LEGO Architecture 21058 Great Pyramid of Giza: draw back the sands of time [Review]

When a set review for an unknown Architecture set rumored only as “Monuments of the World” arrived last week, the “click” of other rumors falling into place was audible. Here is one monument of the world – specifically, the oldest and only largely intact of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza! This lovely diorama moves the time span covered by the Architecture series more than 2,000 years further into the past – The Great Wall of China is the only prior set within several millennia of it – and is also the first Architecture set to depict the same structure at different points in time. 21058 Great Pyramid of Giza has 1,476 pieces. It will retail for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £124.99, and to be available June 1st in the UK and August 1st world wide. Read our hands-on review to learn more.

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.

Unboxing the set and contents

21058 The Great Pyramid of Giza comes in a substantial box in a variation of the now-familiar LEGO for Adults style, with the Architecture wordmark on the bottom left and age rating, set number, and piece count on the right over a bar of tan greebling. The box is tape sealed, unlike the re-closing architecture boxes that seem more designed to be saved. I don’t know if this box is simply too big for that style to be practical, or if this is a change in Architecture packaging going forward. The back of the box highlights that you can remove the finished pyramid to reveal an earlier version still under construction, along with some close details and a picture of the real pyramids. The top has a nifty front-on wireframe rendering of the set; it doesn’t add anything to my understanding of the pyramid or the build but I love it all the same.

Inside are thirteen bags numbers one through eight, and a perfect-bound instruction book protected in a plastic sleeve. The instructions continue the trend in 18+ sets of not having the set name or number on the cover. It’s a nice clean look, but it feels a little like Apple putting the charging port of the magic mouse on the bottom – pure design at the expense of some practicality.

There are no stickers, and like most Architecture sets the name of the structure is printed – but in this case, we get two options, one in English and one in hieroglyphs. The glyphs translate to “Khufu’s Horizon” according to the instruction manual. When I tried to look up the hieroglyphs myself, “Khufu” was relatively straightforward (this is the part enclosed in an oval with a vertical line right in the middle of the tile), but the right side was harder – the half-circle is a “bread load” feminine signifier, and the tall triangle is a pictorial representation that usually follows the word for pyramid, kingdom, or other words having to do with royalty or government.

The instructions open with information about the pyramid, theories on its construction, and a key to what all the different parts of the build are. Throughout, there are other notes about the structure, or about the parts used in the build.

One note; LEGO has started including notes about the transition from plastic parts bags to recyclable paper. Our review copy didn’t have any paper packaging, but the pamphlet promises that the transition is coming soon!

The build

The build is split evenly between bags 1-4, which build the base, the Nile shore, and the various outbuildings, and bags 5-8, which build the Great Pyramid itself. The base comes together similarly to other Architecture sets and the large Stadium sets. A combination of large plates, long bricks, and tiles build a sleek frame for the diorama along with the under-structure for the river.

The dunes near the pyramid, the layered sand leading up from the riverbank, and the depths of the Nile itself use a lovely set of microscale landscape techniques. The relatively new inverted 1×3 slopes combine with 1×3 sloped bricks to make lovely dunes. The white sphinxes are simple but effective. And the water reminds me of the Ninjago City sets, where different color plates are layered underneath the trans-blue tiles to give a wonderfully varied sense of depth to the water.

Finishing the first phase of the build, we now have a completed Worker’s Village, both mortuary temples (the Valley Temple on the edge of the Nile, and another next to the pyramid) connected by a smooth white causeway, and two of the original four smaller pyramids (tombs for the pharaoh’s family). A selection of greenery fit for the richness of the Nile flood plain finishes the surroundings.

Bags five and six build the pyramid as it may have been under construction, with a very cool angled ramp illustrating how the blocks of stone – each 2.5 tonnes on average! – may have been hauled up into place. The other standout feature of this phase of the build is the two-dimensional map of the interior chambers built into the back of the pyramid with subtle gaps in the bricks. This makes the build much more complex than just stacking bricks into tiered layers, and also takes the back of the model from an afterthought to a very nicely polished touch.

The downside is that there are a lot of very similar pieces here, and almost all of them are tan. You may need to check and double-check the instructions for small mistakes to avoid knock-on problems as you build further.

At this point, you could decide to be done. The workers’ village would be fully populated, the temples newly built, and the golden cap piece is in the process of being hauled towards the top of mighty Khufu’s resting place. Perhaps there are raiders on the river; maybe the slow rise of the Nile into flood is inexplicably late that year, and there is trouble …

Ah, but whatever trouble there was, Khufu’s people survived it and finished what would be the tallest structure in the world for thousands of years. The white limestone blocks, almost all gone today, a gleam in the sunlight, a blinding monument to a ruler considered more than halfway to a god himself.

