If you were lucky, part of your pre-school experience was spending quality time learning from the humans and fuzzy monsters on Sesame Street. If you’re like me, you found a friend in Cookie Monster, sang along with Ernie and Bert, and wished you could take a nap in Big Bird’s nest. If you’re younger than me, then you might have spent time in Elmo’s world. No matter your age, they were good times, to be sure. The latest Ideas set from LEGO, 123 Sesame Street (21324), gives us a new chance to revisit old friends, and maybe make some new ones along the way. This 1,368-piece set will be available directly from LEGO.com and from LEGO stores starting November 1 for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £109.99. The Brothers Brick was sent an early copy to review, and we’re eager to explore it with you. So come along, and let’s see who are the people in your neighborhood!
The box and contents
The front of the box for this set features a good look at the two buildings included: 123 Sesame Street and the corner store. You get a clear indication of what the set contains, including a good look at all six new minifigures. Stylistically, LEGO chose to go with the “Adult collector” packaging for this set. That means a minimalist look: black background, prominent logo, and key bits of info along the bottom. While I do think this design looks pretty snazzy, it also comes with a mandatory age range of “18+” which I’m not sure makes a ton of sense for a Sesame Street-themed set. This is another case where a more accurate idea of the suggested age range could help parents know if this is a good “family building set” or not. In building it, I found that there’s very little construction that younger builders would struggle with, and although there are a few fiddly bits, they don’t merit the 18+ age rating.
The back of the box has some icons stepping you through the flow of how an Ideas sets comes about, as well as a shot of the playset from the back. Three smaller pictures add a little visual interest, including a shot of all the included Muppets in real life. There’s also an inset of the one area not clearly shown from the front or back views: Cookie Monster’s apartment.
Inside the box are eleven numbered bags, an unnumbered bag with some larger parts, and a bag containing a 256-page square perfect-bound instruction book and a sticker sheet.
The instruction book cover is a little different than usual. Rather than a picture of the full set, LEGO decided to highlight the minifigures. The back cover is plain black with a centered Sesame Street logo.
Inside the book are some introductory pages where you can learn about Sesame Street, fan designer Ivan Guerrero, and set designers Ollie Gregory and Crystal Marie Fontan.
When I reviewed the Elf Clubhouse I pointed out how the solid black background of the “adult theme” instructions caused some real problems during the building process. While I would still prefer a lighter color background, I didn’t notice any real concerns with the background on this set. Most of the low-contrast building steps have a handy white background inset, which helps a lot.
Many times when I’m building a LEGO set I can spot logical cost-cutting measures in operation – areas of the build that are designed to use the same color/part combinations to help cut down on the variety of parts needed. This set is pretty much the inverse of that mindset. The product shots of the tan and green brownstone exteriors don’t do anything to prepare you for just how colorful the rest of the pieces are. Every bag held new surprises and variations, rare pieces and unusual colors. Here’s a shot of just some of the more interesting color mixes I came across. Considering that the 1×2 ingot and domed 1×1 tile aren’t all that common to begin with, it was amazing to get each of them in six different colors.
And the rainbow kicks into high gear when you start looking at the full array of building elements. Eight different colors of the 1×1 brick with stud on the side? Yes, please. That 2×4 dual-stud jumper tile in dark orange was seen a few times in 2020 Minecraft sets, but was a new piece for me.
In fact, there are several parts mixed in throughout the build that have only shown up in a few late-2020 sets. The August Hidden Side wave, for example, is the only other source for this 1×2 half circle brick in black, while the 1x2x2 brick with studs on three sides debuted with the Mario them earlier this year.
There are a lot of stickers – and unfortunately you’re asked to cover up some very rare pieces with them. The 2×6 tile in back has only been seen once before in the 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System, and those 3×3 round tiles in white and dark red are brand new colors for unprinted elements. That said, the art here is great, and although finding new uses for some of these designs will be challenging, they all add a great deal of fun and context to this set.
There are also a decent number of printed elements as well, including five brand new ones. I was kind of surprised to see 1×1 tiles from the DOTS sets show up, but I suppose it was inevitable. As we’ll see, there are several other DOTS elements included in this set.
Unique to this set is Elmo’s pet fish Dorothy in a “fishbowl” made of a minifigure head. The “123” building number is printed in gold and black on a clear 1×2 brick. Both prints are clean and sharp, and I like how the fish has a very LEGO-esque square mouth on it.
There are also three new printed tiles. The 1×4 yellow tile and 1×1 half-circle tile are used to make the Sesame Street logo on the street sign. A 1×1 orange heart tile brings Oscar’s pet worm Slimey to life. As a nice bonus, you get a spare of both the 123 tile and Slimey.
