Following up on the LEGO Ideas set 21319 Friends: Central Perk released in 2019, LEGO recently announced LEGO Creator Expert 10292 Friends: The Apartments. Full of details designed to recreate memorable moments from the TV series, the set includes 2,048 pieces with 7 minifigs, and will retail for US $149.99 | CAN $199.99 | UK £134.99. The set will go on sale June 1st, with early availability on May 19 for LEGO VIP members.
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.
The packaging, instructions, & sticker sheet
Between the release of the first Friends LEGO set back in 2019 and today, LEGO has consolidated its branding for sets intended for adults, and this new Friends set follows the pattern set by larger LEGO sets from themes as diverse as Modular buildings and Star Wars. The front of the box features the two apartments on a simple black background, with the seven minifigures below. The back of the box shows the same view from a couple more angles, plus close-up shots of iconic details and scenes. The Central Perk set came in a sturdier storage box big enough to hold the LEGO coffee house, but the apartments come in a standard LEGO box that opens at the sides and collapses for recycling.
With nearly double the part count compared to the first set, the parts come in 15 sets of numbered bags, plus an unnumbered bag for larger pieces, plus the instruction booklet and sticker sheet in their own wrapper.
The instruction booklet includes numerous screen stills alongside detail shots of the LEGO set. Rather than focusing on the design process with extensive coverage of the design team, the LEGO set designer gets a brief blurb, and the introductory pages of the instructions focus instead on the TV show and its characters. That said, it’s disappointing that the designer is pictured but not actually named (the designer is Anderson Grubb, who also designed 10280 Flower Bouquet from the LEGO Botanicals collection released earlier this year).
Similar to Harry Potter sets we’ve reviewed like 71043 Hogwarts Castle, this set relies heavily on a large sticker sheet for many background details. All of the TV show’s background designs have been “LEGO-ized”, stylized with characters in the form of minifigs and posters that reference bricks and Billund, home of LEGO HQ in Denmark.
Each apartment begins with a removable inset. Built sideways, it creates a nice floor rug texture, with room to incorporate a hidden mechanism for the pair of easy chairs.
The irregularly shaped footprint is built up from plates, with enough depth to accommodate the inset.
Various pieces of furniture come together over the course of the build, and I particularly enjoyed the foosball table, which is actually rather simple, built with a bunch of trophy microfigs in two colors.
A recurring Easter egg in the TV show is the Magna Doodle that appears in the background of many shows, with a different message on it each time. The sticker sheet includes three different options you can choose from, all based on real messages seen in the series.
The center of Joey and Chandler’s apartment isn’t especially crowded, so much of the detail is on the walls, with drapes around the windows and a CD rack (yes, that was a thing before MP3 players and smartphones…) by the door. A poster in the TV show that says “Les Mystères de New York” has been turned into “Les Mystères de Billund.”
A large TV console (also a thing before wall-mounted flat-screens) occupies the left wall, with the TV showing a scene of Joey playing Dr. Drake Ramoray in his short-lived stint on Days of our Lives.
With the inset in place and the rest of the furniture placed around the apartment, the stage is set for Joey and Chandler to host guests or just chill in front of the TV (but no Netflix, remember). When Joey was fired from Days of Our Lives after only a few episodes, all his expensive furniture in his new apartment was repossessed, but Chandler bought back the only object he could afford, a large ceramic dog named Pat, which could be seen in the background throughout many scenes over the remainder of the series.
The kitchen area is mostly just functional, reflecting the minimal amount of cooking most of the apartment’s occupants did there over the life of the show.
A small section of the interior corridor connects the two apartments. It’s the only section of the whole build that’s not built on a grid, and merely uses the common A-shaped piece to create a single angle.
Similarly, the wall built on the base simply connects its sections with hinge bricks.
Like the boys’ apartment, Monica and Rachel’s apartment begins with an inset rug with attached furniture. This rug has a considerably more detailed design, built from lots of 1×1 plates in a variety of colors.
The inset area is also a lot less sparse than the inset area in the other apartment, with extra chairs and a couch with well-matched cushions (one of the few printed pieces in the set). Sadly, we’ll have to wait until LEGO releases Phoebe’s apartment to get an apothecary table from Pottery Barn.
If you’re not inclined to display both of the full apartments, the insets work as smaller minifig display areas for your desk.
Like the other apartment, this apartment has an irregular footprint, though it features two inset areas.
Modular buildings these days, like 10278 Police Station and 10270 Bookshop, have raised the bar for minifig-scale furniture. I have to admit that it’s odd seeing so many studs on the surfaces of tables, speakers, and so on.
Similarly, the second inset area is built sideways, with a small table and chair attached to headlight bricks. The chair is non-functional and the table is covered in studs.
Violet walls dominate the color scheme of Monica & Rachel’s apartment, broken up by details on the walls like the poster behind the television (which covered a hole on the TV set for cameras to film through).
Where the bachelor pad across the hallway is fairly utilitarian, comfortable details abound here, from a well-appointed kitchen to soft yellow draperies on the slanted window frame.
Like the Central Perk set before it, this one emphasizes the TV show source material, with stage lights on either side of the apartments. You can easily remove these if you prefer to showcase the scenes “as seen on TV.”
The finished model
Once complete, the LEGO set consists of three modules — Joey & Chandler’s apartment, Monica & Rachel’s apartment, and the hallway in between leading to the stairwell.
However, it’s a little hard for me to imagine an 18+ LEGO collector connecting them to use as a playset, though I must admit that every time I randomly fired off a line from the show as I built the set, I had my wife in stitches. So, perhaps it does work as an adult playset.
