After having an enjoyable first dip into the Minecraft world reviewing 21135 The Crafting Box 2.0 I've also been asked to cast my thoughts on the next number up, 21136 The Ocean Monument. This is an altogether different beast from what I reviewed before so it's going to be interesting to find out what's on offer. It's not a flagship set, but it does break the three figure barrier coming in at £119.99 / €119.99 / $119.99 so I'm expecting good things for that kind of outlay. 1122 pieces and just under 2kg in weight seems a good place to start. Let's open it up and hope those headlines qualify it as a must buy.
So it's nice and weighty and measures 48x38x9.5cm – only 10cm less in width than the modular 10246 Detective's Office for example. The graphic design is attractive and of course the main build takes centre stage. My first impression of it is that it looks a bit monotone and uninteresting so I hope it affords more once built.
The Ocean Monument is set in an underwater world and the colours of the build are a good match for the video game version - though not very exciting. The front box art does help to jazz it up quite a lot.
The reverse shows the play features and some alternate builds, but it still looks a little plain to me.
Open it up and we have 8 numbered bags and 4 instruction booklets. There's quite a bulk, though that's to be expected as there is a decent ratio of bricks to plates. In fact, there's only half a dozen technic pins in the whole thing. They're the usual culprit of inflating piece counts but not so here, plus there's no stickers – hurrah!
There's some definite points of interest with several of this years new recolours and prints making a showing. We have 6x6 plates in Dark Green and there are 15 included. The 2x2 plate in Pearl Gold is an excellent recolour and there are 24 of them here. 2x2 jumpers in Sand Green, 2x2 tiles in Light Aqua, Bar Holder with Clip in Orange and some Minecraft prints are others that I've picked out as noteworthy.
However it probably hasn't escaped your attention that there are a lot of Sand Green and Dark Green elements in this set – potentially good news for MOCers. I'd advise having a good look through the entire set inventory to see what you get.
Unfortunately though, in my copy there are a lot of colour inconsistencies across the Sand Green parts. It's easily seen in my photographs with many parts being lighter or darker to the adjacent bricks which is a shame. Hopefully this quality control issue hasn't affected too many sets though I suspect the target demographic probably isn't quite as bothered by this as myself.
Minifigs and mini-builds
It's Minecraft so you guessed it, it's Steve and Alex again.
Alex gets recoloured armour and a sword both in Medium Lavender. Apart from that, there is nothing to see here.
Surely it's about time that adding custom skins to some of these sets would add a little more interest – especially at this price level. LEGO have already produced the 853609 Skin Pack and 853610 Skin Pack and they are both excellent. I'd love to see a little more variation on our lead characters - it's great for collectors as well as builders.
The brick built enemies are nicely done though. All three are excellent renditions of the source material and all three have a new printed tile piece for their faces.
First up is the Elder Guardian – the biggest. As well as the spiky tentacles it features a swishy tail for different poses that also acts as a firing mechanism for the inbuilt spring shooter.
The shooter is placed neatly below the mouth area. When it's loaded, the arrow sticks out of the lower body at the rear. The tail section has a quad convex slope on the underside. When you move the tail across the centre, the slope pushes on the arrow and fires it – simple yet very effective.
The Guardian is next in the pecking order and again features spikes and swishy tail, all of which can be set to your preferred pose. The colours couldn't have worked better for this one. The Guardian sits perfectly atop a transparent bar outside the monument which I'll show in the play pictures.
I have to say that photographing both of the guardians was a pain as every time I tried to pose them I tended to move the spikes about involuntarily and was forever adjusting them. Whether this will annoy people in play I'm not sure.
Lastly we come to the squid, and he's kinda cute. It might have been nice to have included two as it's not made of many parts.
From the rear it's a little plain, but I'm not sure I could have done any better.
First up is the cave. This is a small standalone section that Steve and Alex can use as a base. It features Water Breathing and Health Potions, a bucket of milk plus a small furnace that sits in the middle.
The idea is that any wet sponges collected from the monument can be placed here for drying out. Several 2x2 jumpers are used in strategic positions for easy placement of items. To call this a cave is a bit of a stretch, but for it's intended play purpose it's ok I guess.
After that, we're on to the main build which is broken down into very easy sections. I've shown the stages in pictures as there's not a huge amount to say about it. There is a small amount of repetition being symmetrical and the level of difficulty hardly registers on the scale. As an adult it barely filled 2 hours of my life – 15-20 minutes per bag on average.
It all starts with a small base.
Then we add the first side...
...and then the other.
They are both attached to the base with hinges. Here it is closed up. Zoom in and you should be able to notice the shade differences in the Sand Green bricks at the front quite easily.
Next up is a central cube which is in fact one of the play features. We'll come to the operating mechanism later.
