At 5,544 pieces, LEGO 75978 Diagon Alley is one of the biggest sets currently available. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it’s surely one of the most desirable. This minifigure-scale set is made up of four separate iconic buildings from Diagon Alley, and when it’s displayed together, it’s a whopping 102cm wide. At £369.99, it’s also one of the most expensive LEGO sets you can buy. But is it worth the money? Read on and find out.
Welcome, Harry, to Diagon Alley!
LEGO Harry Potter 75978 Diagon Alley
- RRP: £369.99
- Number of pieces: 5,544
- Release date: September 2020
- Age rating: 16+
- Time to build: 12-15 hours
What’s in the box?
As you’d expect from a set this size, there are a lot of bags for LEGO 75978 Diagon Alley. 20 sets of bags to be precise, with most numbers having two bags, occasionally three. There’s also a mysterious bonus box ’21’ (which we’ll get to later), four sticker sheets, and four instruction books.
Behold, a huge jumble of bags:
Each building of Diagon Alley is essentially a separate build, with its own sticker sheet and own instruction book. So if you generally build with a friend or family member, it’s the perfect set to work on together.
There are also 15 minifigures included in the set: Hagrid, Gilderoy Lockhart, Florean Fortescue, Daily Prophet photographer, Ollivander, Harry Potter (x2), Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley, George Weasley, Fred Weasley, Hermione, Draco Malfoy and Lucius Malfoy.
Since each building in LEGO Diagon Alley is technically its own build, we’ll talk about them individually. But first, we have some notes about the build as an entirety.
Despite its size, Diagon Alley is an absolutely excellent set to build; there’s hardly any repetition, and of the four buildings, each one is completely different to the last. It almost feels like four separate Modular builds. They may not be quite as big, but they pack in just as much detail and innovation.
The downside to each building is, of course, the sheer amount of stickers, which surely nobody is much of a fan of. With a full sheet for each, there’s, well, a lot. They’re used for shop signs, posters and other small details. Which, to be honest, do add a nice bit of character – providing you can neatly apply them, that is! Lots of the shop signage stickers are rather thin and fiddly, which can make them extra tricky to apply. But with this many in the set you’ll certainly be getting lots of practice.
Now, onto each set.
This is a great place to start (not least because it uses the first lot of bags!), but it’s filled with the sorts of wonderful detail that makes modern LEGO sets so great. Small windows are used to great effect to create large bay and box windows. The signage on the front of the building – regardless of the amount of stickers used – looks fantastic, and the start of the cobbled paving stones is just wonderful. It may be a simple touch, but we love the pathways and cobbles that tie the four buildings of Diagon Alley together. They really do capture the old-world charm that the movie set brought to life so fantastically.
There’s plenty of great detail on the inside, too. Shelves of stacked wands look fantastic, and as hectic as you’d expect Olivander’s to be. The small Scribbulus store to the left isn’t devoid of character, either; a lovely little sitting room on the upstairs level is a highlight.
Quality Quidditch Supplies
One of the most striking things about LEGO Diagon Alley is just how utterly different each of the buildings are. It makes it all the more eye-catching, of course, but it also means that every part of putting this gargantuan set together feels different. You never get bored of building walls or windows, because every wall and every window is so completely different. After building the beige and grey bricks of Ollivanders, the bold pinkess of Quality Quidditch Supplies is quite the contrast – but once it’s finished, it works.
There’s some really unusual building methods used here. The entire front of the Quidditch shop is built separately from the rest of the building, then simply hinged on in order to give it the sloping effect. It works to great effect. The ‘stone’ pillars around the Daily Prophet’s office door looks great too, and add a nice bit of contrast to the rest of the building.
Flourish & Blotts
Some models are hard to imagine the finished product of until you’ve put it all together. Flourish & Blotts was one of those for us; half way through the build, it felt a little boring in comparison to the other two. But it wasn’t until we put the upper level detailing in – the huge window and the intricate signage – that it really came together. In fact, this might be one of the nicest-looking buildings of Diagon Alley, just because of how intricate some of its detail is.
Here’s a closer look at the sign that wraps around the front of the building. As you can see, bricks have been cleverly used to create the shape as well as add a pattern. It’s really effective.
There’s also some lovely detail inside Flourish & Blotts. The bookcase is particularly well-made, with a variety of tiles and pieces stacked together to create a realistic book effect.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
Without a doubt the stand-out building of LEGO Diagon Alley is Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Not only is it substantially wider than the other shops on the street, it’s the tallest and, thanks to the huge figurine that makes up the sign, it’s by far the most stunning to look at. It’s also perhaps the most intricate to build, packing in a huge amount of detail. And it’s so colourful!
An incredible amount of ‘stuff’ has been packed into the interior. Two flights of stairs twist around the building, and each floor is packed with stacks of items, shelves filled with curios and other display units. Some fantastic shiny bricks are used to create some particularly impressive looking magical goods, which you can see in the image below.
Of course, we also need to talk about the outside of the building. The round, protruding windows with their bright orange frames are a key detail. They’re put together with some great techniques. We also love the little nod to the Dark Arts shopping street, Knockturn Alley here. Of course, that’s where Draco and Lucius are loitering – where else?
The key feature, though, is the huge man popping out of the windows. It looks absolutely fabulous, and the way his arms bend in and out of the window frames is nothing short of genius. Only having it motorised would make it better, but we can’t have everything. Even stationary, it’s a wonderful piece of design.
Play or display?
Without a doubt, LEGO Harry Potter 75978 Diagon Alley is both a play and a display set. Though whether you’d want to let smaller children play with a £380 LEGO set is entirely your call. As we mentioned earlier, it’s best compared to LEGO Modular buildings; it looks great as a display piece, but all the little details included makes it a prime target to be played with.
Each of the interiors are packed with so many little touches that not taking the set out to have a look at them once in a while is almost criminal. Sure, the fronts of the buildings are beautiful, but so are the interiors. And they deserve to be appreciated! The 15 minifigures, including key characters from Harry Potter, adds even more playability – with so many rooms to explore, there’s plenty of scenes to be acted out.
Though remember the mystery box ’21’ we mentioned earlier? It includes a small placard, a Hagrid minifigure and a second Harry Potter. It’s the ultimate display tool – a very neat sign to display at the side of your set so everyone knows exactly what they’re looking at.
Value for money?
If you’re not usually a LEGO fan, it’s very hard to justify spending the best part of £400 on a box of plastic bricks. But the best way to look at it is as four separate Modular-like models. Okay, they’re each not quite as big as a Modular; they’re only half the depth and they don’t have backs. But we’d argue that each building contains just as much detail as any one Modular building, and the frontage of each building is certainly just as eye-catching. (They’re also designed to be compatible with Modular sets, so you can attach them to your existing LEGO street if you’d like.)
Modern Modular sets retail for around £160. So for the price of less than two-and-a-half Modular sets, you’re getting four individual models here, each one beautifully designed. There’s of course additional value if you’re a Harry Potter fan – so many little touches that only fans of the books and movies will truly appreciate.
Yes, £369.99 is a lot of money, but this is also a lot of LEGO. A ridiculous amount of craftsmanship has gone into bringing Diagon Alley to life. In our opinion, if you have the budget, you won’t be disappointed.