For me, one of the most surprising LEGO reveals from 2019 was the 2020 Trolls World Tour lineup. Back in 2017, Hasbro had the construction toy licensing rights to the Trolls film, and the torch has now been passed to LEGO for Trolls World Tour — These are indeed interesting times we live in. I had forgotten about the line until a last-minute holiday shopping trip to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, when I came across a LEGO Trolls World Tour display. While not on my list for this year’s desirable themes, something compelled me to pick up LEGO set 41252 Poppy’s Hot Air Balloon Adventure. This particular LEGO set consists of 250 pieces and, while the Trolls World Tour film won’t be out until April, the sets are currently available via LEGO’s online shop for $29.99 USD | $39.99 CAD | $29.99 GBP
The box and contents
One of the aspects of the set which spoke to me in the store was the box artwork. Being at the point of purchase, an enticing box can make the difference in nailing a sale. While there were seven other sets on the shelves, this one stood because it appeared to be one of the more complex builds and the most visually appealing. I can also see how this type of artwork would be appealing to a child; the balloon is artfully placed in front of an engrossing, colorful background, looking like it could have been plucked from a scene on the silver screen. Meanwhile, the back of the box showcases key play features, along with some examples of interesting elements inside. There are even illustrations demonstrating the interchangeability of accessories between the minifigures.
Opening the box reveals a 68 page instruction booklet, sticker sheet, two numbered bags, a bag of accessories, and a loose set of four curved panels.
With the exception of one piece, the rest of the decorative elements in the set are achieved with stickers. Depending on who you are, this can be either good or bad. On one-hand, it means you can reuse special pieces in all manner of builds. On the other, it also means you have to lay on a lot of stickers if you want the set to look like it does on the box. Ultimately, the presence of stickers was likely meant to cut down on the costs of making the set.
If you’re interested in existing parts in new colors, this set has a small but exciting assortment. The most obvious of these are the large dark pink curved panels, which bear a slight resemblance to curved panel introduced in 2015. However, the new panels are significantly larger and feature bar connections instead of clips. The most significant difference is the addition of 2×2 brick footprints on the front and back for attaching LEGO bricks to the panels. In the future, it will be interesting to see which additional colors this part will appear in, as I think their application would extend to builders of spacecraft and organic-looking models.
All of the parts in the accessory bag are also new for this year. The flowers, heart and heart-shaped sunglasses feature tiny pins on the back that can be slotted into place as hair accessories. This means they are also compatible with LEGO Friends hairpieces, along with any other minifigure hairpiece with tiny holes. There is also a small stringed instrument and a set of three cupcake holders, which include studs on top (whereas the Friends cupcake holders were studless). While these are great additions to LEGO’s part portfolio, I think the most interesting elements in the bag are the music notes. I’m hoping LEGO will release these in black in the near future, so builders can put together some brick-built sheet music.
You’ll also find existing parts appearing in certain colors for the first time. The 6×6 dish is not only printed, but it’s also the first time the dish has appeared in dark pink. There is an 8×8 dish in dark pink, which isn’t pictured because the thought didn’t occur to me that it might be new. For the first time, we are even getting 3x6x1 curved windscreens in dark turquoise and 3×3 heart plates in bright green. Other parts that are not new but I feel are interesting enough are medium azure 1×1 Technic bricks and the 3×5 modified cloud tile, which until now was only available in the Unikitty series collectible minifigures and last year’s LEGO Ideas Flintstones set.
If you’re like me, another consideration in buying this set is the usefulness of parts. As someone who enjoys doing brick-built landscaping, the presence of plant elements served as an initial draw. I wasn’t disappointed either, as there are a total of 33 in the box, including extras. You’ll also find a nice assortment of green elements, some of which could be used in building terrain. Out of the set’s 250 pieces, 45 are in some shade of green, and that’s excluding extra parts and elements in dark turquoise. I could see buying multiple versions of this set for such parts, especially if it ever goes on sale.
Poppy’s Hot Air Balloon Adventure comes with four characters: Poppy, Branch, Mr. Dinkles and Biggie. Mr. Dinkles is the simplest of the lot, consisting of two minifigure heads and a top hat. Poppy and Branch utilize standard minifig torsos, short legs, and specially molded heads. Biggie is unusual in that short legs are used, while the torso and head are fused together to form a new part.
