Elvis fans had a reason to sing when LEGO announced that the King of Rock ‘n Roll would be joining the Art theme in the spring of 2022. Featuring three iconic portrait options, LEGO Art 31204 – Elvis Presley will be available March 1st from the LEGO Shop Online for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £104.99. Come along as we see just what this 3445 piece set has to offer. Will it be a trip to the Heartbreak Hotel or a case of Burning Love?
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 packaging for this set offers little variation from the LEGO Art theme and the Adult Collector line in general. There’s a large image of young Elvis in the center, a solid black background, and minimal text and graphics. Smaller images of the alternate builds of Elvis later in his career are placed along the lower edge. The age range of the set is set at “18+” – purely a marketing move, as we know from the 21226 LEGO Art Project set, the “real” difficulty level of this type of building is set at “7+”.
The back of the box shows the Elvis mosaic on display on a tabletop. There are also inset shots of all three image choices. Instead of the usual “in progress” shot, there’s an image of the completed build next to a logo promoting the set’s exclusive bespoke soundtrack. These soundtracks are part of the “adult appeal” of these sets, giving the builder something to listen to while they work through the somewhat unavoidably dull building steps.
The flap-top, tab-sealed box opens to reveal the colored tiles grouped in the upper right, the 9 16×16 Technic bricks in a box along the bottom, and the instruction manual loosely held by tabs on the upper left. More part bags hide underneath the cardboard tray that props up the instructions.
There are 15 bags of 1×1 tiles, grouped by color. In a deviation from the usual “one bag – one color” standard set by the rest of the Art sets, the dark and light grey tiles are combined in a single bag. This is most likely because of the very low part count for those two colors. It would have been a real waste of packaging to have a solo bag for just 26 light grey tiles, after all.
Four more bags hold the framing elements. Three bags hold standardized frame elements that appear in most LEGO Art sets, while the fourth has the printed logo tile and color guide plate, as well as the Art theme’s beloved Thicc separator (the wide, black version of the classic brick separator tool).
The cover of the 112-page, perfect-bound instruction book features the photo of Elvis used for the main image. It’s interesting to compare it to the mosaic image and see what adjustments needed to be made when converting it to a more pixelated form.
Usually, these Art set instructions start with several pages of information about the set’s theme/focus. In a small deviation from the norm, the senior LEGO designer responsible for this set, Kitt Kossmann, is interviewed right on page two. She notes that some of the biggest challenges were Elvis’ eyes, famous lip curl, and jawline. The next several pages then focus on Elvis’ legacy, LEGO building tips, and a page promoting the set’s exclusive soundtrack. (Sadly, that wasn’t live yet at the time of writing.)
Construction starts with assembling a few tools to help identify colors as you move through the build. Two printed 1×8 tiles are affixed to a 2×16 plate, with the 1×1 tiles attached in the same order as they’re displayed in the instructions. The bag that contains these parts also has the printed “Elvis Presley” 2×4 signature tile that is unique to this set. There’s also a gold minifigure crowbar included to help remove single tiles when you inevitably put one in the wrong place. So don’t lose it.
Thanks to LEGO’s practice of “overfilling” on small, easy-to-lose parts, you might get a couple of extra copies of each color of title. That said, the official count of the parts is:
Black – 596
Dark blue -206
Medium blue – 230
Sand blue – 175
Dark bluish grey – 52
Light bluish grey – 26
White – 71
Tan – 106
Light nougat – 360
Nougat – 200
Medium nougat – 182
Dark orange – 179
Reddish-brown – 233
Dark brown – 206
Dark red – 339
Red – 80
There’s really not much to document when it comes to the build. You just follow the instructions to build the nine 16×16 panels, then join them together with Technic pins. Since these are 1×1 tiles, you have no choice but to put each piece on individually. It can get a little hard on your hands, so be sure to take a break between sections. Your fingers will thank you for it.
A small choice presented at the end of the image construction is to include the printed 2×4 signature tile or use six more 1x1s to have an “image only” build.
At this point, the image is pretty much ready to display. As another “alternate build”, you could opt to skip adding the black frame and go for an “edge-to-edge” photo look.
But most people will probably opt to finish the instructions and add on the framing. Small hangers are added to the top corners, and some grey 2×6 plates are added to the vertical seams to increase stability and keep the image’s seams braced together.
From the front, the frame adds a nice 1-stud-wide black border to the portrait. In addition to providing a good level of locking to the final build, it looks pretty sharp.
The finished model
After completing the build, you’ll find that you have a lot of tiles left over. Why could that be, do you think?
Well, the Suspicious Minds among you might have noticed that the image I built doesn’t match the featured image on the box. (Okay, maybe just “anyone who has been reading this review from the start”.) LEGO offers a choice between three different images of Elvis, each from a different point in his career. All three have their own section in the instructions, allowing for a bit of choose your own adventuring. The punster in me is sad that LEGO chose tile instead of plate for this mosaic – being able to build a second image of the King on the back of the main mosaic would have made for some good “B-side” jokes.
Anyway, there’s also an “ultimate build” option for those with deep enough pockets to pick up three copies of this set. The instructions for that aren’t included in the manual; you have to head over to the LEGO website to get them. Sadly, they weren’t available yet at the time of writing, so we can’t really say much about them. The full 48×114 stud image does look great, though.
Conclusion and recommendation
So, was this a fitting debut for Elvis into the world of LEGO? From an adult collector standpoint, it sure seems like it. This kit offers three extremely well rendered and distinctive portraits, and the lure to acquire multiple copies and build an impressive “Ultimate” version. For the wider LEGO audience, the wide range of tile colors opens up the creative space for custom mosaic building. The downsides are the slightly high price-per-part cost. At $120 US for 3445 parts, the ratio comes in at 3.5 cents – a bit high for LEGO Art sets in general, and moderately pricy when you consider that the vast majority of the parts here are 1×1 round tile. Maybe Elvis’ image cost LEGO a bit more to license or something. Anyway, being the mosaic junkie that I am, I feel it’s a great set. And, really, if you’re a fan of Elvis, you probably already made up your mind if this fits into your budget. So…Don’t Be Cruel – what did you decide?
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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