Console gaming today is a battle between Playstation and Xbox (team Playstation in our house!). But growing up there was another epic battle brewing, Nintendo vs Sega. In our house we had the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), but our cousins had a Sega Genesis with two games – Sonic and Columns. Being the nerd I am, I actually really liked Columns but we also spent hours playing Sonic – the corporate nemesis of Mario. All those good times came rushing back as soon as this set was opened and the manual cover showed the opening screen.
The set build starts with our hero – Sonic the Hedgehog. He’s standing on a small black frame holding a coin. As it turns out, this is actually a feature of the build. As it progresses, additional Chaos Emeralds are added in front of Sonic with each pack completed. It’s a fantastic nod to the level progression within the game.
There are two characters you consistently knock over in the game, the crab and the moto-snail. Both are faithfully recreated with the moto-snail having two separate faces included – calm and agitated just like in the game. It would have been epic if there was some way to press the moto-snails head to spin the face shown, but as it is you need to manually change them. This may have been an insurmountable challenge given the scale but its great to be able to change the emotion in any case.
As we start building the scenery it dawns on us that we’re in for a fair bit of fiddly building. To create the cross-hatch pattern, a huge amount of 1 x 1 plates to make up a 2 plate tall pattern. It could always be worse I suppose. The designers could have used stickers on each 1 x 1 brick! But I’m not sure why the Modified Brick 1 x 1 x 2/3 element (86996) wasn’t used. It wouldn’t have detracted at all from the build. I’d argue it would have made it a fair bit more fun. Nevertheless the colour scheme is bright and reflects the rapidly rolling green and light green terrain Sonic traversed at speed!
The build progresses with each part being quite modular and clipping into the previous section. We follow up the palm tree with an iconic bridge which Sonic spends many miles rolling over avoiding the piranhas. It looks pleasant and has some frothy water below. As we continue the build, there’s more building the pattern with 1×1 plates. One of the first things I noticed at the start of the build is how narrow it is. At only 4 studs deep it’s the skinniest build I can recall doing. Probably a result of having to fit into 16kb of memory I suppose..
Building the loop diverts from the previous use of plates and moves to two large elements on each side. To continue the pattern, stickers are used. It’s a missed opportunity to use the same new 86996 element here. It would have nicely continued the pattern and not materially weakened the build. I also realise the dichotomy of my earlier complaining about the number of plates, and now new complaining that not enough were used. But hey, I’m writing the review so I get to flip flop all over the place.
Our next step is to build the swooshable part – Sonic’s bouncy platform. It’s a little surprising as the rest of the build is almost entirely a display piece. The platform can be raised as Sonic jumps on it by pressing down a lever on the back of the model. We also add in some of the other elements of the game like the flowers and mission mid-point save icon and a variety of coins.
The front of the build has the lives counter in the bottom left, but the rear of the model has a sticker with the high scores. It’s a little strange as rarely would the rear be seen but perhaps the designers were trying to indicate you only see this at the end of the game. There’s also a couple of computers that Sonic bounces on for in-game bonuses that have 2×2 plates with stickers attached.
We finish the build with a bang! Dr Eggman and the Eggmobile. Both of these mini-builds are a perfect match for LEGO bricks. They are from a 16 bit game, so blocky in just the right way to perfectly match LEGO brick elements. They both look fantastic.
There’s also a few new elements introduced in this set including the grass plate, Dr Eggman’s head and eyes, fists and the new eyes for the Crab. There’s also some new colours of existing elements including Light Nougat, Bright Green and Dark Azure. No doubt they will find themselves in some cool MOC’s in future.
Overall, for those that grew up with Sonic, this is a must buy set. If nothing else, the rush of nostalga looking at the manual is worth it! For those that are LEGO fan’s but didn’t grow up with the game, it’s not as strong a buy. At $119.99 the value is not too bad, but the build itself could be improved in the fun stakes by using less 1 x 1 plates. Notwithstanding once it’s on the shelf, it looks awesome. There’s also a couple of technic connectors that remain on the side of the set. Who knows, maybe the Marble zone set will be released as an expansion pack in future!
Overall, it’s another great addition to the amazing track record we’ve seen with the LEGO Idea’s theme.
Set: Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
Set #: 21331
Number of Minifigs: 1
Number of Pieces: 1125
A special thanks to our friends at Zavvi who supplied this set for us to build. Check them out for some great deals on LEGO sets.