When LEGO Ideas launched 21319 Central Perk in September 2019 as a brand store exclusive, it sold out immediately. When it went on wider release after that, it sold out again. The LEGO Group couldn’t keep up with demand for what was a critically-well-received creation offering Friends fans the perfect tribute to their favourite sitcom of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Across a skilful build were all six characters, Gunther, the famous sofa and a plethora of references to any number of gags from the show’s 10 years. As a set it has clearly resonated with an audience of all ages, reflective of its smart attachment to the lasting appeal of Friends, and indeed the number of re-runs that show has had – including permanent residence on Netflix.
So, how do you follow up a set that has proven so popular with reviewers and fans alike? That was the task put to the LEGO Creator Expert team, and their answer has been to go big. So big. Pretty much twice as big, in fact. Instead of following 21319 Central Perk with Monica and Rachel’s apartment or Joey and Chandler’s apartment, the LEGO Group has produced a behemoth of a LEGO set, 10292 The Friends Apartments.
Across 2,048 pieces comes LEGO models of both apartments so well-known from the TV show and so packed with story and memorable moments of laughter, life and love. Each apartment is built to the same size, level of detail and overall style as 21319 Central Perk, offering plenty of room for excellent display, immersive play and any number of references to the show’s 10-year run.
— Set details —
Theme: LEGO Creator Expert Set name: 10292 The Friends Apartments Release: May 19 (VIP), June 1 (general)
Price: £134.99 / $149.99 / €149.99 Pieces: 2,048 Minifigures: 7
LEGO: Available now
— Build —
As a follow-up to 21319 Central Perk and coming in at twice the size, twice the building and probably 10 times the number of references to Friends, 10292 The Friends Apartments should be an instant wow factor set. But before talking about how much the set does deliver that wow factor – through building it and when it is sat before you, so wide and packed full of LEGO Friends goodness – we do need to acknowledge that the box art truly does a disservice to the set.
Flattening the LEGO model and surrounding it with a lot of negative space is in part an unfortunate consequence of the unusual shape of this set, but still surprising to see on any box art for a LEGO set in 2021. Consider how busy and vibrant the box art for 21319 Central Perk is in comparison. It’s important, then, that while what’s on the box should create a great reaction but doesn’t, what’s inside that box certainly does.
Inside is a sizeable build and truly one for any Friends fan, be they just getting into the show or already on to their 20th re-watch of all 10 seasons. 10292 The Friends Apartments is packed full of detail and reference and the process for putting it all together – reliving various moments from the show as you go along – is very much part of the fun.
Right from the first bag when you build Chandler and Joey’s reclining chairs and discover the play function to recline them in unison, you’ll realise the attention that the LEGO design team has paid to key and classic moments from the show and how skilfully they have worked them into LEGO form.
First with the boys’ apartment and then with the girls’, you’ll put together a LEGO set packed with fun and funny nods to any number of moments from 10 years of the show. There’s Chandler and Joey’s chick and duck (or a loose interpretation), their canoe, the foosball table they grew so attached to, and the whiteboard on the door, whilst – in the much tidier girls’ apartment – there’s the secret cupboard full of junk, the Giant Poking Device on the balcony, a large chicken for Thanksgiving, and the terrifying three-dimensional artwork named Gladys that Monica and Rachel fight over not taking from Phoebe.
Dotted across recreations of each apartment’s respective kitchen and living area are a good number of great callouts like these to jokes, storylines and each of the lead characters from the show.
Importantly, all those references have credibility – they don’t feel gratuitous, nor just there for ‘fan service’ – they belong in these LEGO versions of the apartments for how the model as a whole has been designed so authentically. The depth of research and knowledge that has gone into including as many story notes as possible has also gone into capturing as many of the background details to each apartment’s kitchen and living area as possible. And it’s that authenticity that makes putting together the LEGO model all the more enjoyable.
Building the set with random episodes of the show playing in the background had us looking up every now and again, noticing things about either apartment we never realised before, but that the LEGO set has been so carefully designed to get right. Yes, there are many overt references to story and character throughout both residences, but they are all placed in versions of each apartment that you just instantly accept as being right – because just as with 21319 Central Perk, the LEGO designers have been so careful to go deep with their research.
The walls, curtains and kitchen appliances have been colour-matched where possible, and every change of direction and angle of a wall has been captured, and every placement of a piece of furniture is just right (particularly the green ottoman).
