The Friends Winter theme now contrasts with a beach theme that came in the previous wave from the beginning of the summer. The largest of those beach themed sets is 41317 Sunshine Catamaran, which may remind some of 2013's 41015 Dolphin Cruiser. Most of the attention of the early summer wave was for (and deservedly so) 41318 Heartlake Hospital, and not much to these beach sets. I thought I'd check out the catamaran before reviewing some other Winter theme sets.
The front box art shows the catamaran just off the shore of a beach, quite appropriately. 41316 Andrea's Speedboat Transporter in the background on the left. Heartlake City (with some signficant skyscrapers, one with the name "Rocket" on it) on the right background with 41315 Heartlake Surf Shop in the near distance. There's a small inset in the lower left suggesting the top of the catamaran can be removed. The back confirms that the top deck can indeed be taken off, plus shows insets of other features of the set and a display of all the accessories.
Inside are five numbered bags, an unnumbered bag with larger pieces (2 6x16 plates, one 6x10 plate, a small slide, a net for between the hulls, three windshield pieces and two fore hull pieces), and a perfect bound instruction book with a sticker sheet and a large sail. The instruction book doesn't come with cardboard, which a shame since while the instruction book itself has enough heft to reasonably survive being curled up inside the box (like mine was), the sticker sheet and sail are not as resilient. I had to place both under some weight to get them to flatten out a bit.
There are three minidolls in this set: two of the Friends, Olivia and Stephanie, and their friend, Liam. Liam is new to this set with a new Friends head with big green eyes and a smiling face. His torso is also new with a short sleeved green t-shirt that has a yellow fading pattern on the front. His blue shorts and tennis shoes have been seen before in a few sets, and together Liam looks like he is ready for a day on the boat.
Olivia similarly has a new torso - she is wearing a pink and white decorated halter top that ties in the back. This is paired with a pink set of shorts and a pair of pink flip flops, so Olivia is very colour coordinated! Both Olivia and Stephanie come with sunglasses. Stephanie also has a new torso to this set; a purple tank top with some detailed printing on the front of some sweeping stripes with decorative gold stars. The trim on the tank top is turquoise, which matches very well with her turquoise skirt and what look to be beaded flip flops.
Accessories and auxiliary builds
It's typical for Friends sets to have accessories, but this one truly has a lot of them, as pictured below. I particularly like the food items such as the pizza (pictured elsewhere), ice cream and popsicle. I also like the life preservers (safety first!). I've included in the accessory picture a brick built floaty ring as well as the two Friends animals in the set, some blue dolphins. The dolphins are the same shade of blue, which is a subtle difference from the Dolphin Cruiser, which had dolphins in two different colours.
The auxiliary builds for this set include a jet ski and banana boat. You could argue that these are not auxiliary builds at all as there are storage spaces for both of them on the main catamaran. I thought the banana boat was quite a clever little build by using a couple of 2x2 rocking plates.
The top level of the catamaran provides the main mast for the sail, which is a massive size compared to the rest of the vessel. The sail has a pleasing pattern of a stylized wave with sunlight in the background with flower decoration and magenta trim. The sail itself is plastic, so you can see the pattern on both sides, which is a plus. I've removed the sail for most of the pictures in this review to focus on the other details.
Right behind the mast we have a small control center for the captain that consists of a rather comfy looking lounge with steering wheel (though I'm not sure how a minidoll reaches the steering wheel when sitting down). I'm also not quite sure why there's windshield in front of the seat - while I know these can be necessary, this doesn't strike me as a racing catamaran. Couple that with the fact that there's an open air seating area, complete with a table with a dish stocked with healthy fruit snacks (apple, banana and a watermelon slice), I don't think that the Friends are planning on testing the high speed limits on this catamaran.
There are three ways to get off this upper level. The flashiest (and coolest - pun intended!) way is to take the slide - however that goes all the way to the ocean, so the Friends better make sure they want to get wet! There's a ladder on the starboard side that leads down to the next deck. There's another ladder just off the front of the cockpit area - that leads down to a deck level pool, complete with waterfall. There's also a refreshing tropical drink and a newspaper (a printed piece we've seen before) available on the pool edge to make the pool a lovely place to relax.
