21102 Minecraft Micro World: Official Brickset review
The waiting is over: The first product to come out of LEGO's global Cuusoo initiative is now available. Read on to find out if you need to buy it...
It's not every company that asks its customers for suggestions for products to make, but that's exactly what LEGO started to do in 2010, using the Cuusoo social creation platform. For two years it did so in Japan only, and during that time two sets came to fruition, Shinkai 6500 Submarine and Hayabusa.
Then, late last year, the programme went global and within a matter of months the first project crossed the 10,000 supporters threshold. The project was inspired by the online game Minecraft that is popular with millions of players across the world. The huge number of fans, plus support from the game's publishers, helped the project achieve 10,000 supporters in just two days.
The concept model submitted to Cuusoo was pretty uninspiring and the resultant product could have ended up being little more than a 'bucket of bricks'. Thankfully, LEGO's designers have produced something that is far more interesting...
Packaging and contents
The first thing that strikes you when you see the set is that it's not packaged in a rectangular box: instead it's in a 12cm square box, printed like Minecraft building blocks.
The box is pretty much full to the brim with 6 bags of LEGO and two instruction books. The bags are not numbered, so it's a case of opening them all at once.
The set consists of 480 pieces, many of which are 1x1 plates and tiles. A new-style brick separator is included. They seem to be cropping up in nearly every set these days, don't they... Personally I prefer the older, larger, green one as I find the new one a bit small for my hands.
The two instruction books include an introduction to Cuusoo and explain how the set came into being.
Here's the parts list. Something around 280 of the parts are 1x1 plates and tiles. 62 of them are green 1x1 tiles that have not been very common in sets until now, although BrickLink is awash with them.
The model is modular and split into 4 sections. Each of the four sections is also modular in that the base and top are built separately.
The bases are built on 6x6 plates and are 4 bricks + 2 plates high. They are largely hollow and constructed mainly of light and dark grey bricks. Each one is different and has some sort of 'surprise' in it: two have gold bars (1x2 gold tiles) and two have 1x2 trans-blue 'crystals'. Are they significant in the game? I don't know. They have a 1x2 brick with technic pin hole on each face to facilitate connecting the sections together.
The tops are constructed mostly of 1x1 bricks, plates and tiles. They are thus quite fiddly to build, particularly if you take care to get them all square. I thought I'd done a resonable job, but as you'll see in the photo at the bottom of the page, it looks as if I could have done better!
The tops are held to their base using one of the new 1x4 plates with 2 studs. Each has a different feature including a river, volcano and a dwelling of some sort.
Putting it together
Once you've built all four sections you can connect them together using the 2l Technic axles provided. You can connect them as suggested or any way you like: if you swap tops and bases a large number of unique combinations are possible.
The finished model
A top-down view where the skewed 1x1 tiles are very apparent :-) Note the clever use of studs for texture: grass, paths, rivers and foilage are tiled, rocks are left studded.
Here are the two dudes, Steve and Creeper, that come with the set. They are a bit superfluous in that they don't connect with the rest of it, and are far too large, but presumably they are significant to Minecraft fans. They are printed, including on the edge of the 1x1 tan tiles, which I believe is a first.
It's been pointed out that I forgot to put Steve's hair on -- doh!
There are a lot of spare parts: more than usual. There are loads of spare 1x1 dark grey tiles which, as far as I can tell, are not used in the model, even though the parts list states there are 12.
One objective of the Cuusoo programme is to enable LEGO to make sets that they would not have done otherwise, and to sell them to people that don't already buy LEGO. This set should certainly achieve both of those goals:
- It is like no other set LEGO has ever made in that it has no minfigs, no buildings, no vehicles, and it's not immediately obvious what it is. It is unlikely that LEGO would make anything like it if it were not for Cuusoo.
- It appears that LEGO and Minecraft have a lot in common and I think it likely that it will greatly appeal to Minecraft fans, who don't appear to have a lot of quality merchandise available to them beyond a mass of T-shirts.
For you, as a hardcore LEGO fan, I suspect it has less appeal. It's certainly more interesting than it could have been: it's a fun build; it's full of useful pieces; the resultant model is interesting to look at, reconfigure, and perhaps build extra modules for, but ultimately it's nothing that you couldn't build yourself from parts in your collection.
However, given this is the first of what I hope will be many Cuusoo models available globally, it is a set that collectors will be wise to buy now rather than face regret in years to come when its price rockets on the secondary market.
So, to summarise...
- If you're a Minecraft fan: Buy it -- it appears to be much better than a lot of the other Minecraft merchandise out there.
- If you are on a tight LEGO budget: Use this as inspiration to build something similar from your own parts and spend the $35 on a regular LEGO set.
- If you're a collector: Buy it now to save heartache later when trying to complete your Cuusoo collection!
Want to buy it?
The set has appeared at shop.LEGO.com today! You can order it online now:
It's also listed at Amazon.com, although at the moment is only being sold by 3rd party vendors.
Here are a few more photos that didn't fit in the text body above: