41346 Friendship Box is a little different for a Friends set. Instead of depicting a scene, the builds are accessories for each of the Friends. As this was a little out of my normal range of reviews, I decided that I needed some help.
With Bricks by the Bay happening last month, I asked my local LUG, BayLUG, for a couple of experts who could provide some key insights into the set - kids in the target age range for the set. Fortunately for me, Lucie and Jasper, two BayLUG members' children, volunteered to help.
See what Lucie and Jasper thought of the Friendship Box after the break.
The set comes in a different package than most sets - a suitcase type of box with a blue plastic handle at the top. The front of the box shows all five Friends with their associated accessory, with pictures of the accessories. The heart shaped inset in the upper right where you normally see the Friends - for this set instead there's a heart shaped caption that reads “Best Friends Build Together”. Small graphics also show that there is a light brick and batteries are included. The back of the box shows girls playing with each one of the accessories and making it again clear which toy goes with each Friend: Emma/camera, Stephanie/trophy, Mia/walk-in talkies, Andrea/microphone, Olivia/robot.
This is makes sense because, as Lucie explained to me, "Olivia likes science, Emma likes to take pictures, Mia likes talking with her friends, Andrea likes to sing and Stephanie…likes to win?"
Works for me.
Inside the box there are five numbered bags and five numbered instruction booklets, one of each for each build.
First came the important work - deciding who builds what. Thanks to both Lucie's and Jasper's parents for their permission to include their pictures in this review.
It was ultimately decided that Lucie would build the robot and the microphone and Jasper would build the trophy and the camera. They'd share the walkie talkie build unless someone finished theirs first. Lucie informed me that she wanted the microphone because she enjoys singing and performing, and the microphone would be perfect for that.
Even though Jasper and Lucie built theirs separately, there was a lot of checking in during the builds to see how things were coming out.
Lucie started building the robot and decided to build on the floor. She quickly proclaimed that the steps were really easy to follow.
Jasper started with the camera, and decided to build on one of the tables in the room.
There's a mechanism built inside the camera that when you press on the shutter, the light brick included in the set makes the "flash" go off. The mechanism to allow for a working camera was a big hit with both Jasper and Lucie. The camera shows both an optical and LCD viewfinder - the first as a translucent brick and the second represented as a sticker. We had found a quiet room at the conference center to do the builds, so that photography for this somewhat challenging.
As mentioned above, pressing the shutter (the ball) at the top of the camera allows for the "flash" to go off.
Jasper wasted no time taking "pictures" - including selfies with his mom, and one of me taking a picture of him.
Lucie also tried her hand with the camera.
Meanwhile, Lucie's robot was still taking shape. She observed that at first it was looking like a chair, and then like a box. The reason for the box became clear - there's a compartment inside the torso of the robot with some dessert inside. Because, even though this is a different Friends set, apparently it still isn't a Friends set without food involved somehow.
"It's a toaster robot!" exclaimed Jasper.
Jasper went on the build the trophy - a very straightforward build.
As Lucie was just finishing the robot, Jasper continued with building the walkie talkies.
The robot is by far the most complex of all the builds - while there's some intricacy with the camera, the other three items are very straightforward builds.
Lucie demonstrated to me the different angles of the robot. She showed me the dessert compartment in the front (with the dessert) as well as with the compartment closed.
The desserts do fit neatly inside.
The back of the robot has a technic pin "leg" for stability.
The microphone was built last, and took a bit longer than it likely would have as Jasper had just finished with the walkie talkies. Several minutes were devoted to playing with the walkie talkies from opposite sides of the room.
Time was getting short - Lucie, Jasper and their parents had graciously given up their lunch hour for me - so it was good that the microphone was a quick build. The top of the microphone was very reminiscent of a Brickheadz to me. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the microphone on its own.
Finally, I got a picture of the two expert builders with their builds. Lucie looks like she means business with that walkie talkie.
My sincere thanks to Lucie and Jasper (and their parents) for giving up their lunch hour one day during Bricks by the Bay for this review.
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this set, which is the reason I brought in the experts, Lucie and Jasper. Both told me they had a good time building the pieces. It was very enjoyable for me to watch Lucie and Jasper enjoying the different builds as they were completed - it reminded me of how kids build differently than adults, who would mostly likely just move from one build to the next. When asked if they had a favourite, Lucie and Jasper were hard pressed to name one, though the camera, robot and walkie talkies all got a lot of attention.
I was surprised to see that there are a number of unique and rare parts in this set, as shown on the inventory page here. The set has 563 pieces and retails for $49.99, 49.99€, and £44.99.
As for whether the Friendship Box worked, I think it did. Jasper and Lucie hadn't met before this review, and at the end of our time together, plans were being made to meet again at a BayLUG meeting so they could play with the walkie talkies again (they each took one home).
Many thanks to the LEGO Group for providing Brickset with a copy of the set. All opinions expressed in this review are Lucie's, Jasper's and mine.