LEGO Art 31209 The Amazing Spider-Man breaks the mold [Review]

LEGO Art started out three years ago with four portraits, where the most variation in physical depth was the height of a stud. LEGO 31206 The Rolling Stones broke out of the rectangular frame and added a bit of depth and 31208 The Great Wave took the depth a bit further, but with LEGO 31209 The Amazing Spider-Man, LEGO have boldly gone right out of the frame! The set also combines larger plates and slopes with varied size tiles to replicate the style and shading of a comic book. Let’s take a closer peek together at the set, which checks in at 2,099 pieces and is available now for US $199.99 | CAN $259.99 | UK £169.99.

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 box is substantial, like other large Art sets, and particularly tall to match the vertical orientation of the final product, while the back shows the build on a wall, with some smaller peeks at some of the build. There is a soundtrack like with other Art sets, but I did not review that.

Inside the box are 15 numbered bags, a couple of unnumbered bags with the 16×16 bright green plates, some technic frames, larger plates, the printed Spider-man tile, white web pieces, and a cardboard envelope containing the substantial instruction booklet. No stickers, as seems usual for the display-oriented, “premium-feel” Art sets.

The instructions have a lot of references and easter eggs, both LEGO and Spidey related. They also explain things like the dot-based shading method that’s prominent with different sized tiles and plates in the build’s background.

The build

Unlike previous art sets, there are no 16×16 Technic bricks used. The frame is mostly bricks, with plates helping to tie the grid together. It’s a bit fragile at first, but once the 16×16 plates are attached it gets much sturdier. In another difference from previous Art mosaics, the 16×16 sections are not finished products when they are attached to the frame. They have the shading technique that the instructions explain at the beginning (the Ben Day process), but also clips and bricks that will be used to layer on webs and more built-up details. The variety makes for a very fun build process – it’s just tricky enough, but not overly fragile.

The center of the frame remains open, where the head and shoulders will cover the gap. Because of how the two turntables are used to achieve the attachment angle of the shoulders, taking it apart once built can result in a trickier reassembly than it was to build the first time. In fact below you can see the two yellow 4×4 plates that are originally placed on the underside of the shoulders have stuck to the bottom turntable piece when I dislodged it re-taking some photos.

Speaking of the head, it’s a pretty interesting one atop those broad shoulders. From the front, it doesn’t necessarily look too complicated. Look closer at the array of wedge plates that combine to get everything angled just so, however, and you’ll have a better appreciation of the build experience. Hinge bricks, rounded plates with bar handles, and even hidden half-circle 1×2 bricks – used in a space where a 1×2 brick would just collide with another part – are all leveraged in a great bit of geometry.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a build step quite like the ones that finish some of the web strands, that specify winding one flexible piece around another. The instructions show an inset diagram of the web strand at close to 1:1 (similar to insets which specify careful space of technic axles) which makes it clear exactly how the designer envisions the two wrapped pieces crossing over.

The final image is coming out of the frame in several ways and dimensions; the hands and fingers are literally gripping the frame (and get knocked off so, so easily – if LEGO made mixel joints in black or red that would have been a huge upgrade over clips here) are obvious, as is the three-dimensional head, but there are subtle bits like Spidey’s right elbow and forearm that just edge over the white border, really adding to the sense of depth and climbing out of the background.

Conclusions and recommendations

In a lot of ways, this set feels like a custom creation that you might see at a LEGO show. That’s a compliment in many ways – it’s well executed, it’s not cookie cutter or exactly like tens of other sets, it mixes interesting building techniques and styles. The price probably feels a bit on the high side, but that’s also compared to other Art sets that have contained thousands of 1×1 tiles or plates. This set has a much greater variety of larger bricks, plates, and slopes; that variety also makes for a much more varied building process. None of that is a knock on the 1×1-based mosaic sets, but those utilize a much smaller slice of what’s possible with LEGO; 31209 The Amazing Spider-Man uses a broader selection of pieces and techniques to produce a compelling and different end product. If it fits your budget – stretch that as you wish based on your love of Spider-Man or your gut reaction to the set – I think you’ll really enjoy the build and then getting to display it. If Spidey isn’t your cup of tea… then I really appreciate you reading this review! What else can I say, but that having been granted the power to write it has been a great responsibility.

LEGO 31209 The Amazing Spider-Man includes 2,099 pieces and is available now for US $199.99 | CAN $259.99 | UK £169.99. 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.

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