Gone are the days when typical LEGO sets were all about buildings and vehicles. Today, the nearest toy store welcomes you with either an iconic soccer stadium, a sitcom studio, or even a 1:1 Adidas sneaker. Joining the company this fall is yet another unconventional building concept — a magic owl on top of books surrounded by a bunch of accessories from the Wizarding world. If this sounds good to you, you should definitely take a closer look at the new LEGO Harry Potter 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition, which is available September 2, for US $249.99 | UK £249.99. As the set is aimed at a broad group of new-to-hobby customers, let’s see if Hogwarts Icons can be a great start for someone at the beginning of their collection of massive LEGO exclusives.
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 design of the box is excellent. Not only does the front picture looks magnificent, but also the back of the box reveals even more accessories to surprise a true Potterhead. This is definitely a purchase you will be carrying out of the store like the happiest kid in the world.
Unboxing the parts, instructions, & sticker sheet
All the 3,010 pieces are distributed between 22 plastic bags. As usual, nearly half of the bags come in an inner box. Three 1×16 tiles in tan making up the Hogwarts letter come without any protection, but thankfully the prints were not damaged in any way.
While the building guide is a massive booklet, the sticker sheet is as small as possible. But what is peculiar, this tiny sheet is probably the most interesting part of the set, as it has so much to tell about the set and its designers.
Marcos Bessa, LEGO Design Manager, who designed the set, shared some easter eggs hidden within the sticker designs. For instance, a bottle of Asphodel contains Marcos’ birthday, which is March 25, 1989.
№4701 on the bottle of Gillyweed is a sneaky reference to 4701 Sorting Hat, the very first LEGO Harry Potter set released 20 years ago. Besides the stickers, the set includes a handful of printed parts, which is great.
Unlike the superb sticker designs, the building guide is a major letdown of the set. Although the contents are great, the book is full of misprints, mistakes and even misses certain building steps.
Because of the view angles, some building steps are as confusing as possible. For instance, here is a step containing a 2×12 plate in dark blue being placed on top of the wall of bricks in tan. The thing is, the plate must be connected using a middle row of antistuds to be centered on the top of the wall. Not only is the angle confusing, for some weird reason, but the piece also has no yellow outline in this step. Instead, outlined are the white pieces in the callout. I will be shocked if an adult with zero experience of modern LEGO sets will figure out this step without any issues.
Speaking of pieces, there’s one thing that struck me while pre-sorting: this whole set is a diverse assortment of basic building bricks. With a massive Star Wars set, you are guaranteed to get a ton of bricks in dull grey, and most other exclusive sets will bring particular elements in massive quantities, like glass windows in 76178 Daily Bugle. Hogwarts Icons is different: it is all about standard bricks, plates, tiles, and a dozen types of slopes, all in the most pleasant colors. There are no huge cockpit windows, tires, or other oddly specific parts. Instead, Hogwarts Icons look like a fine collection of building bricks for freestyle builders.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean there are no new or exclusive elements. Of course, the first and the most important of them is the new Technic hoop. Measuring 7×6 studs, the element has Technic axle nests on opposite sides. The rim itself is 3.18 mm thick and fits perfectly inside a minifigure hand. A couple of pieces are perfect for the iconic Harry’s glasses, and I doubt they can be built better with existing elements.
Another peculiar new element is a 4×4 dome with a 2×2 recess at the top. This oddly specific transparent piece fits perfectly for the potion bottles on this scale. I’m genuinely curious how fans will use the piece in their custom creations.
Since the set includes many independent models, they can be built in no particular order. Nevertheless, the instructions suggest we build Harry’s glasses and wand, as well as a bottle of Felix Felicis potion. These three models are quite a great start for anyone without much LEGO building experience, as they introduce various building techniques to achieve very different looks.
In my opinion, Harry’s glasses are probably the most realistic part of the set. From several feet away, you won’t be able to tell that they are built with LEGO pieces, as they look compelling. Moreover, you can easily wear them and even modify them a bit to perfectly fit your head.
The wand isn’t as flawless as the glasses, but it definitely has its own charm. I like the variety of pieces used in the build to make it look as authentic as possible.
I would only criticize it for is the ball joint sticking out on one of its sides. Later in the assembling, it will be used to attach the wand to the centerpiece, but I doubt Potterheads will appreciate this element on the most playable piece of the set.
As expected, the centerpiece assembly starts from the bottom, with an open book, which is Tom Riddle’s diary. Keep in mind that the designers are not only responsible for the model’s impressive look, but they are also engineers who have to deal with physics and the build’s centers of mass. Balancing a massive snowy owl on top of a pile of books is actually a very tricky task, especially when you are not allowed to use magic. Riddle’s diary works as an anchor for the whole model, hence its size and robust structure.
Through the middle of the diary goes a “spine” build with basic Technic elements. Once it’s finished, it’s easy to see the height of the model’s base.
There’s nothing exceptional in the design of the open book, as the pages are empty, and the whole build is symmetrical. Still, the pages’ edge made with 1×4 wall elements reminded me of the very same technique used for stairs in 21045 Trafalgar Square.
Next come a couple of student books, one in dark blue and another in dark red. Their structures are quite similar and maybe a bit boring for an experienced builder.