All of the characters have printing on the front and back sides and, with the exception of Mr. Dinkles, the other trolls have special molded hair elements. Biggie also has a stud on the back for building a platform for Mr. Dinkles to sit upon.
Each of the full-size troll minifigures has a head with a 2×2 stud footprint, which is nice because it means you could theoretically build your own headgear from scratch. Another bonus is that the hair elements are fully interchangeable between each troll. The only disadvantage with these hairpieces is that they aren’t designed for standard minifigures and minidolls; while you could affix them to their head studs, the end results look rather awkward. However, they should lend themselves quite well to non-minifigure builds. In particular, Biggie’s light blue hair reminded me of ice cream; the only thing left to build is the cone!
Before LEGO, Hasbro had the Trolls construction toy license for its Kre-O line. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the LEGO and Kre-O minifigures. As you can see, the Kre-O troll is smaller and has fewer points of articulation. It also has fluffy hair as the classic troll dolls would have. While the hair was a cool idea, I think the LEGO minifigure looks more appealing and faithful to the onscreen character.
After drooling over all the pretty colors, it’s time to get building! Things start off with the hot air balloon’s basket. While I didn’t notice anything too complicated here, I found the detailing enjoyable. The interior is decked out with a control panel, a spot to hold drinks, and a little crate containing hair accessories.
The next few steps involve building the skirt of the balloon, which has a 6×6 round plate as its footprint. Thanks to the plate’s absence of corners, 1×1 bricks with stud on side are angled in such a way to flow with the curvature. Another 6×6 round plate seals off the skirt.
Technic elements such as axles are constructed to form a pole, which is then used to affix the balloon skirt to the basket.
By itself, the pole is a bit wobbly. Fortunately, the design is strengthened by the addition of four poles held in place with clips on the basket and skirt. It’s a simple yet effective solution, and an eye-pleasing one at that thanks to the addition of colorful 1×1 round plates with holes. It’s at this point, you also add a gold chain for the anchor.
Technic elements are used again to form the central framework of the balloon’s envelope, and this rod is topped off with a plate-built base. 1×2 plates with clips are used to affix the round quarter panels. Once all the panels are in place, detailing is added to their studs, and the top of the balloon is popped into place.
The final steps consist of detailing the balloon, including heart shaped paddles that move up and down and a lavender pail at the end of the anchor for holding Mr. Dinkles. Two robotic arms are also clipped to the poles for holding a musical instrument and a monitor showcasing the balloon’s “vitals.”
Once the balloon is completed, the instructions have you work on a smaller, simpler build. It appears to be a cloud with a metronome throne; I deduced this after seeing the music note and flute character.
And yes, the metronome can be moved back and forth by turning a gear on the back.
The model consists of two modules, which can be broken apart by pressing down on the protruding 2×4 tile. Doing this reveals a sign with graffiti of a troll and the text, “classical sux.” This likely references some plot point in the movie, one in which I’m guessing the flute may serve as an adversary.
The lower half also hides a gold lightning bolt, the first time this element has appeared in gold.
Conclusion & recommendation
The target market for the Trolls World Tour movie is young children, which I am clearly not. I don’t plan on seeing the film either. Nevertheless, I was drawn to this set on the shelf for a reason and it did not disappoint. My initial interest was in the assortment of colorful parts for landscaping; it might be worth picking up multiples of this set for that reason alone. However, the build itself was surprisingly more enjoyable than I anticipated. You won’t find anything too complicated going on here, but there are some interesting techniques along the way, and the finished product looks great.
Minifigures might be the one downside here, only because the molded heads are incompatible with most minifigure accessories. It’s a minor quibble, as they’ve grown on me and their aesthetic matches that of the balloon’s quite nicely. Plus, they’re a significant improvement over the Kre-O minifigures.
Of the eight Trolls World Tour sets currently on the market, this one is arguably the most interesting in terms of parts and complexity. Most of the larger sets appear to be heavier on beefy pre-fabricated elements and, while that’s fine, I feel like that’s something many adult fans tend to avoid. Fortunately, Poppy’s Hot Air Balloon Adventure provides a build that should prove enjoyable for children and adults alike. And, even if you don’t want to build the balloon, you can hopefully find something useful inside. You can buy it today via the online LEGO shop for $29.99 USD | $39.99 CAD | $29.99 GBP