Before we go any further I’m a huge Stranger Things fan. I’ve avidly watched both series on Netflix. It’s also one of few shows I’ve convinced my Mum to watch, and we love watching it together. When rumours of a Stranger Things set began to emerge, I wasn’t convinced. Although I love the show, it didn’t seem something LEGO® would consider. But turns out it is real and LEGO have really gone to town on creating an officially licensed Netflix product. For those unaware Stranger Things is a supernatural adventure horror set in the 80s, in which a gang of friends must band together to find their missing friend. But there is an evil presence, hell-bent on terrorising the quiet town of Hawkins. Now creating a set on such a show has raised a few eyebrow, with many questioning the show’s themes being appropriate for a LEGO product. Yes Stranger Things can be a little scary, but I believe LEGO has finally realised their products don’t have to appeal to all ages all the time and that sets focused towards an older market are viable. Regardless to all that, how does the set compare to the show and is it worth building, I’ve had the pleasure of being sent the set early to review, so get the Demogorgon repellent at the ready and let’s find out!
The ultimate LEGO® Stranger Things model to build and collect! Fans of the global hit Netflix original series will appreciate the authentic details of this highly collectible LEGO® Stranger Things toy – 75810 The Upside Down. This sturdy, brick-built model can flip between the real world and The Upside Down. The design of the model’s building instructions makes it a great shared building experience with friends and family. The Byers’ house features Will’s bedroom, the living room and the dining room. The Upside Down version of the house, from an alternate dimension, features all the rooms from the real-world model but with a dark, vine-covered, dilapidated look that fans will instantly recognize from the series. With 8 Stranger Things figures, each with its own accessories, this playset makes a great gift for Stranger Things fans who will love to build and display this model to show their passion for the series.
- Set Name: The Upside Down
- Set Number: 75810
- Pieces: 2287
- RRP: £179.99/$199.99/€199.99
- Measurements: over 32cm tall, 44cm wide and 21cm deep
- Minifigures:Eleven, Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson, Will Byers, Joyce Byers, Chief Jim Hopper and the Demogorgon
- Availability: LEGO Brand Store & shop.LEGO.com VIP Early Access May 15th General Release June 1st
I don’t normally comment on the packaging but the box for the Upside Down is amazingly cool. Not only does it do a great job of showing off the set and its features, it also incorporates the notion of the Upside Down into the design. The LEGO Stranger Things logo is displayed in both ‘realms’ of the box. A simple but clever little bit of detail for the packaging. Something which is continues onto the sets instruction booklets. There are two for each main section of the build and they are styled to look like Hawkins National Laboratory classified files. Inside the second booklet is a little detail about the show, it’s characters and the members of the LEGO Design Team, who have created the set. Lead Designer is Justin Ramsden, who continues to create, outstandingly impressive LEGO products and provide unique poses for photographs.
Another neat little detail I didn’t notice until well into the second part of the build, was the sticker sheet. The stickers used on the Upside Down versions of the Byers House are all ‘upside down’ has absolutely no impact on the build, but goes to show how much effort has been put into creating all aspects of the set, from the moment you pick up the box until you place the last brick.
The build begins with a funky little display stand, on which you can display four Minifigures. This is a little similar to the one found in the LEGO Ideas Ghostbusters Ecto-1 set. It’s all brick built and has a large plate on the left hand side which features the Stranger Things logo, which unfortunately is achieved by a large sticker. A printed element would have been nicer. I’d have liked it if the display stand was two tier as well, so all eight Minifigures could be displayed. But as the sets location is the Byers homestead, it makes sense to have Joyce, Hopper, Will and the Demogorgon are displayed on there and the other characters are on the display stand.
Next up is Hopper’s Chevy Police Cruiser, this features heavily in both series of the show as well as being one of the first things to appear in the various Stranger Things teases. In may only be a small part of the overall set, but it’s a decent little build, which could quite easily be a small LEGO City set. I like how the use of elements has achieved both the boxy shape of the vehicle and its unique muted colour scheme. The undercarriage of the Chevy, features a familiar looking chassis element, but this one is a little different, it has two holes in it, these allows the cruiser to be connected to the set via a pin plate; the reason why will become apparent later on in the build. Another fun detail and a nod to season two of the show, is a pumpkin in the back of the cruiser.
