates the spawning of an Iron Golem. The stacking of four blocks of iron, topped with a pumpkin, will spawn an Iron Golem in the video game and the same is true of this set as you can pull the stacked bricks like a lever and suddenly the Iron Golem will emerge from underground!
This function works brilliantly. The transformation is inevitably noticeable as an entire section of terrain must be raised and lowered to reveal the Iron Golem but it is very quick and therefore gives the desired impression. I have had lots of fun with this feature so I am sure younger buyers of the set will as well.
I get the impression that the Minecraft designers are all fans of the video game and this is shown in the details which are often included in the sets. Here, a flower is included to replicate the action of an Iron Golem offering flowers to villagers in the game. This is a delightful little feature of the set and one which Minecraft fans will appreciate.
I am still uncertain about the Minecraft theme as a whole but this is an impressive set and it is certainly the best of the three released at this price point so far in my opinion. The minifigure selection is superb and the play value is considerable given the inclusion of some splendid play features as well as the eponymous Iron Golem and a few lovely details which demonstrate that the designer is a true fan of the video game.
This is a must-have set for any Minecraft fan and the price seems reasonable as well. On the other hand, the parts selection is not particularly impressive and for that reason I do not recommend it unless you are interested in Minecraft, unlike some of the other sets which are worth purchasing for the bricks alone.
Thanks to LEGO for providing this set for review. I know it's obvious but I'm obliged to tell you that this review is an expression of my views and opinions.