Okay, I am a day late, but happy birthday, Friends!
It was a year ago yesterday where some website whose name has been lost to time (read: it just slipped my memory from when I read it ten minutes ago) which was the official announcement, though images had linked a couple days ago. Anyway, Stephanie has kindly supplied us (healthy vegetarian) cake to help celebrate this momentous occasion.
I'm only mentioning it in passing glance because blogs (including this new one focusing on Friends) have done a far better job than I could at arguing this...um...uninformed decision that was to nominate 3187 Butterfly Beauty Shop for worst toy of the year. It got second place. I'm not saying that it is the best depiction of what a girls' toy should be, it is actually on the lower end of the Friends spectrum, but there are still much worse stereotypes on the market. I also recommend this great article which compliments this blog I made a few months back nicely, if you remember that.
Anyway, back to celebrating the theme. I am going to take a look at a Friends set from each price range from this first year and...well, you'll see. Joining us tonight, are four of the five original friends, you already met Stephanie. Sadly, Olivia couldn't join us tonight. She is trying to start a garden...in winter. Somebody has had too much egg nog....
First up, poly bags. A poly bag was released featuring each of our favorite friends this year. Though I think that they are all pretty good, I am choosing to feature 30101 Mia's Skateboard. Other than the mini-doll, it doesn't even feel much like a girl set, and actually depicts a girl with a "boy's" interest. It is promoting hazardous play though. Mia does not have a helmet. She wouldn't want me to tell you this, but she is blushing over in the corner.
Impulse buys...slightly bigger than poly bags and probably don't even deserve separate categories, but eh, why not? There are only a few sets in this category, but 3930 Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery trumps its cousins. Not only did the lovely Stephanie use this wonderful bakery to supply us with our cake tonight, but it also contains a plethora of rare and useful pieces. Aside from the various cake and kitchen parts, the umbrella, milk carton, flowers, and Stephanie's hairpiece (and the girl herself too, I suppose...) are all wonderful. My favorite small set of the year, actually.
Up next is the $10 - $19 price point. The award goes to 3933 Olivia's Invention Workshop, with honorable mention to 3938 Andrea's Bunny House, though that is only because of the name. This set at a very reasonable price point displays a girl building a Mindstorms NXT in a workshop environment. Sure, there is pink and purple, but the idea behind the set, and execution, is very inspiring to me, and I'm not even in the target range. (I also find Batgirl very inspiring though, so maybe I'm an odd one.)
For the $20 - $35 range 3061 City Park Café has been selected. It was close between this and 3065 Olivia's Treehouse, which would once again feature Olivia. The café has a nice retro look and wonderful vibe. Though there is pink, again, the only thing that I find feeling girly is the dolls. The kitchen comes fully stocked and is a wonderful setting often overlooked in LEGO City. In fact, I think we have only had two restaurants in the last five years, and even then they weren't advertised as such (more facades with a table and coffee machine or oven). I'm sure even if we were still getting sets like Breezway Cafe, which is one of my favorite Town/City sets, this would still beat them out. It just has a good personality.
One person was surveyed to decide on the $36 - $59 range, and that was me. I found this a hard choice, not because both are so great, but because this price range has not been done a great deal of justice in the Friends line. However, I did decide on 3188 Heartlake Vet which depicts a nice, modern building with minimum pink and purple, so it will fit well in a City. Various accessories are included, including exclusive hospital ones and a pen piece I hope becomes more widespread. Aside from that, a new dog, horse, and hedgehog are all included, even if the animals are too cartoony for me, they are a necessary addition and still welcome.
I believe this leaves us with one more range, $60+. Thankfully, only two, but still great, sets have been released in this range, 3315 Olivia's House and 3185 Summer Riding Camp. Olivia's House takes the cake, once again supplied by Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery. It has some awfully girl stuff and I am not so sure it would fit into a city very well, but the model is very well thought out. On top of that, it is filled with wonderful details and fully stocked rooms. Never have I seen a LEGO set with so much furniture it could actually be considered a doll house (well, there was Belville and Scala, but they were sort of...not deserving of these blogs). The living room, bathroom, terrace, bedroom, and kitchen are all soaked in delicious details making this, in my opinion, one of the best sets of all time even if I could point out several flaws.
I would like to mention Emma. None of Emma's sets were featured tonight. Emma's sets are actually very good, even the Beauty Shop, as a set, and is the only friend aside from Olivia who I would say has not been featured in a bad one thus far. If I were too choose just one Friends set from 2013, or even both years as my favorite, it would be 41002 Emma's Karate Class which finds a great balance between "girl's toy" and "construction toy". Plus, it looks like great fun. (It might even hold me over another year without Batgirl.)
Anyway, Andrea, take us out:
(Please note Olivia was portrayed by stunt double "Liv" in Andrea's number)
((Also, LEGO, if you read this, I need a shiny Andrea))
So, that is all I have to say (not really, but I don't think much more would look too nice). Whether you took the time to read this or not, please comment wishing Friends a happy birthday (assuming you skipped to this line).