Theme: Hidden Side
Release Year: 2019
Cost: AU $49.99
Pieces: 335 (with four minifigures)
When the Hidden Side theme was announced back in February, it got a lot of people talking. The sets looked amazing – ghosts, spooky settings that we haven’t seen in LEGO before, or at least for a while, and some very nice looking new elements. What was interesting though, was the addition of augmented reality. Download the Hidden Side app, check out the set through the app, and it would come to life, with you being asked to catch the ghosts as they flew around.
I kind of liked the idea, but the debate of screen time vs non screen time raged on, and questions like “why do we need phones with LEGO?”, “will LEGO keep supporting the app?” and “what if I don’t want to use the app?” popped up everywhere. I’ll be looking at the app separately, so this review (and the other sets following) will purely be based on the LEGO sets themselves.
First up is 70420 Graveyard Mystery. This was the set that introduced us to the whole theme. Before I launch into it, I want to mention the box art. It’s beautiful and spooky, sure, but you can’t see the set from the front! It’s far too stylised to sell the actual product. The LEGO Group are selling the augmented reality aspect of this set on the box, more than the set itself. I just don’t think the balance is right. I don’t think LEGO fans will buy a set for the tech, but for the set itself. It’s not until you turn the box over that you see the actual set.
Inside the strangely designed box are two numbered bags, an instruction booklet and a sticker sheet with six stickers.
First up, there’s the minifigures. We’re introduced to a couple of new characters here, as well as the bad guy. Parker L. Jackson and Jack Davids are two teenage bloggers from the town of Newbury that use their smartphone apps to hunt for ghosts. The designs on these minifigures are very well executed, and we’ve also got new headwear! Parker has long lavender hair underneath a large light yellow beanie, and wears a light bright blue sleeved top, with a belt bag strapped around her torso. She’s also got light blue ripped jeans on.
Jack has a white hoodie with red stripes (almost like claw marks) across his right shoulder. The moulded red cap and white hood element looks fantastic when combined with the torso. He’s got black pants on, with printed pockets and a bone keychain. Both Parker and Jack have double printed heads, and both carry phone tiles, complete with ghost on the ‘screen’.
Mr Branson is the graveyard attendant, and looks fantastic in his tattered and dirty overalls. He’s got mud on his shoes and pants, and a tan shirt with white tee underneath. Mr Branson also has a double printed head – smiling and scared. Not only that, but Mr Branson has a bad side – he is possessed by a ghost, which transforms his head into a transparent-neon-green scary version, with crazy spring yellowish green hair to top off the look.
There’s also a standard skeleton, and a ghost dog, Spencer! Spencer is Jack’s dog who passed away not long ago, but hangs out anyway. This is a stunning little element, and he’s in every Hidden Side set. His white and trans-clear mould looks incredible.
Aside from the minifigures, there are some fantastic elements included in this set. There’s a pair of keys in the almost-glowing spring yellowish green, a 2×2 tile in the new Vibrant Coral colour, green vine/tail elements, reddish brown 2×3 rock plates reused as tree details, a large 4×6 wooden door, olive green leaves and plants, and an almost complete light bluish grey statue minifigure with wings, just to name a few.
The build is quick, as there’s not really much to it, but it’s enjoyable. The finished build ends up being a little over 30cm wide. For the most part, the graveyard is uninteresting. There’s not a lot of unique techniques, but I did like the use of a large doorframe on it’s side for the central grave. The wrought iron doors are also simple but look great, and the movement in the twisting statue is also quite rigid. Turn the statue and coloured tiles trigger different ghosts in the augmented reality app. There’s also a couple of red tiles under the other two graves.The best build techniques have to come from the spooky tree.
With some basic SNOT work, it looks excellent, and while it’s not the most leafy of trees, it sure looks mean. Using the grass stalks stuck into the 1×1 minifigure stamp elements is very effective as angry eyes. I had no idea it fit that way! There’s also a little room underneath for the caretaker. One of my other favourite details is in here too – the dripping tap! There’s a little puddle of water underneath the tap. The root system coming down the side also looks clean.
All in all, it’s a nice looking set. You know exactly what it’s meant to be, and the AR features tend to blend in reasonably well, and can be hidden quite simply with some minor design tweaks if that’s not your thing. The overall colour scheme is also quite good.
Aside from the obvious augmented reality option, there’s still some limited play options with the set. The best would be that tree. Press the back levers down and the arms go up and ‘eyes’ rotate. It looks good, and each side also moves independently. Having something hidden in the central grave is also an option. It’s small, so the play options aren’t exactly numerous, but you’d be buying the set to use with the app, so there’s a lot more play in store! There’s also been a few other graveyard sets over the years – this one looks to be the cleanest though.
For $50, it’s not too bad. I still think it could have been a little cheaper, maybe around the $45 mark, but you get some nice elements and an enjoyable build experience that ends up in a good looking little set. To be honest, though, I’m not sure how the Hidden Side sets will go overall. Time will tell whether they’re popular or if it was just a flash-in-the-pan gimmick that LEGO tried. The sets themselves are great, but the AR, the whole purpose of the sets, has been done before and has failed. It may be the right time for it, it may not. I still think they’re worth picking up to see for yourself.
ELEMENTS & MINIFIGURES: 16/20
DESIGN / APPEARANCE: 17/20
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
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.