Building this set, I wasn’t particularly struck by anything. It seemed normal, though not as tedius as the ones I’ve attempted (and given up on) in the past. It also didn’t hurt my fingers. That’s a huge factor in giving up on the other sets. The other LEGOs seem determined to destroy my fingers and I usually stop in annoyance after a few minutes of masochism. This set was blissfully free of that. I thought maybe I was just more determined to work through it or maybe those other nights I was just being a baby. Then I got to the birdhouse.
The birdhouse of the set is the last thing that you build. There’s a weird little cross-stick thing that you have to push down through the “log” pieces and it’s difficult to get in there properly so it took a bit of finagling. That was the only problem I had piecing anything together. When I started to build the birdhouse, though, with its stark red and white bricks, there, oh there, was that audible “SNAP!” rather than the tiny click I’d been getting for the entire build. The red and white bricks were the finger punishing little monsters that I remembered and with every loud “SNAP!” they reminded me of why I’d never finished a set before this one.
The cat bed and the (evil) birdhouse are nice little touches but they mostly serve to annoy me as they are so woefully out of scale. There also isn’t much room for them to sit on the base so it’s impossible to keep them all together. It’s kind of like having two mini sets and one big one.
Vault: I thought I’d jump in a say a couple of words about what I liked in this set. I was pretty impressed with all the new elements and colors. Sure there’s a lot of pink and purple, but you also get a lighter brown shade that I haven’t seen very often and the tree leaves come in dark and light green. I also really loved the new animal and plant pieces. The cat and bird are a nice touch, but the ladybugs and butterflies are awesome. It’s finally nice to get an insect that’s not a spider or an ant. The three new flowers are a welcome sight too, and fit just as well on the three pronged grass pieces as the old flat flowers.
The new minifigure is pretty interesting. She’s just a bit taller than a standard minifig, and her design is very different. What disappointed me the most is how little articulation she has. Her head and arms swivel, an her legs move together on a hinge joint. Her upper and lower torsos are seperate pieces, but they are connected with an oval so they can’t swivel. I also miss having the swivel hands, which usually helps to add personality to the minifigs.
One thing I really love about the Friends minifig is even though her head is a different shape, it’s still the same diameter as the classic cylindar heads. This means any type of hat or hair piece will be compatible for both lines. I know this will lead to some great hairstyles for the classic figures, but I’m also hoping it brings some traditional LEGO themes into the Friends line. I think it would be a great roleplaying sales point to see the girls dressed in classic Space or Castle clothing, having their own make-believe adventures.
Manekochan: Overall, Olivia’s Tree house is a fun set with plenty of little odds and ends (20 various red bugs and flowers come to mind) to keep you building for a short while. It’s a nice piece to have around for your mini-figs, not just your mini-dolls. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t notice anything different in the method. I was hoping for something a little more drastic but maybe we just need to break out a bigger set to find out.
-Manekochan & Vault