In 2003, a bold new reality TV show was making major waves. Originally called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, it followed five gay men as they provided a full lifestyle makeover to straight guys in need of a fresh take. After a massively popular start, the focus on only heterosexual males was dropped. Eventually the show ran its course, but as you may already know, Netflix rebooted Queer Eye in 2018 with an entirely new “Fab 5” cast. Even more successful than the original, it has now won multiple Emmy awards. The creative, playful show seeks to celebrate love, expression, and acceptance, not only for others, but yourself as well. Its values are echoed by the LEGO Group, which decided to honor the series with LEGO Creator Expert 10291 Queer Eye – The Fab 5 Loft. Joining a growing subtheme of TV-based sets, this is the first reality show appearance.
Come along as we take a closer look at the 974-piece kit, which includes 7 minifigures (with 3 additional torsos) and Bruley the French bulldog. It will be available starting Oct. 1 for US $99.99 | CAN $139.99 | UK £89.99
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.
Unboxing the parts, instructions and sticker sheet
The first thing that stands out about the box is its simple design. It’s ironic that a set about a colorful show with a diverse group of LGBTQ+ guys is practically void of color in comparison to the other TV-based sets like the 10292 Friends Apartments. Then again, the Fab 5 (and particularly Bobby, who most directly helped design both the real loft and the kit) loves sleek, modern industrial décor. The theming is also in line with the show’s original opening sequence, where everything has a monochrome motif and pops of color come from the cast as they dance around.
The back of the box provides a slightly different angle of the loft (but not much) and also shows the outfit changes for the guys. Interestingly, both front and back of the box depict a clothing rack with handless torsos. This is the first set we’ve ever seen featuring this, and it seems to suggest that you swap hands between torsos. Of all the LEGO connections, the arm-hand (wrist portion) is arguably the most easily compromised. While hands are designed to be removed, pulling hands in and out repeatedly can lead to a loose connection and even cracking. Not to mention, they’re easily lost. But all that said, as it turns out, every torso included in the set has hands factory-attached.
The back panel also depicts the Fab 5 in both normal and minifigure form. It’s quite uncanny how closely they match, but more on that later. A small tribute to Bruley, the French bulldog who joins the guys in their loft for the first few seasons, sits next to their images. Another interesting feature to note is the inclusion of a square holographic sticker with a Queer Eye logo and serial number in a remote corner of the back of the box. It’s unclear what this number represents.
On the side, you’ll find a great set of headshots for the guys. Also, the set wouldn’t be complete without someone to makeover. Fan favorite music teacher Kathi Dooley has “before and after” minifigures in her honor, which are used in the customary 1:1 life-size box.
Inside the box we have 10 polybags numbered 1-5 (two for each number), a loose black 8×16 plate, a 139 page instruction book, and three small sticker sheets. The cover image for the instructions is excellent. It’s a breath of fresh air from the typical set photos, and it’s the kind of thing some people might want a poster of.
With the instructions, we find all that color the the box exterior lacked. The first several pages are filled with bios about the Fab 5, the LEGO set designers, and other interesting info. Throughout the booklet, there are also commentary blurbs from the cast.
As mentioned before, 3 sticker sheets are included. With a grand total of 18 stickers, several of which are very tiny, it can be a bit irritating for people who aren’t fans of stickers, but we’ll visit that closer in a bit.
In a very similar fashion to the previous TV-inspired sets, we start with the center insert. First up is a dark red rug with 9 lovely, dark blue, printed 2×4 tiles and a newish, rare 2×6 tile in dark red. We also have Tan’s clothing rack, a plethora of modern furniture, and the iconic QE TV where they watch their heroes show off their shiny new outfits, homes, and lifestyle skills to their friends and family. One of Karamo’s books sits atop the coffee table. But of all these features, my favorite part is probably the perfect little lamp. It makes excellent use of all the pieces involved, particularly the minifigure posing element. Both it and the lamp’s head are relatively new parts.
