LEGO Ideas 21343 Viking Village – Hearty and sturdy, or a real cold fish? [Review]

Over the years since the launch of LEGO Ideas, there have been a lot of submissions that gained enough supporters but just didn’t make the final step of being selected by LEGO to be turned into sets. Among those submissions, there was one builder who kept submitting ideas for a viking village inspired by a favorite childhood set. Well, LEGO fans of viking culture who have supported his submissions in the past can now look forward to LEGO Ideas 21343 Viking Village, which is based on two separate submissions combined to create a wonderfully detailed scene that celebrates the many cultural roots of the Nordic people. LEGO Ideas 21343 Viking Village includes 2,103 pieces and will be available on October 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 large rectangular box includes the usual band of parts across the bottom. This time, the stripe is in dark nougat, which fits with the many natural colors used in the village. There is also a decorative graphic with the name of the set, and the LEGO Ideas project number (51). On the front of the box, the completed set is shown straight-on with the set’s four minifigures placed throughout the scene.

The back of the box shows the model from a different and slightly higher angle. There are three small images featuring close-up photos of a small cave, the blacksmith forge, and the long hall. In the lower right corner is a small image of the set showing how two roofs, and a wall are removable for easy access to the interiors.

Inside the box are 15 numbered bags of various sizes which divide the building process into three main sections. The set also includes a large instruction booklet, but no stickers.

As with many LEGO Ideas sets, the booklet includes a number of pages with information about the subject, in this case, Vikings. These feature full-color photographs, decorative designs, and information about Viking culture, the fan designer, and the LEGO set designers.

The build

The build starts out with a triangular section for the blacksmith forge, using dark azure plates for the water (a nice change from the azure plates used for the clearer waters used in many pirate and beach sets). After building lots of rocky details along all outward-facing edges, most of the ground is then covered by dark sand plates. Along the angled side that will connect to the rectangular section for the long hall there are three structures made with a bar and two Erling (or headlight) bricks, which we’ll come back to later. Finally, a few white plates are added for a nice, light snow.

Starting in on the walls for the blacksmith forge, a series of nougat tiles are connected to brackets. The interior wall is then decorated with details like a helmet and shield.

We then build the base of the forge, which includes a neat feature that lets you “fan” the bellows, pushing the end of an axle to make the flames dance up and down. From here we finish building the furnace, and add the rest of the building’s frame, including a triangle wall to hold up the roof. The rest of the section ground is covered by a collection of round tiles and plates of various sizes.

The roof is made from 2 sections of plates connected on one end underneath, covered by snow plates and tan tiles, and capped on each end by crossed beams.

With the blacksmith forge complete, we next add a few scraggly trees. One tree uses a building technique that I am definitely going to use in my own MOCs. Multiple grass parts are connected using flower plates and suspended upside-down of more stacked grass elements.

One more small tree in the back is made using the new fern part, upside down, in both dark green and white. This concludes the blacksmith’s corner of the build.

The long hall section is built on a straight rectangular base with clips inserted into bricks with a single stud in the center which will be how the three finished sections attach. On one side is a wooden dock. Stone steps lead to the long hall entrance, and there is a fire pit built into the ground.

And now we come to one of my most favorite details! I know this is a small thing, but like actual Viking long halls, the fire pit is set into the ground, used for cooking and heating. LEGO could have just stuck some fire elements into clips, but the set designers put some serious attention to detail, adding additional depth to the fire-pit and building the stone fire assembly separate so it can be dropped in.

Now that the long hall is nice and cozy, it’s time to start in on the walls. The rear wall includes an ornate window, and a large throne or high chair for the village chief. The wall opposite, which will hold the large wooden doors, is made with stacks of plates and tiles in an alternating patter of reddish-brown and dark brown. The doorway is capped with a printed tile with decorative details, and printed log tiles.

The two side walls are mostly just stacked log bricks, but there are three small ornate widows, 2 on one side and 1 on the other. There are also a series of brackets along the top and bottom of the walls which will hold tiled wood frames.

Next we add the wood frames, and cover the tops with tiles. Simple red banners are added on either side of the chief’s chair, and angled walls above the front and back walls are added to hold the roof.

