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There is always one "must have" item that your child wants for Christmas and last year for my son it came as no surprise that it was a Lego item. The set in question that he really wanted was the Lego Sponge Bob Bikini Bottom under sea party and this is my review of the set. ==What is it?== The Lego Sponge Bob Bikini Bottom under sea party has the model number 3818. As my son already had quite a few of the smaller Sponge Bob Lego sets he had set his eye upon this one which is probably the largest in the range and as such it will set you back around £40-£50 depending on where you purchase it. It is currently selling on amazon for £39.99 which is around the price that I paid for it and I think this is a reasonable price to pay. In this set you get all of the things needed to be able to create a party in Bikini Bottom and so you are able to build Sponge Bob's Pineapple home, Squidward's home as well as various party type things including a drinks area, a DJ area complete with speakers and a see saw and roundabout too. What is great about this set is it it is quite a comprehensive set and so whilst you can integrate it with others you are also getting a stand alone set should this be the first one that you were to buy in the range. I would actually say this set makes quite a good starting point in the Lego Sponge Bob range down to the fact that it is a comprehensive set. The set comes in quite a large tough cardboard box which is mainly yellow to keep with the Sponge Bob theme but which also features the Lego and Nickelodeon logos. On both the front and the back of the box there is a large colourful picture of the set assembled and I like that it shows it from different angles as you are able to get a good idea of what the set is like from these pictures. The back shows in more detail some of the effects that you will be building in to the kit including a lever which literally springs Sponge Bob up out of bed! We are told that this set is best suited to those aged six to twelve years and I think Lego have got this pretty much spot on. My son was seven when he receieved this set and whilst he could tackle much of the smaller items on his own when it came to the larger parts of the set we worked through it together to make sure no mistakes were made. ==Our experience== This was one of the first things that my son wanted to build when he receieved it at Christmas but as there were toys all over and I also had family round for Christmas dinner we decided that we would build it on Boxing day when it was just the two of us and I had a little more time to sort through some of the presents and make a space for us to work. Opening the cardboard box was nice and easy as Lego provided two perforated sections for you to push your fingers through and then pull open the top of the box. Inside the box there was a thick good sized instruction manual and four bags of Lego. What is great with Lego is if there are going to be multiple sections to work through in the building process they label their bags with a number and the instructions will tell you when you need to open them and so you aren't faced with masses and masses of Lego pieces all at once which is really helpful. The instruction booklet is really good as it is a good size, certainly plenty more than half a sheet of A4. It is full colour and as always the steps are small and well spaced out. Each step you are told at the start which Lego pieces you are going to need for the step and so you can get them ready for working through it. I always encourage my son to lay out the Lego pieces from a bag in to shape and colour sections and so that way you can easily find the pieces you need for the steps. He usually moans at me for this but then will remember that it takes just a few minutes to sort it and saves time in the long run when building. I like the way that the instruction booklet tells you exactly when to open a certain bag of Lego too as it just means you have less floating around at once and it makes the whole process simpler. Firstly my Son needed to build the mini figures that come with this set though and to be honest this was one of the main selling points for my son when he saw this set as you get five mini figures which is a good amount for a set of this price I think. In this set you get Mrs Puff, Gary the snail, Sponge Bob, Patrick as a very cool looking DJ and a grumpy looking Squidward. In this set Squidward and Gary the snail are certainly my sons favourites as he has other Sponge Bob and Patrick's from other sets he has in this range. The smaller accessories that came with this set were easy enough for my son to build on his own and these were the DJ booth, roundabout, see saw and drinks area. Although these are all only small items it did take my son some time to build them all and I would hazard a guess at around twenty minutes or so to do them all. These small items are integral to the set in terms of the playing fun you can have with them and he particularly likes how the roundabout really does spin round with the characters on which is simple but fun for a child. He loves to put Gary the snail on to the see saw as well! When it came to building Squidward and Sponge Bob's seperate houses I did help my son as these were more complex in terms of the instructions and the number of steps required to completion. I do think that the Lego instructions are always brilliant though and really ease you through the process so long as you are paying attention to the pieces you are using and where they go. I am always impressed with the detail included when you make these larger more comprehensive items in a Lego set and I loved how in Squidward's house there is a space for him to play clarinet complete with a little clarinet and music, as well as an art section too as fans will know he loves to paint. In Sponge Bob's pineapple the cute addition of pictures of Patrick and Gary just enhance the set for me. It took us around an hour to build both of the houses and I think this is an acceptable time considering we were both working on the instructions together. If my son had built it on his own I am sure it would have taken a while longer. From the front of the houses it looks as though the houses are full and complete but when you turn them around you see you basically have half a house and so you are able to play with the characters in the back of the house. The doors on both of the houses open but it is quite a tight squeeze in Squidward's house I think! My son loves to get the characters and make up little stories with this set and because there are houses and outside items as well he is able to really use his imagination and create his own stories or base them on those he has seen on the television. He also likes to use this set with the Krusty Krab set he has and the two combined I think are the ultimate for Sponge Bob Lego fans but of course it can be played with on it's own. The set is solid and the only issue we have had in terms of things breaking is Mrs Puff's top half sometimes comes off but this is a minor issue really. The houses really are very well made and feel solid. I would think that treated properly this would last a long time but obviously you do need to take some care when playing with any Lego set. I would recommend this set as a good starting point for Lego fans who like Sponge Bob. I also think it works really well with the Krusty Krab set should you want to buy a couple but it is good as a stand alone set too. I think you get a good amount of Lego for the price that it is currently selling for on amazon and would say snap it up if you know someone who would like it. Thank you for reading my review!
Not suitable for children under 36 months due to small parts - Choking Hazard