Next, we build the primary foundation for the rest of the set. It is very plate-intensive with several large/long elements involved. It’s sturdy as heck and surprisingly hefty, but you have to make sure your connections are all pressed straight and firm. Otherwise you may get a bit of warping (which I didn’t realize until after the first few photos).
Bag three sees us through creating Antoni’s kingdom – the kitchen. He left his mark with an avocado cutting board sticker on a 2×2 tile. This section is arguably the best part of the whole set, and certainly a big focal point. The 1×1 white masonry bricks that have popped up on LEGO Bricks and Pieces are revealing their origin. There are a whopping 85 of them when it’s all built! The light bluish gray masonry bricks have been around a while, but there are 102, which is by far the most in a set. The closest is 75827 Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters at just 66!
The industrial modern design of the kitchen is accentuated by sleek black cabinetry. The drawer casing has been seen before, but the drawers themselves are new in black, as is the black 2×2 containers used to mimic door faces. The range is composed of another printed element, thankfully, which we’re seeing for the first time. A dark tan candle piece, formerly only in 10276 Colosseum, is used in a pepper grinder. And finally, the element that many of us have long called an “espresso handle/basket” (1L Bar with Round 1×1 Plate attached) is being used for that explicit purpose.
In real life, the framed art on the back wall says “NO EXCUSES” – presumably referring to the ideal that there should be no excuse for not living your best life. It’s not a very playful or even meaningful quote in this context, and so it’s replaced with the LGBTQ+ battle cry, “YAAAAS QUEEN” which essentially is praise for being true to yourself – a more positive approach to living your best life. It probably isn’t something that would be used anywhere else, so a sticker makes sense. Inside the fridge, tiny stickers denote frozen veggies, oat bran or milk, and Naranjitas (orange juice). The latter was an Easter egg by senior graphic designer, Diego Sancho as a tribute to his heritage. The stickers are a pain to place, but as functional 1×2 side-studded elements that help hold together the fridge, it makes sense.
Moving onto bag four, we find ourselves finishing up the right side of the loft. It includes a large window, hutch, giant planter, and some artwork. At first the giant planter seemed a bit comical, but after looking at photos of the real thing, it’s apparent that their lofts are loaded (tastefully, of course) with plants of all shapes and sizes. It certainly gives life to the place, and prevents it from being too monochromatic. The hutch isn’t all that exciting, but it does fit the scheme, as well as hold extra cups and a trophy fig. Can’t say no to those!
With the addition of the window, this set really does look quite close to the original. The neon “Style, Taste, Class” sign is a focal point of the loft and one of their primary mantras. Thankfully this piece is printed on a trans-clear 1x4x3 panel. Not printed, however, is the brushstroke art next to it. It mimics the real thing, but with a slight difference. This Easter egg version is supposed to hide “Fab 5” in plain sight. It’s a minor stretch on the back end, but a clever idea.
The final bag finishes the build with the left side of the loft. This section contains homages to Tan, Johnathan, and Bobby. To add to Tan’s clothing rack from earlier, we get some hooks for satchels, as well as extra storage in the back for more outfit elements.
It wouldn’t be the same without the changing room, which acts as the build’s sole moving play feature. Both front and back doors as well as the top open to reveal a dual-sided turntable. You can put “before and after” examples on each side and spin the gear to switch them around. The splat gears used to make the turntable spin catch a little bit, but not terribly so.
For Johnathan, we have a mirror (sticker) and a spot for the hair dressing chair, along with shelves for grooming products. A nod to Bobby is a chalkboard filled with design ideas in the kitchen. This sticker contains another Easter egg from Diego: the blueprint is a replica of his mother’s house.
Once finished, there is a nice little pile of spare parts. One of the better ones too! It includes several extra minifigure utensils such as a whisk and scissors. There are a few inkwell elements, a plant, and even another trophy fig!
