41097 Heartlake Hot Air Balloon

41097_box

I’ve been a fan of the Friends line for a while now. Every season, Lego releases new and amazing sets in these pink boxes. The elements alone are worth the purchase (and oh so perfect for drafting). Needless to say, when I saw pictures of this set surface on the internet, I began to salivate.

I braved the mass hysteria that was my local Lego store on the first of the year and bought a brace of new sets (including the lovely Birds set). I let this one marinate on the shelf for a while before finally breaking the seal and digging in.

41097_contents

The elements were divided into a pair of numbered bags, with the largest plate (8×16) on its own and the new balloon elements in their own bag. It’s a nice touch that the cover on the instruction booklet is printed portrait (though the interior is a more standard landscape format).

41097_instructions

The instructions are fairly standard for Friends sets, with diagrams printed on a background of pale purple and very readable. The build itself is separated into two parts, using the elements from the corresponding bags.

41097_bag_1

The first section builds the hot air balloon and picnic blanket. A lot of simple but fun techniques here and a couple of elements in new colors. The highlight is the balloon, built from eight scoop shaped pieces. These new parts have a clip at the top and another at the bottom on the inside that allows them to clip onto the octagonal bar element to create the  intended effect. At first they seem like awfully specialized parts, but  suspect that time will show that they can be used in some unexpected ways.

41097_bag_2

The second bag builds a small landscape, complete with a tree, water feature and a hidden compartment. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to the minidolls in these sets, but someone recently pointed out that their hair will fit onto minifigs. The rubber hair piece on Noah here is awesomely spiking anime hair and I look forward to putting it on some scrappy protagonist fig.

It’s also worth noting that this set came with a large quantity of extra parts. 19 elements definitely helps make up for the below average price per piece ratio. Some builders might not think so, but there is a great selection of small elements here for micro builders.

41097_built

The finished set is attractive and substantial. My son immediately started playing with it, so I know it has play value too. My LUG has plans to draft this set in a couple of months and I can’t wait to fight over some of the beautiful elements!

Enjoy and keep building!

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