Of the five Friends, we've seen Emma's House and Olivia's House. Last year, we saw Livi's Pop Star Villa, and this year we visit the third of the Friends' houses, 41314 Stephanie's House . How does her abode compare to those of her pals?
The front of the set is pictured on the front of the box, with Stephanie on the porch swing, and her dad collecting a newspaper from the front walk. Her mom is looking from above from the balcony. A bunny hutch with baby rabbit is seen in the near background. The back of the box shows the set from the rear, with many insets focusing on the many details of the house as well as the included accessories.
Inside the box are five numbered bags, a bag containing seven baseplates (one 6x16 and two 8x16 in pale beige, two 8x16 in lavender, and two 8x16 in green). There's also a bag with a perfect bound instruction booklet but without cardboard, and a rather large sticker sheet (24 stickers!), both of which can get bent on their way to you, as mine did.
The minidolls in this set are Stephanie as well as two other characters (presumably her parents), Alicia and James. Nothing about Stephanie is new, which is a bit disappointing - she is wearing a striped top with blue shorts and purple sandals. Her accessory for this set is a blue hairbow. Both Alicia and James are new to this set. James comes with a striped polo shirt with white cargo shorts and sneakers, and is dressed appropriately for a casual house party, which the family appears to be preparing for. Alicia is also suitably casually attired with a pink blouse topped with a dark blue vest with pink piping. She's matched those with some light blue capris and dark blue espadrilles. Her hair is in a blonde flip style and she wears very stylish glasses.
It wouldn't be a Friends set without a cute animal, and Chili the baby bunny fits the part this time around. He (she?) comes with their own hutch, along with a rather large carrot snack to keep them occupied during the party. I hope someone remembers to bring Chili some water at some point!
I was somewhat surprised while building this set at the number of new(ish) pieces that it includes. Most of them aren't unique to this set, but can only be found in a few others. Actually, it's more accurate to say they're existing pieces in new colours. This is by no means an inclusive list, but the ones I managed to spot while building:
To do list (printed piece)
Wall 4x4x6, 45 degree angle (Used for the bay window frames. Previously only seen in Assembly Square)
Plate glass designed windows (blessedly, printed pieces)
Quarter circle pie pieces (printed piece)
1x4 plate with 2 knobs in light beige
1x2x2 flat tile corner in light beige
2x16 plate in magenta
Blue kitchen accessories
1x2x2 corner plate in magenta
2x2 roof tile in Medium azur
2x4 roof tile in Medium azur
Circle 6x6 roof tile in medium azur
6x6x4 staircase in lavender
The build starts with the kitchen. We don't waste any time before getting to the first large sticker - one that shows the detailing above the sink. A butterfly sticker is placed on the outside of the wall for the first gratuitous sticker of the set, of which there are several. The kitchen has several details, with the sink complete with dish soap, and on the opposing wall there's a stove with oven, where we have some party preparations in progress. Some cherries are being cooked (presumably for a pie?), and it looks like something baking in the oven - I'm choosing to believe they're brownies, or perhaps some cupcakes. There's a nice touch by including a ventilation hood over the stove.
In front of the kitchen we have one of the nice parts of the set, the dining area featuring stained glass bay windows. The dining area features a large table with three chairs. Party preparations are ongoing with some of the treats already laid out: a cherry pie using the quarter circle pie pieces, which looks pretty terrific. There's also some pink pastries (or ice cream?) laid out as well. The bay windows are lovely and large and have a pretty design. Most importantly, I was very happy not to have to put stickers on each one of those windows!
Next to the kitchen there's the foyer area, that puzzlingly has a welcome mat on the inside of the house. There's not much to this area other than the stickers adorning the wall showing a coat closet as well as some pictures of the family.
On the other side of the foyer is the living room, with a rather large sofa, the placement of which doesn't allow for much space for a minidoll to move from the foyer to the living room. The blue sofa is accented with pink seat cushions that are adorned with yet more stickers. There's a coordinating coffee table with some cupcakes laid out for the party.
The three main areas of the first floor, prior to tackling the hinged portion leading to upstairs:
The other half of the living room is hinged on, and features a large flat screen TV showing a tennis match. The TV is on a swivel so can be viewed from anywhere in the room, particularly when the room is open. The rest of the room is taken up with the spiral staircase leading to the second floor.
The space underneath the staircase is reserved for a brick built vacuum cleaner which is rather clever.
The second floor features two modules. The first is Stephanie's bedroom, which is rife with stickers….er, details. Stephanie has a two poster bed with a floral bedspread, courtesy of another sticker. She has a sticker calendar on the wall featuring a panda, and her sports bag with tennis racquet is at the foot of the bed. On the other side of the room is a small dresser with another sticker on the wall showing a mirror and various keepsakes. Another sticker shows a picture of Stephanie with Chili, and the only printed piece in this room is the to do list (presumably for the party). There's a door leading to the outside to the small balcony with those new magenta railing pieces.
The second module features two rooms - a bathroom and a small study for Stephanie. Much like the bedroom, there are plenty of stickers to show details in this area. The bathroom features a rainbath shower, a sink and a toilet. There are hot and cold switches for the shower and a small soap container. There are stickers on both walls showing further details in the bathroom - various shower accessories on one side and a mirror with handtowel and other make up accessories on the other.
The study area is small, but also packed with details. There's a swivel chair and a desk; the desk has a newspaper and a laptop (using yet another sticker) on it. Looks like Stephanie has been doing some travel planning! The walls are decorated with more stickers; one side is a map of world showing various destinations where Stephanie aspires to travel, the others shows a picture of Stephanie with her dad (one with her mom is downstairs).
The outside of the house is relatively straightforward. In one of the windows next to the front door we find the address number - I'm not sure what significance the number 72 has. The front door is finished with a pet door (which is, of course, another sticker).
The front yard features some flowers, a white picket fence and a mailbox, complete with an invitation to the party that's about to start.
Another interesting part of the build is the porch swing. There a nice use of technic parts for this portion of the build. The porch is built for three and features a gingham pattern on the seat (yet another stickers). The swing moves easily and freely and makes for a very pleasant way for three Friends to enjoy the treats that they're prepared for the party.
I thought Stephanie's House to be a more traditional house than the other houses that we've seen to date. This seems especially so since the last house was Livi's Pop Star Villa from last year which had a very modern vibe. For those who don't have Olivia's or Emma's house, Stephanie's House gives you just about the same build experience, though it's not quite as modular as Olivia's house (where all four rooms could be stacked). However, Stephanie's House does have some nice features such as the bay windows for the dining area and the porch swing. The porch swing in particular I think reflects some of the move the Friends sets have made to include moving features.
I found myself getting sticker fatigue when building this set. There were several large stickers, which I find more challenging to apply (and get centred and straight) but also quite a few gratuitous ones, which I believe were added to fill out the rest of the sheet. I understand the vital purpose that the stickers provide in adding details where bricks can't be spared, but there are times where I'd rather see a few brick built details and not so many stickers.
Because of the building features, I think this would be a great present for someone who doesn't have much LEGO building experience but would like a larger set. The build is not difficult but gives you a glimpse of other things that LEGO has to offer. That is, assuming they don't mind stickers!