LEGO Art 21226: Art Project – Create Together: Team Building you might actually enjoy [Review]

There’s a lot of excitement about LEGO Art mosaics right now, thanks in part to recent reveals of some cool upcoming DC Comics licensed LEGO art. But what if you’re more into creating your own LEO images? Well, LEGO has you covered there, too. LEGO Art 21226: Art Project – Create Together is available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £104.99. This 4138 piece set is designed to be shared between up to nine people, and includes designs for 36 different 1-panel designs, and a 9-panel Classic Spaceman “maxi-image”.  Sounds fun, right? But is it? We bought a copy…come along and see what we found out!

Unboxing the parts and instructions

The set comes packaged in the standard for LEGO Art kits of this size – a tab-sealed box with an opening lid. The design scheme isn’t in the “Adult Collector” style, though – and as a result we finally get a real rating of how complex these sets are. Without the mandated “18+” of the collector line, this set shows a realistic age range of only “7+“.  Quite the difference, no? And, no, there’s nothing different about the construction or instructions for this kit. It’s not dumbed down or simplified – it’s just something any youngster could handle. Which is keen – the world needs more kids interested in LEGO art.

In the lower left there’s a “Build Together” icon showing this kit can be shared with up to 9 people at once. I think LEGO should bulk up this selling point a bit; it’s easy to miss and a little hard to guess if you don’t already know what it means. (It does seem they’re heading in that direction, considering the the much more in-your face presentation of this idea in the 80108 Chinese New Year set.)

The back of the box reinforces the “build together” aspect, as well as showing the spaceman and 9-panel mix builds framed and being hung on the wall. I think LEGO missed a trick by not showing a different mix of panels in the inset shot, but whatever. Maybe this was deemed “less confusing” for consumers.

The lid opens to reveal the standard LEGO Art layout – the instruction booklet held loosely by flaps, an open section containing the 1×1 round tile part bags, and a box containing the 9 16×16 Technic backplane bricks. The light wood-grain color carries over from the exterior, giving this set a different feel from the licensed Art kits. Seems friendlier, somehow.

Under the exposed instruction book are the usual selection of bagged parts used to construct the frame. There’s also a bag of tools, and a bag containing 9 more instruction books. (More on that in a second!)

The main draw for this set (for me anyway) were the 1×1 round tiles. There’s a great range of colors, and there’s a decent quantity of each. The part count here are the official numbers. In practice there’s usually a small “overfill” of parts, so individual counts might be higher in your copy.

  • 317 – Aqua
  • 254 – Black
  • 241 – Tan
  • 148 – Bright Green
  • 133 – Orange
  • 190 – Red
  • 299 – Yellow
  • 166 – Lime
  • 119 – Cool Yellow (Currently only in two other sets: Extra DOTS series 4 and 80109: Lunar New Year Ice Festival)
  • 127 – Dark Azure  (Currently only in one other set, 41918: Adventure Bracelets)
  • 660 – Dark Blue
  • 163 – Flame Yellowish-Orange
  • 58 – Light Purple
  • 281 – Medium Nougat
  • 307 – Reddish Brown
  • 474 – White

The Instruction Books

This set is pretty special in that it comes with ten staple-bound instruction booklets. There’s one for each of the nine panels, with four unique designs and a section of the 9-panel spaceman image. The final booklet gives an overview of the set and shows how to connect the panels and construct the frame.

The build

The only bit of pre-building for this set is the “color scale” stick. The guide is made from 2 printed 1×8 tiles on a 2×16 plate. Even through the guide is also printed in each of the instruction books, I found that having a “real world” example helped me match colors in uncertain lighting.

I recommend dumping each color part into its own small bowl. I like to use old LEGO X-Pod containers, but really anything would work. Just don’t combine them all into one bowl. (Unless you’re into that sort of pain.)

The instructions are minimal, but that’s really not a problem as these mosaics are the brick equivalent of paint-by-numbers. There’s no complex building to frustrate anyone, but you there are the usual “you need to pay attention to the instructions” concerns if you don’t want to end up having to pop off a lot of misaligned tiles.

Here’s a minor nit, but one that I think LEGO quality control should have caught. Depending on the mosaic panels you pick out, you might not be able to build something from each of the books. Case in point, I built all but the center square of the spaceman, then decided to build the globe panel from book 5 as an example of the other options. Only…I couldn’t. There wasn’t enough black tile left. And not just one or two…the missing section is pretty severe as seen here.  In a more perfect world there would be enough of each color to build any combination of models, as long as each one was from a different booklet.

That’s not to say there aren’t a LOT of extra pieces, though. If you build the 9-panel spaceman, there’s some of every shade left over for other projects.

So I guess the message here is “coordinate with your friends” when building. Otherwise you could end up with one wise-ass who decided to customize their section and ruin the final image for everyone.

Ahem. The last step is adding in the white frame. It’s the same building style as seen in all the other Art sets, with a white color scheme like we saw in the 31203 World Map.

The finished model

Like the other kits, there are hangers included that make wall-mounting your final image easy and secure. I like the idea that you could get one of these kits, have a build party, and then have the results as a keepsake. You know, as long as you don’t mind that one jerk who can’t follow the instructions. You know who you are.

Conclusion and recommendation

The Art Project kit is a great addition to the LEGO Art theme. The 9-panel spaceman image is great, but I think the draw of this as a “party pack” is even more enjoyable. The 9 instruction booklets give a great range of “ready to build” projects, and there are plenty of parts to allow for the more artistically inclined to create their own images. At $120 US for 4138 pieces, this kit also works well as a parts pack at just under 3 cents per element (Admittedly most of those elements are 1×1 tiles, of course).  There are a great range of colored tiles, and I’ve found that those 16×16 Technic bricks have a lot of uses in the custom building world. If mosaics are your jam, pick one of these up. And someday, when we can see each other in person again, we can all do some building together.

LEGO Art 21226 – Art Project is available now from the LEGO Shop Online for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £104.99. It is also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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1 comment on “LEGO Art 21226: Art Project – Create Together: Team Building you might actually enjoy [Review]

  1. hntrains

    It sucks when you do not have enough parts.
    Someone into LEGO for a long time would have no such problem, I assume. Still, it is best to buy two such sets. Then, you can really build anything you want.
    I got six Andy Warhols’, for instance. I can make my own Marilyn Monroes!

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