Using the openings in the middle, the books can be threaded on the centerpiece covering the Technic structure in the middle. Positioning the books at the correct angle can also be a bit of a challenge for any builder. Still, there is something quite satisfying when you finally have everything properly aligned.
Finally, a small portion tray takes its place atop the books. No pieces are fixing it in a certain position firmly, so it has a bit of play.
On the back of the tray sits the first printed piece of the set. It’s a panel with “H.G.,” which, according to Marcos, stands for Hermione Granger.
Next, the bottles with potions are placed inside the tray. I bet Harry Potter fans will find this part particularly enjoyable.
Right by the potion tray “sits” the shiny golden snitch. Its structure is actually quite interesting, as it’s actually a cube with studs facing all directions. What I dislike about the model is the difference between the two shades of gold color. While the dishes on the snitch are drum-lacquered gold, the wings are pearl gold. I wish both types of pieces were of the same shade of gold, but I know this is a production limitation at the moment.
One more accessory in the set is a piece of the Hogwarts house scarf. With pieces provided in one of the bags, you can choose and build any of the four versions. I opted for the Ravenclaw, which left me a handful of spare pieces in red, yellow, and green. I won’t call this design very impressive, and I do wonder why the designers decided to include this accessory in the set.
The snowy owl
At this point of the assembly, it’s easy to notice that most of the bags left contain only white pieces. Hedwig starts with a pair of legs firmly attached to the base using a handful of Technic pins. So, if you planned to use the owl separately, it is hardly possible; the build needs a massive counterweight, just like a pile of books.
Since I first saw the official pictures of the set, I was dying to learn how the owl’s body is actually designed. Designing organic shapes, like plants or animals, is always extremely challenging with LEGO bricks. And imagine how much more challenging it becomes when you have to balances it all on just a pair of thin legs. It turns out Hedwig’s body utilizes many slopes of all kinds attached around a cube-shaped structure.
Just a couple of bags later, the wings take their places, now only lacking lush feathering. The body itself turned out to be quite neat and compact, while it’s the feathers that will grant the owl its majestic look.
Although Hedwig is far from its completion at this stage, you can already spot how the designers combine elements in black and gray to create the iconic feathering pattern of the snowy owl.
Besides the feathers, the owl obviously needs a head. Just like a real one, a brick-built Hedwig can rotate his head by 360 degrees in both directions, thanks to a couple of turntable pieces in the middle.
Although the shape of the head is fantastic, it’s the eyes that left me speechless. The eyes are made with a couple of printed inverted dishes. The print is straightforward; gold circles on black pieces. But it’s the positioning of the pieces on the owl’s head that impressed me the most. Buried in the head a little, the eyes look extremely natural and convincing. Plus, it’s the quality of gold printing that gives the pieces this exceptional look and feel; it’s not just a toy decorated with simple patterns but rather an extremely detailed bird that looks back at you from a bookshelf.
All the tiny gaps between the slopes on the back and the sides of the head create a great impression of feathering. Certain spots might not be perfect, but they all work together pretty well.
Finally, the wings get their feathers. It’s definitely not the most exciting part of the assembly as you have to build a dozen of feathers in different sizes. Still, it’s impressive how Hedwig takes its final shape with each feather attached.
Each feather is attached using a ball joint so that you rotate it a little in any direction. First, I was afraid that it might be hard to find the perfect position for each feather. Ultimately, the finished model looks great in any case.
The back of the centerpieces has an equally impressive look. I love how dynamic the owl looks with its wingspread.
The chocolate frog card
The last but not the least part of the set is the chocolate frog and its card. The frog itself is an adorable build utilizing a bunch of pieces in brown.
If you wonder what it tastes like, I’d say it has mint flavor — at least judging by the color of pieces inside the frog.
Unlike a relatively dull chocolate frog, the collectible card is quite impressive. The build in the set is was slightly adapted and transformed into a small panel.
Although an ordinary chocolate frog only came has one card with an enchanted portrait of a wizard, this one brought three wizards; Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Hagrid. All three minifigures have special anniversary designs and complete the six characters included in Harry Potter 2021 sets.
Surprisingly enough, the set contains two additional stands to accommodate all nice anniversary minifigures.
Conclusions & recommendation
LEGO Harry Potter 76391 Hogwarts Icons Collectors’ Edition offers so much more than any regular LEGO set. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, it has a great potential to be a perfect introduction to a hobby for any adult beginner. The assortment of the pieces is just stunning without being busy with oddly specific elements. The building techniques are great, too, especially for a beginner.
The only major flaw (apart from the building guide quality) is the concept of the set itself. It has nothing to do with the spirit of LEGO building but instead offers a generic piece of Warner Brothers merchandise replicated with LEGO bricks. The Wizarding part of the set prevails greatly over the idea of building with bricks for the sheer joy of creating something new, hence the bland books with no particular character, a questionable piece of scarf, and the golden snitch designed with obvious limitation of LEGO bricks. Without all the numerous accessories, it’s only the excellent stickers and the majestic owl that create the magic feel of the set, perfectly balancing between the ideas of movie merchandise and jaw-dropping LEGO creations.
The current adult portfolio built by the LEGO Group presents an amazing collection of hobby sets. And I like how each new product explores the new passions. But I wish these explorations won’t lead too far away from what we love our hobby for. I sincerely hope that the licensed products won’t command both the assortment and the concepts of LEGO sets as much as it happens in the case of Hogwarts Icons.