Despite celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary during 2019, Friends exerts sustained influence upon modern television and the series remains hugely popular. 21319 Central Perk looks great and should therefore prove similarly appealing given its apparent authenticity.
Furthermore, seven impressive minifigures are provided, including the primary characters from the television series and Gunther. For those reasons, I have been looking forward to adding this detailed set to my collection and its cost of £64.99 or $59.99, which seems exceptionally reasonable to me, offers additional incentive.
Box and Contents
LEGO Ideas sets are frequently packaged in boxes which are made from thick cardboard stock and include a flap. 21319 Central Perk conforms to that trend and I think it looks fantastic, displaying this model beside the minifigures. Numerous references to the television series are printed on either side while smaller details from throughout this set are exhibited on the reverse of the box.
Opening the box reveals seven bags that are numbered between one and six. Moreover, five stickers are included which is slightly unusual for LEGO Ideas sets, although they are easy to apply and some new printed pieces are provided. The instruction manual includes 156 pages, the first several of which are occupied by information about the Friends television series and its characters.
Interviews with Aymeric Fievet, Milan Madge and Crystal Fontan, the fan designer, product designer and graphic designer respectively, are included too. Their shared passion for Friends is undoubtedly apparent and I was especially interested to read Milan's comments about the unusually angled walls which adhere to the original television studio.
Friends focuses upon six central characters, all of whom are included here. Ross Geller features an exclusive double-sided head that replicates his onscreen appearance and conveys some personality, including concerned and smiling expressions. Ross' tan jacket and stripy tie also correspond with the television series and I can envisage using this excellent torso component elsewhere.
Rachel Green sports numerous outfits throughout the series but this minifigure takes inspiration from her waitress' attire. The bright light blue blouse looks superb but the corresponding legs seem slightly washed out in my opinion. However, I think Rachel's most notable feature is her hair and this medium nougat element is perfect. It was initially created for the Veterinarian from Series 17 of the Collectable Minifigures but appears fitting here.
This rendition of Chandler Bing seems fairly simple when compared with Ross and Rachel, although his distinctive blue shirt and black vest are immediately recognisable. The dark brown hair piece looks good too, having only appeared on three previous occasions, while the head includes two expressions. One appears fairly neutral but the other beautifully captures Chandler's periodical bemusement.
Unfortunately, neither Rachel nor Monica Geller include specialised heads which is rather disappointing because LEGO has produced surprisingly few flesh heads for female characters. Nevertheless, I like this double-sided design and the medium nougat suspenders look lovely in relation to the television series, although dark tan might have been more accurate.
Joey Tribbiani features an outstanding head, demonstrating his overwhelming confidence on either side. Furthermore, the red shirt includes some realistic creasing and this textured hair piece appears faithful to the onscreen character in my opinion. However, my favourite aspect of this minifigure is his reddish brown bag, presumably making reference to Joey's penchant for bags that becomes apparent during The One With Joey's Bag!
While the majority of these minifigures include relatively generic clothing, Phoebe Buffay features an eccentric patterned vest. This design is based The One With The Blackout which seems fitting as that episode featured Phoebe's first performance at Central Perk. Moreover, I appreciate this double-sided head and the blonde hair piece appears quite faithful to her onscreen appearance.
Each minifigure includes appropriate accessories, making reference to their occupations or character from the television series. Rachel, for instance, features a pearl silver shield that represents a serving tray while Joey carries a printed pizza box with a slice of pizza. Phoebe's guitar and Chandler's laptop are provided as well, along with several colourful mugs and food accessories.
Gunther manages the Central Perk coffee shop and accordingly accompanies the primary characters here. This minifigure wears a striking lime green shirt and a colourful tie, reflecting his appreciation for bright clothes during the television series. I think lime green was a perfect colour choice as this shade stands out when Gunther is behind the counter.
In addition, the minifigure incorporates a white hair piece that loosely resembles Gunther's onscreen hair style, although it does not depict his receding hairline. However, this head has been well chosen, having previously appeared on Luke Skywalker minifigures. These expressions are quite suitable for the character in my opinion and Gunther comes with a reddish brown push broom.
The Completed Model
21319 Central Perk has inspired frequent comparison with 21302 The Big Bang Theory which seems reasonable given their equivalent source materials. However, this model includes much greater detail than its predecessor and is substantially larger as well, measuring almost 30cm wide and 21cm deep. The construction techniques are also more elaborate, particularly concerning the angled walls.
