One of the sets that gathered the most interest from the new Friends wave this year is 41366 Olivia's Cupcake Café. I admit I was rather surprised with Friends having another Cupcake Café, considering we had 41119 Heartlake Cupcake Café back in 2016.
I was similarly puzzled with this version being Olivia's Cupcake Café, since Olivia hasn't been associated with many restaurants in the past. But for this version, there's a technology twist, which is ostensibly why Olivia's has taken to baking. Let's see how baking and technology mix in this set.
The front of the box shows the set on full display, with an inset in the lower left showing the gear that turns to move the cupcake turntable that's a central feature of the set. The picture also shows a couple of cupcakes in midair, presumably dispensed by the turntable (or maybe the robot in the centre) but no such mechansm to fling cupcakes became apparent on building the set.
The back of the box shows the set from the rear as well as some insets of the features of the set, including close-ups of the kitchen and the cupcake dispensing machine. Inside the box there are three numbered bags, the instruction book, a 8x16 plate, and a sparkly holographic sticker sheet (as described on the [email protected] website).
The minidolls in this set are Olivia and Emma. With the exception of her head, Olivia is entirely new in this set. She's wearing a blue sweater with bright pink shirt underneath. The sweater is decorated with a cupcake logo that's styled to look like a planet with rings around it, which is quite fitting considering Olivia's affinity for science.
Over the sweater Olivia's wearing a cool yellow blazer, and I'm rather pleased to see that my new favourite LEGO colour is being used for Friends clothing. Olivia pairs the outfit with a short pink skirt over patterned dark blue leggings - the pattern adorably features planets with rings around them. I would love to find leggings like that! Unfortunately the leggings printing is only on the front of the minidoll. Olivia also has a new hair piece, for this set she's wearing a chef's hat.
Emma looks somewhat familiar but has as new torso - she's wearing a sleeveless top in lilac with a bird pattern in addition to a jean vest. They go well with her purple skirt and blue shoes.
There are three smaller ancillary builds for the set. The first is a table with a pretty pink umbrella that's only been seen in three other sets - a very basic but effective build. Next is a scooter for delivering cupcakes around Heartlake City. It's a simple scooter with room for only one Friend, but plenty of room for some cupcakes in the back. In this picture you can see a two of the several new parts in this set, a new cookie design with a heart in the centre, and a cupcake decoration in aqua.
The third smaller build is the most interesting - it's a cupcake dispensing machine. The technique used for dispensing is similar to what was used for the soda dispenser in 41099 Heartlake Skate Park. Cupcakes are fed in the top of the machine.
A tab at the back is pulled back, which allows a cupcake to drop down into the space created.
Pushing the tab forward quickly allows the cupake to be pushed forward. Thanks to a couple 1x2 transparent bricks you can see the cupcakes offered in the machine. The instructions show using two cupcakes in the machine, but of course with the extras included in the set you can build a third, which fits in the machine without issues. I loved this machine in Heartlake Skate Park, and I love it here.
The main build is of course the café itself. It has indoor and outdoor spaces available for the Friends to enjoy their cupcakes. The featured part of the café is the cupcake turntable. There's a cupcake ordering machine on the left where cupcakes can be customized. Presumably then the order is transmitted to the robot in the centre of the turntable, which will then create the cupcake for you. Can't decide? Just select a cupcake as it goes by on the turntable.
The robot on the turntable could be Zobo - at least the top half of Zobo. It's built similar to Zobo is in other sets, but is not named in the [email protected] set description. On the right of the turntable, there's a milk machine, because what goes better with a cupcake than a nice cup of milk?
The turntable moves thanks to a couple of new pieces, gear wheels in both 4x4 and 2x2 sizes. I know many of you will be most interested in these pieces, so I took a picture of them after they were placed in the middle of the build (the larger gear has a grey ring on it).
The entrance to the café has a sign pointing to where the door is, and I love that the designer has used the new cookie design for a doorknob.
The top of the café almost looks like the top of a cupcake itself, complete with a large brickbuilt image of a strawberry. The strawberry includes more new pieces, in this case 1/4 3x3 plates in bright purple.
Once inside the café, there's a small seating area that features a menu on the wall of all the cupcake choices.
Behind the counter is where all the action happens, and is suitably detailed. There's a cash register (with money) on one side, as well as a counter with cupcake prep. The kitchen is quite compact, and includes a brick built blender, and a sink. There's also a stove with an oven underneath. The oven is represented by a sticker, which I find odd as there's been an number of sets that have brick built ovens that don't take up any more space. Also included in the kitchen is a wrench, though I confess I'm not sure why a wrench is needed in making cupcakes.
On a very tall shelf there are some more accessories - cake ingredients, an icer and a whisk. Perhaps they're supposed to be decorations but I think they would be quite useful for Olivia to use while making cupcakes.
I was a little puzzled when I first saw that there was another cupcake café coming out. However I think with the technology twist the two sets are sufficiently different. I like this set a lot more than café from three years ago - I like the use of the sparkly stickers and I love the brick built strawberry. For the price (335 pieces, $29.99, £24.99), it offers a decent amount of play, especially with the addition of the cupcake dispensing machine and the scooter.
I'm particularly happy that the dispensing machine mechanism has made a comeback as a cupcake dispenser, and the new gear wheels are put to good use with the cupcake turntable. The [email protected] description set says that Olivia was inspired by the sushi restaurants of the tech district. I'm wondering why a sushi restaurant wasn't created instead - I think that would be a marvelous set. Perhaps cupcakes met the preferred demographic.
I mentioned in the review a few of the new pieces used in this set. There's actually several new pieces and some in new colours. Check out all them in the inventory found here. If you're a fan of pastry pieces and cupcake decorations, you'll get a lot of them in this set.
Do you like the new wave of Friends sets? Which ones would you like to see reviewed? Let us know in the comments.