The build is technically two sets in one and once you’ve put together the 4×4 and display stand, you start work on normal version of the Byers house. Although Stranger Things takes place all over the fictional town of Hawkins, one of the most iconic moments on the first series of the show takes place in the house. The normal versions features plenty of nods to the show, in particular the Christmas light adorned alphabet wall, Joyce puts up to communicate with Will. A Light Brick is mounted within the roof section of the house, this has a printed plate in front of it, which has a few tiny clear sections in it. When the light is illuminated, it gives the impression of the xmas lights flickering on. Also within the roof section is a Will the Wise’s wizards hat and a pile of D&D books. In fact the whole thing is filled with plenty of detail, made even more impressive due to the size of the area. The inner part of the house is a spacey area, but it doesn’t feel crammed in.
Once the normal version of the Byers house is complete, you build the same thing all over again but this time it’s a mirrored version and in a completely different colour scheme. It’s genuinely impressive to see how each element has been replicated in a more muted range of colours. As you can see below every single section of the normal house is perfectly matched in the Upside Down version. The dank and shadowy realm of the Upside Down is made even more unsettling with overgrown vines and darkened leaves. If you display the set with the Upside Down, upside down, the lighting naturally makes this part of the set a little darker, which I quite like.
The outside of the set continues with the mirrored versions of the house. The build manages to captures the Byers rundown 80’s house nicely, partly thanks to the slatted covering of the exterior of the building; for which the tile plates work perfectly. Those pillars holding up the porch section are a little tricky to fix in place and due to the single point of connection, they can come away a little easily, but it doesn’t cause the build to crumble to bits and and easily be pressed back into place, with little effort. There is a pin plate to the right of the house on the lawn section. This is where that hole in the base of the Chevy comes into use. Hopper’s Police Cruiser can be firmly fixed to this pin and remains in place if you turn the set upside down. It does make the vehicle look a little too close to the house, but it’s still cool feature. On the Upside Down part of the outside, there’s additional leaves elements in dark blue and brown, along with whips elements used to recreate vines climbing up the porch pillars. I also love the smokey transparent rods, which look exactly like drops of otherworldly slime.
Both sections of the house are held together with a combination of the ball joint elements and the two outer trees. These make both sections of the build fix perfectly and surprisingly firmly together. Something which is an absolute necessity for being able to turn the set around in safe and secure manner.
As much as the use of elements and colours plays a major part in the build, the graphic design elements play a big role as well. These are all available in both realms of the set and although they are stickers, they add some fun bits of detail. For example, on the trunk of the outside the house is a missing poster for Barb and there’s a Jaw-inspired poster in Will’s room.
For me the most surprising part of the build comes towards the end. The house in bookended by a couple big trees. I built the set over a couple of night, whilst I rewatched Stranger Things and it was gone midnight when only had a couple of bags left. I assumed each tree would be independent to each part of the build. But as I started to build it soon became apparent that they were a single structure. Both sets of trees simply connect to the rest of the set via a few Technic pins and rods. Each of the top sections of the trees are flattened. This allows the set to stand firmly on a surface, but doesn’t make the trees look odd, which is an impressive achievement.
The set features eight Minifigures, many of which make use of some impressive new elements. First up are the only two adult characters from the show to be included in the set. Joyce Byers is Will’s distraught mother and the first to realise there is something fishy going on in the apparent disappearance of her son. Her outfit matches that of her from the show and she includes both a smiling and worried face print, both of which manage to portray Joyce’s pained look. She also has a fun little printed 2×2 plate, which features Will’s D&D character – Will the Wise. Jim Hopper is the Chief of the Hawkins Police Department. At first he believe Will has just run away, but he soon realises that there is more going on than meets the eye. His Minifigure captures the characters gruff appearance and I like that he has a cup of joe, after all mornings are for coffee and contemplation.