Central Perk frequently provides the setting for discussion between characters, hence this interesting model focuses upon an orange couch, an armchair, two patterned chairs and the central table. These items appear consistently throughout the series, although one chair typically remains against the wall because four characters can sit on the settee. This rendition only provides enough room for three but looks marvellous.
The designer has included numerous fun details from the television series, including some flowers, a black napkin dispenser and the reserved sign. Both the table and the couch look unrealistically bright when compared with the source material, although that feels sensible as Central Perk appears rather dark during the series so I appreciate the introduction of further colour on this LEGO creation.
Moreover, these furnishings are positioned on an impressive rug which is constructed sideways using textured bricks and bricks with studs on the side. This structure nestles within the model, elevating the rug and therefore appearing authentic. Alternatively, you can remove the seating area and display that separately alongside another section of the coffee shop which employs similar building techniques, as demonstrated below.
Unusually, this structure includes two studio lights which reflect how the television series was actually filmed. They are supported using ball joints and 2x2x10 lattice tower elements so look great, although these can easily be removed if you prefer. Several interesting details decorate the model, including an attractive menu board that has been simplified in relation to the series but includes realistic icons.
Gunther serves customers from behind an angular counter. This is ingeniously assembled using 1x2 slopes which form each corner and I love the trans-clear 1x2 tiles that represent shelves. Sand green angled plates are used across the countertop. They look superb but dark green or dark tan may have been more faithful to the source material, potentially replicating its marbled texture.
The biscuit container could also be improved as its shape differs from the television series. However, the cash register looks marvellous and the pearl gold espresso machine behind the counter is perfect when compared with its source material. Moreover, pearl silver coffee granule dispensers are situated between the reddish brown shelves and these are laden with detailed accessories.
Furthermore, a wooden door is situated beyond the counter. This is sometimes covered by a striped curtain during the series but the curtain is drawn here and looks outstanding. I love the neighbouring mugs which are fixed on the wall, although they should include neon lights above each cup. Even so, omitting these lights seems reasonable given the limitations of scale and the printed service sign looks brilliant.
Many different artworks are exhibited on the rear wall during Friends and this suspension bridge looks great. However, something more distinctive and visually striking would have been preferable, perhaps taking inspiration from a specific episode. The dark red bench looks rather impressive though and the inclusion of a golden candelabra, which is hardly visible onscreen, demonstrates fantastic attention to detail.
An advertisement for Phoebe's next musical performance of Smelly Cat is displayed between some flowers and an umbrella stand. The walls along this section of the model are individually angled and therefore correspond precisely with the series. The designer has also included a red hard hat above some umbrellas, taking inspiration from Central Perk on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
Phoebe frequently performs her original songs from another seating area beside the window. The red settee compares favourably with the television series and I like the elevated floor as well. Moreover, a series of tan tiles represent window blinds and the dark green columns, which have not been released in this colour before, seem authentic. Musical accessories are also found here, including a microphone stand and Ross' electronic keyboard.
While action is generally focused within an apartment or Central Perk, the exterior of the coffee shop sometimes appears as well. The designer has accordingly afforded detail to this section of the model, most notably including red and white striped awnings. The light bluish grey pavement is exceptionally narrow but does provide just enough space for a minifigure to stand outside.
Central Perk's famed branding is printed on the window and this whole panel is constructed sideways, clipping into the floor underneath. You can reverse the window element for display. Moreover, another poster is placed outside the door, making reference to Joey's memorable performance in a Japanese 'Lipstick for Men' advertisement which is fun!
Unfortunately, the other external walls include very little detail. They are not intended for display and viewing the model from this angles reveals certain building techniques which are used to good effect internally. Of course, this design also corresponds with the studio filming arrangement as the camera would never show Central Perk from these angles, hence its jumbled appearance seems rather fitting.
LEGO Ideas has produced some outstanding models and 21319 Central Perk is undoubtedly among my favourite such designs. This structure looks wonderful on display, replicating myriad subtle details from Friends and including some enjoyable references. Furthermore, I believe this model could easily form the basis for a generic coffee shop, potentially attracting those with little interest in the series.
The minifigure selection is equally appealing and this set offers great value, costing £64.99 or $59.99 and containing 1070 pieces! The exchange rate between American and European prices might leave something to be desired but I am quite satisfied with this model. For that reason, 21319 Central Perk undoubtedly represents an excellent addition to the expanding LEGO Ideas range.
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