Inspiring colorful creativity with LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31122 Fish Tank [Review]

The summer wave of LEGO sets are turning out to be a big hit, including this round of Creator 3-in-1’s. So far we’ve covered two others in the series, and now we turn our attention to the most colorful of the bunch, LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31122 Fish Tank. The set contains 352 pieces and features not only instructions to build a fish tank, but also those for an art easel with macaw painting and a treasure chest with accessories. It was just launched on June 1st in Europe and will be available August 1st in North America priced at US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £24.99Join us as we take a deeper dive into this bright, playful kit.

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 box and contents

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the thumb-punch box is the pop of color. Each of the builds is very different from the others, and on the whole it really appears to epitomize the definition of a Creator set right from the get-go. As an aside, typically sets have different play features and additional photo angles on the back, but these pictures are virtually the same as those on the front.

Inside the box we find three un-numbered polybags, as well as three small instruction booklets.

When you lay out the rainbow of elements in this set, it sure looks pretty! Other than the fun oddball bits that we’ll get to later, useful pieces include several large-ish plates (the 1×12 making its debut in dark azure) and ALL of the brackets. That’s right, there are brackets up the wazoo! If you’re looking to bolster your collection, this is definitely the kit for you!

In my recent review of the Creator 3-in-1 31121 Crocodile, I called attention to the lack of a brick separator, and I’ll do so again here. This is a chronic issue with 3-in-1 kits and a major pet peeve of mine because I often like to consider this line from the perspective of a young or new builder. These individuals may not have one already, and unlike many kits that never utilize their included brick separator, 3-in-1 Creator sets (which strongly encourage taking models apart and building something new) would benefit from them the most.

The main build

We kick off the main model with the base of the fish tank. This is where the massive amount of brackets becomes really apparent. This thing is loaded! If we only consider the blue inverted brackets (the most common element in the set), there are 30 in the bottom of the tank alone.

The top of the tank has a bunch of brackets as well, in addition to a notable number of black tiles. In fact, the tiles are prevalent in both the top and bottom. The top also uses a total of six handy 1×12 black bricks. One more thing that stands out is the clever addition of shades of blue for the elements facing the interior of the tank, which gives the illusion of water reflecting on glass. The whole thing turns out to be the perfect size for displaying on a desk or bedside table.

Of course, the real stars of the show are all the fish and accessories. Together the flora and fauna bring a wide swathe of color to the table. For the various corals and plants, there are a few rare element colors. The 3×3 cone in dark pink has only been in the 41444 Friends Heartlake City Organic Café so far and the 2×2 truncated cone in the same color was recently introduced in the new 10280 Flower Bouquet. The same part in teal (unprinted) has only shown up in a 2020-released parts-pack polybag. At the time of this writing, brand new recolors include the magenta 3×3 dome (unprinted) and the small bright pink leaves.

There only appears to be one new element in the fish, which is the dark pink 1×1 with studs on two sides. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting! The crowded tank features reasonable representations of a yellow tang, cardinalfish, anthias, and the customary regal blue tang and clownfish popularized by Disney’s Finding Nemo. Least convincing is the cardinalfish, although it still looks nice and is the only one with a movable tail.

Let’s not forget the cute little submarine, which fits into the scene perfectly! What kind of tank doesn’t have a skull, diver, or some other cute decoration? It also seems to pay a bit of homage to the Aquazone submarines of LEGO’s past.

The completed model is a symphony of color! It’s crowded, yes, but all the pieces feel as though they play an important in making it look well-rounded. The only issue with the layout is that it definitely seems like it’s intended to be displayed from one angle. You can see in the GIF below that the model is organized like a family photo, and viewing from behind just isn’t the same. (This is probably why we only see one angle on the box.) Of course, the whole point of LEGO is to modify and rebuild things, and you could simply rearrange the tank.

Speaking of modification, the extra parts don’t leave you with a ton of options, but they’re useful enough that a clever builder could probably Frankenstein together something. (Or just add them to your extra parts bin, as they’re a good selection of handy bits for the future.)

The first alternate model

Switching gears to the second build, let’s take a look at the easel and 3D painting. Beginning with the former, it’s made in two sections that join together. All those long plates and bricks certainly come in handy, and you’ll find that it’s fairly robust. It’s predominantly thanks to the brackets that are used again to lock things into place.

The abstract portrait of the macaw makes excellent use of all those bright colors. The only flaw is that the tail feels chopped off. Also, at first glance, it seems that the legs might be better flipped the opposite direction. Therefore the clips would look more like toes. Then again, if you look at it a different way, you might see an above-shoulder view with front and back toes grabbing the limb. But if that were the case, I would rotate the clips on the inkwell elements to enhance the illusion.

All complete, like the tank this is also a great display piece! Although its footprint is smaller than the fish tank, it stands a bit taller – about as tall as your average photo frame. It’s perfect for a desk, shelf, or side table.

The best part about this model is that it inspires creativity. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to do with all the extra pieces in a 3-in-1 kit. This time it’s obvious that you should try your hand at making another picture, especially with additional “canvas” plates ready to rock and roll.

