Review: 21136 Minecraft The Ocean Monument

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View image at flickr

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.


The box

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.

View image at flickr

The reverse shows the play features and some alternate builds, but it still looks a little plain to me.

View image at flickr

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!

View image at flickr


Parts

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Alex gets recoloured armour and a sword both in Medium Lavender. Apart from that, there is nothing to see here.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

From the rear it's a little plain, but I'm not sure I could have done any better.

View image at flickr


The Build

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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...

View image at flickr

...and then the other.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

Next up is a central cube which is in fact one of the play features. We'll come to the operating mechanism later.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

The front wall is built with a nice diagonal pattern in it, and the main entrance doors are hung.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

The final touch is a front archway and then populating it all for play.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr


Play Features

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).

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

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.View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

With the wings unfolded, there are two small chambers to be searched in each.

View image at flickr

One chamber per side has a sponge that can be collected by removing it from a SNOT brick.

View image at flickr

View image at flickrhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/brickset/37198488644

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

To reset it to the closed position you grab the grey handle in the centre and slide it upwards. It works well.View image at flickr

View image at flickrhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/brickset/37198487044

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.

View image at flickr

It was a good day for Alex to be wearing armour.


Reconfiguring

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

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.


Price

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.

View image at flickr

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.

View image at fl


Overall

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.View image at flickr

21 comments on this article

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By in Norway,

Nice to see a review that doesn't end on a positive note! This set should be good for the people always going on about sand green, but probably not too many others. Very expensive pile of bricks.

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By in United States,

Gasp! Need to breathe! $120 for a blasted pyramid?!

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By in United Kingdom,

I like a lot of the Minecraft sets but they're all so overpriced. Having said that, I find this very boring to look at

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By in United States,

@LuvLegos_Cool_J: Doesn't seem too surprising to me. I mean, https://brickset.com/sets/7327-1/Scorpion-Pyramid cost $100 and that was only half a pyramid with way fewer bricks. I don't think that the US price seems unfair for the model's size, weight, and piece count.

That said, the design itself mostly seems to be geared towards Minecraft fans who recognize this specific landmark and its significance. Which isn't to say that's a fault. And it could still have value to other LEGO fans as a parts pack.

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By in United States,

@Aanchir

To be fair to the price of that set, it has a CRAPP in it which always raises the price quite a bit.

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By in United Kingdom,

Only bought this for the parts, and at £74 on amazon, great deal.

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By in United States,

Great review! It seems that my earlier criticism that iso3200 is not a good minecraft reviewer was quite unfounded. I am glad to be proven wrong!

I quite agree: this set is entirely unremarkable. I like the parts though! Gold plates, gold jumpers, 6x6 dark green plates: a heroica builder's dream! Still probably won't pick it up though.

Love the sense of humor! Very well done!

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By in United States,

The way-too-obvious shade differences in the Sand Green parts is disconcerting to say the least. Are all colors showing this kind of variation nowadays?

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By in United States,

Sand green color is the only positive part of this set.

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review!

The variation in sand green is very noticeable and quite shocking, really. It looks as if the 2x2s are much darker than the 2x4s, which is not really acceptable, is it.

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By in United States,

I got this for 80$ from my local target, i still only got it for the parts and creature selection.

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By in Canada,

Nice review! I'm also surprised at the difference in sand green colouring. I had thought this set was worth picking up for the sand green, but if there's that level of variation, not so much.

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By in Australia,

61 1x6 sand green bricks! So close, yet so far away...

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By in Sweden,

I’n quite surprised that the Minecraft theme keeps on going. Who buys these sets, especially when they’re priced like this? There must be a huge following of the game.

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By in United States,

@Dude45: Minecraft is the best-selling PC game ever and second best-selling video game ever, so yeah, bit of a following there.
I'll admit that, visually, this isn't the most interesting Minecraft set, but I still want it, mainly because Lego isn't likely to make another set with Guardian or Elder Guardian figures.

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By in United Kingdom,

I've noticed a lot of shade variations in new, straight from the box white bricks recently, but not darker colours. I don't mind the weathered natural look it gives to star wars ships or modular buildings, but it's worrying if lego is cutting quality control to save a few pennies

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By in Netherlands,

"It's a big uninteresting green pyramid, with a little contrast coming from the cave add-on."

In the conclusion, you forgot to mention there's also contrast coming from the different shades of sand green! ;-)

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By in United States,

When I first heard this sets anouncement I was excited, but the end result disappointed me. There are so many better MC sets out there, both cheaper such as the Desert Outpost and more expensive like the Mountain Cave. I think the big thing that kills this is it is the only underwater set, and probably will always be the only one. Every other Minecraft set has some sort of sister set it can link to, allowing you to build a huge world (with the exception of the End, but there are still ways to hook it up.) A right shame it only comes with one squid too.

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By in Germany,

there always where some minimal varayties of colourshading in lego bricks, but i also saw it occuring more often in new sets..but this...i mean somehow its cool to got more than "one" sandgreen...I also think it has do do something with quality control, but thats not surprising regarding the rising number of set releases every year...

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By in Switzerland,

My 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V has such color variations on many of the white pieces. Very bothersome.

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By in United States,

Not to many Minecraft fans on Brickset.

Yea, you guys are out of your element with MC. Sorry, but I'm going over to JANGBRICKS for this one.

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