The finished model
When it all comes together, it’s a decent little set. It’s not quite as detailed and interesting as some of the other TV sets, but that’s to be expected. For one, as previously mentioned, these guys don’t do clutter. And even more of a factor, the Fab 5 spent a couple years in this space, with minimal screen time actually in the loft. By comparison, shows like Seinfeld and Friends spent many years in their apartments, and those locations filled a huge portion of each episode.
For what it is, there seems to be just the right number of Easter eggs. The build techniques pose very little challenge, but they do provide ideas for someone trying to build modern architecture and interior design. Actually, the most difficult part is applying the stickers. It may be a pain, but the stickers play a huge part in the identity of the set and they seem to have been thoughtfully chosen and designed. The couch, for example, really becomes their couch with those funky pillow designs.
As mentioned before, the figs that come with this set are excellent recreations of their real-world counterparts. All the heads and torsos are brand new, as well as some of the legs and hair pieces. Even alone and out of context, anyone with a little knowledge of the show can guess who they are. Major kudos to not only Diego Sancho, but also Ruth Kelly and Matthew Ashton. Sound familiar? Kelly, a Senior Element Designer, and Ashton, the Vice President of Design, are the people primarily responsible for both 40516 Everyone is Awesome and the Collectible Minifigure line. According to them, the guys certainly had opinions about which outfits they didn’t want to wear!
Tan France – Fashion
A huge fan of the one-handed tuck, Tan coined the phrase “French Tuck” and it went viral. From now on, the look – which is just having your shirt tucked in a tiny bit in the front and loose in the back – will forever be known by that name. According to the designers, they tried to give him the signature style on his minifigure, but it just doesn’t look right on these little guys. Instead, he has a classy sand green suite with a dark, uniquely-printed shirt underneath. Additionally, the talk of the town and major topic in leaked photos has always been his hair. As it turns out, this set was in production before 40516 Everyone is Awesome (which also uses the doo) and the mold was created especially for him. The signature sky-high volume and silvery shine are just as much of a trademark as the tuck!
Antoni Porowski – Food & Wine
For many, the most loveable guy of the bunch is Antoni. His adorable looks and charm give him the “little brother” vibe of the crew. Despite his love of all food, he always stays trim and toned. Plus, he’s a major dog lover (especially corgis) and get’s beyond excited whenever he sees one. He’s also a huge fan of plain white shirts, and the occasional neckerchief, so it only made sense for one of his outfits to be this style. For legs he has his favorite shorts and sneakers. His head is double-sided for a suave or smiling expression.
White shirts are a bit plain, but luckily that isn’t his only outfit! Antoni also gets his favorite leather jacket. The front has a LEGO-ized version of the skull from the original, as well as other similar buttons and patches. But the back is the best part. There you’ll find “Thyme is on my side” is replaced with “Rebuild the World.” While the real thing is fitting of his specialty, it was a terrific touch to blend his style and values (and that of the entire Fab 5) with the LEGO Group’s. If you’re unfamiliar, the Rebuild the World campaign is focused on using play to foster imagination, creativity, teamwork, love, and acceptance all around the globe. It’s about encouraging young people to strive to build a better, more empathetic world.
Karamo Brown – Culture
In a LEGO set, it can sometimes be hard to convey the intangibles. How do you provide a minifigure with an appropriate accessory that represents things like self-love, mental health, or heritage? In this case, they gave Karamo a book with pictures inside. It may have been better to have the hutch be a bookshelf with one less cup and/or glass. But what he lacks in accessories he makes up for in style and swagger. Tan may have excellent hair and a pretty suit, but Karamo is best-dressed. First, he has a pink bomber jacket with dark blue accents over the top of a white and blue button-up.
Because he’s bald, they covered his head with a signature ballcap. (He understandably preferred that over the bare nob.) It would’ve been cool to see a logo, but most of his hats bear an LA Dodgers insignia, which most likely didn’t work out due to licensing. Unfortunately, he can’t have a dual-sided head for obvious reasons. But what we get instead is far better. Arguably one of the snazziest LEGO torsos ever, Karamo’s second outfit is a beautiful light blue, green, and pink floral bomber just like one he wears on the show.
