LEGO 40456 & 40457 Brick Sketches: Mickey and Minnie Mouse [Review]

In 2020, LEGO revealed Brick Sketches, a collectible series of brick-built portraits of popular characters. The first wave featured DC comic icons Batman and the Joker, and Star Wars fan favorites BB-8 and a First Order Stormtrooper. A second wave of designs will start arriving in stores on March 1st, and will retail for US $16.99 | CAN $19.99 | UK £14.99. The new sketches feature Disney’s Mickey and Friends, and includes 40456 Mickey Mouse and 40457 Minnie Mouse. How do these new sketches stack up? Are they of any interest beyond just being cute? Read on and see!

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of these sets for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.


The boxes and contents

The style for the Brick Sketches packaging matches the same layout that we saw for the DC and Star Wars sets. There’s a swipe of color (this time bright blue) along the top and bottom of the box, with the logos for LEGO and Brick Sketches at the top. A “Disney Mickey and Friends” logo is centered at the bottom, under an image of the completed set. Both sets are listed for the “8+” age range.

Again matching the previous designs, the back of the boxes show the sketches in their two suggested display formats: Hung on the wall or using the built-in stand to rest on a flat surface. A few bricks have been removed for the “action shot” at the bottom. They needed to showcase that these are actual LEGO kits, but it’s still amusing to me that the parts that they have the disembodied hands applying were clearly pried off a previously built model, rather than being part of the actual build order for either set.

Inside each of the tab-sealed boxes are four unnumbered parts bags and an instruction booklet. Mickey’s part count is 118 pieces, while Minnie has a few more at 140. At $16.99 US per kit, that gives a price per part of around 16 cents for Mickey and 12 for Minnie – both of which are pretty darn pricey.  And, as we’ll see, the part selection between the two kits is nearly identical, with just some color changes in the background and Minnie wearing a dress and bow instead of Mickey’s bow tie.  With the exception of the 3×3 round tiles used for the cheeks, none of the elements are new or particularly scarce.


The Build

Chris McVeigh, the designer of the Brick Sketches theme, standardized on a 12×16 base, with layers of elements stacked on top to create the character image. Mickey starts out with a layer of red tile for a background, and some basic shapes made out of black and white plates. The ears (6×6 round plate) extend over the edge of the base.

The build gets a little more interesting as more layers are added to build up Mickey’s face. 1×1 quarter-circle tile mixes in with curved plate to create some nice curves around the eyes. The eyes themselves are well rendered with half-circle 1×1 tiles. The yellow bow tie stretches past the edge of the “canvass,” which isn’t a problem when the model is leaned back on its stand. Mickey’s nose is attached with a 1×2 hinge assembly. 

That hinge for the nose lets the 2×2 dome brick sit at an angle, adding a bit more character to the completed image.

Minnie’s build is, as you’d expect, virtually identical. The big and obvious change is the color inversion of a yellow background and red outfit. Minnie’s dress makes use of two heart-shaped plates for the puffy sleeves on her dress, with white 1×1 round tile for the polka dots.

Minnie’s bow is also made from heart-plate, with a bit of layering from 2×2 round plate and tile, and more 1×1 round tile for dots.

Minnie also gets two 1×2 grill tiles for eyelashes. That works surprisingly well, as the solid short edges of the tile vanish next to her eyes and the black parts of her face. The 4×4 bow tile that makes her neckline works pretty well, too.

Both models have the same hanger/stand build as the other Brick Sketches. Some light Technic construction lets the stand fold up when not in use. A 2×2 coupling plate works as an anchor point for a nail for wall mounting.

 


The Finished Models

Both Mickey and Minnie look pretty good from a distance. They’re easily recognizable, with bright and contrasting colors. But when you get a bit closer the uncanny valley starts to show up, and the effect isn’t quite as nice. In particular, the area around the nose just reads “wrong” to me. While it’s important that some LEGO studs remain exposed to highlight the medium, the ones along the upper lip are jarring to me.  I think it’s the mix of tile and plate that causes the problem – the slopes on either side of the nose and the 3×3 round tile cheeks are too smooth for the rest of the face. (Really, I think it may just be the white cheeks that are wrecking the look for me.)

From the side, you can see that there’s a nice bit of 3-D to the image. This is a nice display perk, distinguishing these sets from the LEGO Art mosaic offering.

Minnie has the same core visual problem for me that Mickey has. I do think that her outfit looks great, though. And those eyelashes work exceptionally well.

She also looks nice from the side, with some good depth to the build.


Conclusion and recommendation

Unless you’re a big Mickey and Friends fan, then you’ll probably be less than thrilled with these sets. LEGO recently lowered the price point of Brick Sketches to $16.99 US, which makes them feel a little less like a price-gouge. But that price is still way too high for what you get in the set – 12 to 16 cents per part, with no particularly rare or exciting elements and no minifigures.  The builds here are very easy, with very little interesting in the way of techniques. And building both kits back to back was really dull.  On the positive side, there’s no denying that Chris McVeigh was able to create a solid and recognizable likeness of the characters within the part limitations he had to work with. As a display piece, they do work well. If you’re a Disney fan or gifting them to someone who is, then there are sure to be some smiles earned from the completed set. But I’d still wait for these to go on sale before I picked them up.


Brick Sketches 40456 Mickey Mouse and 40457 Minnie Mouse will be  available March 1st from the LEGO Shop Online for US $16.99 | CAN $19.99 | UK £14.99. They may also be available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of these sets for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.


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