Friends sets always seem to include cute animals, so it's only fitting that there's at least one set each year that's almost entirely devoted to them! This year it's 41345 Heartlake City Pet Centre. There are more cute animals in this set than minidolls! Let's see how cute all of them are.
The front of the box shows the set from the front, with Stephanie and Mia greeting one of the pet patients in the pet ambulance. Their friend Liam is moving supplies while being supervised by Lady the poodle. In the distance, you can see 41347 Heartlake City Resort. The back of the box shows several vignettes of various features of the set, including some basic things (such as how to assemble a minidoll). What was interesting for me for this set is that the packaging has the thumb tab opening as opposed to being taped at the ends. For me it's a first seeing the thumb tabs for a set of this size. Inside the box there are five numbered bags, four 8x16 plates, a sticker sheet and an instruction book.
There are three minidolls in this set: Stephanie, Mia, and Liam. We first met Liam last year in 41317 Sunshine Catamaran and he looks exactly the same here. He's wearing a pale green shirt with dark green pixelated design with green short sleeves, long sand blue shorts and matching tennis shoes. At least his outfit is versatile! Stephanie similarly is wearing an outfit we've seen before. The sleeveless blue shirt with star design, short blue skirt and white shoes were also seen in 10763 Stephanie's Lakeside House earlier this year. Mia is wearing the same outfit as she does in 10749 Mia's Organic Market: an orange tank top with blue/purple plaid shirt, a purple miniskirt and blue shoes. I really like the detailed printing on the girls' tops - very few times do these kind of details disappoint on the minidolls.
Considering this is a Pet Centre, it makes sense that there are a lot of pets! There are no less than five here: Lady the poodle, Mimi the bird, Harry the hamster, Mini the bunny, and Bubbles the turtle. This is only the second time we've met Mimi, but all the others have been in a few other sets. My favourite of all the pets is Bubbles - I love the printing on his head and shell.
There are a couple quick builds before starting on the centre. The first is a shopping trolley that comes with a shopping bag, a checklist and something that's always needed when going to a pet centre, money.
A vehicle is also included - the LEGO catalog calls it a mobile grooming vehicle, but I rather think it looks like an pet ambulance with the red light on top. It's a pretty simple vehicle with room for just one of the Friends to drive.
The back of the vehicle has a door that flips down to allow a pet on/off the vehicle. The red light at the top also swivels down, though I haven't quite figured out what purpose that would serve.
The ground floor of the Pet Centre is a pet supplies store. There's an entrance for minidolls - with an appropriate dog bone for a door handle - and also a special entrance for the pets. Just outside the door there's a water bowl with tap to make sure our pets don't get thirsty. A stylized brick built paw print is above the entrance, making it a very welcoming scene.
There are two large plate glass windows showing some of the shop's wares. In one window Bubbles is visiting some of his friends in the aquariums. The aquariums' details are provided by stickers.
The other large glass window features Harry and the hamster tube, showing that our hamster friend has something to do during the day. There's also a fire hydrant just outside the building, providing facilities for all the dogs who visit the pet centre. I like the simple use of bricks to build an effective fire hydrant.
Here's a view of the front of the ground floor. You can see that a small house for Mimi has been included.
There are two main sections inside the store. They're divided by a large aquarium (also provided by a sticker). On this section we see shelves stocked with various kinds of pet food, as well as a table with different pet accessories - and they're even on sale!
The other side is primarily a check out area, although there are shelves with pet supplies, and a box of hamster kibble for Harry that's just about bigger than Harry himself. There's a nice moving function included here - rotating the red knob moves the "conveyor belt" toward the cash register. This moving function does take up a lot of space but also provides quite a bit of play value.
The top floor of the pet centre has two rooms. The first is a grooming salon. Here we find Lady getting primped for a day out, complete with all the accessories and stylish reading material.
Just outside the grooming salon, Mini is patiently waiting for friend to play on the see-saw.
The other half of the top floor is a pet clinic, where a lot of details are packed into a small space. A couple cabinets provide storage for several medical instruments, in addition to a phone and computer terminal.
The clinic also includes a scale and a bed for a pet to rest.
Just outside the clinic, Mimi has something to keep her occupied - and it's not far from her house!
Here's a look at the pet centre with all the rooms assembled.
Having sets centred around pets is a rather evergreen theme for Friends; you'll see a couple sets dedicated to pets every year. This set is nice in that provides a good assortment of pets - I particularly like that Bubbles the turtle has been included. I'm glad there are three minidolls and I like that Liam was included - however it would be nice if he was wearing something different than his last appearance. There's also plenty to do in the pet centre - the store, clinic and grooming salon as well as the vehicle provide the opportunities for lots of stories. I really like the conveyor belt in the pet supplies area - like many Friends moving functions, it's simple but effective and a great way to introduce these concepts of building. There are also some newish pieces included in the set, you can see the inventory here.
But oof - the price! There's lots of great details in the set, but for listed price (474 pieces, $59.99, 59.99€, £54.99) it's very expensive. It's unusual to have that many animals in a set, but I don't know that it's worth that much of a premium.
What do you think? Do that many animals in a set justify the price?