In part one of the review I opened the box and discussed the minifigures. Now I will build the house and look at the completed model.
In the preface to the instructions, designer Justin Ramsden states that they chose to recreate the Byers' house -- where Will, the boy who goes missing, lives with his mum and brother -- because it's 'such a focal point for the series'.
The set contains not one, but two versions of the house, a normal version and an upside down one. How are they constructed and joined together, and how is the completed model made stable enough to display? Find out after the break...
Police chief Jim Hopper drives a 1980 Chevrolet K5 Blazer finished in a two-tone light brown and white livery. It's the first thing to be built and as is often the case with 6-wide vehicles it's way over minifig scale.
Its large size has however allowed good level of detail to be included and I particularly like the fractional plate height difference of the centre of the bonnet.
Inside there's room for Jim to sit at the front and for a pumpkin to be stowed at the back. The pumpkin part (6267125) is not in our database so I'm not sure where it was first used but judging by the number it's a relatively new piece.
The right-way-up house
Normally one would start building a large model at the bottom but that's not the case here: we start in the middle, the base of the right-way-up version of the house.
It's 2 or 3 layers of plates deep, irregularly shaped and surprisingly sturdy. The ball sockets around the perimeter of the base provide a clue as to how the two halves of the model are connected.
One side of the house is built first, inside and out. Note the alphabet and fairy lights on the wall, the missing poster on the table and details in Will's bedroom.
The exterior is almost entirely built from bricks with studs on their sides which will be used to attach plates that represent planks of wood.
The other side of the house is added and the exterior clad with light grey tiles.
Inside, there are lots of little details for fans to get excited about: a hole in the front of the wall, windows covered with newspaper, boxes of Christmas lights by the chair, a snare and axe by the door, wall-mounted phone, and a book of rules for the dungeons and dragons game the boys play on the floor.
Once the porch and roof has been added the right-way-up version of the house is complete.
Fairy lights are strung across the lounge ceiling and a light brick with a printed transparent panel in front of it projects spots onto the alphabet on the wall. Not particularly well, I have to say, but it's a neat touch nevertheless.
There's a video camera and a rather nice purple wizard's hat under the eaves which is a reference to something yet to be revealed.
The upside down house
The building is put to one side and work commences on the upside down version of the house. You definitely get a sense of deja vu while you're building as it's largely identical to what you've just built, albeit in a much darker colour palette and the other way round.
However, there are vines and branches and other dangly bits to make it look spooky, and enough small differences to keep things interesting.
Connecting the two together
The upside down version of the house has been built as a mirror image of the right-way-up one so that the two can be married at the base. The two halves are joined using eight Beam 1M With 3 Balls Ø5,9, some of which are disguised with small limb elements, appearing here in dark brown for the first time.
Finally, we come to the most time-consuming and uninteresting part of the build: the trees that on either side of the house that help join the halves together via ball joint connectors, and provide support to enable the completed model to be displayed.
Don't you just hate it when you've finished building a complex sub-assembly, only to notice '2x' at the end so you have to build it all over again!
The tops of the trees are clad with tiles, or inverted tiles, for stability, because they will effectively be the legs of the model. Overall they stand about 32cm tall.
The large limb element is new in dark blue in this set.
Many of the limb elements are attached using clips which enables them to be positioned organically and this has to be one of the most ingenious uses of a sausage I have seen!
A missing - Barbara Holland poster is affixed to the side of the tree.
The completed model
As you can see there has never been a LEGO set like it!
The trees provide more than adequate support for the model and it does not topple over easily.
The pin sticking up from the rocks at the front of the house can be used to attach Hopper's car which keeps in place when you turn the model upside down
Here are some close-ups of the interiors which, as you can see, are a mirror image of each other. In the show that is not the case but it's understandable why they've been made that way here, to enable the two halves to be joined more easily.
If you've never seen the show I can imagine that the set will not be appealing to you at all. However, if you have an opportunity to rectify that I encourage you to do so because (a) it's a great series and (b) you'll gain a whole new appreciation for this set.
It's packed with little details that fans will enjoy noticing and recalling why they are there and the episode concerned. Perhaps most importantly, it feels complete. This will almost certainly be a one-off Stranger Things model so if a key minifigure was missing it would have been very disappointing, but that's not the case: everyone who needs to be included in it is.
Despite initial appearances it's a sturdy model that can be displayed either way up and I particularly like that there are no loose odds and ends that are separate to the main model: Everything, except the minifigure stand, can be attached -- securely -- to it.
Other than the few niggly comments about minifig hair I raised in part one I really have no other complaints at all. It's one of designer Justin Ramsden's finest. Even the price of $199.99 / £179.99 / 199.99€ feels very reasonable for a 2,287 piece model with eight minifigures.
It's not a bad parts pack, either: there are lot of earth and dark toned pieces and many new ones, too. We'll have a full appreciation of exactly what's new once LEGO has published the inventory on June 1st.
Bottom line, if you're a fan of the show you'll love it, but if you're not you'll probably wonder what the heck it's supposed to be and probably won't see any appeal.
So... is Stranger Things a good fit with the LEGO brand? If you'd asked me that after I finished watching it I would have said no given it's fundamentally a horror show aimed at older teenagers and adults. But, having thought about it more, I've changed my mind. It's not particularly scary or gruesome; there's not a lot of violence and the fact the story revolves around adolescents somehow helps make it more 'kid friendly' and appropriate for LEGO to indulge in.
LEGO's core demographic won't be watching it, that's for sure, but those on the edge of slipping into their dark ages may well do. This set might just prevent that from happening.
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.