LEGO 43227 Disney Villain Icons celebrates the characters we love to hate [Review]

LEGO and Disney have a supercharged set lineup this year for Disney’s 100th anniversary, and LEGO 43227 Villain Icons is the second 18+ set targeted at adults after the Royal Clamshell. The “Adults Welcome” range is much more about who the set is aimed at and marketed to than about LEGO’s traditional age ranges. We concluded that 76391 Hogwarts Icons set was a great introduction to the LEGO hobby for new adult builders. This set is obviously similar, and Disney is one of the few fandoms that significantly outnumbers Harry Potter, so it’s reasonable to guess this will be a big hit. Does it rise to that potential? LEGO 43227 Villain Icons, with 1,540 pieces and 4 villainous minifigures, will be available starting June 1st for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £124.99.

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 and instructions

The front of the box shows the recommended or default arrangement of all of the included builds, fronted by the four minifigures. The back shows things re-arranged a little, along with highlighting some of the movable elements and hidden compartments – it’s hard to call them play features – that are included. One side of the box has stills of the four included characters from the classic animated movies, a really nice touch (see our gallery at the end for a picture).

Inside the box are 13 numbered bags (the only multiple is two of bag 4) and a cardboard envelope containing the instruction booklet and stickers.

There are two modest sticker sheets, and one large instruction manual. There could have been a decision to make this a “build together” set, and you could imagine that in a family of Disney fans, some people would be happy building a small thing like the pocket watch or the apple, others would build a book or VHS case or two, and then everything could be assembled. While most of the builds attach to each other, the only pieces that can’t be built at the same time are the Aladdin VHS clamshell case and the Beauty and the Beast book – those most be built together, as designed. It feels like a missed opportunity. Perhaps multiple smaller instruction booklets don’t fit with LEGO’s conception of the 18+ sets as premium products for adults?

The build

The first thing we build is from Peter Pan, looks like a pocket watch, and’s set description calls it a pocket watch. It even has a very nifty Brick Sketches style outline of Captain Hook’s red sleeve, white cuff, and silver hook on the back! But … why is it a pocket watch? Tick Tock famously swallowed an alarm clock – a tick-tock clock – complete with a classic bell on top, definitely missing here – that gave warning when the crocodile was approaching. Well, if you look closely at the watch face, there are two things to note: one is the silhouettes of Peter and the Darlings, and the second is the roman numerals. The alarm clock doesn’t have roman numerals on it, but a famous larger clock does: this is a recreation of the scene where they fly in front of Big Ben, which apparently has been scaled down into commemorative pocket watches sold by Disney at their theme parks, and this is a model of those. Whew.

Next up is Sleeping Beauty’s poison apple, and the observation that the bag distribution for these first three items is a bit odd. It makes sense that the playing card, consisting of a grand total of nine pieces, doesn’t use up a bag, but the apple spanning all 3 bags seems strange, and makes it harder to split the builds up among family members. But the lime detailing of green-glowing poison dripping down the apple is lovely, it’s an interesting build, and there’s a hidden compartment slash beauty sleep coffin for the Evil Queen.

The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland gets a lovely playing card. Without creating a 6×10 printed tile for the card, it’s unavoidably too thick for scale, but it’s very satisfying to toss on the table and the whole face is printed, an excellent choice over stickers for something that could be fiddled with a lot. If you compare the print to the Disney 100 Collectible Minifigures Queen of Hearts (not included in this set!), it’s an excellent match; the right hand clearly knew what the left was doing here.

Queen of Hearts minifigure is from the Disney 100 Collectible Minifigures and is not included

The next seven bags build the two VHS clamshell cases and one book, starting with the Aladdin case and Beauty and the Beast book which are fixed together at right angles, followed by Sleeping Beauty which can sit on its own as long as you don’t show the bottom.

Tiles are spaced on the cases for Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty to recreate the classic clamshell VHS case appearance. Even the split and uneven number of studs available works here, as these cases were not symmetrical and the top section was much shallower than the bottom.

All 3 items in this phase are built largely by arranging bricks with side studs or brackets around a frame and then tiling, but there are a couple of interesting techniques used. First, in both the Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty cases, a good chunk of the bottom part of the clamshell is built upside down so that 2×4 tiles can be affixed face-out on the bottom edges. This gives a bit more finish to the models, and the way it’s accomplished, with clips and 1×2 bricks that connect two rounded 1×2 plates with bars, is a useful method to keep in mind.

Each build also contains a compartment for storing a villain in, and the “tray” used in the Sleeping Beauty case is particularly interesting because of how it’s attached. The rounded plate with bar (sometimes referred to with a non-Disney appropriate term in the fan community…) pairs with the hollow studs in the 6×3 panel element to create a secure 6×6 tray. Cheese slopes with the high back facing out neatly fill in some of the gaps.

The last set of three bags builds a VHS tape of The Little Mermaid, themed for Ursula and matching her 2016 minifigure form down to the hair. The fact that the reels are different sizes, implying an in-progress viewing, is wonderfully dynamic. Oh, and the white back of the inner reels? Those are 6×6 white window panes, a new color for that part.

VHS tapes, for those of us old enough to have used them, had some very satisfying tactile ka-chunks and other sounds, and the way that you can peer at the filmstrip and see some frames from a LEGO-fied version of the movie is a great touch.

