Theme: LEGO Ideas
Release Year: 2022
Cost: AU $169.99
One of the sets I’ve been looking forward to build the most this year is 21334 Jazz Quartet. A project submitted to LEGO Ideas by Hsinwei Chi, there’s been a few changes, and that by itself has resulted in a lot of people thinking the changes made the final set worse. Either way, the submission and the end result is something quite different to what I’ve built before.
Built in four sections, perfect for a group build, it comes together to form a cleverly build ensemble ready to entertain the masses with smooth tunes. There’s the trumpet player, double bass player, drummer and pianist, and each has undergone some changes, as well as the stage itself. It’s gone from an elaborate, ornate build to a simpler build split into sections, with a smattering of studs thrown around for some reason – texture maybe?
The characters are built with a Miniland style that has been seen before in MOCs online and even recently on LEGO Masters Australia S4. There’s not a lot of facial features, with just a nose and maybe a mouth, but there’s still a lot of emotion that can be conveyed thanks to their posture.
Up first is the trumpet player. Originally an animated suspender-less musician clearly belting out a tune, we’ve now got a more subdued player kicking back and relaxing in it, with suspenders. This is where we first experience what is simply put another masterclass in SNOT building. I’ll not go into that too much as I’ll be here forever, and it’s well worth experiencing it yourself, but it’s super clever seeing these characters and instruments come together. Instead I want to focus more on the differences as they’ve been the most polarising.
While I love the addition of the suspenders, the positioning of the character in the released set is not as emotive and doesn’t embody the jazz musician feel. It also feels like the poses are much more natural in the original version, given the extra hinge points and angles in the legs. The LEGO version does seem to be more angular and un-natural, however it also appears to be much more sturdy as the foot extends into the floor. I do like the suspenders though. They’re great.
Next is the double bassist. This is a beauty – the instrument itself is stunning and is connected to the baseplate with a ball joint. It’s a shame the position of this one was shifted slightly – the instrument hides the build of the character. I love the hair on this one too. I think the posture is maybe a little awkward, but it’s not too bad.
On to the first big one – the drummer! This one takes up a big area of platform, and the drum kit is just brilliant. The bass drum shape is excellent, using some more great SNOT. The drum and cymbal stands are very cleverly constructed. While the black and gold trim drum kit looks great in the original submission, the stands are a little awkward. The set versions look much better – more like the real thing. It’s a really great kit, and also comes complete with the appropriate pedals.
The drummer’s head looks fantastic – the beard is spot on. I don’t even mind the big belly on the drummer. The hip points are a little strange and the shoes are stunning, but the biggest oddity is the teeny tiny hands! I understand that he needs to hold on to some drum sticks, but there’s an obvious and quite comical difference between his hands and the rest of the quartet! That bowtie using a gaming console controller is fantastic.
Lastly there’s the pianist and that incredible grand piano. There’s another large section of platform, followed by the piano. It’s honestly beautiful. So cleverly built and it looks fantastic. I think it also may be a full keyboard at a guess? Almost everything about the piano is perfect. The interior, the red lining by the keys, the legs and foot pedal assembly, wow. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the utterly stud ridden lid. With the majority of the set being stud free (or at least stud sparse), the standard plate based lid is a bit of an eyesore to me. The seat is nice but you don’t get to see much of it.
I like the change with a female pianist. It’s a subtle way to get another colour in the set and the high heels are just inspired, but the right arm doesn’t reach the keys! Surely that’s a pretty big oversight. The original submission’s posture was much more expressive and better suited to a piano player. The female pianist was a nice move, but at the expense of more important things.
My last issue with this otherwise very impressive set is the platform. When fully built, the sections are connected with a combination of Technic pins and axles. Each of the smaller sections – the trumpet player and the double bass player – connect to their respective sides with the Technic pins, and the stairs connect to the trumpet player’s section with two clips, but each side only connects with axles that go into pin holes. There’s no friction at all. As soon as you pick up one side, it either bends or splits completely. Yes, I hear you – just split the build before moving it. I could do that but I still think it was an odd decision.
All issues with redesign aside, this is a very entertaining set to build. It will constantly educate and amaze you, and it’s a beauty to look at. If you’re a music fan, this is a must have. If you’d not seen the original submission, you’ll probably be blissfully unaware. For me, I’m happy to overlook the changes. I’m still amazed by it!
A special thank you to LEGO for sending me a copy to review. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.