Have you been waiting for a sign to buy more LEGO? If so, are several new DOTS offerings that let you create your own custom message boards. LEGO DOTS 41951 Message Board (US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £17.99) and 41952 Big Message Board (US $39.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99) will be available March 1st. While they seem like an interesting expansion to the DOTS theme, are they worth picking up? Come along as we see just what sort of message these sets are sending.
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.
41951 – Message Board
The smaller of the two message board sets comes packaged with a handy DOTS sorting tray. This is wrapped with a cardboard sleeve that shows some building suggestions. There isn’t an “official” way to assemble this kit – it’s left up to the builder’s imagination.
Inside the sorting tray there are two 16×16 plates, two 2×12 plates, one large bag of parts, and seven smaller bags that contain the DOTS. There are also two folded instruction sheets that show some lettering suggestions and advertise the latest DOTS offerings.
Since the parts list is pretty minimal, I thought I’d just share a close-up of the inventory shown on the back of the packaging. There are a decent quantity of each part, and a lot of 2×2 curved tiles and 1×1 quarter circle tile elements that really help when trying to create brick-built fonts.
New parts include a 1×4 “Bread Loaf” domed tile, a 2×2 “corner loaf”, and a modified 2×6 plate that works as a hanging bracket.
There’s a good range of colors, including 40 transparent white satin 1×1 round tiles. It would have been nice to see that color represented in the other shapes, but they still serve as a good accent element.
Message Board Build
When it comes to the basic build for the message board, there’s very little to it. The two large plates are braced on the back with 2-wide plate around the outside edge. Yellow 2×2 plate help prop up the center of the larger plate, keeping it from flexing too much when applying the tile to the front.
On the front, the edging is built out of the new loaf-bricks. There are enough corners to allow you to build two 16×16 message boards if you don’t want the conjoined version.
Using the included tiles, you can make a pretty colorful sign. Sadly there weren’t quite enough 1×1 round tiles to make a full repeating border. But a less color-intensive build wouldn’t have that problem.
Another orientation for the board is shown on the packaging – as well as suggesting the inclusion of simple iconic shapes to enhance your choice of text.
41952 – Big Message Board
The larger message board, creatively named the “Big Message Board”, comes in a larger tab-sealed box. This creates a sense of value – you’re paying twice the price of the 41951 Message Board, so you’d want to have a larger package. Wrecking that illusion, the back shows the included parts, and…there’s not a lot of variety there. There’s also a shot along the bottom showing an “in progress” shot. The age range is set at “8+”, which seems high considering the similarly-complex 21226 Art Project set is set at “7+”. (But what’s a few months between friends?)
The box has a hinged lid, making it a convenient way to store your message board pieces between slogans.
Spread out, the lack of variety in parts is quickly evident. There are four 16×16 plates, a bag of framing elements, and five bags of DOTS – two small and three large assortments. There’s also a 28 page, stapled “ideas” booklet.
Here’s the inventory as it appears on the back of the packaging. While there are some decently high quantities of square 1×1 tile, there’s a real lack of color options, particularly when compared with the 41951 set.
The new elements are blue versions of the white loaf and hanger brackets we saw in the 41951 set. Frustratingly, there are only four corners included – you don’t have any options to break up the larger sign into two panels the way you can in the smaller kit. Instead, the only options are “long”, “tall”, and a “32×32 square”.
Building the Big Message Board
The build is pretty much identical to the smaller message board. The plates are secured with a rim of 2-wide plate, with a 2×2 plate brace in the center of each panel.
From the front, the framing is again accomplished with an outer rim of the loaf bricks.
The longer width of the Big Message Board gave me the room to replicate an older version of The Brothers Brick logo. Again, there wasn’t quite enough tile to finish my design the way I wanted, but I was able to get pretty close.
A more colorful alternate build is shown on the packaging:
Conclusions and recommendations
Let’s take a look at each of the offerings on their own merits. We’ll start with LEGO DOTS 41951 Message Board (US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £17.99) . For your $20 US you’ll get 531 pieces – roughly 3.8 cents per part. This feels very high, considering that the majority of elements are 1×1 tile. That is balanced somewhat by the range of colors offered, as well as the new molds in the framing elements. The sorting tray is also pretty nice, even if you’ll have to combine the parts by color as shown on the packaging. (I don’t know about you, but I find digging through the same colored tile looking for a 1×1 square versus a 1×1 quarter circle tile a real pain.) As a concept, a DOTS-based message board is a clever way to expand the theme, and it does offer a lot of opportunities for creative building. While you might want to wait for a sale (or a good gift with purchase offer), I think most builders will be reasonably happy with this one.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for 41952 Big Message Board (US $39.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99). For twice the price of the smaller set, I’d expect to feel I was getting twice the range of parts and fun. And that’s simply not the case. The price per part is even higher at over 4.2 cents, and the range of elements is nearly a third of the smaller set’s selection. (11 elements compared to 29). The framing elements are also more limited, locking you into a small range of message board shapes. It would take a deep sale for me to want to pick this one up. I’d much rather grab two copies of 41951 for the same price.
But the story doesn’t have to end here. Keep an eye out for our review of 41950 Lots of DOTS – Lettering. Will that supply of extra parts be enough to salvage our opinion of the Big Message Board? Stranger things have happened!
LEGO DOTS 41951 Message Board (US $19.99 | CAN $24.99 | UK £17.99) and 41952 Big Message Board (US $39.99 | CAN $49.99 | UK £34.99) will be available March 1st from the LEGO Shop Online. They 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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