Back in the ’80s gaming was a newly emerging pastime, Atari and Nintendo consoles were taking living rooms by storm whilst SEGA commanded the arcades. But by the ’90s SEGA wanted a bigger slice of the home console market and they needed something to face off against the might of Mario. That something was actually someone and in 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog was born. The blue blur became a gaming icon, starring in a number of video games, cartoon series and even a recent blockbuster movie. Now Sonic is the star of his own LEGO® Ideas set. This isn’t Sonic’s first brick-built rodeo, after he first appeared in a LEGO Dimensions Level Pack, which not only transformed him into a digital Minifigure but also a physical one. That acted as inspiration for the LEGO Ideas set, which has finally arrived from Billund, so here’s my review.
Celebrate a pop culture icon and showcase the gameplay of a true classic with this LEGO® Ideas Sonic the Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone model (21331). Enjoy quality time with no distractions, recreating authentic details of the Green Hill Zone, including a palm tree, bridge loop, rings, TV screens, Dr. Eggman’s Eggmobile and a spring for Super Sonic Jumps.
Arrange the level in your own way and bring it to life with a Sonic the Hedgehog minifigure and Dr. Eggman, Moto Bug and Crabmeat figures. Step-by-step building instructions are included and – like in the game – you collect Chaos Emeralds as you progress. A display stand for the 7 Emeralds and Sonic minifigure completes a colourful centrepiece. All in all, it’s the best Sonic nostalgia gift for yourself or any fan.
- Set Name: Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
- Set Number: 21331
- Pieces: 1125
- RRP: £59.99/$69.99/69.99€
- Minifigure: Sonic the Hedgehog plus brick-built Dr Robotnik, Crabmeat and Moto Bug
- Availability: LEGO.com & LEGO Stores
The original Ideas project was inspired by Sonic Mania, but the final set has taken its cue from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game and the very first level, the iconic Green Hill Zone. Those familiar with the original games will know it’s a side-scrolling game in which Sonic must get from one end of the level to the other in as fast a way as possible. This set-up is perfect for a LEGO set. The instructions feed in the nostalgia, with the cover match in the game’s title screen and inside offering details on the fan designer Viv Grannell as well as the LEGO Design Team who refined the set. There’s also a timeline of some Sonic milestones, which oddly skips the Dreamcast.
In fact, although based on just a small section of the Green Hill Zone, the set is treated a little like a game and is split into sections, with each giving you a Chaos Element as a reward for completing it. But the build kicks off with the star of the show, the blue blur himself – Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic first appeared as a Minifigure as part of LEGO Dimensions. Obviously, the Minifigure in the Ideas set uses the exact same mould, but it’s not the same Minifigure.
It features different print details, with his grin on the opposite side and simple black pupils in his eyes to match that of the original ’90s design. There is also extra detail on his iconic red sneakers. The Minifigure also has its own display stand. This uses a display peg, often found in the Minifigure series packets as well as seven holes that are used to display the different coloured Chaos Emeralds. As mentioned above there is a new emerald for each section of the set.
The section of the Green Hill is split into four different sections including a bridge, spring plate and of course a loop. Now there has been a lot of focus on the use of single 1×1 plates stacked to create the ground sections of the level and I wasn’t looking forward to putting this part of the set together. But after actually building it, I had no problems nor did I find it annoying, in fact, I quite enjoyed this part of the set. Just make sure you are building on a flat surface and if you need to, pop any stacked studs on their side and press them until they align. It really isn’t an issue, I liked to think of each brick as a pixel of the game. A little tip when building the loop, a series of stickers are used on larger bricks that surround it so they match the series of 1×1 plates. Those which have the lighter section near the top are best placed right at the edge of the element if not the brick colour underneath breaks the flow of the pattern.
The main thing for me is how well certain elements match their in-game counterparts. I lived and breathed Sonic as a kid, so the trees, flowers and enemies are etched into my mind with great fondness. The tree which you build in the first section is a great recreation, especially the NEXO shields for the leaves. Even the 2×2 yellow brick with spikes makes a pixel 16-bit flower. I love the bridge, not only for how it looks but how it’s built and incorporated into the build.
The set’s primary use is to be a display piece and a great one it is too, but it does have a fun play feature in the form of a spring. These are dotted around the various levels in the Sonic games and can be used to propel Sonic into the air, through hoops and even in the opposite direction if you aren’t careful. The brick-built version isn’t as volatile but a lever built below it does cause it to pop up with enough force to send Sonic flying.
As well as the level, the set includes two of Eggman’s robo-minions. These include a Moto Bug and a Crabmeat. Moto Bug is certainly a lot more substantial compared to the version featured in the original fan design and even includes alternate faces. Both are achieved by stickers, I highly recommend popping the 2×2 round tile on the Moto Bug body before applying the stickers as it will help you align them. Crabmeat wasn’t included in the Ideas project but is a classic Sonic enemy, making it a great addition to the set. Depending on how you angle the eyes will depend on how menacing Crabmeat will look.
But wherever there’s a robo baddie, Dr Robonik isn’t far behind. The big bad, also known as Eggman, is brick-built, which is something else that seems to have annoyed people. But there really is no other way to have recreated the character in LEGO form. He would not have looked right as a BigFig and creating a new mould wouldn’t have been a viable option. Sure Robotnik has looked better in other material but I’m happy with what has been included in the set. Once he’s inside his Eggmobile he does look a little better. His famous floating craft may not be as round as it is in the games but not a bad recreation, I especially like that it has been built to sit on top of a clear stand so it look like it’s hovering above the level.
Another key piece of Sonic lore is the iconic TV-like item boxes. These are featured throughout levels, with the screens showing what’s inside. There are two item boxes in the set and five different screens. The 2×2 tiles can be interchanged to feature different things including an extra life, invincibility, rings, speed boost and blue shield.
Once all the sections are connected together and the trim has been added some of the final details tie into the original game and its HUD. A 2×4 tile replicates the on-screen life count and hidden around the back is a very tiny leaderboard made up of the sets LEGO and fan designers.
LEGO Ideas sets continue to be a point of contention with LEGO fans. The differences between the fan designed project and the set which arrives in stores are often very different. In this case, vastly different and based on an entirely different game, however, it makes more sense to base the set on Sonic’s very first outing. This iconic game has formed the foundation of all future titles including Sonic Mania. In fact, my biggest bugbear of the set is the complete lack of a mention for the SEGA Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure in the timeline of Sonic history in the instructions. Plus I’ve never been a fan of the ‘life-saver float’ element to represent the rings, but I guess it’s the best element available to represent the collectible trinkets. I’m just glad another gaming icon has become a LEGO set, it’s the perfect way to kick off a possible range of sets based on other iconic video games.
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