LEGO Icons 10331 Kingfisher – An iconic bird in brick [Review]

The LEGO Botanical Collection has been a huge success, with loads of adult fans scooping those sets off shelves to decorate their homes and offices in a fun and cheerful way. The LEGO Ideas Insect Collection was also a hit, giving a bit of variety to these similar types of adult-oriented sets. It only made sense that the company would try to branch out into some of the more elegant representatives from the animal kingdom. Speaking of “kingdom” they picked an excellent candidate with the LEGO Icons 10331 Kingfisher. Join us as we swoop in for a closer look at this 834-piece set, available February 1st, and retailing for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £44.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Unboxing the parts and instructions

The thumb-punch box is on the smaller side, and features a dark orange banner to match the color of the Kingfisher’s chest. The back shows an image of the bird on display, but no pictures of a real kingfisher are included for comparison.

It was rumored that this set would be part of the “Fauna Collection” and match the popular “Botanical Collection” style, with that phrasing on the box. However, it’s notably absent. An interview with the lead designer, Sven Franic (designer of PAC-MAN and the DeLorean), revealed that, while similar sets may or may not show up on shelves in the future, an Icons line by that name will not appear. The title is already being used by the Art department with 31211 Macaw Parrots, and obviously the styles are very different.

Inside the box are six numbered bags. Bag 1 is the base; bag 2 is the water; bag 3 is the body of the bird; bag 4 is the right wing; bag 5 is the left wing and some of the plants; and bag 6 is the head, the fish, and the rest of the plants.

The first few pages of the instructions feature the real-life pictures we were missing from the box, as well as the details about the subject inspiration and designer’s notes we’ve become accustomed to from black-box sets.

The build

As mentioned before, we start with the obvious: the base. This includes a Technic core to give the body plenty of stability on the stand. There are also a ton if SNOT (studs not on top) elements to attach the curved slopes that make it rounded. According to Sven, possibly the most challenging component of the entire design process was figuring out how to evenly distribute the weight on the base with the positioning of the bird.

From there we add some additional slopes to complete the curve, and fill it with a bunch of blue bricks that will both add support/weight, and give the water it’s color.

After that we add satin trans-blue tiles for the water and trans-clear elements for the splash. Here we find an excellent part recolor in the upturned roof tiles we’ve seen in sets such as 10315 Tranquil Garden. This is one of Sven’s favorite parts usages in the set because it fits so well. If you don’t pay attention, you can get a little lost with all these tiles and slopes, but it’s not too bad… It’s then at this point where we also add some olive Technic connectors for the bulrush/cattail stems.

Another fun color we see is the new red-orange that has shown up in many of the new space-themed sets. The 1×2 plates included here are hidden inside the model and therefore not visible, but it’s still nice to have them nevertheless. Below is an image showing the new orange between regular and dark orange elements.

Finally, it’s time to turn our attention to the bird itself. We begin with the body. Like the base, it has a bit of a Technic core for stability. The wings will ultimately be joined to the body via the funky liftarm with bar (4).

On the flip side of the core, a pair of small armor pieces (new in dark blue) comprise the tail. It’s not much, but it looks nice on the finished model. A large windscreen (new in dark azure) forms the back, fitting for the namesake. This and many other elements are attached via bars through other elements with holes, versus the standard stud connection.

The body is slotted perfectly onto the base, and the chest is complete with a pair of the dark orange slopes shown above in the comparison shot (new in this color). These were another favorite parts usage of Sven’s, because they were also fenders in the 10295 Porsche 911, which he loves. The feet are made up of tan horns slotted into bar holders, which are clipped to pneumatic-t elements that are slotted into medium nougat posing elements – great color variants overall.

Next up are the wings. Here we have a lovely arrangement of parts, and a perfect marriage of colors. We build the greater body of the wing and then each feather group from largest to smallest. (This is quite satisfying, as it’s the one spot in the model where you see things develop in a very logical way. Generally other parts of the model only make sense when they are finished.) Here, another recolor – the new palm leaf element in sand blue – does a great job of accentuating the detail of the feathers in motion.

With the feathers on the wings and the wings attached to the body, the geometry is nicely executed. It certainly gives off the vibe of the bird taking off from the water.

The final component of the Kingfisher itself is, of course, the head. Various slopes are affixed to a core of brackets and SNOT bricks. Microphones make up the eyes, and a plate with a bar is set at the back of the mouth to hold the fish. Partially rubber tail elements form the beak. There is an axle that will connect the head to the body, however, the orientation of the slopes around it does not allow for much movement.

The fish doesn’t look like much of a fish at all, except that it’s made from silver metallic elements. It’s hard to find too much fault here, though, because it’s certainly not the focus of this display piece, and they really couldn’t have done much more with it.

Recently new fern pieces comprise most of the base of the foliage, along with the seaweed elements.

We cap the whole display off with some great bulrushes/cattails. They do a good job of setting the scene, as well as distracting from some of the visible support pieces.

The completed model

In our conversation with Sven, we learned a lot about the design process and how this set went through some key decision phases. For example, having the pose be flight versus perched was one decision. Another was whether the bird should be diving into the water or coming out of it. Color was yet another consideration, and initially the design team did try out a brighter palette, as many kingfishers display vivid plumage. However, this was the one palette that could be easily recognizable across the globe, was more appropriate for an adult audience, and, of course, was most achievable in LEGO.

It also just so happens that the colors and scale simply seemed to fit and fall into place. It’s as close as they could make it to the actual size and still get everything they wanted out of it. Ultimately, Sven and his team seem to have made the right choices, as the key features of the bird are on elegant display.


Conclusions and recommendations

I’m a big fan of Kingfishers, so I was one of the those people most excited for this set. I would say that it certainly fits the bill for me (no pun intended). While there are parts that can be adjusted slightly, it’s not a model that’s meant to be played with in that way. The pose is fine though, and as most people will simply want to display it, it’s not missing anything.

There was some talk on the interwebs about people not liking the head. Personally, I think it looks just fine, but to each their own. If you really wanted to do some custom alterations, you probably could.

Overall, it’s a fairly easy set to build, although you can get a little lost when putting on the water tiles. As previously mentioned, it’s not meant to be posed in other ways and moved around, so it really is a display set versus a play set. I probably wouldn’t recommend this for a younger audience unless they love birds, but if you’re an adult that needs a fun escape with the added bonus of an elegant display piece, this one’s for you.

LEGO Icons 10331 Kingfisher will be available February 1st and retail for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £44.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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