And speaking of bonus parts: It may be a bit of a spoiler, but let’s jump ahead to see all the parts you have leftover once the build is complete. Thanks to all those multi-colored bricks, the occasional “here’s a spare in case you lose one” part turns into a really huge pile of extras. Over 85 of them, by my rough count, or more than six percent extra over the quantity listed on the box.
The build starts off as you’d expect, with a baseplate-like structure that will support the buildings. There are some nice curves along the leading edge, although there are some visible gaps between the grey plate and the curved tile curb. The construction here is pretty straightforward, but you do get a vibrant splash of color on the underside.
The theme of hidden details continues with this spider. Although you can (sort of) see it through the basement window in the front, it’s very much hidden in the completed model. Maybe this is a tribute to the Itsy Bitsy Spider episode? Or the fact that Bert and Ernie no longer live in the basement?
At this point I’m just going to admit I had to research pretty much everything that happened in Sesame Street lore since…oh, 1976 or so. My apologies in advance for when I inevitably get something wrong.
The first floor of the main building features Elmo’s bedroom. One of the nicer touches are the open windows, a small but friendly detail. There’s also a pretty neat lampshade design, and the classic wall-mounted phone in black is a blast from the past. We’ll visit Elmo’s world again later in the build when some more details are added.
Outside, Big Bird’s nest area is starting to come together. A particularly bittersweet inclusion is Big Bird’s portrait of Mr. Hooper, which commemorated the actor’s passing. More unambiguously cheerful is the red birdhouse up on the wall, and mix of colors along the base of the wall.
On the other side of the building, it looks like Abby Cadabby has been busy painting a self-portrait. Note the bright pink 1×1 heart tile- a new color for that element. This is another area that will get a lot more added to it towards the end.
The next section of the build is the second floor where Bert and Ernie make their home. A couple of key locations are included, starting with Ernie’s bathtub and Rubber Duckie. The showerhead is a fun design, making use of the paint roller handle to form the plumbing. There are also some satin/opalescent trans-light-blue 1×1 DOTS tiles for water on the floor.
Overlooking Big Bird’s nest is Ernie’s window box. It may seem out of place at first glance, but that carton of milk is home to the Twiddlebug family.
Moving back inside, we have the very distinctive Pinball counting song wall clock, and Bert’s reading chair.
The other side of the room has Bert and Ernie’s beds. Some notable details are stickered tiles showcasing Bert’s bottlecap and paperclip collections. I wasn’t able to find an explanation for the toy dinosaur. (In my personal headcanon it’s because Ernie is a big fan of Rexy from How Ridiculous.) The room also features another cool lampshade. This time it’s made from a plain Minecraft minifigure head in white – another new element color unique to this set as an unprinted element.
Outside, the front door to 123 is now in place. The decorative element above the mantle is pretty sweet. It makes use of tan 1×1 heart tiles along the bottom. And, yeah, tan is a new color for those, too. The lights on either side of the door have octagonal jewel elements from the DOTS Cosmic Wonder bracelet.
Up on the roof, Bert gets to spend some quality time at his pigeon coop. The old-school TV aerial helps to keep the building a timeless classic. You can see here how the roof’s play area is constructed on a triangular plate, allowing a lot of light to get into the 2nd-floor spaces.
On the other side of the roof are some smokestacks and a crashed flying saucer. I really tried to figure out what that’s a reference to, but came up short. Maybe the Martians? An oblique shoutout to Muppets from Space? It’s a mystery. But I hope it’s the Martians. (Yip yip yip)
With 123 more or less complete, construction can start on Mr. Hooper’s corner candy store. The first-floor interior features a fun array of printed elements as merchandise, a coffee travel cup, and a classic cash register. Oddly the 1×1 bricks with Technic hole on the back wall don’t join up to anything. It almost feels like there was going to be another small addition to this set that was removed in the development process, but the attachment points for it were left in.
The rest of the corner store exterior has great detailing. I really like the arched window and hanging sign. The sand green texture along the roofline adds enough detail without making things feel cluttered. The striped awning is a classic LEGO design, and the use of a sticker for the diamond tile pattern under the counter works well. I’ve seen some other fan Sesame Street designs that used 1×1 tile to form a similar pattern, but I think the too-small-for-real-brick patterned sticker works very well.
Cookie Monster’s apartment is on the second floor. Over the bright light yellow easy chair is a picture of Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck. Guy Smiley is hosting something on TV, although Cookie has some old VHS tapes ready to watch other classic episodes when that show is done. The portrait of the Count on the dark red 3×3 round tile is just cool enough to justify the covering of that currently unique piece. The gold trophy figure and toad may or may not be callbacks to something, but they sure look classy.
