Price: £69.99 / $69.99 / €69.99 Pieces: 962 Available: Now
The latest LEGO Ideas set, 21313 Ship in a Bottle, reached 10,000 supporters with no recognisable IP or inbuilt fan base. Like a number of projects before it, the project reached that stage, then passed the review process, purely on its merits as a concept and a model. Now, fans can own the official LEGO release and have a completely original model on the shelf. The set has three distinct components – the ship itself, the bottle to contain it and the stand to display the whole thing on. But is building and displaying this LEGO ship in a bottle a satisfying experience? Or is it just a neat concept?
LEGO Ideas 21313 Ship in a Bottle is a very attractive model. From the miniature sea going vessel named Leviathan – surely named with a knowing wink as it is such a small ship – to the crafted base with inlaid compass, every part of this set is a treat for the eyes. Every technique, every build choice used is perfect, it is all very intuitive. Not once while constructing Ship in a Bottle did I think that something could have been done better – this is a flawlessly executed model.
On top of that, its parts selection will become the stuff of LEGO legend. From the unique flags that make up its sails, emblazoned with a never before seen insignia, to the plethora of parts in rare colours such as pearl gold and – for the first time in a decade – teal. All of those components pale in comparison to the assortment of transparent clear pieces. The absolute highlight are of course the 6x6x9 Corner Convex Panels with Curved Tops, those four big windows that form the bottle’s front curve. Never before have so many been included in a single set, in fact the last time they were available in trans clear was in the 1992 Paradisa set, 6416 Poolside Paradise. That model only contained two.
A build at this scale is also impressive. The tiny Leviathan includes a lot of detail considering its size. The ship that was part of the original LEGO Ideas submission submission was much larger, meaning that this minaturised version must be clever in how it represents the same details. The miniature cannons, masts and sails are all flawless and work well at this scale.
As for the bottle, this includes some very clever building techniques and there were multiple times while constructing 21313 Ship in a Bottle that I stopped to marvel at how perfectly the disparate sections line up, despite not being joined. Such a triumph of parts and execution would usually be enough to push a set’s rating up to the higher end of the scale, so where are the drawbacks?
Those large, curved windows feed right into the first major weakness of Ship in a Bottle. Moulds that have only been used four times in the LEGO Group’s entire product line, and in 2018 will only appear in this set (as far as we know), take valuable production time that cannot be spread across multiple offerings. The same goes for the printed compass, which is a graphic laid over a trans clear dish. Pieces manufactured for a single set drive the price up not due to material cost, but because they use expensive moulding and production time.
The end result is that this set’s price feels utterly disproportionate to its size. Last year’s 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V surprised me with its size, unfortunately 21313 Ship in a Bottle startled me in the other direction. While it has a piece count of nearly 1,000 elements, over one quarter of them – 284 to be exact – are the loose trans light blue 1×1 rounds depicting the water.
LEGO Ideas sets often cost a premium due to using unique parts and favouring printed pieces over stickers. Sets with such traits often still sell very well because a large fan base is willing to pay for something awesome. The problem with the price is that this has to be a committed purchase rather than an impulse one, and are there really that many fans who are looking for a display only piece such as this? There might be – the closest type of product feels like the Architecture line, and has been going strong for years despite consisting of models with prices disproportionate to their size.
I love that 21313 Ship in a Bottle is a stand alone model, rather than being based on a nostalgia driven license. In the end, fans’ first impressions of this set will pretty much tell them whether or not to buy as this is a set that contains no hidden surprises. If you saw this model and loved the look of it, it will not disappoint as it is so well executed. If you would love to have a well executed little ship to display on a shelf or the desk at work, and can stomach the price, then snap up 21313 Ship in a Bottle.
This product was provided for review by the LEGO Group.