The last time that LEGO crossed paths with cartography was with Art 31203: World Map. That huge set (11,695 pieces, the highest part count to date) met with a lot of divided reviews from the fan community. While it was clearly “art” was it really a “map”? Well, fans of geography can rest a little easier now, as 21332 The Globe has arrived. Or rather, it will arrive on February 1st for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £174.99 | €199.99. This 2585 piece set is the latest in the LEGO Ideas theme, based on the concept submitted by fan designer Guillaume Roussel. All the necessary details are there to call it a map…but the retro styling has us asking “but is this also art?” Read along as we take an early look at this set and see what you think!
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 and instructions
The set comes in a large, tab-sealed box. The packaging style is in the “Adult Collector” theme, with a sedate black background, a splash of color along the bottom edge, and minimal logos. The age range is set at “18+”, which is just marketing speak for “we want adults to think this is meant for them.” There’s nothing here a much younger builder couldn’t manage on their own. The back of the box has a walkthrough of the Ideas process, and a few inset shots that give the set’s dimensions (10″/26cm x 16″/40cm), highlight the printed map labels, and show the globe in a classroom setting.
Inside the box are seventeen numbered part bags spanning 16 building steps. There’s also a sealed bag with the 232 page, perfect-bound instruction manual. There are no stickers in this set, a nice perk as it would have been easy (and cheaper) to replace all the unique printed elements with a single sheet of images.
The instruction manual follows the adult collector styling, with the first few pages sharing facts about the Earth and the concept of globes, then spending a little time introducing the people involved with bringing this set to life. First up is fan designer Guillaume Roussel. This French engineer created the initial model in just three days, including tile decorations and sticker designs. His process involved using “Google Earth gridlines to identify the positions and details.” He also relates that one of the biggest challenges was “shaping the continents, particularly the smaller islands in Asia and Oceania.”
The next page introduces the LEGO folks involved in converting Guilaume’s idea into a released set – Cristina Benescu (Graphic Designer) and Luka Kapeter (LEGO Senior Designer). They talk a bit about how this model combines both System and Technic elements, in effect “combining two LEGO worlds.” Is that a bit of iffy wordplay? Sure, but I certainly can’t pretend I’ve never done that.
Although this set doesn’t contain any new molds, it does feature a number of uniquely printed tiles, as well as some new colors for existing elements. The stand, in particular, is full of newly hued reddish-brown curves.
This set has a wide array of exclusive printed elements that will be used to label the various parts of the globe. There are two large disks for the poles, and a “step back and think about what you’re looking at” label of “The Earth”. The Antarctica disk also has a bit of a signature – “G.R. MMXXII” for “Guillaume Roussel 2022”.
Large areas like the oceans and continents each get their own printed tile. In a wacky twist, they glow in the dark!
This is a feature that is hinted at on the box, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for/at, you’re unlikely to spot it. The center inset shot on the back is the only clue provided. What do you think? Would you have figured out this feature from that photo alone?
There’s one more batch of printed elements, but I’m saving those for a spotlight later on.
The first thing to be assembled is the stand the globe will be displayed in. The primary color here is reddish-brown, giving a decent feel of a classic wooden base. The accent colors are black and inked gold, reinforcing the vintage look. There’s quite a bit of SNOT building, allowing for a smooth surface and a high level of interlocking to create a very sturdy structure.
There is a bit of interesting construction on the underside – a number of 1×1 round plates are surrounded by rubber tires. This is the same “grip technique” that LEGO has used in the past on some of their larger builds like the 71720 Ninjago Fire Stone Mech. This design allows the weight of the model to combine with tread of the rubber to help keep the completed set from sliding around.
Once the base is locked together, the rest of the cradle that will hold the globe is assembled.
The arc section consists of a number of identical 7-stud long sub assemblies that are joined together with click hinges, reinforced by 2×2 hinge plates. This creates a nice curve that is surprisingly sturdy.
The outside edges are all SNOT connections, again allowing for a veneer of brown tile and gold accents to elevate the look.
The globe uses a lot of repeated builds to create the underlying surface. The equatorial band is made up of bocks topped with 6×8 plates, joined together with Technic angle braces and pins.
The complete ring uses 12 of those assemblies. The designers have used red, yellow, and black Technic plates to create an easy-to-see visual marker to keep the build aligned.
