Thursday, January 5th, 2012...1:52 pm

Olivia’s Invention Workshop

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LEGO Friends Set 3933: Olivia’s Invention Workshop
Manufacturer: LEGO
MSRP: $9.99
Availability: Mass retail, now

LEGO Friends launched on January 1, 2012, after a teaser campaign that started with a mysterious “Coming Soon” website in December, and a full website launch on December 26th 2011. Although I continue to be baffled by the fact that these sets weren’t available for Christmas 2011 — I know they would’ve been on MY shopping list — I am happy to report that the wait was worth it.


Meet Olivia! Arguably the most prominent of the LEGO Friends mini-dolls, she is available in three sets: Olivia’s House, Olivia’s Treehouse, and Olivia’s Invention Workshop. To be fair, four out of the five LEGO Friends girls also star in three sets each, but Olivia’s the only one whose parents are available in a set as well.


According to her bio on the LEGO Friends website, Olivia is the scientist-inventor-computer geek of the group. Her interests include outdoor activities like hiking and stargazing as well as the kind of indoor pursuits you’d expect from someone who lists “school” and “history” among her favorite things. This kind of earnest geekiness warms the cockles of my heart… but I’m also charmed to see that Olivia’s favorite color is pink, and she enjoys drawing. She’s not just a stereotypical “I’m no stereotypical girl!” science maven; she is capable of loving pink just as much as science.


I am mildly disappointed to see that her Invention Workshop doesn’t come with a compass, given that her bio claims that she’d never leave home without it… maybe one of the other sets has it? Also, it’s a little odd that a girl who’s “good at computers” doesn’t have one in her workshop. Then again, her Invention Workshop seems pretty old school…


But first things first. The LEGO Friends Mini-dolls come in easy-to-assemble pieces. The torso and legs come in individual bags, presumably to protect their delicate printed patterns, while the head and hair piece are separate. While the hair piece is compatible with other LEGO Minifigures, none of the other body parts are interchangeable.


The set is composed of several smaller builds, so you can start playing before you finish building the whole workshop. There’s a workshop bench with tools, drawers, and a (non-functional but still nifty) vice, some shelves with mysterious beakers (just what is she inventing?!), a cunningly built microscope, and a blackboard with a storage cubby on the back.


And let’s not forget Olivia’s little friend! The robot is reminiscent of the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kit, although Olivia’s robot is remote-controlled rather than autonomous. I decided to use up as many extra parts as I could, resulting in the powerful mini-robot known as Brick Strongneck.


All in all, Olivia’s Invention Workshop is a fun little set for under $10 USD. It’s great for budding scientists and inventors, as well as (I’m going to be honest) people who like the color blue. I’m completely serious: this is the most beautiful shade of blue that I’ve ever seen, and it goes so well with the mint seafoam green and the pink and the purple. I know that pastels are supposed to be the big thing for 2012, but the vivid shade of blue used in this set is so very lovely. I can’t get enough of it.

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