Whether in solidarity with the conscript labor that build the pyramid, or just because there are almost always compromises of piece count, price, and complexity in an official LEGO set … this part of the build isn’t as much fun. While I may or may not have won a bet with the Lemur on if we’d ever be able to advertise a “staircase battle pack”, there is a lot of stacking here.

Pyramids are a very strong geometric shape – likely one of the reasons the ancient Egyptians built them, rather than Borg cubes. The astute reader will note, however, that we are not building a full pyramid here. The structure is sliced in half from side to side, to allow the cutout of the back. That decision makes a lot of sense, cutting down on stacking, piece count, and repetitive features that don’t add anything the front of the model doesn’t have already. However, the fact that the outer shell is not braced across the back until you get to the top makes it finicky and fragile while under construction. Even when done, it’s flexible enough that I misaligned the left-hand corner in this photo of the finished build.

With the final touch of two boats – the felucca, bringing priests, or blocks of stone, or pilgrims – on the river, the build is done.

The finished model

This is a lovely diorama. The river and plant life is vibrant in many shades, the smooth limestone pyramid gleams, and no angle suffers a lack of detail or rough construction. The real pyramid has joints between many of its huge blocks that are smaller than a millimeter; this build, with LEGO’s famously tight tolerance standards in its molds, is a fitting tribute.

Unique in my experience of Architecture sets, there are several options of how to display it – you can remove the finished, new-condition pyramid, the under-construction version, or both, and have them separate from the main model.

Conclusions & recommendation

In a house with limited display space for assembled sets, the Great Pyramid is likely to stay together a long time. It’s a beautiful set with ingenious options for display variation.

Architecture and ancient history fans are sure to want this one. It’s not the biggest architecture set, and the build goes relatively quickly when you’re not fracturing half pyramids into fragments scattered across the room. But once you have it together, taking the pyramid shell on or off or removing the under-construction version are pretty easy to do without disturbing the overall model. I did have some plates pop up while carrying the base around for photos. These complaints aside though, I love this display. And truly who can resist a staircase battle pack.

21058 Great Pyramid of Giza features 1,476 pieces and retails for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £124.99. The set will be available starting June 1 in the UK and August 1st worldwide. It may also be available from 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.

10 comments on “LEGO Architecture 21058 Great Pyramid of Giza: draw back the sands of time [Review]

  1. James Waters

    $129 for half a pyramid? When we could build it ourselves from scratch for free. I dig that y’all are releasing something really cool and historical but.. At least make it the whole pyramid.

  2. Lorten

    Dear BrothersBrick,
    I don’t know where you’re from, or where you live, but I guess somewhere in the commonwealth, and/or identify yourself as Anglo-Saxon? Or maybe brexitter, and against the euro? There surely must be a (silly) reason why you don’t mention euro prices, while having even CAD and GBP???

  3. Gregg Olmstead

    It looks as though with the connectors in the base in the back, you could build the rest of the pyramid on your own.

  4. Derek Lynch

    Half a pyramid is a joke. Telling us we can buy a second one to make the pyramid whole feels like a huge money grab. I don’t see and other LEGO architecture sets only offering half a structure. I wouldn’t buy a set that’s half an Empire state building or half a Colosseum. Really hope this isn’t going to bea new trend for LEGO.

  5. Frank McKinnon

    I would like to have this,even if it is only half a pyramid.aWhen will this be available in Australia?

  6. Robert B

    Not interested in buying 2 sets but how many (Bricklink) pieces would you need to make a complete pyramid?

  7. Terrence Donnelly

    Just FYI, the Egyptian word for horizon was akhet. Two of the glyphs in the second word on the sticker spell it out: the first glyph is the akh-bird, and the small mound to its lower right is a bread loaf, pronounced t, so those give us akhet. The oval shape along the top doesn’t have a sound, but indicates things in the landscape, to indicate that the word akhet refers to the horizon. The last symbol is just what it looks like, a pyramid, and refers to the whole phrase: kufu-akhet, the pyramid. I am really impressed by Lego’s attention to detail. Most Ancient Egyptian modern texts are just gibberish.

  8. Chuck Hagenbuch Post author

    Thanks so much for the breakdown! That really is fabulous detail.

  9. MaffyD

    @Lorten – the price in euros changes depending on the country. I would’ve thought a European would know this? Your subtle jibe of jingoism is not warranted. I’m presuming it is an attempt at a joke.

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