LEGO Ideas 40533 Cosmic Cardboard Adventures – A Boxy Gift with Purchase [Review]

Last February, LEGO Ideas ran a contest to find an “Out of this world!” space build to be turned into a gift-with-purchase. Now, just over a year later, the winning concept from Ivan Guerrero arrives in stores starting May 16th. You can claim a copy of LEGO Ideas 40533 Cosmic Cardboard Adventures with a qualifying purchase of US $160 | CAN $160 | UK £160. This 203 piece set features an imaginative spacecraft that really leans into the concept of “boxy”. But is this an idea worth pursuing? Come along as we take an early look!

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

This set comes in a small tab-sealed box with the standard LEGO Ideas / Adult collector theming. This means a plain black background, minimal logos, a colorful strip along the bottom edge, and a mandated age range of 18+. As is standard for these sets that age range is just a marketing ploy – there’s nothing here a much younger builder would be challenged by.

The back of the box shows how the spaceship can be removed from the diorama, while also highlighting the included minifigure and cat. The right edge has a standard “this is how the Ideas process works” blurb, and there’s a small inset diagram that calls out the set’s dimensions.(7.3cm/2.8″ by 10.4cm/4.1″)

Inside the box are two numbered parts bags, a small sticker sheet, and a 76 page, staple-bound instruction booklet.

The sticker sheet in our review copy arrived with some heavy bending, but luckily it was otherwise intact. There are a lot of fun designs here, intended to be a child’s interpretation of futuristic controls and details. We’ll take a closer look at them as they’re applied in the build process.

Normally there isn’t anything special about the smaller instruction books, but as this is an Ideas set, we’ll want to take a peek inside.

Just like the larger Ideas manuals, there’s an interior spread that introduces us to the fan designer who came up with the concept for this set. In a short interview on the first two pages, Ivan Guerrero talks about how playing with cardboard boxes is a pretty universal childhood experience. He also points out that both LEGO brick and cardboard boxes are recognized by the National Toy Hall of Fame, a fact I did not know previously.

By the way, this isn’t Ivan’s first Ideas success. You may remember his name as the fan designer behind LEGO Ideas 123 Sesame Street (21324)

The parts

There aren’t any new element molds in this set, but there are a few rare and interesting pieces. The 4×12 plate in cool yellow has only been seen twice before – in 60244 Police Helicopter Transport and, fittingly, in Ivan’s 21324 Sesame Street. The green micro-figures also only have two previous appearances – 80105 Spring Festival Chinese New Year Temple Fair and 10766 Woody & RC. The helmet in dark tan has been out of production since 2006’s Knight’s Kingdom II theme, and the “Vita Rush” cans were first seen in 2020s 60271 Main Square, with only two appearances since.

The Teddy-Mech

The build starts off with a mech suit scaled for a teddy bear. This tiny exoskeleton is filled with household accessories like a whisk, two umbrellas, a hairdryer/ray gun, and some roller skates. The mech has a single stud “seat” that fits the base of the teddy bear, and a roll cage made from robot arms and short bars.

The teddy bear fits snugly into the cockpit and is ready for battle. Or maybe ready to make a soufflé.

You probably noticed that the mech is perched on a 2×4 plate topped with 2×2 jumper plates in cool yellow. There’s a reason for that. This mech isn’t exactly well-balanced and cannot stand on its own.

The Room

This adventure takes place in a child’s bedroom – and that’s the first major construction for this set. Three 4×12 plates in cool yellow create a pretty unusually colored floor.  The walls are blue with a white baseboard, and with an inset window. 1×1 modified bricks with a stud on the side provide mounting points for a space diorama.

Three flame-yellow 1×1 star plates adorn the walls, as does a small brick-built rocket. A 1×1 round plate with rod in cool yellow adds both a bit of color and provides a way to mount it to the wall.

Both sides of this clip-flag have a sticker showing a hand-drawn version of a classic LEGO set – 19789’s 493 Space Command Center.

The completed room makes for a great diorama base. The single curtain on the window seems a little odd (why not a matched set?) but that rug looks fantastic. The combination of blues works well to soften the color choice for carpet/floor.

With the background in place, we can start to fill the room with toys. It looks like our kid has created an army of little green main, painting over their action figures. There’s also a pair of scissors lying around, leftovers from the rocket construction, no doubt.

The Rocket

The focus of this set is the cardboard box rocket. The build here is pretty straightforward, although there is a touch of SNOT construction in the nose.

More stickers are applied to the sides and front, with a “this side up” indicator on the nose. Is it just me, or does it feel like that should have been facing the wrong way just for comedic effect? I considered “making a mistake” and applying it that way here anyway, but you readers deserve better.  The bathroom plunger “thrusters” on the side look good, with a brick-built design providing a much longer handle than the minifigure accessory offered.

