Netflix’s sci-fi-horror-adventure series Stranger Things has been riding the wave of 80s childhood nostalgia for two seasons, making it a smash hit for the streaming platform. With the third season dropping July 4, LEGO is rolling out a massive new set to kick off its licensing partnership. Just officially announced today, 75810 The Upside Down includes one of the key locations in the series, the Byers’ home. It’s got a twist, though, with the creepy “Upside-Down” alternate dimension mirrored below it. Trees serve as pillars so the house can be displayed with either world on top. The set features 2,287 pieces and will retail for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99. It is on sale beginning tomorrow for LEGO VIP members, with a full release coming June 1.
The set includes eight minifigures, the mirrored house, Chief Hopper’s Blazer, and a small display stand for some of the minifigures. The scenes in the set span seasons 1 and 2, so there may be a few very mild spoilers. Let’s dig in and see how LEGO accomplished an upside-down house in the first-ever Stranger Things set.
The box and contents
The box is usually one of the least interesting aspects of a set, but LEGO has broken the mold here to have the packaging fit the theme. The box front features two versions of the LEGO and Stranger Things logos so that it can be displayed with either the normal world or the Upside Down on top.
It’s a brilliant bit of package design and portends the thought that’s gone into the rest of the set as well. The box itself is massive, in line with other similarly priced sets. Inside are 17 bags, with a handful sequestered to a smaller inner box. The bags span 11 numbered steps, but you’ll need to pull out and organize all the bags before building, as they’re mixed seemingly at random between the main box and the inner box.
The two instruction manuals and two stickers sheets are in their own sealed bag, keeping the stickers nicely flat. Both the manuals and the stickers are divided by world; manual 1 and the first sticker sheet tackle the Blazer and the real Byers’ house, while the second of each is for the Upside Down. The manuals are designed as classified files from Hawkins National Laboratory, the government facility that’s the source of all the weirdness.
Both manuals have introductory sections, with the first manual giving the show’s premise, while the second features LEGO Model Designer Justin Ramsden discussing the development of the kit. Justin is a relatively new designer (one of his first sets was 2016’s 76057 Spider-Man: Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle) but you wouldn’t know that from building this set, which is packed with clever techniques and intricate details.
Throughout the manuals there are bits of trivia about the show relating to the portion of the set you’re building. It’s a bit surprising to see overt references to classic horror movies like The Evil Dead in a LEGO set, but I’m not going to complain.
There are a handful of new molded elements in the set, though most are minifigure accessories. The pumpkin in the back of Hopper’s Blazer is a reference both to the Halloween trick-or-treat setting in the first season, and the famous pumpkin patch scene in the second. The piece itself is a new mold, and although there’s only a single example here, multiples are included in the upcoming 75947 Hagrid’s Hut: Buckbeak’s Rescue. LEGO already has a fantastic jack-o-lantern element, and while this new one is nice, it’s a shame this new one isn’t simply a version of that jack-o-lantern design without the carved face. The stud on top is hollow, and the bottom can accept a Technic axle as well as a stud.
While there aren’t many totally new elements, the set is a field day for fans hunting for new colors for existing elements, and I’m only covering a sampling of them. The piece that probably catches most people’s attention first is the dark blue large leaf element, which covers the trees in the Upside Down. There are also dark brown small leaf elements, and the set features a whopping 22 each of both the dark blue and dark brown leaves. Additionally, there are new dark brown inverted 1×3 tiles–an element that’s been scarce apart from Unikitty thus far–and olive green 1×1 round plates, a simple piece whose only previous appearance is the limited edition, region-locked 80102 Dragon Dance.
The base of the houses consists of large plates, including new colors olive green and medium dark flesh, and a rare color with sand blue–plus a trio in dark grey, which aren’t rare but are always handy. There are also new black carrot stems, trans-black 1×4 antennas, and new black sea grass, among others.
The build begins with the nameplate stand and the Blazer. The stand isn’t much of a build, with the Stranger Things logo applied to a black Slope 10 6×8, and a row of studs suitable for displaying four minifigures. The minifigures themselves are spread out through the build, with one appearing at the start of every bag or two.
Police Chief Jim Hopper’s 1980 Chevrolet K5 Blazer is the first real bit of building, and it’s a great way to start.
For such a simple, boxy vehicle it’s got a few neat tricks up its sleeves, such as the side windows held on only with clips and a bit of clever work up front to get the prominent hood lines by raising up the center half a plate.
The Blazer does suffer from the usual LEGO-car ailment of being far too large, but that’s easily overlooked. Overall, the Blazer design itself stands toe-to-toe with any of the excellent Speed Champions vehicles and is instantly recognizable. One minor quibble is that the medium dark flesh color that is the top and bottom of the two-tone exterior is a bit too orange to match the show’s police markings; regular dark tan would be a closer match. All of the parts exist in dark tan, so making the swap would be easy for fans looking for greater accuracy.
