The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most recognizable American icon and has been rendered in LEGO bricks many times. From a massive version towering over the original LEGOLAND Billund to a much-sought-after collectible minifigure variant, Lady Liberty is a longstanding favorite of LEGO designers. The newest addition to the LEGO Architecture line 21042 Statue of Liberty is arguably the most complex, accurate and satisfying renditions, containing 1,685 pieces and available now for $119.99 USD.
As with other LEGO Architecture sets, 21042 Statue of Liberty comes in a premium storage box with a decent heft to it, but oriented vertically and towering over any other box from the Architecture line so far. While the series has typically been targeted at a building age of 12+, the Statue of Liberty indicated a building suggestion of 16+, already suggesting that it will be a more complex build.
Opening the box reveals ten numbered bags full of tan, sand green, and some red white and blue elements as well as three loose red Technic axle links. Architecture sets haven’t typically had numbered bags, so their inclusion is a welcome change to avoid spending the majority of your building time looking for that one part. A perfect-bound 183-page instruction booklet rounds out the box contents, which includes a brief history about the statue as well as some glamor shots, though interestingly the text is only in English rather than repeated in several different languages like former booklets have done.
The actual build process starts simply with a square base and four walls built from tan masonry profile bricks (or “brick bricks’). From there, red, white and blue elements (a dose of internal patriotism) are used to create a structure to attach what essentially is an outward facing façade of tan details. Several previous LEGO versions have opted to exclude the pedestal, likely for height considerations. However, that’s where the simplicity of the set ends.
I would almost describe the process of building this set as creating numerous “puzzle pieces,” then assembling those sub-builds to reveal the completed model. Though somewhat repetitive in creating nearly four identical copies of each segment for each of the four sides of the statue, the segments themselves are incredibly detailed. Boat studs are used to represent the circular panels wrapped around the base of the pedestal, and several more “puzzle pieces” are created, adding texture and patterns to flush out the first half of the base.
With another round of red, white and blue structural work on the inside and tan detailed segments on the outside, the pedestal is completed. The top viewing platform is constructed with exposed studs on the railing, a technique also not used often in Architecture models, but giving it a distinct LEGO-look.
The central core of the pedestal is hollow, allowing for several flexible Technic 16L axle links to essentially anchor the upcoming top portion of the build. These links act as tension cables that allow for the completed model to be lifted without worrying that the statue will fall off the pedestal. (Following several tests, I would declare that this Statue of Liberty is quite swooshable.)
The onslaught of sand green begins, as the base of the statue portion is tiled and a central column of SNOT bricks is erected. The color-coordinated columns of similar elements is crucial to helping you not go cross-eyed while building the repeated levels.
Speaking of sand green, there are numerous new elements that appear in the color for the first time, including 35 pairs of the angled “baby wedge bows” (technically named 2×1 curved slope with no studs and a stud notch, hence the nickname). The set is certainly a fantastic parts pack for sand green if you are looking for curves and corner SNOT bricks. There are no entirely new elements in the model, though that is part of the charm of Architecture sets, seeing what is possible to create using the parts that already exist.
The rest of the build feels even more like a puzzle as subassemblies are created to wrap around the exterior of the central column and reveal Lady Liberty. Each of the sub-builds are fairly easy, though since everything is sand green it is easy to accidentally use the wrong part. (As an aside, I consider myself to be a fairly decent LEGO builder, and I still made three mistakes confusing the different baby wedge bows which I had to search for and then correct when I ran out of the elements later on. Quite humbling!)
Lady Liberty’s right arm is connected using an incredibly simple, yet satisfying technique that I won’t spoil here, but rest assured it takes advantage of the geometry of a few pieces to perfectly secure the upright arm in place. The torch’s flame is a recolored version of Salazar’s black windswept hairpiece from last year’s 71042 Silent Mary. Molded in pearl gold, it catches the light and works remarkably well to represent the flame capping off the Statue of Liberty.
Finally, the statue’s crown and face are created out of all new elements in sand green. The pentagonal Nexo Knight shield is used as the face of Lady Liberty. This gives the her an extremely abstract and flat-looking face from close up, though in the proper shape. The model is certainly meant to be viewed from a distance for the right effect. I talked to set designer Rok Žgalin Kobe in Billund about the choice, and he said that they tried many different prints and brick-built renditions, but that the simplest version ended up being the most effective, short of creating a molded face.
The finished model
Altogether, the puzzle that is 21042 Statue of Liberty is a particularly challenging build with a stunning result. At slightly more than seven cents a piece, it is also priced reasonably considering it is the second-largest LEGO Architecture set by piece count, following the massive 2,276-piece 21010 Robie House.
Nearly a year has elapsed since the last non-skyline LEGO Architecture set came out, 21036 Arc de Triomphe, and 21042 Statue of Liberty is a worthy successor. Measuring nearly a foot and a half tall (44 cm), Lady Liberty is the tallest set in the line, easily beating out the former tallest set 21031 Burj Khalifa (which is ironically the tallest building in the world at the moment).
In comparison to LEGO’s previous sand green, nearly 3,000 piece 3450 Statue of Liberty from 18 years ago, the current Architecture version is sleek and feels more complete with the pedestal included. In terms of size, the earlier version dwarfs her sand green sisters, but the use of curved elements makes the pleats in the robes on the statue more identifiable.
New York City is a favorite of LEGO designers, with 21042 Statue of Liberty becoming the ninth building/monument to be depicted in the Architecture series. This set is actually the second Statue of Liberty to be included in the line, the first being a sand green nano-figure from the 21028 New York City skyline set.
Having lived in New York City for a fair number of years, I have often gazed at the Statue of Liberty across the water from downtown. Whenever friends or family would visit, we would venture out to Liberty Island to climb to the crown inside the statue and back down. Being so close to the base of Lady Liberty, we would look up at the symbol of freedom and collectively feel like we were part of something bigger than ourselves. Building this LEGO version, even with its complexities, brought back a hint of those feelings, which is remarkable for a toy made of plastic bricks.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick a copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews. A special thank you to Bricks and Wheels for letting us borrow 3450 Statue of Liberty so we could compare the two sets.