Yabba dabba doo!
Perhaps the only downside to the newly-released Lego Ideas set, The Flintstones, is that the entire time I was building it, I was singing The Flintstones' theme tune in my head. And since I don't remember exactly how the whole thing goes, it got pretty annoying pretty quickly.
My own brain quirks aside, The Flintstones set is a surprisingly nice build, and a fantastic addition to the Ideas range. At £55 for a 748-piece set, it's pretty good value too – and the finished build is a decent size. Ultimately, your enjoyment of it will depend how you feel about The Flintstones. Me, I have fond memories of watching it occasionally as a kid, but it was never a favourite. Still, the quirky nature of the Lego build appeals to me – and there's no denying how nice the four minifigs – Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty – are. It's just a shame there's no Bamm-Bamm, Pebbles, or Dino. Especially Dino. Damn it, I want a purple Lego dinosaur.
Strangely, Wilma and Betty both feature two expressions, but Barney and Fred just have the one printed face.
The set itself comes in one of the lovely top-opening style boxes that we often see in the Ideas range. A box shouldn't make much difference, but it feels much more premium than the standard Lego boxes that need to be torn at the sides to open. Plus, it provides you with a handy space to pour your bricks into.
It's interesting to see how the commercial set has changed from the original Ideas design. From Andrew Clark – who also happens to be the deisgner behind the Doctor Who Ideas set – the original imagining of The Flintstones set contained a similar number of parts, but a few key elements have changed. While the house looks similar aesthetically, the finished build has a few additional design details, and has a slightly bigger footprint. The car looks to have kept a similar structure, except the original didn't have a canvas roof, and was fixed to an additional base to give the idea of motion. The original also contained a "Welcome to Bedrock" sign, which is a shame to be missing. There were also minifigures of Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles – but since minifigs tend to push up the price of Lego dramatically, it's understandable why they were removed.
For a relatively small set – compared to modulars and 'Expert' Lego sets, that is – the Flintstones manages to pack in plenty of details. There are printed "curtains" hanging in the windows, a very well-thought-out TV and sofa inside the house, a fantastic tree and plenty of plants adding detail outside the house. I'm a big fan of the cobblestone-style design on the chimney breast of the house; it adds a lot of character to what would otherwise be a plain mass of grey.
Most impressively, Lego fans will be pleased to hear: The Flintstones contains no stickers! Not one! Any design detail brick is printed. There aren't too many, but they add nice touches, such as the 'Flintstone' sign on the mailbox, the TV screen, the animal-print curtains and the picture hanging on the wall.
The build is separated into six bags. The first bag contains Fred, Wilma and Fred's car, while the other five bags are all for building the house.
The car, as iconic as it is, is one of the highlights of the set. It's pretty simple in terms of its structure, but clever use of cylinder pieces for the wheels and a canvas roof make it stand out. There's also a big rib to stick on the side, you know, just in case.
The age range advertised on the box is "10+", which feels about right. There's nothing overly tricky in building The Flintstones, but applying some of the finer details – like the brickwork on the house – can be a little bit fiddly.
It isn't a particularly time-consuming build, either. It took me approximately two hours to complete, and that included a snack break and multiple cat-based interruptions. If you're less prone to distractions than me you can probably get it finished much faster. Not that building Lego should ever be a race – take your time, and enjoy seeing all the minute details come together!
The instructions are pretty standard and easy to follow. There's never too many new pieces being added at one step, unlike some of the more advanced builds, but it can occasionally be hard to work out from the images where the new pieces are being added. New additions aren't highlighted in the instructions like they are in most newer sets, so it's occasionally a case of playing "spot the difference" between one picture and the last to work out what's being added.
The Flintstones is definitely designed with play in mind. Although the house has a roof and full front and sides, it's open at the back, with two floor panels on hinges that can be opened out from either side. The roof easily lifts on and off, cleverly balancing on the top of the build with various angled bricks. There are a couple of interactive elements too, like the mailbox with a letter in it, a box that contains a bowling ball and three bowling pins, and of course, the car.
All of the elements in the house come together to make a great playset. There's a phone – made out of a croissant, what else? – and of course the full living room setup, complete with coffee table and fruit bowl. It's a fairly snug area, especially if you want all four minifigures in there at the same time, but there's plenty to see and do.
Despite clearly being designed as a playset, The Flintstones is a really nice display piece, too. I'm not sure how many children will be familiar with The Flinstones, so I feel like the set is definitely going to appeal more to an older demographic who are likely to want to put this on display.
The set does take up a fair amount of space, though. Its footprint isn't quite as big as a modular set, but when you take into consideration the car and the mailbox, you need to have a decent amount of room on a shelf to be able to do the set justice.
My only complaint is that the mailbox is loose – it seems a strange design choice, and surely would have made more sense to have a little more space at the front of the house to fix it to the same base. Equally, it's slightly annoying that there isn't enough room to stand the minifigs in front of the house. I suppose you could rearrange the flowers and milk bottles that are by the front door, but it'd all be pretty squashed in. It's a minor niggle, but it's nice to see the minifigures of a set as part of the display – especially when the minifigs are as well-designed as these four are.
The Flintstones is yet another great set to come from the Lego Ideas range. It's always incredible to see the ideas that come from the Lego fan community, and I'm always excited to see licensed properties come to life in brick-form. At £55, The Flintstones feels like pretty good value for money. It is a good-sized set, with a robust and attractive model that's good both as a playset and a display piece.
If you're not a massive fan of The Flintstones then it may not appeal quite as much to you, but even if you're like me, and have vague memories of watching it as a kid, you're sure to appreciate the effort that's gone into putting this set together.
Lego The Flintstones (21316) is available now exclusively from the Lego Shop, priced at £54.99.