When you see the 40th Ideas set on the shelf of your local LEGO Store – or take delivery of it from LEGO.com – you might be taken aback by the size of its box. It’s surprisingly small given it packs in 2,585 pieces, suggesting the LEGO Group may be taking steps to further reduce the size of its boxes, possibly as part of its aims to make all its packaging sustainable by 2025.
For comparison, we placed our copy of the set next to the box for last year’s 31120 Medieval Castle. That Creator 3-in-1 set contains just 1,426 parts, but its box measures the same height and width as that of 21332 The Globe. The Ideas set’s box is just a touch deeper, but for all intents and purposes, it’s much more compact than we’d typically expect from a set of this size.
That’s further evidenced by just how tightly its 16 bags and instruction booklet are sandwiched inside. Pick up an unopened 31120 Medieval Castle and flip it upside down – as we did when arranging the two boxes for these photos – and you’ll hear its contents slide from one end to the other. That’s not really possible with 21332 The Globe.
All good on the box front, then: the LEGO Group has clearly decided to prioritise environmental concerns (or perhaps just production costs, but the end result is the same) over shelf presence. And in our book, that’s definitely a step forward for the company and its packaging.
But then you’ll open the instruction booklet, and realise that all that good karma is about to be completely undone. The LEGO Group drew frustration from fans in 2020 when it began printing its instructions for 18+ sets on black backgrounds, making its darker colours difficult to interpret. The company eventually promised to abandon them, and since then, we’ve seen a general shift back to lighter-coloured backgrounds. Again: all good.
For reasons presumably known only to the LEGO Group, however, 21332 The Globe’s instructions are printed on a dark grey background. It’s not quite as bad as the original black backgrounds – it’s slightly less reflective, and colours are slightly easier to distinguish – but it’s still a step back from the brighter backgrounds we’ve seen recently. (These photos are actually pretty favourable – the problem is exacerbated in real-life, unless you’re building directly under a flash bulb.)
And even while it doesn’t impact 21332 The Globe’s building process too heavily – mainly because the 2,585-piece set uses relatively few similar shades – it sets a worrying precedent for future 18+ sets. For instance, telling apart the LEGO Group’s different varieties of brown could prove difficult against the darker background, as we previously saw in sets like 10277 Crocodile Locomotive.
That’s potentially one step back for the packaging, especially given the amount of grey ink presumably required to achieve it. It may be that 21332 The Globe’s instruction manual is indeed a one-off, only made possible by its comparatively simple colour palette, but we’ll no doubt find out soon: the LEGO Group launches a new 18+ set every few weeks these days, after all.