Despite their essential association with children, schools have appeared in surprisingly few LEGO products. 70425 Newbury Haunted High School appears accordingly exciting and looks splendid in official images, incorporating some enjoyable transformation functions.
These appear remarkably ambitious, exceeding other Hidden Side models in that respect. I love the antiquated aesthetic of this school and its dilapidated design seems fitting for Newbury which has evidently been negatively affected by ghosts inhabiting the town. Some excellent minifigures are included too, hence my anticipation for this substantial set.
LEGO has created two different Jack Davids minifigures for the Hidden Side range. This example wears an attractive red jacket with white accents which certainly matches the high school environment, although I prefer the variant that features a white jacket. However, the dual-moulded hood component looks magnificent, including a hat underneath, while the double-sided head includes two expressive faces.
Parker L. Jackson is almost as prolific as Jack across the Hidden Side theme, appearing in seven sets. Once again, two versions of the character have been produced and this minifigure sports a black shirt with a metallic silver necklace and vibrant coral bag. This torso design looks good and I like Parker's torn jeans as well. Moreover, the distinctive hair piece looks absolutely wonderful, combining lavender hair with a bright light yellow hat.
Mobile phone accessories are provided for each minifigure and they both look brilliant, including great detail and displaying ghosts which have been revealed through the Hidden Side app. I appreciate this connectivity between the LEGO world and reality, especially because such integration is comparatively uncommon.
Jack's adorable dog, Spencer, has recently passed away so appears in ghostly form here. I love how white and trans-clear plastic has been combined and the smooth texture seems wholly appropriate for an ethereal character. The simple printing looks nice too, representing two eyes alongside a triangular black nose.
Douglas Elton maintains Newbury High School while assisting the heroes in their mission to subdue ghosts. Exactly the same minifigure appears in 70418 J.B.'s Ghost Lab and sports green overalls that appear incredibly detailed. I am particularly impressed with the starry rag hanging from his pocket and some tools are strapped to his leg, ensuring that he is ready for any maintenance eventuality.
Furthermore, the dark brown hair piece looks superb and I like Douglas' double-sided head, featuring cheerful and frightened expressions. The plaster on his cheek seems interesting too, reminding me of Kai from NINJAGO. Despite his notable role at the school, this minifigure lacks any accessories which is somewhat surprising.
Other staff members are included as well. Rose Davids occupies the role of headmistress at Newbury High School and features an elegant dark blue jacket. This torso component resembles past elements but looks perfect and I like the reddish brown hair piece, particularly given its comparatively infrequent appearances since being introduced with the seventh series of Collectable Minifigures.
However, my favourite minifigure in this set is probably Mr Clarke, whose two expressive faces look absolutely fantastic. The pronounced front teeth are quite distinctive and I love the rounded glasses which seem to exaggerate the size of his eyes. Moreover, the dark orange pinstripe suit and striking bow tie are appropriate for this character, corresponding with the slicked dark tan hair piece.
Both teachers have fallen victim to possession by the ghosts invading Newbury. Their textured hair components look brilliant and I love the trans-neon green heads, both of which are exclusively found here and resemble the human versions of each character. Mr Clarke's spectacles appear particularly recognisable. The male figure also includes trans-neon green wings that connect around his neck.
Two students accompany their teachers and both minifigures are suitably dressed, displaying the Squids mascot which represents Newbury High School. I am particularly pleased with Paola, who wears a dark azure jacket with orange sleeves. The unique head features metallic silver braces along with black glasses and two different expressions but her medium nougat hair piece has been used previously.
Wade consists primarily of existing components but his new torso looks delightful, featuring a white basketball jersey. The orange and blue Squids mascot is lovely, ingeniously integrating a basketball beside the number 22 which appears on both sides. I like the double-sided head too, although Wade's sad expression seems rather understated when encountering belligerent ghosts!
Paola has presumably avoided possession by the ghosts but Wade was less fortunate, including an alternative trans-neon green head, spring yellowish green hair piece and spectacular wings. I like the tattered design of these wings and the hair piece looks excellent, making clever use of a part that was originally created for Kai.
The Completed Model
Newbury High School occupies an impressive American colonial mansion and looks magnificent. The model measures 43cm wide, including the neighbouring bench, which is somewhat smaller than I was anticipating. However, the considerable detail compensates for its modest scale in my view, especially given the realistic dark red and dark tan brickwork. I like the light bluish grey highlights too.
An imposing portico surrounds the front door. The scroll bricks are certainly effective but I think some additional texture would have been welcome. Furthermore, the entrance is positioned far beyond this archway so accessing the space underneath is fairly difficult. The golden finials look splendid though and I like the tiled steps which contrast with the surrounding portico structure.
More than thirty stickers are placed across the exterior which seems excessive, although I think the exposed dark tan bricks look great. Stickers are also applied on each trans-clear window, providing further detail. The metalwork looks similarly intricate and these 1x4 railings have not appeared in light bluish grey before so their availability here is pleasing.
Foliage has become entwined with the building which conveys its considerable age, most prominently towards the left side. Lowering a reddish brown hinged panel reveals a yellow wall section underneath. This is presumably intended to interact with the Hidden Side app, although the function is not currently active based upon my experience with the game.
Viewing the model from either side reveals black panels that appear slightly awkward, although their colour scheme corresponds with the roof. This features stickers representing wooden boards while further stickers are situated at the centre, forming a decrepit clock beside the name of the school. Peering through the window underneath reveals a spring yellowish green teddy bear, the role of which becomes apparent inside.
