Willy, nilly, silly old bear.
Released earlier this year, Winnie the Pooh is the 34th set to come from the LEGO Ideas range. And what a set it is. Designed by Ben Alder – known on the LEGO Ideas site as benlouisa – the set reached 10,000 votes back in August 2019, and in February 2020, it was approved for production.
The final retail set has evolved substantially from Ben’s original concept, although the core remains the same. New minifigures have been moulded especially for the set (the original concept contained a brick-built Tigger and Eeyore) and other elements have been refined. But it’s unmistakeably the same model, and one that’s a delight to behold. Let’s dig into it, shall we?
LEGO Ideas 21326 Winnie the Pooh
- RRP: £89.99
- Number of pieces: 1,265
- Release date: March 2021
- Age rating: 18+
- Time to build: 3.5 hours
What’s in the box?
One of my favourite things about the LEGO Ideas range is their outer boxes. Rather than being standard rip-and-tear boxes, they open neatly, like a portfolio or a pizza box. At least, the smaller ones do. Larger Ideas sets, like Pirates of Barracuda Bay, miss out on that special touch. But LEGO Ideas 21326 Winnie the Pooh is just small enough to fit neatly into a top-opening box. Inside, you’ll find seven numbered bags, two small sticker sheets and a beautifully illustrated 160-page instruction book.
Another delightful thing about LEGO Ideas sets is that their instruction books are often prefaced by background information; information about the designer, and about its theme, if it is indeed based on something that exists in the world. Here, we’ve got some beautiful Winnie the Pooh illustrations, accompanied by information about AA Milne’s classic creation. It’s followed by an introduction to Ben Alder and his family – and the LEGO designers that worked with him to bring his set to retail. It makes for a very nice entry point into the build.
Throughout the seven bags you’ll find five minifigures that accompany the model: Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore. Eeyore is rather special, since he’s one complete mould, similar to a LEGO dog, only bigger. Each minifigure has their own accessories; Pooh has a balloon, Tigger has a knapsack, Rabbit has a carrot, Piglet has a scarf, and Eeyore has a ribbon.
I knew before I started that putting together LEGO Ideas 21326 Winnie the Pooh was going to be a joyous experience. I wasn’t wrong. Every stage of this was enjoyable – even the final bag, awash with naught but green leaves. Just as Winnie the Pooh as a work of fiction brings happiness, so does every part of this LEGO set.
The first stage of building is all about laying out a footprint, carving out the base of the tree and shaping what will become the house. Two green mounds frame what will become the front door; these are cleverly structured with slopes and curves, crafted with a gap in the middle just big enough to attach a leaf onto a clear pedestal. It’s an effective technique.
But before you’ve even laid anything onto the house itself, you’ll start by building this adorable ‘100 Acre Wood’ sign, adorned with a jar of ‘hunny’. I love the printed wooden ‘knot’ at the top of the post, but it’s unfortunate that the sign itself is comprised of stickers. Once upon a time, stickers were a rare sight in an Ideas set, but they’ve become more commonplace. Though it’s perplexing here that we have a mixture of printed bricks and stickers. The ‘Mr Sanders’ sign above the door, for instance, is printed.
Thankfully, there are only a handful of stickers, and it’s hard to condemn their use in the finished build. They add some welcome touches, like a sign besides the doorbell, details on a chair and some wall art inside the house.
When it comes to constructing the house itself, there are some beautiful outer details: leaves trailing the wall, a brick-built front door, and blossoming windowboxes under each window. There’s also an adorable printed ladybird, adding an extra touch of detail.
Inside the building you’ll find a myriad of excellent details: a tea set, a sitting area, a bed, and shelves hiding what else but jars of honey. Brick-build curtains and art on the wall adds some homely touches. It’s a very small space but it’s been used to great effect. The fact that you can open up the house to gaze at everything inside is the cherry on top.
Perhaps my favourite part of the build, aside from the tree itself – which I’ll get to in just a moment – is the roof of the house. A suite of slopes and cheese tiles have been used to create a wonderful tiled effect, with a few different shades thrown in to make it really stand out. There’s a crooked chimney sticking out from one side, and a few leaves that have either fallen on the roof, or are sprouting through the cracks.
And onto the tree itself. Opening up bag seven and being greeted by a swathe of green pieces is a little overwhelming – and indeed, this is perhaps the only truly repetitive part of the build; twenty-four identical leafy branches need to be constructed. But they go together quickly enough, and the final result is something to behold.
LEGO has many different approaches to building trees, and so this is one of many. But the use of a new element here – to me, it looks like thick seaweed – is very effective. Two colours of leaves are then attached onto it, and four of them are then attached together, creating what is effectively one branch of the tree. Six of them altogether results in a tree that’s full and leafy enough to look effective, but not too full that it obscures the rest of the model. Add in a couple of beehives to finish it off, and you’ve got a truly stunning build.
Play or display?
The 18+ branding of LEGO Ideas 21326 Winnie the Pooh suggests that this is strictly a display-only set. But for this model to go sit, untouched, on a shelf, is almost criminal. The inclusion of five beautifully-crafted minifigures, along with a house that opens up, packed with detail to be interacted with, means that this is the perfect playset. Children will get a huge kick out of seeing these popular animated characters come to life with so much detail. And even we adults will enjoy setting up scenes, sitting down with Piglet, and scoffing some honey in secret with Pooh.
Value for money?
When I’d finished building LEGO Ideas 21326 Winnie the Pooh, I had to pause for a moment. Was this a £130 set? £110? I couldn’t remember; it had been sat waiting to be built for a few months, after all. But no; cheaper than I remembered – it retails for £89.99. No, it’s not the biggest set in the world with just 1,265 pieces. I’m sure we’ve had more pieces for less money somewhere else. We’ve certainly had bigger sets – the finished model is just 24cm x 22cm x 18cm, so it’ll fit tidily on just about any shelving unit.
But none of that really matters when you stop and gaze on Winnie the Pooh. Here’s a model packed with so much detail that it outshines most other sub-£100 sets. Add in the five minifigures – all unique, I hasten to add – and you have a wonderful LEGO build that’s going to stand the test of time, just as Winnie the Pooh himself has. Build it yourself, give it to your children, save it for many years and pass it down through the generations; it will never stop being loved.