The cassette arches use another change-of-direction technique that takes advantage of hollow studs. Pink flower pieces, which have a bar-width hole through the middle, anchor 1×1 bricks with bar handle onto the lower, studs up base; 1×2 inverted baby bows, which have a hollow studs, lock the upside-down arch in place by attaching to the tops of the 1×1 brick with bar handle. It’s pretty solid as-is and completely locked in by the rest of the build.

The minifigures

The Evil Queen, jealous of Snow White, disguises herself as the Witch to bring Snow a poisoned apple, catching her by surprise while the Dwarfs are gone and persuading her that it will grant wishes – perhaps a reunion with a certain Prince. The dual-sided head certainly conveys malevolence, and while a dual-molded hood with white hair could have been amazing, the print does a good job. The only note here is that the Witch has an extremely pronounced nose, and minifigures … don’t have noses. The designers still captured the character in our opinion, and frankly we’re glad they didn’t go for a molded nose.

The final genie form of Jafar is a distillation of villainous grasping for power and the Disneyfied fairy-tale that green and evil get their due. His lamp prison, which you can imagine him about to be sucked down into, is included with a pearl dark gray recolor of the lamp part (initially created for a non-Disney Genie collectible minifigure). The lower piece representing the wispy lower trail of dust is the same that was used for the Genie in an earlier Disney minifigure, but appropriately recolored to red. The muscular chest print gives a good impression of Jafar’s final monstrous size, and he’s topped off with a menacing facial expression and topknot.

Nobody’s minifigure is quite like Gaston! It’s a shame the legs aren’t dual molded at least for the black tights and brown boots but this is a great character likeness. The yellow collar is spot on, his gloves, the tunic, and the sheer attitude of entitlement and confidence. It’s a great figure.

Maleficent is very similar to the version released in the first series of Disney minifigures in 2016, but it’s improved in almost all areas. The horns are hard molded plastic instead of softer rubber, and the colors on her dress are much more vibrant. LEGO’s troubles printing light colors on dark ones show up a little in the face, but the pale blue looks better than attempts at yellow or light nougat. The collar is possibly identical to the old version, but it’s a nice two-color piece. Evil looks so good!

Conclusions and recommendations

If you’re a Disney fan, this set is for you and you probably don’t need to think about it much more, unless you really love the original Alarm Clock. For everyone else — say, LEGO builders without a specific Disney interest — here’s some pros and cons. The ability to make this a family build could be improved a lot with separate instruction booklets and a tweak to how the first three bags are distributed. And it’s unfortunate that Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin can’t be rearranged; it adds a lot of stability, but limits the display options. Even if there were unfinished backs, being able to rearrange the books and cases would be nice for people with different display spaces; the main loss would probably be the ability to securely lean the VHS tape. And LEGO has shown a book build that’s finished on all sides with the Ideas Pop-up Book. On the pro side, the builds are lovely when displayed as they’re meant to be, the price-to-piece ratio is extremely good for a licensed set, and those pieces are a good mix. There are some large printed pieces, but otherwise you get a ton of tiles, basic bricks, sideways building elements and techniques – in all, similar to our conclusion on the Hogwarts Icons, it’s a good intro to more advanced building techniques and gives you good parts to use, Disney fan or no. C’mon, don’t you feel just a little wicked looking at it?

LEGO Disney 43227 Villain Icons includes 1,540 pieces and 4 minifigures and will be available starting June 1st for US $129.99 | CAN $169.99 | UK £124.99. It may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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.

Check out our full gallery of images below:

Some photos contain Disney 100 and Disney Collectible Minifigures for character comparisons. Those figures are not included in this set!

7 comments on “LEGO 43227 Disney Villain Icons celebrates the characters we love to hate [Review]

  1. Brent

    I honestly thought the watch was originally from “Alice in Wonderland” (I’m late, I’m late!) at first glance… no idea it was intended to be from Peter Pan!

  2. MagnusK

    I have to micro-rant. I’m seriously getting tired of LEGO jumping on the nostalgia bandwagon. And if they did it creatively… There’s something off about building VHS and consoles and sneakers out of plastic bricks. I don’t know man, it’s like the worst kind of position to be in PR vise when filling the ESG quota for the fanatics and activists talking about reuse and saving and equality. These “imitation” sets are pure “disneymoney”!

  3. ______________

    Disappointed you didn’t call out the missing skull detail on the poisoned apple. I’m not a huge Disney fan, but that is kind of the difference between a poorly-made caramel apple and The Poisoned Apple®

  4. MagnusK

    Don’t worry, Disney will edit the skull out from the future releases as it might offend someone with phobias about the reality of life expectancy.

  5. Mystery

    the Sleeping beauty and aladdin builds are supposed to be vhs cases, not books. Also, Captain Hook does have a pocket watch (which he uses to time the explosion of the bomb) but its not as iconic as the alarm clock.

  6. Chuck Hagenbuch Post author

    Mystery- thank you for the correction! We’ve updated the review. And I’ll take some extra egg on my face for this one given that I’m actually old enough to have used those clamshells…

  7. Thor96

    It’s really cool you can open the vhs tape and look at the scenes on “tape”! The which looks like it could play Palpatine easily ;) i must say that there is something charming about this set even tho I am not interested in Disney or dustcollectors.

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