The two entry level Minecraft 2018 sets that I've built to date have proved both fun and enjoyable. 21140 The Chicken Coop looks to be no exception, and since its reveal back in November 2017 it's drawn a lot of positive comments with many a Minecraft fan being eager to get their hands on it. At a price of £19.99 / €19.99 / $19.99 it's in a sweet spot for impulse buying and for 195 parts it's better value than the entry level sets if we look at price per piece.
Can it ruffle a few feathers and appeal to those who've never bought into this theme before? Does the price per piece tell the whole story? I've just built my copy and I'm here to report on my findings. Here we go...
The box size is 260x190x60mm and you can see here how that looks relative to an adult hand. The design is usual Minecraft affair and looks great.
Inside there are two numbered bags and instructions which looks like the pic below when separated into their respective piles. The booklet is 72 pages cover to cover and the main build is 59 steps, with a few extra pages dedicated to the ancillaries and minifigure.
Parts-wise, pieces of interest are the printed tile with chicken pattern, new printed 1x2 bricks for the furnace as lit and unlit versions. These two prints are common across the 2018 range now appearing in 3 other sets so far. The axe makes in first showing in Dark Bluish Grey and there's a couple of red petals which are also new in 2018. The feathers get a recolour in white, and there's a transparent 1x1 round tile with new print on it – seeds. Of course the best bit is what we all came for – the chickens! They're a 1x1 modified plate – the shape of which I haven't seen before.
A minor irritation was this 6x12 plate that was quite warped. It flattens out once there's a few bricks attached but I don't recall seeing a new piece arrive in this condition previously. I know I'm being Mr Picky here, but as a reviewer I'll flag up the warts along the way.
The minifig selection amounts to just one – Alex – again. I sense this set is built to a price (and a good one at that) so new prints must be limited – but surely some different skins would be appropriate across the whole wave by now. It's another missed opportunity - even it was some pixelated dungarees or a coat printed on the torso for instance. Maybe something a bit farmy? I may have just made that last word up.
Aside from Alex though there is a brick built Tamed Wolf. This is a nice addition as the printed head last appeared in the more expensive 21121 The Desert Outpost from 2015. Then there are three of the new chicken pieces. Brick mini-builds yield a baby chicken, and then combined with a 1x1 Brick with 4 Knobs underneath they make nice plump adults, with or without flapping wings. They're cute and fun for sure.
Overall there was about 25 minutes build time here. However, I did rather handicap myself by deciding to wear white cotton gloves in a bid to keep fingerprints off for photography purposes. This made handling small parts a bit fiddly and I kept trapping glove threads between bricks. Live and learn. Bag 1 is for the minifigs, minibuilds and gets as far as the base shown here.
Bag 2, or course, is for the rest, including the giant chicken henhouse with an intriguing “bum” mechanism. Once populated with Alex and her feathery / furry friends the scene is one of both originality and humour. It looks fabulous, colourful and inviting. So...what can we play with?
The main feature is hidden in the base of the henhouse, where you'll find a sliding tray. The henhouse interior is easily accessed by removing the head as it is mounted on two studs each side.
In the tray you can put an egg for safekeeping. Smaller fingers probably don't need to remove the head – the eggs can be popped in through the front opening.
From the rear, you'll spy a handy knob, just waiting to be pulled – and from here you'll also see that the chicken's backside is hovering over an open chest.
Give it a pull, and plop – the egg drops into the chest.
There's a couple of easy ways to retrieve the egg. The entire hen-house sits on only 5 studs so can be taken off as a whole, but the chest sits on a couple of 2x2 jumpers so that is easily removed as well.
Alex can grab the eggs from here, and there are several handy jumpers dotted around on which to place them if desired. There are 2 eggs included.
You've probably noticed the 1x1 transparent tile and here's where it comes in. It's supposed to represent a handful of seeds, so you can feed your chickens to fatten them up, or lure them into the pen for safekeeping. There is only 1 tile on the official inventory but it does come with a spare. The pen has hinged gates.
Of course, there's not a lot of point in keeping chickens if you can't benefit from them. Vegetarians look away now – chicken murderer on the loose!
There is a handy chicken drumstick accessory included so I've cooked mine on the furnace. It just needs a glass of cheeky white to wash it down. There are two feather accessories and a bone as well.
I'm going all in to say I absolutely love The Chicken Coop. It's only a small build but very enjoyable with a good variety of pieces. Once completed it certainly has the fun factor and includes what the best of LEGO sets should have – playability. Kids will love posing the chickens and laying eggs from the hen-house. It has that intangible something about it, which meant I kept going back to take more and more pics set up in different ways. Adult play? You decide.
In the absence of any interesting minifigs the Tamed Wolf is a decent substitute so the only real moan is getting Alex again. The Chicken Coop will work well if partnered either with the little 21138 The Melon Farm or larger 21144 The Farm Cottage (I'll be looking to pick that up soon too) and I'm not complaining at the price band they've pitched it at.
In fact I'm surprised at the price really, it wouldn't be uncommon for this sort of licensed IP to have crept up to £24.99 in the UK. The biggest issue with the price is that it makes the smaller entry pair of sets look a tad expensive, especially in the EU or USA, but I'll take £19.99 all day long thanks.
I think this is one of my favourite sets from LEGO this year overall – and remember I'm not really a Minecraft nerd either. To sum up, it's fairly priced, a lot fun and yes – it could well be the one Minecraft set for non-Minecraft fans. I thoroughly recommend this set.
What do you think? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.