A lot of times we hear complaints about evergreen LEGO themes not having enough variety and I get it, there’s only so many different ways to build a fire station or police station before they all start morphing together a bit. But in saying that I don’t think it’s a fair critique on the LEGO Friends line though as since it was first established, their designers have not held back from creating sets that sees the group in exotic or even at times dangerous situation ranging from deep jungles to the world of showbiz. With this particular set, the Snow Resort Ski Lift, the LEGO Friends are ascending to the high mountains for a winter themed fun.
Before we start off, firstly know that this is not an ad or a collaboration with LEGO, I actually bought this off a local selling page from a woman who was moving house and found a brand new, unopened set and sold it for a fraction of the price because she just wanted it gone. Knowing how much my 7-year-old loves LEGO, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity for such a find because… I’m a cheapskate ha!
OK back to the review, the highlight of this LEGO Friends set is the ski lift. It’s not an easy build but it functions perfectly especially compared to other sets like the Power Miners base which used similar mechanism to transport mine spoils over a lava river. The ski lift feels unique because it does not feel like something that has done to death like an exploding wall (insert eye roll). LEGO Friends have cleverly used a bar mounted at the base of the lift’s chair on which the mini-dolls can easily & securely ride from the bottom of the mountain to the top.
So, if you look at the LEGO Friends sets that has come out over the years you will see that they have a formula which they follow throughout the years. A set of rules if you must. In no particular order they are:
Numerous different models must be included
There has to be some sort of eatery or food prep site present in some way or other
There has to be a cute animal present somewhere, somehow so the girls (or boys) can coo over it
***This set ticks all the rules*** While the first rule is usually an annoying aspect that I find with LEGO Friends and make me roll my eyes over, however in this set it works. For example, an equipment rental station and slope map would definitely have fallen prey to the curse of the lost separate model but on actual ski slopes, such facilities are standard fare. And the same goes for eatery or food joint, major resorts will often have these atop their peaks so the inclusion of it in this set makes it feel less forced. Despite its small size, the rustic, alpine charm and the aesthetics of it all permeates through to the small chateau which sits atop the mountain.
An aspect of it that I felt is forced and just didn’t make sense is the inclusion of the cute animal. What appears to be a baby grizzly is included and sits adjacent to a partially frozen lake build. I had a laugh building this with my 7-year-old as she asked if it was safe to have a bear close to ski resort and I had to explain to her it looks more like a baby grizzly and there’s no way in a real-life situation that would have happened without an angry mama grizzly lurking somewhere in the background. People would have been mauled and died lol. Next!
One thing that irks me though is the ski hill. LEGO Group has had many mountain sets, some have risen to the occasion (no pun intended) and some have not. The main reason behind this is that it takes a lot of plastic parts to get it right and price points for these sets just simply cannot accommodate the number of bricks it would take to get a ski hill right especially with all the other elements included into it. This particular peak rises no higher than a single-storey building. Whilst the lift towers and the restaurant roof design do a clever job of masking this, it still doesn’t change the fact that the mountain top is only six studs high.
Another feature which doesn’t really add value to the set again is the ski hill itself. For some reason the designers decided that after a well-crafted launching mechanism the best way to finish it off would be a studded slope. It doesn’t work AT ALL. The rough ride for the skiers is a disaster because of its really short length. Literally blink and your ski figure is on the ground and this is exacerbated by the fact that the studs catch the skis and cause the crash. You also cannot race two ski figures at once. So, what’s the point of having two figures LEGO!!!
I felt that this lack of play potential for this particular set really reduces the appeal of what would have been a really cool set to play with. I know my 7-year-old will enjoy playing with this for the time-being but I also know because of its limited features she will quickly get bored of it.
Another feature that I think would be a major drawback for some parents is the storing aspect. There is A LOT of really small pieces that could easily get lost so the box it comes in is pointless to keep it in. I also found the lack of desirable colours made it hard to try and build other things out of it.
In saying that, LEGO Group took a chance with this and trying to make something unique which they came extremely close to succeeding with. I feel with a bit more extra pieces, a better elevated ski slope without the studs and room for both the figures to race down would definitely have changed this from less of a miss to something worth spending money on. As it is now, I’m glad I paid less than the retail price for it.