Despite the face-on details that correspond with the LEGO set’s basis on a TV show set, the back of the set mostly just reflects the back-side of whatever bricks happened to be needed to create details within the apartments (with the exception of the balcony, which we’ll take a closer look at later).
Of course, it’s the interior of each apartment that lets you create numerous iconic moments from the TV series. A chick sits on the kitchen counter alongside a carton of milk, and the foosball table stands at an angle. Stickers provide much of the detail on the walls. Tan window frames with tan window panels work nicely as cabinets, although they don’t open.
The living area features the inset area, TV console, and couch we looked at earlier.
The inset area with a pair of black recliners incorporates a mechanism that lets you flip the chairs back simultaneously. Of course, the chairs are so comfortable you might not be able to get the minifigs to get up again…
When someone purporting to be interested in the ridiculously huge TV console locks Joey inside it and steals everything else in the apartment, the guys trade the console for a handmade canoe, leaving it as the only piece of furniture they own. The inclusion of this canoe is an unexpected bonus, since it appears in this realistic wood color (dark orange) for the very first time in this set.
Going across the hallway, my favorite area of the LEGO build is Monica’s kitchen. Monica’s culinary career progressed throughout the TV series, from her beginnings as a junior chef at several restaurants to waitressing and later head chef at a prestigious (fictitious) restaurant. The kitchen is full of useful implements and ingredients. The dining table features a turkey (which is always great to have in LEGO form), so you can try to fit it on Monica’s head Mr. Bean-style.
One of the funniest moments in the TV show is when phoebe creates a truly awful dollhouse, which promptly (and inevitably) catches fire. The LEGO set includes a tiny dollhouse, complete with flames coming out of the top. One of the problems, though, with all the visible studs on the surfaces of furniture in the set is that accessories like the dollhouse don’t sit nicely on furniture like the dining table.
The cozy seating area mainly consists of the large inset, which in context looks great in front of the TV with the poster behind it.
Outside, the balcony features prominently several times in the TV series, whether you want to reenact a famous kiss or poking a potentially dead neighbor with a stick. The fire escape ladder is a detail that would work well on any Modular Building set.
As with its predecessor, this set includes all six main characters — Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, and Joey — along with an extra minifig of a supporting character. For Central Perk, we got Gunther, and for 10292 The Apartments we get Chandler’s intermittent girlfriend Janice.
90’s power couple Rachel Green and Ross Geller both feature alternating expressions with outfits inspired by some of their most iconic looks. For Rachel, that means a red and black Tartan mini-skirt with a crop-top sweater. Meanwhile, “iconic” for Ross is just plain boring, true to his character (in fairness, actor David Schwimmer has since proved that he can play more than a whiny paleontologist, with fantastic roles on shows like American Crime Story and Intelligence in the UK.
It’s a little disappointing that Rachel’s skirt print doesn’t extend around to the back of her legs. LEGO has resolved this with a cloth skirt on Collectible Minifigures, and even did an all-around Tartan print on Clara in LEGO Ideas 21304 Doctor Who way back in 2016.
Monica Geller wears an apron over an Argyle sweater, with an apron design that extends down onto her legs. Chandler Bing, on the other hand, sports a snazzy 1950’s-style necktie with his sports jacket. As with the other figs, they both have dual expressions.
Despite the great graphic design for Monica’s minifigure, the print on our copy of the fig is much less clear than on the minifig in the announcement photos. In the official product photos, Monica’s apron is a distinct tan with yellow trim, but at least on our copy of the minifig, the underlying sand blue and dark blue are bleeding through, making the apron look muddy.
Before marrying Monica, Chandler roomed with struggling actor Joey Tribbiani and dated Janice, who went through a number of last names over the course of the TV show, with Chandler nicknaming her “Just Janice” to keep things manageable. Joey’s odd outfit is based on an episode in which he dons all of Chandler’s clothes to get revenge for hiding all of Joey’s underwear. It’s one of the most hilarious moments of the show, and might be my favorite of the minifigs, even though it’s unlikely the unique look would be reusable for much other than someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
Like Gunther, Janice appears as a supporting character in all 10 seasons of the TV show. Sporting enormous hair, she wears an animal print top with gold pants, carrying a dark pink purse.
Finally, the artistically inclined Phoebe Buffay wears a bright pink top with purple stars and matching purple pants. She’s accompanied by her terrifying artistic creation, Gladys. Like all the other minifigs, Phoebe has alternate expressions.
Conclusions & recommendation
Whether you’re a new Friends fan from the streaming era or an “original” fan of the show from its original broadcast run, there’s a lot to love about 10292 Friends: The Apartments. The minifigs all wear outfits iconic to their characters, and both apartments are full of great details and references to the funniest moments on the show.
However, the first Friends LEGO set exceeded our expectations with its off-the-grid build, unique use of removable insets, and great parts-per-price ratio — it set the bar rather high for any subsequent LEGO sets inspired by the show. Unfortunately, this new set doesn’t quite hit that high bar. For such a character-driven LEGO set, it’s disappointing that several of the minifigs don’t feature the stellar printing we’ve seen elsewhere, whether by design like Rachel’s skirt or due to quality control issues like Monica’s apron. And a generally studs-up, grid-oriented build left us wanting more from the build experience itself.
Nevertheless, plenty of fun details, an overall great set of minifigs, and a solid value at $150 for over 2,000 parts do combine for a positive recommendation from us.
LEGO Creator Expert 10292 Friends: The Apartments includes 2,048 pieces with 7 minifigures and will retail for US $149.99 | CAN $199.99 | UK £134.99. It will be available to LEGO VIP members starting May 19, with general availability June 1.