Bobby Beck – Design
While the person being featured each week is chauffeured all over town and all the makeover stuff is happening to them directly, this guy is doing the same to their home. A skilled interior designer and craftsman, he finds ways to make worn out, dingy homes and apartments look fresh and fabulous. This set wouldn’t be the same if he didn’t help design it. For his outfit, we have dark orange legs to match his hair (though the wig is medium nougat). His awesome leaf-print shirt is just like one that he wears on the show, and he has a dual-sided face. On one side he is excited and on the other he looks determined. For accessories, he carries his phone or a white lipstick acting as chalk. This element is actually fairly rare, only showing up in four other sets.
Johnathan Van Ness – Grooming
Last of the guys, but certainly not least, is the wild and exuberant Johnathan. This guy is a massive ball of flaming energy. It was probably fairly difficult to decide what the outfit would look like, because this team cheerleader has worn all sorts of things. Somewhat surprisingly, the designers went with a plain black tank top for one of the torsos. A shiny silver skirt adorns the legs, although the fact that it’s a skirt is a little lost.
Johnathan’s hair (new in dark brown), beard, and facial expressions are spot on though! On one side of his face is a big smile, and on the other he’s yelling with excitement. The second torso, which is dark blue and emblazoned with “LOVE IS LOVE” in rainbow letters, clashes somewhat with the legs. But then again, Johnathan is known for making a statement with his attire. No printing was wasted on the back of either torso due to his hair covering it up. And in true fashion, the designers even printed the outline of a heal on the side of the legs, because he doesn’t go anywhere without them.
As previously mentioned, this would not be a Queer Eye set without a “hero” (guest) to provide a makeover for. It was only natural that they would pick one of the most meaningful and emotional episodes to feature a hero from. This dedicated educator played a special role in Johnathan’s life as his music teacher. Known for her signature mullet, she has always been a champion for her students. It was fitting that she would grace this set.
Kathi’s “before” figure sports a blue patterned blouse with a necklace and black legs. Her head is dual sided, and this side shows her original spectacles, which make her look older. Her “after” figure is fitted with her white shirt and tan blazer from the show, and the other side of her face has glasses with fresh frames that make her look younger. Of course, Johnathan couldn’t wait to chop off that mullet (which hasn’t been seen in dark orange until now), and the new version of her hair is short, tousled, and layered.
Conclusions and recommendations
You may be wondering, why Queer Eye? How did this show get picked to be a LEGO set? Are other reality TV shows next? Honestly, there are lots of factors involved, but the essence of this show is really the key. There’s no negative drama. It’s a feel-good series that celebrates diversity, which the LEGO Group is trying to be more vocal about supporting. It’s not just about flamboyant gay guys galivanting around being goofy. They give makeovers to people of all sexes, races, religions, and abilities. And as they say, it’s more than a makeover. It’s respect, compassion, and humanity. For the LGBTQ+ community, myself included, statements like this are extremely meaningful.
Most people who buy this set will do so because they are fans of the show. But say you’re not a fan (or you haven’t seen it). Is it worth getting? It depends. If you collect the other TV-based sets to display them, it may be worth adding to your collection. Although, I believe there is a bit more to look at in some of those. If you love minifigures, this has some excellent elements, and if you also want a ton of masonry bricks, this may be a sweet parts pack. There’s some playability, but not a lot, and while I give Bobby credit for being a great designer, nothing stands out as mind-blowing.
Long story short, if you like this subtheme or the message this delivers, sure, go buy it. If you’re not a fan of this style of set or the show, don’t. (Holy moly, how on Earth did you read this far if that is the case?) Either way, do what makes you happy and go live your best life.
If you like TV based sets, check out our other reviews:
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 see all of our photos from this review in the gallery below: