While everybody is understandably excited about the massive new Ninjago City set, September 1st also brings us the latest LEGO Ideas set, 21310 Old Fishing Store. The set includes 2,049 pieces and four minifigures for a retail price of $149.99 in the US.
The Brothers Brick interviewed the design team when we visited LEGO headquarters back in May, with the first announcement of the set’s approval last October, so read on to find out if this fan-designed set was worth the wait.
Unlike the first several LEGO Ideas sets, the Old Fishing Store follows the recent pattern for large LEGO Ideas sets with packaging identical to “regular” LEGO sets. A nautical theme pervades the box’s design, with fishing poles, buoys, nets, and so on. The back of the box highlights various play features and showcases interior scenes you can’t see well from outside the completed set.
It’s interesting to note that the box is identical in size to the box for the immediately previous LEGO Ideas set, the excellent 21309 Saturn V.
The 2,049 parts for the set come in 7 sets of numbered bags, with the instructions and sticker sheet — yes, we’ll come to that — in their own bag, and the 32×32 tan baseplate loose among the bags.
The instruction booklet includes one-page interviews with fan designer Robert Bontenbal and LEGO designer Adam Grabowski (whom our readers will know from many years of past coverage prior to his job at LEGO as “MisterZumbi”), and spans 313 steps on 276 pages.
Let’s get started with the actual build. The first and second sets of bags include the parts to build the base of the store, with the first bag providing mostly structural elements that support the store’s multiple levels. Despite being primarily structural, there’s still plenty of interesting stuff going on in the base, with a spider hiding on a web underneath the floor of the shop (though it’s a little hard to see in this photo of the completed set).
By the second bag, you’re happily tiling the checkered floor of the shop and starting to build up the lower portions of the building itself. The fishing store appears to be built on a dock, with dangerously haphazard planks jutting off the edge at various levels.
The third and fourth bag sets includes parts for the lower half of the main building, and the techniques really start to get interesting. The sand green clapboard siding is built from tiles attached to 1×4, 1×2, and 1×1 bricks with studs on the sides, and it’s worth taking a peek at the instruction booklet to prove that LEGO has indeed instructed builders to place tiles on those bricks askew!
The result yields a fantastically dilapidated look, with 1×2 tiles hanging off of single studs.
Given the difficulty inherent in adding interior detail after the structure is complete, details of the shop’s goods and equipment begin taking shape fairly early. A hinge also hints at the fact that the rear wall opens to reveal the interior.
The fifth bag completes the roofline of the main structure and first level of the captain’s office on the upper level, with a bunch of exterior detail. Looking in from the top of the shop, you can see a crowded counter and equipment like scuba gear and fishing poles available to rent.
The entire sixth bag is occupied by parts for the roof, which simply rests atop the completed main section. While the roof isn’t actually attached, parts on its underside ensure it nestles securely in the opening.
The roof shares its aesthetic with the haphazard boards of the dock below, using a mix of printed tiles (one 1×3 tile style and another 1×4) and a handful of stickers for larger detail.
…which seems like a good place to pause and discuss the printed pieces vs. stickers in the set. First, out of 18 LEGO Ideas sets this is just the second set that includes stickers, and the first one was 21302 The Big Bang Theory. The two styles of printed board tiles are not new, having first appeared in LEGO Angry Birds sets last year. While we might have preferred the earlier, more realistic printed boards, our guess is that they’re now out of production, and despite the rather more cartoony design of the Angry Birds boards, I personally think they work well once they’re all in place throughout the set.
The sticker sheet isn’t the massive affair in Ninjago City, and even designer Adam Grabowski makes the case in the instruction booklet that the set would look all right without applying any of the stickers. I’m inclined to agree, though we applied all the stickers to our copy of the set for the sake of this review. My favorite sticker is a newspaper with a headline that says, “Local Man Catches Every Fish Ever”.
Nevertheless, there are still some new printed pieces, including a 2×4 tile with the name of the shop — “Anton’s Bait Shop,” a nod to Adam’s baby son.
The little boxes of hooks sitting all over the shop are also printed 1×2 tiles.
Back to the build. The seventh and final set of bags finish the captain’s watchtower, which is modular and detaches from the main building, with a separate roof.
The captain’s tower has a ladder inside (another totally unnecessary internal detail not visible from the outside, but that makes the whole build fun throughout), which lets the captain access a narrow balcony with a telescope.
The finished model
Hands down, this may be the most aesthetically pleasing LEGO Ideas set released yet. The whole thing has a relaxed vibe to it, with colors that complement each other wonderfully and more details than a written review can cover reasonably, from nice rock-work at the base to the weathervane at the tip of the tower.
Even the rear of the completed building has excellent details, with pipes and meters on the wall, an air conditioning unit up above, and a spigot for washing the sand off your feet.
The level of detail inside is frankly stunning. If you’re into minifig accessories, this is a parts pack bonanza. Even the interior walls of the shop are covered in detail, with charts, hanging chains and buoys, life preservers, and nautical paintings.
The tiny captain’s office has a swiveling chair and a desk with a green lamp and a newspaper. As I noted above, the captain can climb a ladder to get to his lookout with a telescope.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the first LEGO Ideas set that includes a sticker sheet, but there are still two new printed tiles — the bait shop sign and hook boxes. There are also 30 1×4 medium nougat tiles with wood grain and nail pattern plus 17 1×3 dark tan wood tiles. The whole exterior is tiled with sand green tiles, and the set includes dozens of 1×4, 1×3, and 1×2 tiles.
What’s really unexpected if you don’t examine the box or the cover of the instruction booklet closely is just how many animals there are in the set. All told, there are three seagulls, the aforementioned black spider, an orange cat, an unprinted gray chicken, two light orange crabs, two of the new lobsters (previously only available with the “Lobster Thermidor” LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigure), and eight fish.
A nice addition to the palette of available “brick profile bricks” is the wealth of new olive green “brick bricks” in the set, mostly down near the water, where they presumably represent algae-encrusted stone.
And at over two thousand pieces for only $150, the set is actually quite a steal from a pure parts perspective.
Despite being minifig-scale, this set isn’t about the minifigs. Some builders might be disappointed that the set only includes four minifigs for a 2,000-piece set that’s $150, but I honestly think that more would overcrowd the space.
From left to right in the photo below, the set includes a kid in a dark azure hoodie with a white baseball cap, a fisherman with waders and a knit cap (whose boots are double-molded), the captain with a cableknit sweater and nautical hat, and a tourist wearing a fishing gear vest over a T-shirt (represented by double-molded white and yellow arms) and boots (also double-molded, dark green boots with sand blue trousers).
Conclusions & recommendation
21310 Old Fishing Store is a stunningly beautiful set — a jumbled mess in all the right places (like the roof and the interior), organic or natural-looking at the base where it makes sense, and plain and simple with excellent color blocking between the sand-green clapboard siding and the brown roof, which looks like it’s about to cave in on the unsuspecting minifigs.
The LEGO Ideas line is full of new IP (intellectual property) like Doctor Who, the Beatles, Adventure Time, and so on. I can’t fault fans for hoping their favorite properties get made into official sets by their favorite toy maker. And I can’t fault LEGO for producing sets that they know will sell well based on existing cultural icons. But you have to admire the true originality of a fantastic set like this, not based on any TV show or movie.
In a world full of LEGO Death Stars and giant stompy Ninjago robots, we need the Old Fishing Store. Get yourself a copy when it comes out on September 1st and enjoy a quiet evening of Zen-like building, and then admire its beauty until you’re ready to take it apart and design something just as beautiful and inspired yourself.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.