Now, on to the main course. We start with the plate base for the Byers’ real home. The Upside Down is a horizontally mirrored version of the real Byers’ home, and although it’s built after the topside house is complete, let’s go ahead and follow the two together.
The first thing that strikes me is the wonderful color palette. Most LEGO sets feature bold, saturated colors: green or bright green grass, blue water, etc. Fans have been heavily using earth-tone colors for as long as they’ve been available, but the company itself has been slower to adopt the trend. This set leans wholly into the subtler earth-tone palette and it looks amazing. There is only a tiny handful of primary-colored elements in the whole 2,200-piece set.
And speaking of things that are more likely to be found in a fan model than in an official set, check out this furniture that adorns Will’s room. The bed with its turned back cover and askew pillow is the best LEGO bed I’ve seen yet.
The house is a cutaway, with the rooms open to the back. While there’s plenty of detail inside, the outside isn’t being forgotten either, with nearly every brick in the wall having an outward-facing stud. The ball joints around the edges of the base are how the whole set will be locked together in the end.
Once the walls are complete, it’s clear just how many SNOT (Studs Not On Top) bricks are included. They’re attachment points for the siding made of light grey tiles. The front windows are plastered with newspaper courtesy of printed panes; they’re tan with tan printing in the normal house and clear with dark-grey printing in the Upside Down.
Once all the walls are complete, you can get a good look at the interior before the roof is attached. The layout of the rooms doesn’t reflect the real geography of the home, but it captures the key locations and nails the aesthetic, from the awful olive green rug and striped couch to the overstuffed sofa chair. The infamous wall of lights is a large sticker applied across a tan 6×6 tile on the wall.
In the Upside Down, besides the obvious color swaps, there are drips and drops of black slime scattered about, and various subtle details change, such as the plant in the den. The wall of lights has a few brown tendrils creeping across it, and more creeping things are added to the ceiling as that’s installed.
With the roofs on, the houses are complete, and they look so great I’m tempted to just leave them like this. If LEGO were to release a regular Creator house this detailed and with this lovely subdued color palette, it would be a must-buy for most adult fans.
The attics of the two houses vary slightly, with the topside house having the stashed video camera and a wizard hat. The Upside Down just gets more dark foliage and goo. The topside also has a light brick mounted above the living room, and we’ll take a closer look at that later.
With the houses complete, all that remains are the two trees are assembled which serve as stands for the houses. The trees are made with a long series of Technic bricks sandwiched between two stacks of bricks and attached with axles periodically. There are a few fun techniques at play here in addition to an excellent lesson in building rigid LEGO columns. For instance, some of the leaves are attached with black sausages placed in 1×3 inverted tiles to give organic angles to the foliage. While the normal and Upside Down ends of the trees are very similar, they’re not identical. The studs on both point toward the normal’s “top” thanks to top and bottom arches. The construction is remarkably solid, with very little flex. Four Mixel ball joints in the center will attach to the houses.
Now comes the big moment: putting it all together. The two houses are laid base-to-base on their backs, and Technic steering arms are placed all around on the female ball joints, perfectly spanning the four plates in the bases and locking it all together with a satisfying tightness.
The trees then clip onto the end of each house with the four ball joints there, and then a few final bricks and slopes lock them in. Once the houses are locked together, they’re very sturdy and don’t noticeably flex even when lifted.
The completed model
The Byers’ house, mirrored, is a remarkable thing to behold. Because the house is mirrored, not simply duplicated, all the details line up perfectly.
The structure is very well balanced and not prone to tipping. The flipping is accomplished by grabbing the model and physically turning it upside down. It’s easy to lift by grabbing the front lawn or the living room floor in the back, and I’ve yet to have even a single piece fall off, despite manhandling it quite a lot.
Here’s an animation showing how similar the two houses are. Because the houses are built mirrored and not identically, I’ve reversed the Upside Down image to have it match the normal house.
Hopper’s Blazer doesn’t just sit on the base, it actually attaches to a Technic pin in the yard’s rock landscaping. The other rocks are strategically placed to keep the vehicle from spinning; once attached, it moves very little even when turned upside down.
Inside, all the decor springs to life. The coffee table has a flyer for Will, and the walls have various stickered decorations. The nod to Jaws with the Shark poster in Will’s room is definitely a great addition to the lineup of LEGO spoof movies. The scenes are a mashup of the different seasons, with the wall of lights from season 1 and the traps from season 2. The beartrap on the floor is made with a pair of bucket handles.
The Upside Down counterparts are, of course, very similar, though missing the traps.
The light wall in the normal living room employs a standard 2×3 light brick with a yellow LED, but it’s filtered through one of the few printed pieces in the set, a clear 1×2 panel with a random dot pattern.
The effect on the wall looks far better than I would have suspected was possible with such a simple mechanism.