Once the ring is complete, the details of Earth’s surface start to go on. These consist of smaller plates and tiles in green, white and dark tan. There were some flashbacks to the World Map’s mind-bending construction while working on the 6×8 plates, but these instructions here were clear and easy to follow.
Inside the ring, a large Technic column braces the circular shape, as well as providing anchor points for the rest of the globe’s skin. The center of the column has four outward-facing poles that have a decent amount of slide built into them. This means that the globe has a bit of flex to it, making assembly a whole lot easier.
Also of note are the wheels that push up against the outer ring. At first I thought they were there to add some rotation somehow, but they’re just additional support as far as I can tell.
The upper half of the globe is made from alternating three-section strips in dark blue plate. They slot into the equatorial ring with Technic pins, and attach to the upper edge of the central column with robot-arm pincer clips.
There is a bit of gap between each section, but not enough to be visually distracting. The underlying panels become a rather repetitive build, as you’ll be making twelve of each type in total. You really don’t notice it that much, though, as every four panels to you take a break to add the landmasses and labels.
In addition to the glow-in-the-dark labels, there are also some fun “illustrations” on the surface of the globe. The first is this small ship in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Well, I suppose if it were to scale then it’s actually a super-massive ship. But you follow my meaning, right?
Looking at the interior of the completed northern hemisphere, you can see that LEGO has found a way to allow for a very lightweight build. The panels of the globe use Technic construction to lock the angular sections into place, and since there’s only a couple of layers of plate on top of them, they don’t require massive bracing to handle the load.
As you’d expect, the southern hemisphere has pretty much identical construction. Inverting the build works just fine; another testament to the thought and care that went into the Technic design.
Another non-geographic treat is this compass design, formed out of the last batch of printed tile.
The completed globe holds its shape very well. It’s easy to imagine builders quickly taking this blueprint and customizing their own worlds. (I expect to see a fan-created Death Star show up in the first couple of weeks, at a minimum.)
The large printed discs are affixed to the poles, and a bit of Technic rod is added to connect the globe to the display stand.
The top connection looks very nice. The grip point of black Technic connectors allows for an easy way to spin things around if you don’t want to manhandle the globe itself.
The bottom connection isn’t as clean, with a bit of exposed grey Technic rod spoiling the look. I’m pretty sure I seated the Technic rod all the way into the globe, but it’s possible I had something out of alignment and a tighter fit was intended. Regardless, the set does provide a quick fix. Our review copy had an extra black Technic bushing. Matching the build here with the build used on the top of the globe meant just adding that bushing onto the rod to cover the gap. Maybe this was a glitch in the instructions and this was the intended construction?
The final touch is adding the small “The Earth” nameplate to the base of the stand. It’s surrounded by gold-inked tile, giving it a regal look.
The finished model
The finished globe looks fantastic, with a clean, classic look. The exposed LEGO studs remind you that you’re looking at a construction project, but the Earth is instantly recognizable.
The globe does spin if you give it a shove, providing as much of a play feature as you could ask for in a set like this. (I’m sure some clever soul will figure out how to motorize it.)
The glow-in-the-dark labels work pretty well, and are bright even in moderate light.
But if the glow-in-the-dark labels aren’t to your liking, you can easily remove them to create a slightly different look for the completed model. (You’ll still have labels on the poles, though, as they’re printed directly on the white discs.)
Conclusion and recommendation
Aimed as it is at the adult collector market, this feels like a solid win for the LEGO Ideas line. The build is a bit repetitive at times, but the instructions wisely break up any monotony by intermixing the rote building with applying the surface details. Things never get dull, and the overall build is easy to accomplish while still feeling complex enough to be interesting. The glow-in-the-dark tiles are an unexpected treat, and the overall shaping and details are very pleasing to the eye. (Combine this set with the 21327 Typewriter and you have the makings of a brick-built newsroom diorama.) At $200 US for 2585 pieces, even the price-per-part ratio is a mere 7.7 cents per, making this a viable parts pack. Fan customizers can also treat this as a “core model” to pick up and then modify into their own planetary designs. Compared to the mixed reviews of the Art 31203: World Map, I think LEGO fans and cartography buffs alike will be pretty excited to get theirs hands on this one.
LEGO Ideas 21332 The Globe will be available February 1st from the LEGO Shop Online for for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £174.99 | €199.99. It is may also be available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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