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Lego have been launching quite a few new ranges of late; there have been Super Heroes and new Star Wars, aimed at boys presumably, and for girls the "Friends" range, a foray into the world of pink, which seem to have received mixed reviews on the internet, for reasons that I will explain briefly later on once I've got to the crux of the matter - is this set any good?
Reasons for Purchase:
Truth be told I'd not particularly encouraged my kids to aspire to ownership of any of the sets, however it's hard to argue with a determined 6 year old with money from granny to burn, and this is how this particular item, priced at £9.99 entered our lives. The set is pretty much as pictured on the box, you get all you need to build the dog house, a tree and quite a few puppy accessories as well as the two figures. It's all a bit "polly pocket", but there is some building required, and 64 pieces in all, some of them being quite original - there's a dog bath and bog bowl and bone. It's fair value for what you get.
Lego recommend this set for ages 5-12, and I think this is about right. Once she had opened the box my 5 year old was able to build it with very little assistance - she needed a bit of help to assemble the figure and add the rosettes to the puppy house, but mainly she was able to manage everything by herself. In total the build probably took less than half an hour.
The instructions are clear, something we expect from lego, but overall it's a pretty undemanding build. What you actually make is really pretty small in all honesty - the tree is 5cm tall to give you some idea of size. The doll figure is minifigure size and, for me, could do without having a *ahem* anatomically correct chest and an unfeasibly small waist not to mention rather big hair. Such details didn't seem to bother the five year old though who enjoyed making her set and probably doesn't understand the value of money so didn't feel her money was badly spent - I would have liked to see more build and less little bits of accessories eg bows and brushes for her money. As with all lego everything is well made and solid though and does stand up to play.
Once made the set does have quite good play value - the little figure can hold all the accessories and you can fix the bows to both puppy and owner. My daughter quite likes bathing and brushing the dog. There are a lot of little pieces so care needs to be taken around a hoover or younger siblings. The set can be used with other lego items obviously, though this does lead to the little doll ( called Mia apparently) looking a bit out of place next to her more strangely normal looking mini figure friends. The brushes and other items are an interesting addition and do make the set better than it would otherwise be - however I can't help but feel that lego have got the balance slightly wrong here and tried to be all about playing with the accessories rather than building - this to me misses the point of lego entirely.
I've tried then, to be objective about this set and the range even though when I first saw them in store I was bit horrified - I'm not alone, lego forums have been abuzz with discussions about whether the sets are stereotypical and too pink. From this set it does seem that whilst boys get to go on adventures (super heroes, space) girls are restricted to caring roles - looking after dogs. The rest of the range is similarly themed - girls get to run cafes, beauty parlours and vets, it's a bit disappointing, and the "inventors workshop" seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to address the balance which doesn't really work in the face of so much pinkness.
I wanted to like this set, and my daughter quite likes it but it's nothing amazing and I don't think I will be actively encouraging my daughter to want any more. She does play with this, which is why I've given it 3 stars but given the amount of pieces you get I think that's quite generous really. I think lego could do a lot better by girls, and I'm wondering if I'm not alone as after a big launch the rest of this range seems to be unavailable in lots of places, I can but hope they are coming up with something better instead. In the meantime we play with Mia the lego figure with breasts from time to time but this is far from being the best set we own and I wouldn't really recommend it.
*** Mia's Puppy House - Lego Friends 3934 ***
Lego has been a popular toy for both boys and girls for years. There have been recent additions to the brand with a Ninjago range for boys, and more recently, the Friends range for girls. My daughter has only very recently got into the whole Lego scene, following a trip to Legoland during the summer. My review discusses this set, that she has received as an early birthday present. Elysia spotted this brand new Lego range and was so delighted when her Granddad had said he would buy some of the sets for her birthday, that he relented and gave her them early; Naughty Granddad.
*** The Play Set ***
This set is Mia's Puppy (dog grooming) set, Lego number 3934; and was found on the end of the promotion aisle at Tesco's while we were out shopping. It cost £9.97, but shop around, as this is new, it might be on special offer at other stores.
This is one of the smaller sets, and though it can be used as a stand alone toy, it's much more fun to add to a collection. The age range as suggested by the box is 5 -12, and while I do think the lower end of the range is extremely suitable, I can't see many 12 year olds still wanting to play with this.
In the box, you receive 63 pieces which should be pieced together and a set of instructions. These are as usual from Lego, well laid out, and features easy to understand picture diagrams to follow. These give us simple step by step ideas of what to do, and are so easy a five year old would be able to follow them. Some of the pieces are minute and very fiddly, (the flowers which you first have to separate and then place on the end of the stems) and I doubt some five year olds would have the dexterity to be able to do this. They would certainly manage to fit the larger Lego shapes of the kennel and the grooming table together though.
Having so few pieces this is an extremely fast build, and my 8 year old managed to complete this in just minutes with absolutely no assistance from me.
I do like that the figure included in this set (Mia) is more human like, unlike in other Lego sets we own, where the figures are a little robotic. She is beautifully designed, and wears fashionable clothes, and looks quite pretty, although not remotely grown up like Barbie. Another point to mention, is that if you own more than one set (as we do), you can interchange their clothes and hair, so you can make your own designs; great for any budding fashionista.
*** My Thoughts ***
At £9.97 this is reasonable value for money. You are receiving a quality item which should last years - provided you don't vacuum all the tiny accessories, brushes, bows, and spray bottles etc up, which I can seriously see myself doing in the not too distant future.
This is a great set if you combine it with the other sets, and there are plenty to choose from. My daughter has owned this a week now and the novelty value still hasn't worn off. She's played with this more than all her Christmas toys put together, and therefore as it gets my daughter's full approval, I must give mine too. Five stars from us.
Thanks for reading my review, which may also be posted on other sites.