Two 1×2 cheese wedges get control panel stickers, and the flaps on the top of the main cardboard box get hand-drawn comet designs. The rocket is complete at this point, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look all that great. The heavy use of light-grey bricks means the “cardboard box” illusion is almost completely wrecked. I realize that LEGO may not have had the needed dark tan parts in production, but maybe some alterations to the rocket’s build could have bridged that gap, or at least hidden the grey a bit more. The half-exposed Technic cross in the front is another eyesore, but it appears to have been a deliberate design choice. There are two 1×2 dark tan bricks elsewhere in the build, and LEGO opted for a single 1×2 Technic brick instead of including a third.

On the plus side, from the rear, the Vita Rush cans make for a fun homemade thruster array. The hand-drawn controls also work really well. The use of stickers here feels reasonable, too, as I doubt LEGO would find too many future uses for these designs.

Fitting the pilot into the front, and their cat into the rear, you’re ready to blast off into adventure. Both characters fit easily and snugly into their boxes. I’m not sure what the modified 1×1 round plate in the kid’s hand is supposed to be, though.

The finished model

The spaceship fits snugly into the diorama, attached to the jumper plates on the rug. The soda-can exhaust might explain the single curtain – the ship nearly brushes the back wall, and there might not have been room for a full set of window dressing.

With the characters in place and the Robo-Teddy on patrol, the completed diorama packs a lot of play into a small space. There are fun details everywhere you look, and all the different parts work well together. The only weak point is the Robo-Teddy’s stand-alone base – they feel more like a guest star than part of the main adventure.

Comparing the released set with Ivan’s initial Ideas submission, you can see a few major changes that happened when converting things to the released set. Gone are the glow-in-the-dark stars, and the LEGO logo on the side of the box. The kid’s helmet no longer uses Benny’s “broken chin strap” design, and the Robo-Teddy was originally both a Robo and a Teddy. In exchange, we got a much beefier room playset and a more imaginative mech. LEGO internal licensing sometimes has issues bringing custom molds “cross-theme”, so the change from the Collectible Minifigure robot and plunger accessory may have been necessary to bring this set to life in the Ideas theme.

The minifigure

This set comes with two main characters. First up is a child minifigure with a dual-sided head, short blue legs, and a Classic Space tee showing 1979’s 918 One-Man Spaceship, previously released only as part of the Series 20 Collectible Minifigures line. (Could this be a younger version of that set’s Space Fan? If so, that shirt held up really well. Maybe they’re siblings.)  The second is a friendly orange tabby. A subtle nod to Captain Marvel’s Flerkin companion, maybe?

Conclusion and recommendation

Gift With Purchase sets are a tricky thing to make recommendations on. After all, if you’re spending $160 on LEGO already, getting a free exclusive set is hardly a bad thing. But is it worth adding more things to your shopping cart to reach the hefty $160 breakpoint? In this case, I think so. This is a very cute set that will have strong appeal to both Classic Space fans as well as LEGO fans who, like me, spent a portion of their childhoods traveling to outer space courtesy of corrugated boxes. Although all the parts are available elsewhere, this is a unique combination for a minifigure assembly, and that dark-tan helmet can be trickier to source. There are some iffy parts to the design (the over-abundance and visibility of grey parts in the brown cardboard spaceship, mainly), but the overall look is super cute and whimsical. And, frankly, the world could use a bit more of that sort of thing these days.  So if you’re been looking for a reason to go ahead with a larger LEGO purchase, this might just be the promotion that makes it worthwhile for you.

LEGO Ideas 40533 Cosmic Cardboard Adventures will be available as a gift with purchase starting May 16th from the LEGO Shop Online with qualifying purchases of US $160 | CAN $160 | UK £160. It 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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6 comments on “LEGO Ideas 40533 Cosmic Cardboard Adventures – A Boxy Gift with Purchase [Review]

  1. Jessy S

    Personally, I think the Light Bluish Gray bricks are a deal breaker when it comes to this set. Maybe another color with associated paint would have worked better.

  2. MaffyD

    There is barely anything a Classic Space fan would want in this set.Thanks for the review though – yours was better than the Brickset one..

  3. MicroScale

    I think the mysterious round plate in the kid’s hand is supposed to be a roll of duct tape, which explains all the grey in the box corners.

  4. Chris Doyle Post author

    @MicroScale – yeah, that would make a lot of sense. If so, I wish they had telegraphed that idea a bit more. Maybe if they had included obvious “grey tape” in any of the sticker designs it would have been easier to figure out.

  5. MicroScale

    Ah, someone made an eerily similar comment to mine a couple of days before (great minds think alike, I guess)! It’s a comment on one of the pictures. The picture of the designer sitting in a box in the manual has silver tape all along the box edges for reinforcement, so that has to be it.

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