London has inspired numerous Architecture sets and 21045 Trafalgar Square is the biggest model to date, containing 1197 pieces. It looks excellent in official images, featuring some great colourful highlights which contrast with the primary white structures. Furthermore, an impressive range of building techniques are exhibited here.
This should therefore prove to be an interesting set, especially since its focus upon the environment around a building represents a departure from the majority of Architecture products. Its design certainly elicited some discussion when the set was announced and I have therefore been looking forward to building this model.
Box and Contents
Architecture sets are always beautifully packaged and this example maintains that excellent standard. The box includes a flap so it may be opened easily without causing damage and ten bags, numbered between one and four, are found inside alongside the instruction manual. Numerous interesting facts about both Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery are distributed throughout its 192 pages.
Landscaping has become increasingly important within Architecture sets and forms an integral part of 21045 Trafalgar Square, as one might expect since buildings occupy a limited area here. Construction of the base is therefore more complicated than many comparable models, including inset sections and several 1x2 jumper plates. The role of these unusual features will become apparent later.
Tiles dominate the next phase of construction, forming some interesting patterns that frame the central aspects of the model. Placing these tiles is an enjoyable process but I also appreciate the interspersed building of elevated sections towards the rear of Trafalgar Square and along each side. Varied building experiences like this one are often the most appealing.
Discussion focused upon the unusual steps which connect Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery when this set was revealed. As several Brickset members suggested, they are ingeniously assembled using layered 1x2 and 1x4 panels. Such techniques appear slightly fragile but the steps are supported between jumper plates and Technic bricks so they slot into position reasonably firmly.
Attention subsequently turns to the National Gallery itself. The whole façade is constructed sideways, forming rows of narrow windows which seem reminiscent of 21029 Buckingham Palace. Furthermore, the string course is formed using a series of neck brackets which nestle between the windows. This is probably my favourite building technique across the entire set, surpassing even the excellent flights of steps!
More traditional building techniques form the upper levels, including sixteen 1x1 clips which represent the balustrade along the edge of the roof. The central dome is quite unusual though, incorporating two weapon barrel elements and the new 3x3 dome which has not appeared in light bluish grey previously. This will presumably appear in many subsequent Architecture sets.
Trafalgar Square itself is the last section to be completed. Assembling the miniature trees is somewhat repetitive and they are quite difficult to position as each trunk is attached to a single stud. Nevertheless, the result looks outstanding, demonstrating how effective a small splash of colour can be in creating an attractive display model.
The Completed Model
Neoclassical architecture is relatively common across the LEGO Architecture theme but this example appears distinctive, due primarily to its detailed environment and intricate construction methods which surpass previous sets in my opinion. This model looks marvellous, featuring some striking colours and occupying a reasonably large footprint as the structure measures 24cm wide and 20cm deep.
Trafalgar Square is partially encircled by roads and they are represented by dark bluish grey tiles that contrast with the central light bluish grey square. Curved corner tiles are used to wonderful effect here and the roads are populated by red double-decker buses and black taxis which have become icons of London. The same recognisable vehicles appear in 21029 Buckingham Palace.
Roads are found in numerous Architecture sets but 21045 Trafalgar Square further distinguishes itself by the presence of two angled stretches. These are simply attached using hinges but can sink into the base as 6x8 trapdoor frames are cleverly situated beneath the road. I love the trees planted along this thoroughfare, although they feel rather fragile as each trunk is only connected to a single stud.
Black lampposts also surround Trafalgar Square and they look superb. However, there is an unsightly gap between the lampposts at each corner where the studs underneath become visible. Unfortunately, an appropriate piece to occupy this area is not currently available and the colour scheme is consistent so I think this design looks reasonable.
Nelson's Column occupies the centre of Trafalgar Square and commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson who perished during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The column stands on a wonderful pedestal which features four dark bluish grey 1x1 tiles, depicting bronze reliefs which decorate the actual column. The surrounding lions are fairly rudimentary but I think it would be difficult to capture any more detail at this tiny scale.
Admiral Nelson himself is represented by a white nanofigure atop the column. This looks superb and I think white was an appropriate colour choice for this structure, although the stone looks slightly darker in reality. Tan may therefore have been a reasonable alternative but I like the white design, particularly as a contrast against 21029 Buckingham Palace which could be displayed beside this set.
Three other statues populate the square, depicting General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock and King George IV. The fourth plinth displays an egg, representing the temporary artworks which are installed here and perhaps making reference to its next occupant during 2020. Two decorative fountains are situated in the square as well and their shape has been captured nicely.
However, the outstanding feature of this set is probably the National Gallery. This elegant building was opened in 1824 and stands on the northern side of Trafalgar Square beside a decorative terrace. I love the dark orange and medium nougat tiles in this vicinity and the dark green lawns flanking the entrance look brilliant, separating the white gallery from the light bluish grey pavement outside.
The central portico looks spectacular, including ten columns which are created using 3L bars. Similar techniques have been employed in past sets but I think this example is particularly attractive because the roof has been integrated beautifully, improving upon the colonnade in 21030 United States Capitol Building. The red banners inside are equally authentic and I like the dome on top, despite its imperfect shape.
Numerous tiny windows line the exterior of the National Gallery while six larger skylights are found on the roof. I am particularly impressed that the correct number of windows are included, exhibiting great attention to detail. However, this has impacted the proportions of the building and either end has been truncated. That is unfortunate but would probably be difficult to avoid without compromising the centre of the gallery or expanding Trafalgar Square, potentially spoiling its accurate proportions.
While the front of the model is highly detailed, the reverse appears entirely bland. That is unsurprising as the original building is fairly deep, exhibiting some 2300 different artworks inside. Three panels can be removed to access that interior. Similar functions have appeared in other Architecture sets and this example is excellent as it has no impact upon the external appearance of this building.
Dark tan floors and several interesting artworks are found within this model, including a golden statue and several printed tiles. These are not overtly inspired by any real artworks displayed at the National Gallery which is slightly disappointing, although one 2x2 tile featuring a ship bears some resemblance to J. M. W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire.
The other decorated tiles are quite interesting too. Some have appeared before while others are new and their designs are unusual, featuring series of colourful stripes and sections of a unicorn. Perhaps these elements were produced for another set which has yet to be released as it seems unlikely they were created specifically for 21045 Trafalgar Square.
Architecture sets have become increasingly impressive and 21045 Trafalgar Square looks absolutely wonderful. I love its bright colour scheme which stands out on display and the detailing is exceptional, employing some innovative building techniques and exciting pieces. Furthermore, this is probably the greatest example of integration between a building and its environment within the Architecture theme.
That might also disappoint some collectors as the series was created to focus upon architectural detail and only a quarter of this model is actually occupied by a building. Nevertheless, I think it looks superb on display and the US price of $79.99 seems very reasonable so I would certainly recommend this set. Its price of £79.99 in the UK is less appealing by comparison, although that still represents acceptable value in my opinion.
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