As carefully arranged as the real-world studio sets were to immediately ease the viewer into the homes of the Friends characters, so too is the design and set-up of 10292 The Friends Apartments. And being able to build it all from scratch truly does make for a unique experience for Friends fans who have watched, re-watched and lived for the show over the years – for those who know every inch of these apartments, this will be a highly immersive experience, whilst for those who thought they knew everything, it’ll have you re-re-watching episodes with new eyes.
And the joy of rediscovery is also in things that fall between the clear and obvious references and the highly obscure background details – there are some more subtle nods to episodes and moments that you may not notice first time around (and indeed the LEGO Group thinks so, as it specifically calls some of them out in the instruction booklet).
A good example is what is showing on the television in each apartment – in Monica and Rachel’s apartment it’s an American football game, in specific reference to an episode where the guys all pretended to be watching ‘the game’ so as to avoid helping Monica cook at Thanksgiving, complete with sometimes randomly shouting at the screen to pretend they knew what was going on.
There is so much nostalgia to Friends that almost every detail included in the LEGO set tugs at one memory or another of the show and, with plenty of details worked into the LEGO version of each apartment, there’s a lot within 10292 The Friends Apartments to make you smile, laugh, and enjoy the show all over again. There’s nothing more you could ask for, right?
Well… there always will be things to notice as missing (particularly for the wide appeal of the show where everyone has a different favourite moment), and there’s certainly an otherwise unavoidable issue of mismatching caused by selecting items and references from across 10 seasons. This latter issue creates an unusual balance of time-specific items, particularly in the boys’ apartment where, for instance, you have things like the original reclining chairs alongside the canoe that only came after they were stolen.
It’s a minor issue to an otherwise packed set, but one that a slightly higher piece count could have perhaps solved, and even elevated the overall experience of the set to a new level. Just imagine what this set could be like if there were additional items of furniture, accessories and references included, to allow you to dress each apartment according to particular eras of the show, certain episodes, or in any which way you prefer.
This is something we could discuss much more, particularly with acknowledgement to the 18+ age recommendation and exactly who this set is for. For the purposes of this review, suffice to say that understanding how this is aimed at a new, adult audience should have informed the design of the set to be a little bit more flexible to different needs around expectation and creativity.
Yes, you will likely build this and be left wondering if a slightly higher price could have added a sense of completion and/or customisation to a pair of locations that through their 10-year on-screen history changed and grew just as the characters who lived in them did. But you’ll also find so much to enjoy and relive in what 10292 The Friends Apartments does include that for the most part it shouldn’t greatly matter.
This may not be the most complete LEGO version of the apartments that it could have been, but for what it achieves at its price and piece count, it doesn’t waste a penny or a brick.
— Characters —
Just as with 21319 Central Perk, 10292 The Friends Apartments includes all six lead characters, each designed with particular outfits from moments in Friends. The most eye-catching of these has to be Joey, wearing all of Chandler’s clothes after the two were arguing about Joey sitting where Chandler had been, and Chandler hiding all of Joey’s underwear in retaliation. Joey’s response was to do ‘the opposite’ of taking somebody’s underwear…
“Well, here it is – you hide my clothes, I’m wearing everything you own.”
“Oh my god! That is so not the opposite of taking somebody’s underwear!”
“Look at me, I’m Chandler, could I be wearing any more clothes?”
Chandler, meanwhile, is in a suit jacket and loud tie more reminiscent of his appearance in the earlier seasons of the show. Indeed, it’s the arm of that suit jacket that he rips on the entertainment centre, which Joey built for their apartment – but that was too big and went across both their bedroom doors.
The ripped arm leads to the attempted sale of the entertainment centre, which leads to the theft of all their stuff (after Joey gets shut inside one of the centre’s compartments), which leads to exchanging it for the canoe… That’s the long way of saying, just as we wish Joey and Chandler’s apartment included that oversized entertainment centre, we also wish Chandler’s minifigure included a printed arm to show the rip. Otherwise, there’s little to fault in his design here.
Ross’s minifigure comes complete with leather trousers and carrying either the baby powder or lotion that he uses during Season 5, when stuck in his date’s bathroom trying to get them back on, having gotten too hot and briefly removed them – only for them to shrink, much to his dismay. It’s one of many of Ross’s hilarious misadventures, but perhaps could have benefited in minifigure form from having an additional ‘trousers down’ option of legs to switch between.
Monica’s design is based on a Season 7 outfit where she decides to get to know her neighbours better and so bakes some candy and leaves it in a basket outside her door. The neighbours can’t get enough of the candy and the situation soon gets out of hand. It’s an outfit fairly representative of Monica’s passion for cooking, but curiously does come from one of the show’s weaker episodes.
