Monday, October 27th, 2014 at 2:46pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Once again it's time to bring you guys another set review. Today we're taking a look at 21116 Crafting Box from the upcoming Minecraft minifig-scale line. LEGO has given BZPower a sneak peek before these sets are widely available, which is always awesome. So is this a set that will get you mining and farming and building and more? Or will you send it to the Netherworld and never look at it again? You'll have to read on to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This set comes in a very big box. It's clearly Minecraft-themed and lets you know that this is eight sets in one! You've got images of a few of them plus all the appropriate branding. On the back there's an inventory of pieces, more images of the different combinations, and callouts informing you of the over five hundred pieces in the set, the translator poster, and the inspiration for another ten models. It seems like there's quite a lot of value crammed in here.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
This set offers one of the most unique building experiences I've seen in a while. The set features five bags, numbered 1, 2, 2, 2, and 2. Very confusing at first, but it makes sense in the end. The first bag builds the minifigs, the mooshroom cow (I know what it is now!), and some of the other accessories. The four remaining bags are used to construct the majority of the models in the set.
Here's the process you go through to build one of the eight sets, more or less. There's a table of contents in the first instruction book showing the different models and the page number the instructions are on. You pick one and go to that page. Each model only has a handful of steps (less than ten). Each step calls out 'modules' along the top and then references pages in the second instruction book. So you have to grab the second book, go to each page and build the module specified in the first book. Then you go back to the first book and assemble the modules as instructed. Then go to step two in the first book, rinse, and repeat.
Honestly it's a bit confusing at first, and after several decades of being trained to turn the page to follow the next step I found myself building modules I didn't need to for the model I was building. But it's a very interesting method and allows for a lot of unique combinations and easily enabled the designers to give us eight different models and inspiration for ten more. So I have to applaud their ingenuity here.
Aside from the modularity, the actual builds are pretty basic and boring. Pretty much everything is studs-up with basic bricks, so it's not going to overwhelm you with a lot of different techniques. That's a result of the source material I would say, and it certainly allows them to achieve a Minecraft aesthetic.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
When it comes to parts, I hope you like basic bricks. There's some unique pieces, namely the heads for Steve, the skeleton, and the cow as well as the pickaxe and the bow and arrow. There are also two printed pieces - the TNT brick and the oven brick. Everything else is pretty much basic bricks. There's some cool ones like 2x2 trans-green and trans-blue bricks, dark green 2x4 bricks, and some other transparent variations, but just about everything else is 2x2, 2x4, 2x6, and 2x8 bricks. There's a selection of baseplates and 2x2 jumper plates as well, to round things out. It's a pretty good selection if you're looking to add a lot of landscape-tones like greys, greens, browns, and tans to your collection. But specialized parts are at a premium.
This set comes with two minifigures and one creature from the world of Minecraft. Steve features a normal minifig body with a new, specialized head. I can't speak to the accuracy, but it looks like it captures the feel from the game pretty well. The skeleton uses the normal skeleton body and the same head as Steve, in a different color and with different printing, of course. Finally, the mooshroom cow is a mostly brick-built creature, with a specialized head that is similar in size to that of Steve and the Skeleton, but not quite. The all look appropriately blocky to fit into the world of Minecraft, and that is good enough for me.
The first bag creates a bunch of details that are used in the various models. There's a door, some railings, crops, flowers, mushrooms, torches, an oven, dynamite, and some things I can't identify. Nothing too amazing, but they get the point across.
There are instructions for eight models in this set. In the interest of time I didn't build and photograph each one, so here you can see the first. It utilizes several different modules and then some details that you built in the first bag to finish it up. Most modules have a 2x2 brick hanging off the edge that allows them to attach to other modules. This allows for you to easily connect them to each other and rearrange them to your heart's content. Since creativity and customizing is at the very heart of LEGO and Minecraft, I feel like this exemplifies both of those brands very well.
The transitions from different modules can be abrupt, but that's to be expected given the way the set is designed. I think the added details like flowers, trees, crops, and fences help overcome that and tie things together. The final models tend to be a bit fragile, so don't expect to move them around a lot once you've built them. They're easy enough to disassemble though, so you can always take them apart into their individual modules, move them, and set them back up.
Overall I really like the concept, even if I'm not particularly a fan of the blocky Minecraft aesthetic. I can see it enabling a lot of creativity even for younger builders who may not be comfortable with building their own Minecraft layout from scratch (or people who are just lazy :P).
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?
With instructions for eight models and the ability to create your own layouts, there's a ton of different play opportunities here. There's no action features, which could be seen as a drawback, but considering how easy it is to reconfigure the set into different layouts they get a pass. You also get three characters to help you act out different scenes. For a $55 set I would have liked another fig or two, but it doesn't take away too much from the role play. In the end the play value here is the creativity it can help inspire, and it succeeds at that for sure.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Good variety of basic bricks in different colors
- New Minecraft-based pieces
- Eight sets in one
- Easy to create your own layouts and configurations
What's not to like?
- Only three characters
- Few specialized pieces
- Few new molds
- Not visually appealing if you're not a Minecraft fan
Not being a Minecraft fan, I probably would not have bought this set on my own. I had fun building it though, and it challenged my expectations of what LEGO instructions can be. The pieces will definitely find welcome homes in my collection. If you're a Minecraft fan looking for a way to create scenes that look like they come out of the game, you should definitely check it out. For others, if you need a lot of basic bricks it's not a bad value at all.
Thank you all for reading, I hope you've enjoyed this review. Thanks of course to LEGO for sending it out to us as well. If you have any questions, you can ask them in the Talkback, along with any feedback on the review - such as my lack of knowledge on Minecraft. Keep checking back on BZPower for more Bionicle news, sets reviews, and more!
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