Next up is one of the sets most impressive Minifigures, the fearsome creature from the Upside Down – the Demogorgon. The creature is only seen is flashes during the first season of Stranger Things, but we get a better look at the creature in season two. The Minifigure is amazing, making great use of the Faun legs from the Series 15 LEGO Minifigures. These are perfect for the character and are coupled with a great new head element. This is hood type piece, which fits over a Minifigure head, and shows the Demogorgons, unfurled flesh-like “flower petals” mouth lined with many sharp teeth. She is joined by Will Byers, the boy who goes missing on his way home in the first episode of the show. Will isn’t seen much during the first season of the show, but appears here in the outfit he is first seen in. His new hair piece, is pure 80s, styled on the classic bowl cut hair style. Another newish element is used to help give the character, the desired look; the new ‘teen’ legs introduced with the LEGO Harry Potter Minifigures. These are way better than the fixed short legs, so I’m glad they are used on all the kid Minifigures in the set.
Mike and Eleven are probably the most generic of the kid characters in their Minifigure form. Mike especially doesn’t really have any unique features than translate well into a Minifigure, however it looks like the character and mixes well when combined with the rest of the gang. Eleven is a little more unique looking in the show, when we first met here, she is a frightened girl, with a shaved head. She is taken in by Mike, who soon realises that she is the key to finding Will. When Eleven is taken to the school, she is disguised with a wig and pink dress. Which is the outfit chosen for her Minifigure. You can take off her hairpiece, but she doesn’t look right. Maybe it’s the outfit she’s in or the fact there is no stubble print on the head, but she certainly looks better kitted out in her disguise. She of course comes with a couple Eggos, achieved with printed 1×1 waffle elements.
Finally we have Lucas and Dustin, the two reluctant heroes of the gang. I love these two Minifigures, you can instantly tell who they are as the choice of elements and graphic detail is spot on. Lucas uses a recoloured hair element to capture his Demogorgon hunting outfit, this is the hair piece used on the Sushi Chef from the LEGO NINJAGO Movie Minifigure Series. It’s a perfect fit for the characters look. He also has he slingshot and torch. Dustin has a brand new hat element, which recreates his curly hair and trademark baseball cap. Dustin has the most amazing face design, in real life the actor who plays Dustin, has cleidocranial dysostosis, which gives him the most delightful cheeky smile. This has been captured amazingly well, in both his expressions.
Thankfully I had the pleasure of seeing the set for the first time by opening the box sent from Billund, instead of fuzzy pictures on social media. As soon as I saw the box, I was impressed by the direction the set has taken. Often buildings are left ‘half-built’ to allow for easier access to the insides for play, but here the Byers house is nicely enclosed, yet still has a nicely detailed interior section. The fact the build manages to capture key elements from the show within a single area, is amazingly detailed and doesn’t feel forced. The way the trees have been incorporated to become display plinths is genius and surprisingly stable.
Justin Ramsden has created another amazing LEGO set, although it doesn’t have the same impact in terms of scale as his Welcome To Apocalypseburg set, it’s visually stunning; making for a great display piece. The set is fun to build, especially seeing how similar elements have been used to create two distinct builds and is the ultimate celebration of the Netflix show. There will be those who, question it’s fit with the LEGO brand values. But the show is no-more scary than Ghostbusters and certainly in no way as risqué as the Big Bang Theory show is. It’s clearly aimed towards the older LEGO fan base and as mentioned in the intro, it seems that there are more products being clearly aimed towards the AFOL community now, that don’t have to appeal to younger fans. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, the set is still worthy of a build. The set employs interesting build techniques, has some great new parts on the Minifigures; it’s also a build unlike anything I’ve built before, with a truly original layout and amazingly creative design. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the best sets I’ve built in a few years.
This set was provided to BricksFanz by the LEGO Group for purposes of review. The thoughts within this review are that of BricksFanz and do not reflect those of the LEGO Group or Netflix. Providing the set for free, does not guarantee a favourable opinion of the set.