LEGO has produced an excellent selection of promotional items during 2018 and the newest such model, 40289 Diagon Alley, is particularly appealing in my opinion. Its colourful design is visually striking and this vignette captures the eclectic architecture of Diagon Alley from the movies with impressive accuracy.
In addition, the set contains an exclusive minifigure so offers something to those who dislike microscale models, much like 71043 Hogwarts Castle which comes with the four founders of Hogwarts. 40289 Diagon Alley is currently available with purchases of more than £80 or 80€ at shop.LEGO.com in the UK and Europe. A similar offer begins in North America tomorrow.
Garrick Ollivander was considered to be among the greatest wand manufacturers in the world during the twentieth century and has previously appeared in 10217 Diagon Alley from 2011. This minifigure is remarkably similar to its predecessor, sporting a familiar reddish brown jacket along with a dark bluish grey waistcoat and a wonderful dark red cravat.
However, the minifigure is distinguished by a light bluish grey hair piece that looks perfect in relation to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, upon which this version of Ollivander is based. Furthermore, I like his double-sided head which features some accurate facial hair and two different expressions. A friendly smile might have been appropriate than the existing calm face, although that is only a minor issue in my opinion.
The Completed Model
The precise layout of Diagon Alley changes quite frequently between the movies, depending upon the requirements of the story. This model is primarily inspired by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well as the Warner Bros' Studio Tour, although the location of Quality Quidditch Supplies is faithful to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rather than the latter films. Nevertheless, this arrangement looks superb to me, presenting an attractive spectrum of different colours across the model.
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes was introduced in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and its colourful exterior looks magnificent, consisting of orange, lavender and medium lavender pieces beside a minifigure head which adorns the corner of the shop. This element was created for Robin in The LEGO Batman Movie so includes a hidden alternative expression. Ideally, the top hat would be able to move back and forth but that would be difficult to implement at this scale and it is cleverly attached using a black sausage instead.
The interior features some colourful shelves, reminding me of the garish 4723 Diagon Alley Shops that was released in 2001. The balance between orange and trans-clear around the windows is not entirely faithful to the source material and that could be improved by using orange 2x2 round plates in place of the 2x2 round bricks. A roof would have been welcome too but is not a necessity for display.
Quality Quidditch Supplies appears in several Harry Potter movies, albeit only in the background. This rendition of the shop looks brighter than its onscreen counterpart and includes a red Quidditch banner as well as a broomstick which is represented by a reddish brown paint brush. The neighbouring store, Flourish and Blotts Bookseller, hosts a book signing by Gilderoy Lockhart during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and appears more accurate to the source material, featuring some superb green accents.
The paved area outside these shops includes six 2x4 tiles which are decorated with an intricate cobblestone pattern. These printed tiles are only available here at the moment and look fantastic, especially in combination with a couple of black lamp posts. Ollivanders seems relatively plain beside the other stores, consisting almost entirely of dark bluish grey pieces, but its curved windows are lovely. Moreover, the dark blue roof from 10217 Diagon Alley has been replaced with an accurate flat design.
Gringotts Wizarding Bank towers above the neighbouring shops, matching the films exactly. I love the angled columns around the entrance and the golden statue outside looks marvellous, taking inspiration from Universal Studios in Orlando. A trans-black dome forms the skylight through which Harry, Ron and Hermione escape during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but the Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon is not included, unfortunately.
Turning the model around reveals two wooden desks and some decorative columns inside Gringotts. I like the 1x2 textured bricks which form the walls and the 1x2x2 window frames look great as well. The smaller buildings are not deep enough for an interior and are unattractive when viewed from behind, although this area should not be visible in display so its jumbled appearance does not bother me.
Microscale building is typically most appropriate for enormous structures that would be impossible to construct at a realistic minifigure scale, such as 76042 The SHIELD Helicarrier and 71043 Hogwarts Castle. 40289 Diagon Alley does not necessarily meet those criteria but looks brilliant in my opinion. The colourful shops are attractive when combined in a single street and smaller details are instantly recognisable too.
Furthermore, the Garrick Ollivander minifigure looks perfect in relation to the character in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Certain areas of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes could have been improved and I understand that some Harry Potter fans were disappointed to discover that 40289 Diagon Alley was not minifigure scale when it was revealed. Even so, this is an excellent set and I would certainly recommend it.
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