The next level down is dedicated to walkways, but it's also one of these spaces that can be used to store the banana boat while the Friends are sailing. On each side of the boat is the registration number - HLC-41317 - which is clearly a nod to the set number.
The entire top two decks of the boats lift off - this is easy to do as there are no studs connecting the two portions of the build - to have complete access to the lower deck.
Starting from the rear of the boat, we see a broad yellow staircase leading down from the upper levels of the catamaran on the starboard side. Besides the stairs there's a small platform that can be used by the Friends to jump into the water. The slide leading from the top level is on the left hand side.
Between the stairs and the slide, there's a sliding door that leads to the inside of the catamaran. However, after getting out of the water, what better way to start clean up than to rinse off in the shower conveniently located just outside the sliding door.
The lower section behind the slide swings open to allow storage of the jet-ski. What a great use of space.
Just inside, there's a small kitchenette complete with a sink and a small stove where some pizza is reheating.
To the left there's a small breakfast bar with a couple stools and mugs ready to enjoy a drink.
There's a seating area with two very plush easy chairs with a table between them on which rests a portable music player, which controls the two speakers mounted on each of the hulls. Between the easy chairs is a glass bottom portion of the catamaran, so the Friends can do some wildlife viewing during their time at sea. You can also see in this picture the two chaise lounges on the top of the twin hulls, as well as two of the three round life preservers included in the set. There's a net stretched between the two front hulls of the catamaran that allows for extra space for the Friends to spread out and enjoy the day.
And we're not done yet! The designer has done a good job of maximizing use of all the space in this catamaran. Each of the two hulls has yet more functional space. On the port side (Behind the jet ski storage), there's a sleeping area for one of the Friends as well as a full vanity.
On the starboard side, there's another sleeping space, and also a full bathroom complete with sink, toilet and sticker implying another shower just beyond the shower curtain.
All put together, the catamaran looks quite impressive. My one small complaint is that there isn't enough room for the minidolls to stand in the lower hull portion when the upper part of the boat is attached (that's not true for the main area in the centre of the catamaran). The outside looks quite stylish, especially with liberal use of the transparent pieces in the lower portions of the hull that adds more light to the inside and more flair to the outside. I can't imagine that the most structurally sound configuration, though, again, I don't think this is a racing catamaran.
New and rare pieces
There are a few pieces that make their first appearance in this set. Most of these, not surprisingly, are key to the construction of the boat's two hulls: the 4x6 inverted roof file, the 6x10x4 inverted roof with double bow, and the right and left 2x6 shell with bow, all in bright reddish violet. The bright yellow stairs and the lattice work for the front of the catamaran are also new. There are also a couple new pieces in medium azur: a 1x6 flat tile and a 1x2x2 flat tile.
There's a plethora of relatively rare parts in this set, I would encourage you to check out the set's inventory page here.
I think this is an excellent playset with lots of details and opportunities for a child to create their own stories. There's a sticker sheet included and the stickers are nice, but this is one of the first sets where I think all the stickers are gratuitous and not really needed. The designer has done a good job of maximizing play value for the space provided, not letting any space go wasted. In the catamaran we have two sleeping areas, a bath room, a kitchenette, a vanity, a seating area for the glass bottom portion, a breakfast bar in addition to the sliding door leading outside to the shower. And that's just one level - wow!
Having the top come off the boat is terrific and allows great accessibility. As I mentioned at the top, many of the beach theme sets didn't get much attention when they first came out. For those of you who may be looking for a larger set for gift purposes in the next few months, I would strongly consider 41317 Sunshine Catamaran. For the price (603 pieces, $69.99, £64.99, 69.99€) it's a little on the more expensive side, but picking this up on sale, or even during a double (or triple, if you're in a country so lucky) points event makes it more worthwhile.
My next review will be for the contest winner, Heartlake Playground, and then back to some of the winter sets.