Earlier this year, the winner of the LEGO Friends Designer Content was announced: Sienna from the UK, had designed a playground for Heartlake City. As part of her prize Sienna and her family got to spend a week in Billund working with Friends designers to make her idea into an official LEGO set. If you follow LEGO on social media, you could have followed Sienna's journey and watched her being welcomed to Billund by Ricardo Silva and Fenella Charity, the designers who worked with Sienna. The set was released September 1, so of course I had to check it out!
The front art on the box shows the full set on display, with minidolls Sienna and Mia enjoying the different activities in the park. There's a brick graphic on the box that shows that this is the contest winning set, and celebratory confetti can be found on the right and left sides. The back of the box shows off different features of the set, with another graphic showing that this is a contest winner and more confetti in the upper right as well along the bottom.
Inside the box there are three numbered bags, a small sticker sheet, small perfect bound instruction book, bright yellow full slide, and three plates in bright green; one 16x16 and two 8x16. it's always nice to see larger plates for the base in Friends sets (maybe it's me, but it seems many Friends sets don't have them).
The two minidolls in the set are Mia, and of course, Sienna! Mia comes dressed for a day at the park with a blue halter top decorated with butterflies paired with green shorts (also decorated with butterflies) and purple flip flops. Her long red hair is braided down her back so it doesn't get in the way. Sienna the minidoll is dressed in clothes that Sienna the designer chose: a sleeveless hoodie in pink with a touch of purple (Sienna's description) and a skirt in turquoise (medium azur), Sienna's favourite colour.
The Friends animal in the set is a little brown dog with blue eyes named Pippa. Pippa is named after Sienna's grandmother's dog that her grandmother got for her birthday.
The build has several different parts. The first item to be built are two of the smaller sections, a fountain and an ice cream cart. The ice cream cart is an addition to Sienna's original design and is a very nice addition at that. This cart is also well stocked with both a popsicle and an ice cream (or ice lollies, for those of you in the UK). I like the printed umbrella piece used to provide a bit of shade. Close by there's a sign posted to indicate the prices of the ice cream found in the cart.
The other smaller build is the fountain, which is close to Sienna's original design. I like the choice of purple flowers for decorations around the edge and a nickel (or 5p piece) has been provided to toss into the fountain and make a wish.
Next is the swingset. In Sienna's original set there was only one swing, but as she's explained in an interview, that was due to a lack of parts on her part and is quite happy this set has two. The seats on the swing are 2x2 jumper plates. It took me a few minutes to figure out those are really for Pippa; the Friends have to hold onto the sides of the swings in order to not fall off. There's a sticker provided decoration that shows the hours for the park. Some stepping stones and a couple flowers provide additional detail.
The main part of the build is the centre of activity of the playground and includes a number of activities. In front of the main structure there's a merry-go-round and see saw. There's a bench not far away.
The other activities are combined in one structure and includes two of Sienna's favourite activities: monkey bars and a climbing wall. Both of these activities are used as the means to get to the second floor of the structure. Once at the top, a Friend can use the hopscotch laid out to gain access to the top of the tree house.
Speaking of the tree house…..oh no, there are BURPs! Though they do have an interesting use as tree trunk pieces. Inside the treehouse there are a couple posters (provided by stickers) of upcoming events that the Friends have. According to one of Sienna's interviews, one of the stickers lists the names of the designers and graphic artist who worked on the set. There's also a top level of the treehouse (though no means to get up there), that has a trunk containing two walkie talkies. Monogrammed stickers and 1x2 tiles personalize the walkie talkies for the two friends (purple for Sienna, blue for Mia). Underneath the hopscotch there's another bench along with a globe window to provide light and to see outside.
Once on the second level, quick access to the ground can be gained by the bright yellow slide on the far side of the treehouse.
Not surprisingly, considering that this is a contest winner and the tight turnaround for development, there are no new pieces in this set, though there are several pieces that are somewhat rare. You can check what those are on the inventory page here.
Sienna has said that she designed her set to be a playground because she felt Heartlake City was missing one, and she made a great choice. A playground was an inspired choice for a set, as it's something that everyone can use and children of all ages can appreciate. Kudos as well to Ricardo and Fenella for a final set that is very close to Sienna's original design, though I'm sure they would say that they had some great material to work with.
There are lots of opportunities for stories and play in this set, and the color scheme is very attractive (though typical Friends haters won't like that there's - gasp! - purple in the set). There's nothing like this in the Friends universe to date, and this is a delightful addition.
The only drawback to the set is the price. At $39.99 (£39.99, 39.99€) for 326 pieces, the set is pricy for what you get. I would recommend this set, but would also recommend that you find a sale or combine buying this with another promotion.