The front wall is built with a nice diagonal pattern in it, and the main entrance doors are hung.
Lastly the roof is built before putting it on top. It isn't attached to any studs at all so is easily removed and replaced.
The final touch is a front archway and then populating it all for play.
There's not a massive amount on offer but all of the mechanisms employed are incredibly simple, yet work very well. The main video game mechanics from The Ocean Monument are all here.
Front left of the monument is a transparent that bar pivots on a technic pin, thus swinging in an arc. The Guardian sits on this making it appear to swim or float in different positions. It's great for hovering it over the door (if you take the entrance arch off).
On the opposite side, a small section of the Monument can be removed, or “mined” to reveal a Dry Sponge. The sponge is fixed to a 1x2 SNOT brick so very easy to detach. The idea is that you take the sponge and use it to wedge open the main doors.
The main doors hang at the top by means of one technic pin each and gravity keeps them closed (well almost). All you have to do to open them is to push down on the top centre, and they swing open. Again, such a simple idea but very effective.
This is where the sponge comes in. Fix to the jumper and it keeps the doors prised apart – then Steve or Alex can go in.
Now that's done, let's move inside.
According to the LEGO website, you can “Remove the roof section and fold out the model for access to the detailed interior.” While you can do both of those actions, I'm not seeing a lot of detail here. In fact it looks a little bland.
With the wings unfolded, there are two small chambers to be searched in each.
One chamber per side has a sponge that can be collected by removing it from a SNOT brick.
Apart from that, there is the central treasure chamber that needs to be accessed. It's a cube shaped structure with no obvious way for Steve or Alex to open it from the front.
Instead, it's opened by using a button at the back which locks the lid in place. One small push and it slides down to reveal a bunch of gold blocks for the taking.
To reset it to the closed position you grab the grey handle in the centre and slide it upwards. It works well.
If you were expecting more play features for your money, I have to report that, well, umm, that's about it.
Oh shoot – nearly forgot! Yes, shooters – of course you can swoosh the Elder Guardian about and shoot things. Because of the tail mechanism employed, it can be all too easy to set it off by accident though. I did my best to get some action shots but it fires with quite a velocity so needed a lot of takes. Like many a small child I only stopped firing when I'd managed to lose both of my arrows.
It was a good day for Alex to be wearing armour.
The build can be reconfigured in two other ways. The first, a wide and skinny option, is duller than the main course. It could make a very impressive entrance for an underwater temple I grant you, but without any structure behind it, it's a little basic.
The second alternative looks random but at least it offers a more usable interior. It's still not great but it will just about fit the Guardian in certain places and there's room to play.
Both alternates do have a minor annoyance too. Because they reuse some of the individual block built components for quick rearrangement, such as the gold 2x2s, a few elements of the build are only attached by one stud so they are incredibly easy to knock off. This can be rectified by losing the 2x2 jumpers on the tops of each block. It would have been simple to show this as an extra step in the instructions but you have to work it out yourself after you've knocked the tower tops off for the umpteenth time.
Both alternate builds are billed as “Inspiration” but they don't add a huge amount to the overall experience of the set. They seem like an afterthought.
It's another case of the UK having to pay a premium as the RRP is £119.99 / €119.99 / $119.99. That's a big wad of cash to find - especially for what you get. It works out at 10.7p per piece. While the set has a decent amount of parts, unfortunately there is no x-factor included with them. That's an important detail that gives so much added value to a set – and I'm just not feeling it here.
The Ocean Monument was released in August and as it's widely available from all the major box shifters it's already seen a few reductions off it's RRP – and that's most welcome. In fact, at the moment it's currently 38% off at Amazon.co.uk which brings the price down to a much more reasonable £73.99.
For a large set at this price I was hoping to be impressed, but I feel it falls a little short in most areas. The build is quick and unexciting leaving a very austere centrepiece. I totally get that this is a representation of a Minecraft object, and visually it does the job, but it's much smaller than the Monument in game and hasn't much of an interior to play in.
Whilst the brick built foes are very good, the play features in the build itself are quite limited and I can't see any real longevity in them.
When I've built a new model, I love it when I can stand back and admire it, or get the urge to go in and poke a few things around, move some minifigs into different positions, mess with the features or any of that kind of stuff – just generally fiddle with and enjoy it. I may even wish to display on a shelf for a while.
I get no sense of that here. It's a big uninteresting green pyramid, with a little contrast coming from the cave add-on. The only desire I get is to use the bricks for something else.
Let me put it this way. I like toast – but I like my toast with butter and jam. If this were toast, it would be served dry.
Unfortunately I have a hard time recommending this set at RRP, and I still have a hard time recommending it at 20% less to be honest. I think there are better Minecraft sets than this and I'd be waiting for a much more substantial discount before committing to a purchase.
Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing Brickset with a review copy of the set. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.