Friday, May 4th, 2012 at 11:35pm by Jason, BZPower Reporter
Lego Friends in the new theme aimed at girls, which is a bold step for Lego to take. Set 3933: Olivia's Invention Workshop is one of the more unique of the Friends sets because it involves Olivia exploring a hobby that isn't traditionally associated with girls. Does this set appeal to the younger female audience? I won't be able to tell you that exactly, but I hope to give an honest review of this set and how it can appeal to both boys and girls.
And Olivia's latest invention… may shock you. Continue reading to find out what it is!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
3933: Olivia's Invention Workshop is one of the $9.99 USD Friends set. The box is purple and the front shows off the various furniture pieces Olivia has in her workshop. Meanwhile, the back shows some scenes where Olivia's hard at work inventing. Also included on the back is a simple guide of how to build the new mini-dolls. There's also a list of other cheap sets that associate with the other female characters in Lego Friends. One last thing to note: the box does have a tab on it, so it can be hung on displays.
Overall, the packaging certainly seems to appeal to a female audience. Still, it doesn't seem as vibrant as some of the other girl toys seen in stores. The box art does a good job at showing off the characters and scenes that could be played out.
There is one thing I noticed when I opened up the box; the advertisement on the back on the instructions booklet has changed. Instead of the crazy boy who's screaming because he stepped barefoot on a Lego piece, there's a crazy girl who's glaring up at you with a devious smile on her face. She's trying to tell you that you could "Win!" but she knows that she's going to get the prize instead. The instruction booklets have the strangest advertisements on the back of them. But anyway, this is new for the Friends theme, I presume. Inside, the instructions also include advertisements for the other Friends sets, as well as Lego Creator sets and the Lego Club.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
For an experienced builder, the construction for this set is very simple. In this case, it is likely appealing to younger builders who are new to building with Lego. It's very straightforward, although it does employ a few uses of SNOT, which stands for Studs Not On Top. (Although for this girl theme, maybe a better acronym than SNOT could be used.) One thing to note is that the construction is very compartmental; the pieces of furniture are all built separately, so girls could easily start role-playing midway through the construction. As an older builder, I find this unnecessary, but then again I am not within the target audience. Lego said they wanted the girls to be able to start playing midway through, and I think they pulled that part off.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
You only get 81 pieces in this set, plus a few spares. For a $9.99 USD set, this doesn't pass the magic mark of 10 cents per piece. Still, you get a decent selection. There's enough here for younger builders to experiment in building lab equipment for Olivia. But for older builders, the joy here is the new colors introduced in the Friends theme.
Above is an example of the pastel color pallet. The tools all come in dark purple, which is not a new color but it's still rare enough. You get a couple of specialized pieces in bright pink, which is also a fairly rare color. Next, you get five 2x6 plates in light aqua, which is a newer color. Finally, you get a handful of bricks in the new medium azure color. It's a good selection of rare colors for a cheap set. These pastel colors, which will certainly appeal to girls more, are also a big drawing point for older builders to buy these sets. Yes, I admit, I mostly got this set for the cool colored pieces.
Additionally, here are some cool pieces included with the set. The container elements are always a nice touch for City folks, and the green vial was previously only available from the Collectible Minifigures line. The truly unique part from this set is the blackboard tile, onto which Olivia has scribbled out some equations. However, I can't say her math is perfect; she fails to define the value for the heart subscript person. (I guess that constant was covered in her physics textbook.) One useful piece not pictured is the trans-green 1x1 round tile, which is also new and so far found in only two sets.
Now to cover the character herself, Olivia. One of the biggest controversies of Lego Friends is the use of mini-dolls instead of the standard minifigures. The new fig is incompatible with traditional figs, and has curves and proportions that are slightly more realistic to that of an actual human being. Some have argued that it reinforces the gender stereotype of how girls should look thin. While she's thinner compared to the traditional chubby minifigures that we Lego collectors all know and love, I personally don't think she looks unrealistically thin. (Especially when you compare her to other girl dolls produced today.) You can decide how the new mini-dolls reflect on girls' body images. (And if you must argue about it in the talkback topic, please be civil.) For now, I'll cover the functionality of the figure.
The new mini-dolls come in three main portions: head, torso, and legs. The legs are connected together, but they do have a 90 degree hinge at the hips, so Olivia can sit down, but she can't bend backwards. The arms have a standard range of movement, but the hands cannot rotate. The head fits onto a bar piece on the body, which also makes it incompatible with standard minifig torsos. Luckily, the hair piece connects onto a stud on top of the head, so Olivia can swap headgear with traditional figs.
When compared to traditional minifigs, the new mini-dolls are slightly taller and fairly thinner. (But not abnormally thin.) As far as mobility goes, the new mini-dolls are lacking in individual leg movement, limited hip movement, and no hand rotation. Still, these are mostly nitpicking details, and the mini-doll still has enough articulation to pass off as a playable character. As I mentioned earlier, the only compatible pieces between the new and old figs are hair pieces, so at the very least Olivia can swap styles with the Collectible Cheerleader. However, as far as piece swapping goes, Olivia has something more in common with another set of minifigures members of this site might be familiar with.
Yes, Olivia's head attachment is the same as the 2006 and 2007 Bionicle minifigures. Because we all know that Jaller really wanted to update his look, and Olivia was dying to take an adventurous trip to Voya-Nui.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
This set was clearly designed for role playing potential. Olivia can go all out as she builds new robots, examines crystals, mixes chemicals, and teaches her robot abstract mathematical concepts, like how 3 comes after 2 which comes after 1. The various furniture pieces all allow for decent playing, and there is no piece that goes to waste. Even the spare 2x2 brick offers a stand for Olivia while she looked into the microscope. And if young builders get bored with the current layout, they can rebuild the scene, hopefully using more bricks from their collection to expand upon Olivia's workshop.
You know, I always thought Olivia seemed to be the mad scientist type. She is clearly trying to build a human-robot-hybrid army to help her take over the world. Yes, Girl Power!
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Lots of pieces in nice pastel colors
- Offers plenty of role playing opportunities
- Little robot is cute
- New mini-doll is compatible with Bionicle figs!
- Hair pieces can also be used with traditional minifigs
What's not to like?
- Mini-doll body pieces are incompatible with traditional minifigs
- Simple construction (although I suppose this could be a pro for younger builders)
- Scary girl ad on back of instructions booklet
- Olivia might be trying to take over the world. (Again, could be a pro if you like her.)
Okay, I wouldn't recommend this set to the average BZPower member. This set is too girly for them. But I think this set does an excellent job at appealing to younger girls and introducing them to Lego's style of building. And since this set is exploring engineering and science, I think that is an even better reason to get it over some of the other Friends sets that may focus on more traditional girl activities. See, girls, Olivia's building robots and its cool and fun. And she's going to use them to take over the world! (By force, if necessary.)
And make sure to stay tuned to BZPower, because we have more set reviews coming from a wide variety of themes.
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