LEGO Ideas 21349 Tuxedo Cat [Review]

Have you ever wanted to own a cat, but didn’t want to clean the litter box or pay for vet visits? The latest set from the LEGO Ideas crowdsourcing platform has got you covered, as 21349 Tuxedo Cat is the perfect feline friend who will always stay where you put it and rarely scratch up your couch. The project was first submitted to Ideas by fan Damian Andres (AKA The Yellow Brick) way back at the end of 2020 as a sculpture of his cat, a Siamese-Birman mix named Miro. The official set shifts the color scheme to a Tuxedo and makes a fair number of changes to the construction, but keeps the overall scale and pose the same as Damian’s submission. The Ideas model boasts 1,710 pieces, and includes pieces to swap out for yellow or blue eyes, along with an alternate lower lip to give the cat a different expression. It will be available starting June 1 for US $99.99 | CAN $129.99 UK £89.99.

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

Unboxing the set and contents

The cat comes in a fairly hefty portrait-oriented lidded box. This is the first time in a while I’ve encountered a box of this size with a removable lid, which I appreciate because it’s easy to find another use for the box later for sorting. Inside there are 20 paper bags and the instruction manual. There’s no sticker sheet, as the eyes are the only decorated elements and they’re printed.

The opening pages of the manual give the usual background on the fan designer, a brief history of cats (yes really), and a short note from LEGO Designer Chris McVeigh and Graphic Designer Nathan Davis.

As far as the parts go, there’s not a huge amount of interesting new elements here except the eyes, which are printed black 2×2 inverted boat tiles. You’ll get two each in yellow and blue.

The introduction from the designer calls out a “45-degree bow element” as a new element that was designed for this set, which is presumably referring to PLATE 2X2X2/3, HALF BOW, W/ CUT (in its left and right variations), but that element ended up arriving first in the Speed Champions 76922 BMW M4 GT3 & BMW M Hybrid V8. The cat includes them in black (7 pairs) and white (1 pair) like those in the BMW set. You’ll also get a nice assortment of other relatively new (but not exclusive) elements such as the 1×4 bows with cuts, and 45-degree cut 1×2 tiles.

There are a few recolors in this set. The ones I spotted are:

TILE 2X2, 1/2 CIRCLE in white (5520/6494548) – 8 included
DESIGN ELEMENT 2X2X2/3 in white (1762/6507816) – 1 included
TILE 1X2, 1/2 CIRCLE in pink (1126/6507796) – 1 included
PLATE 1X2, 1/2 CIRCLE, W/ 1 KNOB in pink (1745/6494545) – 2 included
COCKPIT 4X5X1, W/ 3.2 SHAFT, NO. 1 in black (27262/6494547) – 2 included
TRIANGULAR SIGN W. SNAP in black (65676/6491608) – 1 included (not pictured below)

The build

A cat always lands feet first, and so it’s natural that the feet come first here too. The back paws are splayed at a slight angle and locked in place with the new 1×3 round plates that were introduced last year. The family of new rounded plates, which currently includes 1×2, 1×3, and 1×4 versions, have made off-axis construction techniques infinitely easier, and the fact that LEGO has invested in three designs so far is a great bellwether for how LEGO continues to push the envelope of more complex shapes in official sets.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but the structure of this cat’s skin will be familiar if you’ve built any of LEGO’s plumpy sculptures before, such as 75318 The Child or 75230 Porg. That is, you’ll build a cubic frame with lots of attachment points on all sides for the curving shell plates to hang on, resulting in a very nicely organic shape.

When I’m building an official set, I’m always on the lookout for interesting techniques to add to my own repertoire, and one that stood out to me here was the interior of the cat’s white belly, which has a clever and incredibly sturdy design for centering axle holes into a brick slab. The red 1×2 Technic bricks have axle holes which slot into the axles on the core. I love the LEGO math this design uses.

With all the shell panels attached, we’re starting to get something recognizable. Perhaps even disturbingly so. Let’s move along quickly to turn this half cat into a whole cat.

The cat is built modularly, with the next two modules being the upper body and the front legs. The upper body uses the same shell-over-frame construction as the lower half, while the legs are a neat little build of mostly bow elements. While the cat isn’t very poseable, the ball joints at the shoulders and the Technic pins in the ankles allow the feet and legs to rotate just a little, though the range of motion is quite small. As a cat owner, I’m finding this build increasingly uncanny as body parts start to be recognizable. Maybe that’s just me, though.

The last two parts are the head and tail. The head is by far the most complex subassembly of the build, and it’s quite fun to construct, though no techniques jumped out at me as being especially novel. It’s just a really solid design for a complex shape.

The head includes a few options for different designs; in addition to the eye colors, you can also swap out the lower jaw to give your kitty an open mouth.

There does seem to be a small error in the instructions at this step, though. The instructions seem to call for the open-mouth version of the jaw to be placed 1 stud too far forward, though the box art seems to show it placed correctly. It’s a very minor issue, and frankly it doesn’t look awful either way–in fact I didn’t even notice this discrepancy until halfway through photographing the finished build, so some of my photos have it sticking out too far, as the instructions call for, while others have the “corrected” placement with no gap by the neck.

The tail is quite simple compared to the head. It’s largely a static design, with only the very top of the tail having a tiny range of motion. At the risk of retconning a design philosophy, I suppose this is accurate to how a cat will sit motionless except for the tiniest of tail flicks.

The completed model

While there are many things I could say about the sculpting of the model and how the plethora of newer curved bows has captured the look of the cat well, the best endorsement I can give is that in the few days I’ve had the finished model on my build table, every time I’ve walked into the room I’ve subconsciously done a double take at the cat sitting there. From 10 feet away, it’s a stunningly life-like build.

The cat’s scale is perfect for a young or small cat, close enough that it seems quite normal unless a real housecat sits next to it.

There’s not much here in the way of play features or poseability. Apart from the optional jaw and eyes, the head rotates (a full 360 degrees), and the the legs and feet can twist ever so slightly, and the tip of the tail can twitch. Apart from that, this is a static model, albeit a super cute one.

Conclusion and recommendation

Over the past few years LEGO has been making a concerted effort to attract adult fans with models that look at home not just in a nerd cave but also in a professional office or tidy house. The Tuxedo Cat joins the ranks of models I’d consider putting on my office desk, while being adorably cute too. I do wish there was a little poseability, but that would almost certainly have compromised the shaping, and the life-likeness is a huge part of the charm here. I’d also have loved to see options for more colors so people could make their own favorite cat, but apart from making this an all-black cat, so many parts would need to be swapped out to change the color, there was no way LEGO would include that in a single set. I do hope LEGO tries out alternate color releases, though–there is precedent, as LEGO trialed re-releasing a set with a new color scheme a few years ago with the 77942 Fiat 500.

Nevertheless, if you must have only one color scheme, the tuxedo is one of the cutest options, and I suspect feline-loving fans will flock to it. And if you’re only looking at the set as a parts pack, 1,710 pieces for $100 is quite a deal, since nearly all the parts in this set are substantial, useful elements, including a ton of bows and slopes. The Tuxedo Cat is a wonderful set and if you have any interest in a brick-built fur baby that doesn’t shed, or a truckload of black and white pieces, you should definitely pick it up.

21349 Tuxedo Cat contains 1,710 pieces and will be available from LEGO starting June 1 for US $99.99 | CAN $129.99 UK £89.99. It may also be available from third-party sellers such as Amazon and eBay.

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.

The post LEGO Ideas 21349 Tuxedo Cat [Review] appeared first on The Brothers Brick.


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