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123 Sesame Street – A Lego Ideas Review (21324)
‘Come and Play, Everything’s A – Okay!’
Everybody remembers Jim Henson’s Sesame Street, I’m sure (if you don’t, I pity your childhood). From its catchy theme tune to its colourful street characters, led by the iconic Big Bird, this US hit programme from PBS (it has been on the air for 50 years), with its emphasis on blending early education with fun games, animation and songs, quickly became a staple of many children’s home learning. Back before that was even a thing.
With its serious-looking box artwork, one might assume that this Lego Ideas set (21324), concocted by fan designer Ivan Guerrero, is aimed squarely at adults searching for yet another trinket to remind them of their wonder years, but I would argue that this nostalgic model can be a fun family experience too. It comes in at 1,368 pieces and priced £109.99/$119.99 with an age recommendation of 18+.
‘Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?’
Most of the build is pretty straight forward, nothing particularly challenging, as you move from the pavement (or sidewalk) to the exteriors of the building and on to constructing the interiors of Elmo’s bedroom and Bert & Ernie’s apartment that features the famous wall portrait of the iconic duo and Ernie’s bath (with rubber duck).
Then there is the Sesame Street corner which includes Hooper’s Store (but no Hooper sadly), Big Bird’s nest, and Oscar the Grouch’s trash can too. The steps leading up to the brownstone building of 123 Sesame Street could have been a little chunkier if you ask this blogger. The rooftop, featuring Bert’s bird house is just one of many authentic details to be enjoyed.
It is only when you get to plant those Easter Eggs, which rely heavily on stickers incidentally, that the set turns into the nostalgia-fest one had hoped for and the play and display possibilities come into focus for the builder.
In fact, the set contains over 50 Easter Eggs: Alistair Cookie’s chair (Alistair being Cookie Monster’s original red smoking jacket-wearing alter ego that was dropped in the early nineties), and the 12345 clock found in Bert and Ernie’s apartment, a totem for that ear-worm of a song that helped teach generations to count.
Mr Hooper’s portrait can be found in Big Bird’s nest, and alludes to that heartbreaking episode back in 1982 in which Big Bird has to face the bereavement of a loved one after the actor playing Mr H had passed away. The producers had decided not to recast the role: instead using the tragic event to help teach its young audience how to cope with such a loss.
‘Friendly Neighbours… Where The Air Is Sweet’
This was the first Lego Ideas Set to take the unprecedented step of not using existing moulds for the heads of its characters, opting instead for the sculpted tailor-made approach (as with The Simpsons mini figures range) that might have benefitted The Flintstones set (21316) and has been thankfully continued with the upcoming Winnie The Pooh model (21326).
We get the aforementioned Big Bird (standing at 249cm for 8’2” tall) in bright yellow and with existing wings previously used for Chicken Suit Guys.
Then there is Elmo, Cookie Monster (with cookie pieces), Bert and Ernie mini figures.
Also included are Slimey the Worm, Dorothy the Goldfish, Radar the Teddy Bear and Rubber Ducky figures. Elmo and the Cookie Monster appear to share the exact same moulds, if not die jobs, which is a bit sloppy and I know Ernie is meant to be shorter than Bert but you can’t bend his legs for positioning on the bed, his armchair or in his bath.
No Count or Mr Hooper which is a crying shame (ask my partner – I’ve literally lost count of the amount of times she mentions for former’s absence!).
We only get a stickered-portrait featuring The Count on Cookie Monster’s wall but given what happened to Mr Hooper, his presence here as a picture in Big Bird’s nest is appropriately tasteful. But I do still miss him.
‘You’d Be A Grouch Too, If You Lived In A Trash Can!’
Oscar the Grouch does resemble his TV counterpart in terms of features and expression but, seeing as the other characters have been moulded so accurately, it remains a glaring flaw in this set that Oscar’s face has merely been printed onto a green sphere without any added texture.
More care and attention should have been taken here by the designers. This thing looks more like a sick Space Hopper than a garbage-dwelling grouchy monster! Check out @littlejohn_brickbuilt on Instagram whose MOC of Oscar sure rings the right dustbin (okay, trashcan) lid for me.
On that note, and given the hefty price tag, surely they could have afforded us a Mr Snuffleupaguss instead of yet another sticker tribute? The street looks a little empty without him and could easily pass for Yet Another Lego Street Building to sit alongside its Police Station (10278) and Book Shop (10270) were it not for the bunch of Muppets hanging around.
As with most of the Lego Ideas that get taken up and put on the shelves, the fun is in the details but I wouldn’t want to spoil anybody’s fun of discovery, which is surely what these nostalgic pieces are all about.
‘Every Door Will Open Wide… To Happy People Like You’
One might argue, however, that, with the show’s message of bridging many educational and cultural gaps, some efforts might have been taken to at least broach the idea of representation with actual examples of the multiethnic society it depicted back in the seventies if not nowadays; to populate the street with more than just a bunch of furry creatures, but that approach may well have drawn accusations of stereotyping and of trying to pander to the Woke Generation.
But I do feel that something is amiss with this set: without the human element, what are these creatures doing there? one might wonder. I mean, just who is manning Mr Hooper’s store?
Nevertheless, and in keeping with Sesame Street’s positive vibe, this blogger is keen to point out that this remains a fun addition to the nostalgic line of sets within the Lego Ideas range: it is a robust piece of display structure that could have possibly done with some stabilising disc elements underneath to hold the plates together more securely.
Yet the key attraction with this model is the dazzling array of splendidly observed authentic details to be found within its many nooks and crannies, my favourites being the VHS video tapes in Cookie’s apartment, Guy Smiley on Cookie Monster’s TV set and bowl containing Elmo’s pet fish Dorothy, not to mention the miniature train track that surrounds his bed.
The street does indeed look fantastic as a display item, standing at over 9.4” (24cm) high, 14.2” (36.2cm) wide and 8.2” (21cm) deep. The fact that it has so many mini sections where the collector can focus their play on is just one of this model’s many USPs. Even at nearly double the price of The Flintstones set, 123 Sesame Street offers considerably more value for money.
It’s versatility is matched by the sheer depth of its imaginative, colourful trivia gems and reference titbits; making for a fun and vibrant build throughout with the added benefit of lots of Lego learning: in short, a winning combination in keeping with the spirit and ethos of Sesame Street itself and more than a fitting tribute to the show’s creator, Jim Henson.
Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below!
If you would like to get your own Sesame Street (21324) LEGO Ideas set check out the below links!