The bell tower makes excellent use of a 6x3x5 pavilion component and four 3x3 quarter dome pieces which are surrounded by decorative spikes. The pearl gold bell at its centre looks somewhat bland by comparison, although that is necessary for another internal function. Moreover, a black bat is situated on top of the cupola and looks perfect.
Dark red dominates the right flank of the school, although some additional leaves provide wonderful textured detail. However, this section of the model is most notably distinguished by a bus stop which connects to the school using an A-frame plate. Naturally, this sign displays the same bus number as 70423 Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000 so the sets were evidently designed for display together.
Lifting the wooden bench reveals six spring yellowish green teeth and four corresponding eyes which are formed using another sticker. This monster appears quite simple but the transformation function is effectively hidden and I like the red elements located underneath, giving the illusion of depth behind its fearsome teeth! The reddish brown plant stems look superb as well.
Unfortunately, the external structure is relatively shallow so the interior is almost completely exposed. That enables easy access to the internal furnishings but does restrict display to some extent, not only because its sides are not enclosed but also given the deep ground floor area. Nevertheless, the model looks absolutely spectacular when viewed from behind, featuring various colours and many realistic details.
Dark red, reddish brown and dark tan tiles are combined to beautiful effect within the entrance hall. There are no internal walls to separate each room but that detracts little from their appearance in my opinion, due primarily to efficient placement of furniture. For example, the entrance hall seems more traditionally decorated than the cafeteria and their respective colour schemes differ dramatically.
The cafeteria appears rather small but features some lovely decoration, including the medium azure service counter which is laden with food. I love the trans-clear windows for viewing fruit beneath the counter, although this is not actually accessible. A table is placed at the centre of the room beside the distinctive colour wheel. These appear in each Hidden Side set but this example is not entirely hidden which is disappointing.
However, the colour wheel is integral to the Hidden Side app, triggering new gloom spots which are revealed after scanning each colour on the wheel. This area also includes a unisex bathroom with a toilet, some toilet paper and a plunger. There is no room for a washbasin and the green shutter doors offer remarkably little privacy but the bathroom certainly makes good use of the limited available space.
Moving across the entrance hall, this section of the school includes an impressive grandfather clock, some colourful books in a cabinet and a small table that displays a map of Newbury. The crate beside the bookshelf is empty but might also represent another table for reading. Unfortunately, the books are simply represented by 1x2 plates so they cannot be removed but they look perfect.
While the ground floor is perhaps deeper than necessary, the upper level appears fairly shallow. You can place minifigures here but additional space would definitely have improved the model. Even so, I think the furniture looks nice, comprising a computer monitor that displays some pertinent research, a bright green bin and three wooden chairs which are arranged to face the blackboard. Einstein's portrait hangs behind the computer.
The blackboard sticker features several mathematical principles and further stickers form posters on the wall. My favourite of these is undoubtedly the three structural diagrams for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene which is better known as ABS and is the plastic that LEGO bricks are made from! The nearby Squids poster looks fun too, advertising a match against another basketball team named the Shrimps.
Some golden trophies are displayed beside the classroom and further notices are pinned to this wall, including one from Professor J.B. requesting help. Presumably the missing information tab was taken by Jack, Parker or Douglas. The periodic table is displayed beside some chemicals and an anatomical skeleton. Remarkably, this skeleton does not incorporate any possession features.
However, raising a black Technic piece below the bell activates an intriguing function, allowing you to rotate the blackboard and discover an old portrait. This depicts Lady E. who once owned the building beside her teddy bear. The bear remains today but has become possessed by a ghost, hence its unusual spring yellowish green colour that differentiates this accessory from other LEGO bears.
The majority of Hidden Side sets contain transformative functions but this example is undoubtedly the most impressive. The whole school can transform, revealing portals beneath the portico, two spring yellowish green eyes, claws, trans-neon green mist and the aforementioned monster inhabiting the bench. I think the building looks fantastic in this configuration and appreciate how comprehensive its transformation appears.
Pressing the steps inside the school will cause the portico to open, thereby displaying two mysterious portals that are formed using stickers and surrounded by spring yellowish green teeth . The claws are similarly deployed from indoors but the monstrous eyes are released together by twisting the external clock. Each function works smoothly but there is a visible seam between the two halves of the portico, even when it is closed.
Either end of the roof can tip backwards, causing trans-neon green elements to rise from underneath. They are presumably intended to represent paranormal mist or energy surging through the building. I like the smooth motion of this rising mist and these trans-neon green parts have only previously appeared in 41195 Emily & Noctura's Showdown.
Activating each transformation function does affect the interior design, most notably as the bathroom and bookcase must be tipped over to release the claws. Furthermore, teal 2x2 inverted curved slopes are hidden beneath the floor and may be scanned using the Hidden Side app after deploying the claws which is interesting. These functions definitely reduce the space inside but they remain enjoyable.
Moreover, opening the roof reveals another secret within Newbury High School. An aged manuscript and a book are hidden inside the roof, providing further information about Lady E. and her teddy bear. These documents may be attached to exposed clips on the ground floor, although there is not enough space to display them both concurrently which is somewhat unfortunate.
Hidden Side has proven exceptionally enjoyable and 70425 Newbury Haunted High School definitely maintains that high standard. The transformation functions are outstanding and I like the architectural design of this aging building, ensuring that it looks brilliant on display in both standard and possessed configurations. The internal detail is equally attractive but the limited upper level space has resulted in certain compromises.
Stickers are used extensively throughout this model which might disappoint some people. However, I think they have been employed appropriately, particularly internally where the posters contain several fun references. The price of £109.99 or $129.99 also feels reasonable in my opinion, hence I am very pleased with this majestic addition to the Hidden Side theme.
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