Price: £64.99 / $69.99 / €69.99 Pieces: 622 Available: Now
LEGO Friends 41314 Stephanie’s House adds another residence to Heartlake City, this time giving Stephanie a family home. With a blue and white facade that has several rooms around the back, it is typical of the theme for offering a balance between build, play and price.
As far as play sets go, Stephanie’s House is really quite good. The facade is nicely detailed, and offers great features, such as a bay window and the balcony which sits above it, and the functional porch swing. Where Friends sets are concerned, I find the colours to often be rather garish and unappealing. This isn’t a knock against the colours themselves, but rather they way they often seem haphazardly orchestrated. Aside from the obligatory use of magenta in a few areas, Stephanie’s House actually has quite a nice colour scheme. The medium azure, white, and tan all work very nicely together, and the wonderfully printed windows add a nice splash of other colours. They also help the whole build feel more realistic.
When looking at a set like this, it’s difficult not to compare its interior with that of the Creator modular line. Those buildings are always full of detail and are rarely wanting for logic where the layout is concerned. Here, the designers have acknowledged a need to get upstairs by adding a separate staircase that swings out from the rest of the build. Instead of adding realism, it simply draws attention to the fact that there is no hallway, or indeed any way to get from one room to the other upstairs. It would have been nice to see the staircase omitted in favour of simply having a slightly larger upstairs with a means for mini-dolls to traverse the whole of it. All of this of course is likely to be of little importance to children, who this set is clearly targeted at.
In terms of construction, 41314 Stephanie’s House is more or less your standard play set fare. There are a lot of larger bricks to take up space, and there’s little integration between the support elements and the interior or exterior details. For those looking for useful parts however, it should be noted that the downstairs bay window is accomplished using two of the new corner door/window frames. These were first seen in this year’s 10255 Assembly Square. It’s nice to see this piece make its way into a greater number of sets. The porch swing uses a few Technic parts to provide it’s functionality. This feature will no doubt be popular with the younger crowd, as the action is very smooth, and it’s one of the few true play features of the set. The kitchen has quite a bit of detail, as it houses a stove, sink, table and chairs. Next to that is a foyer, followed by a living room, which is little more than a couch and a coffee table. There is also a TV attached to the staircase and a brick-built vacuum, which might actually be my favourite part of the set.
The two upstairs rooms are built as separate modular units, which is a nice feature that can make play a bit easier. Stephanie’s bedroom has a bed and dresser, and leads out to the balcony at the front of the house. The other room appears to be a bathroom/office. It’s difficult not to feel like the designers are under some sort of mandate from the higher ups at the LEGO Group which states that every Friends set must have a bathroom. In this case, the bathroom/office is simply partitioned in the middle, with the toilet, sink, and shower head all sharing the same open space. It’s a bizarre choice, and one that feels really unnecessary. It would have been nice to have seen that space occupied by a larger office, with more physical details.
This brings us to one of the biggest strikes against the set. Friends sets in particular (Speed Champions is another great example), are far too reliant on stickers to provide detail. Every room in the house has numerous, nicely designed stickers. The trouble is that without them, the whole build would feel rather sterile and plain.
The other big issue with the sets is that it comes with a large number of parts that don’t connect to anything within the build. There are many forks, knives, and food elements that all just rest someplace. If you follow the instructions as they are, it means you’ll have loose parts falling all over the place as you try to manoeuvre the build around to work on it. I’m not a fan of this in any LEGO set. It feels like a cop-out, and even during play it means it is easy to accidentally knock things over. What makes this problem especially disappointing in the Friends line is that the theme introduced a number of new parts that would otherwise be fantastic if there were more connection points on them. This is particularly true of dinner plates and frying pans, but especially the cupcake cups, as you are supposed to put round 1×1 plates in them, but they don’t actually connect. That most of all seems like an unnecessary misstep for a company that normally puts a lot of effort into making the parts library as compatible and useful as possible.
Overall judged by the standards of a play set, Stephanie’s House is one of the better examples. It’s playable, but also has a certain amount of shelf appeal, despite feeling a bit unfinished due to a lack of a proper roof. You get a decent number of parts useful for creating your own builds. Adults’ mileage may vary, but children will very likely find this set quite appealing.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.