I decided to go for a semi-convincing airplane flying above mountains and trees into the sunset. Looking back, it’s pretty crowded and busy, but in this case I was trying to see how far I could go with the number of leftover pieces. Even after building my overflowing picture, I still had plenty of extras!

The second alternate model

Finally, we round out the set with a treasure chest. Although, “rounding out” might not be the best phrase because it implies a satisfying completion. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. I wish I could say nice things, but this one’s pretty rough. All those brackets make another big appearance by bolstering the base. Once the walls start to go on and everything gets “locked” into place, the whole thing is pretty sturdy. It seems like a good start for a couple minutes…

But to be honest, it doesn’t get better with completion. Instead, it’s ugly as heck. It feels incomplete, the colors clash, and there are unattractive gaps in the lid. It’s at this point that you might wonder why they chose black tile. Many fish tanks these days are made with a black frame, but there are some with brown wooden ones. And indeed, most of the time you see brown easels and treasure chests. So why didn’t they use reddish-brown or dark brown tiles? Perhaps black tiles are cheaper to produce, or maybe LEGO has post-traumatic stress after the previous debacle of reddish-brown elements breaking. Who knows?

But wait! There’s more! The little customary animals and extra accessories that accompany most basic 3-in-1 models show up here in the form of a sword, crab, seagull, and challis. The most interesting of these is the sword, which bears striking similarities to the dream sword from Kingdom Hearts. It can be fragile at the pommel and guards, but it’s fairly cool-looking. The orange crab is okay given the parts available, but the challis may as well be more coral. Finally, the seagull looks like hodge-podge table scrap and would likely benefit from different part-usage seeing as there’s plenty left over to choose from.

As a complete picture, the result is passable. I hate speaking negatively about any LEGO model, but it’s hard to find redeeming qualities here. The pieces aren’t used in interesting new ways, and by the time you get to this third model, you’re pretty tired of the same stuff.  And the colors in the other two models were beautiful, but here they look thrown together. The designers are clearly capable of so much more, and this was not a great representation of that.

As mentioned previously, there are plenty of extra parts. They leave the builder with lots of options to try and create more interesting add-ons, or attempt to fix the ones provided.

Conclusions and recommendation

Coming off that negative note, let’s reel it back in and take a look at the bigger picture. Two out of three models were excellent. In fact, the easel with the “painting” is one of the best executions of a 3-in-1 model of all time. Not just because it was fun to build or looks nice, but because it actually epitomizes the meaning and purpose of the Creator line. While the fish tank doesn’t offer a bunch of extra parts when you finish, it does offer plenty of ideas and inspiration! Both models are great for display, as well as play.

So who is this set for? It’s certainly for someone who likes color! It’s also for someone who either needs more brackets in their toolkit, or needs a chance to practice using them to build their creations sturdier. The tiles and large plates lend their value too, making it a good parts-pack at under $0.09 per piece. This kit is also perfect for the person who isn’t able to have or take care of a live pet. Maybe even a kiddo who needs some make-believe practice before graduating to the responsibility of a real fish tank. Finally, it’s for someone who would appreciate a creative canvas… And the encouragement to build a treasure chest better than LEGO set designers.

If Creator sets are your thing, check out some of the other reviews we’ve featured:

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31122 Fish Tank is available right now outside of North America, and will be available worldwide August 1st, retailing for US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £24.99. It may also be available 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.

See our full gallery of images below.

2 comments on “Inspiring colorful creativity with LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31122 Fish Tank [Review]

  1. Jimmy

    Thanks for this review. I’ve gotta disagree with you, I think the tank and the easel look like unfinished sketch models too. too many clashing colors and unfinished areas.

    For the tank it’d be much better if the gray brackets and clips were black, so the frame looks finished. The clip/bar connection at the bottom of the corner vertical columns is thin and spindly looking, totally at odds with the blocky corner connections elsewhere, not to mention the mishmash of studded vs. tiled faces.

    Again with the easel, the gray brackets would be much better in black, and the weird stripes of blue are totally out of place.

    This might be a nice parts pack, but at least from the pictures I’ve seen I wouldn’t purchase it for display alone.

  2. Bre Burns Post author

    Hey Jimmy! Thanks for your comment.

    You make good points here, and I can’t say I disagree with you. As I mentioned regarding the black vs reddish brown, I actually think this whole thing might have looked better recolored. Perhaps reddish brown may not have looked better, but I have to agree that some color combos just look ugly. The coral, fish, and bird are where this shines.

    That said, I feel like I have to give some concessions for a 3-in-1 intended for kiddos. If this were a set designed for an older audience, I’d be more harsh. They already include a decent amount of tile, and if they’re limited to a certain part count, how many parts do they take away from the colorful fish to create a more sleek black tank? In regards to the odd pops of color in terms of brackets, I wonder what decisions were at play. Did they include other colors to break it up and make it easier to follow or more interesting to kids? Or maybe was it was cheaper to produce these specific parts in these specific colors in order to maintain the desired price-point? I honestly have no idea, but I’d like to give the designers the benefit of the doubt here. Except on the treasure chest. That’s just rough.

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