The long hall roof includes a small decorative structure which is set directly above the fire pit to let out the smoke. Then, two long roof sections which are duplicate builds with nougat grills and white plates and tiles for snow are attached to the center structure. These are also capped with wooden frames.

With two of the three sections complete it is time to connect them. Making sure the clips are all straight up and down, the two sections connect easily with a satisfying click.

Finally moving on to the last section, which is actually built in two separate parts. It’s composed of a food storage building with a second floor joined to a watch tower by a creaky rope bridge. Between the two structures is a small village gathering place, with a wooden floor. The first section includes a small cavern at water level, which contains ore to be mined and forged into weapons and shields. One edge includes more bars that will be used to attach to the long hall. There are stone steps built directly into the back of the cavern that will lead to the storehouse.

The cavern which faces to the rear of the set is tall enough to fit a minifigure, and also has space for a wooden rack for drying fish next to the stone stairs. A few small snowy details complete the base for this first part of the third section.

Before finishing the storehouse, we take a brief break for the second part of the base, which includes another clip bar for joining with the long hall section, while the rest will be attached to the first part with bricks and more of the wooden panels. Snow and more round stones fill the ground, and a small rocky structure will hold four pillars that hold up the watch tower.

The tower is topped with tile siding, a pole that holds a shield, and two fluttering pennants. There is also an attachment point for the rickety rope bridge.

The two sections are then joined together to finish the village square, which also includes a stack of kegs and the tops of the pylons that hold up the pier.

The first floor of the storehouse includes a space for the removable wall. There is a ladder leading to the second floor. From the looks of the storehouse interior, it’s going to be a lean winter, or maybe spring is just around the corner.

Of the three non-detachable walls, one holds the door, while the other 2 have ornate windows with angled awnings and they look out over the water above the cavern. The fourth wall matches the 2 window sides. (Oops, looks like I placed the storehouse with the wrong side facing towards the steps.) Luckily this was easy to correct.

The second floor includes clips for the short roof sections to attach, along with rubber ropes with points for attaching clips for the rope bridge planks. This honestly looked pretty dangerous considering how icy those planks were likely to get in the winter. We then build 3 identical wall sections with the fourth side open to the rope bridge.

The storehouse tower is topped with a smaller roof that mostly matches that of the blacksmith forge.

With the third section completed, it’s time to put it all together. Just like the first section, this one clicks into place on the right edge of the long hall section. If you have ever built a LEGO MOC (My Own Creation) using angled plates, you know how hard it can be to get them to connect. This simple method can be used for many different angled plates and I fully plan to use this technique myself.

The minifigures

The set comes with four minifigures, each with distinct torso printing front and back, and front-printed legs. There are two women, the blacksmith, and a warrior who both have playful expressions. There is a young warrior man, and an older chief, who wears a fancy shoulder piece. Both men have helmets with horns, which were included in the set despite their historical inaccuracy as a way of showing, according to the booklet, that the vikings were likely to have been just as self-expressive in decorating their armor and shields as their modern descendants.

The woman with the long blonde braid was the only minifigure to include an alternate expression, a winking smile

The finished model

The finished model looks really good, with interesting details on all sides, and lots of options for placing the minifigures. You could even add some LotR characters from Edoras who would fit right in sharing many similar decorative elements.

Each section from the blacksmith forger, to the long hall, to the lookout tower have lots of things to look at, and so many great landscaping and architectural delights.

Around the back of the lookout tower, the cavern is full of rich ore waiting to be mined. The back wall of the long hall looks just as ornate as the front, and the side of the blacksmith shop shows off a substantial forge with white smoke drifting from the chimney.

Conclusions and recommendations

This set was a real joy to build and to display. I have not enjoyed building a review set this much in a while. The minifigures and the set are full of great details that are a tribute both the the original fan submission and the set designers at LEGO who all put so much thought and research into the set. The booklet even includes pictures from both of the LEGO Ideas submissions, combining elements from each set into the finished model. LEGO Ideas 21343: Viking Village includes 2,103 pieces and will be available on October 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.

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