The outside of the house is equally detailed, with a lovely slate roof and siding, along with a variety of patio furniture.
Dungeons & Dragons is a running theme throughout the series as the kids relate their gaming experience to real-world situations. The setting for their campaigns was Mike’s house, which of course isn’t in this set, but there’s still enough D&D supplies to run your own campaign. It’s a shame the Rules book is a tile and not an actual LEGO book element.
The set includes eight minifigures, capturing most of the main crew. Sadly a few haven’t made the cut, most notably Jonathan Byers and Nancy Wheeler, but if cuts had to made, the figures we have here do make the most sense as the core cast. The characters wear their season 1 outfits, and all the kids have LEGO’s new medium-height bendable legs.
Let’s start with the four D&D players: Dustin Henderson, Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, and Lucas Sinclair. Dustin and Will each sport a new hairpiece, and Dustin carries a radio to talk to Will and a compass. Will has the other radio, of course, and a flashlight, while Lucas has a grey and yellow slingshot (a new color for it), and a surplus military flashlight. Lucas’ camouflage bandana is a new color for bandana element first released with the Minifigure Series 16 Pirate. Poor Will is stuck in the Upside Down with no accessories at all, though. All of the characters are recognizable, but Dustin is the standout, looking more like his on-screen self than nearly any recent minifigure.
Next up are Police Chief Jim Hopper and Eleven. Eleven sports the blonde wig she wore in season 1 to cover her shaved head. It seems a bit of a miss to not include a very short hair piece for her real hair. She also has a pink cloth skirt of the same design found in several other sets. Hopper has a plain uniform but oddly doesn’t come with a gun. Eleven carries an Eggo waffle, letting us all finally have the right pieces to LEGO my Eggo! Both have great printing on the back as well, but neither has an alternate expression.
Finally, there’s Joyce Byers and the Demogorgon. Joyce has an olive green coat and the long brown hair introduced with Hermione last year. She carries a page of Will’s drawings (nicely LEGO-ified) and a flashlight. The Demogorgon is all dark tan, with printed digitigrade legs and a pair of Wolverine claws. The head is, of course, a new element that’s a helmet that sits over a traditional minifigure head.
Joyce has a double-sided head with an alternate expression, and both characters are printed on the back.
When the Demogorgon open flower-head is removed, the minifigure head beneath shows the head petals closed. The Demogorgon minifigure is definitely a bit cuter (and shorter) than its terrifying on-screen counterpart, but it’s overall a pretty good translation to the squat proportions of a minifigure.
Conclusion & recommendation
First of all, Stranger Things? The Netflix series seems a very unlikely property to match with LEGO’s brand, since Stranger Things, despite featuring a cast full of kids, is not a kids’ show. In fact, a Stranger Things project was rejected from LEGO Ideas in 2016, with the creator noting he was told the IP “doesn’t fit the LEGO Group’s standards for appropriate content or themes.” However, LEGO has told us that different departments can reach different conclusions and that this one was “borderline” for the Ideas team, who opted to go the conservative route. The show contains quite a bit of scary material, a bit of gore, and some mature themes. This isn’t the first time that LEGO has grabbed the license for a property that doesn’t focus on the core audience of kids. LEGO Dimensions, which famously scooped up licenses left and right, featured such properties as Mission Impossible, Knight Rider, the A-Team, and Gremlins. This set, with its $200 price point, is clearly not targeting your average kid, and most retailers are unlikely to carry the set. Instead, much like Stranger Things itself, the set is aimed squarely at adult fans yearning for childhood nostalgia.
The Upside Down delivers nostalgia and fun in heaps. This is the most fun I’ve had building a set and its details since the excellent Ninjago City and Ninjago City Docks. This is the first time that I’m aware that LEGO has built a significant portion of a model upside down, much less withstand repeated flipping without a hitch. I can hardly imagine LEGO having attempted this set a few years ago, or if they had, pulling it off nearly this well. The continued influence of fan designs and fans-turned-designer on the LEGO company’s official sets is paying off in a big way. If you’re a big fan of the show, this is one of the best pieces of tie-in merchandise you’re going to find. And if you’re not a fan, but just want a great building experience with the brick that results in a really cool, innovative model, then look no further. Finally, if you’re just looking at this as a big pile of parts, then you’re in luck there too. Beyond the great color palette and loads of newly recolored elements, there’s a whopping 46 bracket plates and nearly 200 SNOT bricks. And the price is great, coming in well below the $0.10-per-piece standard despite having 8 minifigures and being licensed. 75810 The Upside Down is a fantastic set and the perfect way to kick off LEGO’s partnership with Stranger Things, and you won’t want to miss it.
75810 The Upside Down is available for LEGO VIP members starting May 15th, and will be available to everyone starting June 1. It contains 8 minifigures and 2,287 pieces and is available from The LEGO Shop Online for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99, and from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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