Rachel comes in a Season 1 outfit highly reminiscent of mid-1990s fashion and widely seen as one of the character’s most iconic looks from the early years of the show. For how little reference to the character and her leading traits can otherwise be found in 10292 The Friends Apartments, the minifigure goes some way to making it up.
If any minifigure needed a change of hair piece and even a change of torso and legs to reflect something from the show, though, it would be fashion-focused Rachel. Yes, she comes with ‘the Rachel’ hair piece in 21319 Central Perk, but, more on expectations for this set’s audience later in this review…
Phoebe, meanwhile, also comes with a different hairpiece, but a more reserved outfit than could otherwise have been expected – especially with consideration to the very many long, flowing dresses she wore in the show, and the leg printing that appears on three of the other minifigures in this set. This specific design draws on a very particular period in which Phoebe and Rachel move in together, and it works as a nice representation of Phoebe’s particular style – albeit more muted than it could have been.
And that’s all the characters that come in 10292 The Friends Apartments, right? We haven’t forgotten anyo… oooh my gooood, there’s a seventh character included too – Janice. Of course, it has to be Janice, a character from the show whose catchphrase and laugh were as memorable as the on-again, off-again relationship with Chandler and the many random occasions after that she would reappear and announce herself to the usually poor and unsuspecting gang.
Janice’s outfits were particularly eye-catching across the entire show, and the design team have excellently recreated one of her leopard print tops in minifigure form, topped by a particularly large hairpiece and two brilliant facial expressions to choose between.
Read more on how these minifigure designs compare with their on-screen versions.
— Price —
At almost exactly double the piece count of 21319 Central Perk and double the size of that LEGO Ideas set, you would expect 10292 The Friends Apartments to come in at around the £130 mark, so settling in at £134.99 / $149.99 / €149.99 feels appropriate. For what could have been included in addition, though, to really round out the set and give it a greater sense of interactivity and customisation, a slightly higher price for a few extra pieces of LEGO could have really represented even better value.
Consider also that Friends fans will likely – and wisely – navigate towards 21319 Central Perk first. It’s the more iconic and all-round better LEGO set, with just as much colour, creativity and references to the show packed in, and at the more accessible price point.
It makes for an unfair comparison to this set, while focusing on what could have been at a higher price is also a disservice to what is on offer at this budget and within this piece count. Looking at those markers only, 10292 The Friends Apartments offers Friends fans operating at a higher budget a new way to indulge in their obsession, with little to leave them disappointed. And that has to make the price fair.
— Pictures —
— Summary —
The LEGO Creator Expert design team will have had an unenviable task in trying to follow up the widely successful 21319 Central Perk.
The rumours were that we were getting Monica’s apartment and that was roughly where expectations sat, with wonder about the possibility of something for Joey and Chandler’s place later on – something around the same size and budget as Central Perk made sense, taking a new location from the sitcom and giving it the once over in bricks.
Yet, 10292 hasn’t turned out to be Monica’s apartment, nor is it Joey and Chandler’s apartment. It’s The Apartments, both of them, and it makes for a truly massive and unexpected LEGO set. For that size and scale, it’s remarkable to consider how much detail has been worked into every possible corner of the respective apartments, and it’s a testament to the research and work that the Creator Expert team has put into designing the model.
It’s work that has resulted in this one-of-a-kind creation that is fun to build, fun to play with and that makes for a thoroughly Friends-indulgent experience like no other.
Yes, there’s still space for more that could have been included in the set, and it may not be absolutely perfect for that reason, nor for the mismatch of various items that selecting from across 10 years of the show will create. That, in part, is actually testament to how well it triggers your nostalgia and gets you thinking of all that happened in the apartments, and whether or not it is down to the LEGO Group to solve depends on the wider understanding of the 18+ age recommendation on this set and what sort of LEGO fan this is being aimed at.
That aside, and for the totality of the LEGO set before you, though, 10292 The Friends Apartments accommodates a great deal for just over 2,000 LEGO pieces, without feeling like any one of those pieces has been wasted. We may be dreaming of what a higher piece count and slightly higher price could have bought us, but in part that’s because there’s little else to be disappointed about in 10292 The Friends Apartments.
The One for Friends Fans to Save Up For.
This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.
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- As one half of Tiro Media Ltd, I mix a passion for print and digital media production with a deep love of LEGO and can often be found on these pages eulogising about LEGO Batman, digging deeper into the LEGO Group’s inner workings, or just complaining about the price of the latest LEGO Star Wars set. Make a great impression when you meet me in person by praising EXO-FORCE as the greatest LEGO theme of all time. Follow me on Twitter @RobPaton or drop me an email at [email protected].