The final batches of parts add additional detail to areas constructed earlier on. Big Bird’s nest area is flushed out with a picture of Snuffy, a mailbox, and a tree for Big Bird to nest in. A big bucket stands in for the nest itself — a reasonable solution, although a brick-built nest would have been nicer. The inclusion of Big Bird’s teddy bear, Radar, softens the blow.
Out front of 123, the rubbish and recycling bins are now in place, giving Oscar a place to hang out. You can spot that spider web in the basement if you look really closely. It’s also worth pointing out that iconic fire hydrant. They nailed the colors on it, with a grey BB-8 dome brick on top giving it a great shape.
Abby Cadabby’s fairy garden adds some fun to the other side of 123, and provides some context for the wall art. In the foreground, you can see a tan 3-prong plant stem. That piece was previously only seen in black as a tuft of hair on the Kevin minifigure in the Minions sets.
Finally, we add a few more features to Elmo’s bedroom on the first floor of 123. He gets a dresser, rocket, goldfish bowl, stuffed rabbit, and a really clever mini-train. I’m not sure how it’s supposed to follow the track under the bed, but I suppose that’s what imagination is all about.
The final bit of detail I want to call out is the Sesame Street lamppost. Topped with a Mysterio Fishbowl helmet with a brand new satin/opalescent finish, it looks just perfect. I doubt I’ll be taking my set apart any time soon, but if I do this small section will remain together and get put on a shelf somewhere.
The finished model
All of the detail described above fits together really well in the completed model. From the front, Sesame Street is busy, but the sidewalk is mostly clear as a play area. The interior of Hooper’s store is a little tricky to get your hand into, but the door and open counter window allow for better access for placing minifigures.
From the back the play areas are a little cramped, and the areas on the 1st floor are pretty dark and hard to get to. But that’s a fair trade-off for how many important settings they were able to pack into the space. Everywhere you look, there’s something new to see or do. Normally I’d bemoan the lack of any Technic-based play features with moving parts, but I think the designers made the right choice to focus on form over function here.
These are the people in your neighborhood
This set comes with six exclusive minifigures and a bunch of animal friends. The minifigures all have either unique prints or entirely new molded elements, which is remarkable already since the LEGO Ideas line has previously avoided introducing new elements. Of them, Big Bird is the standout, with great leg printing, feathered arms, and a seriously amazing head/torso sculpt. Next up are Ernie and Bert – both are just about perfect recreations. Less successful are Oscar and Elmo. The decision to go with a “smooth” over “furry” look for them is a little off-putting. Sadly, my least favorite is Cookie Monster. He really needed to be chunkier, furrier, and maybe cast in dark blue instead of classic blue. I would have loved to see him with a head/torso piece similar to the ones used on the Ewok or Wookie minifigures. But even though I know he could have been better, I still love him. I mean, come on. LEGO has produced a sculpted Cookie Monster minifigure. That counts for a lot in my book.
From the back, you can see that only Ernie and Bert have dual-sided torso printing. You can also see the hint of fur on Elmo and Cookie monster’s head sculpts – another area that feels like a half-measure. Maybe if there had been a torso print to match the tufts-of-hair look here, it could have made them seem more muppet-like. Again, though, just look at that amazing Big Bird sculpt. Just outstanding work there.
Taking Oscar and Big Bird apart, you can see the elements that make them up. The 2×2 round tile for the trash can lid works better than the 2×2 radar dish you see in other sets. On Oscar’s head, a radar dish would have looked a little too much like a straw hat.
We’ve already talked about Oscar’s pal Slimey (on the 1×1 heart tile). but it’s also worth cataloging the other animal friends included in this set. You get the spider in the basement, two pigeons, a bat, a baby raptor, Big Bird’s teddy bear Radar, a stuffed bunny, and Ernie’s Rubber Duckie. And don’t forget you get a spare Slimey as a bonus piece, too.
Conclusion and recommendation
Okay, if you’ve read any of the above you already know how I feel about this set. If you’ve skipped to the end, let me say it plainly: I love this set. It appeals to me both from a deep sense of nostalgia as well as just being an excellent building experience. The exteriors are all read as accurate, the interiors are packed full of details and fun items, and the six minifigures are all unique additions. If I wasn’t a Sesame Street fan? I’d still want this set. From a parts perspective there are rare elements, tons of useful pieces, and a literal rainbow of colors to reuse. At a $119 price point and 1,368 pieces, the cost per part comes in at only 8.7 cents – a pretty reasonable mark for a licensed set. (And closer to 8.2 if you count all the spare elements you get!) And if you’re just in it for the collectability? Well, it seems likely that the children of today will someday want this set from yesterday, too. So, yes. Come and play. Everything’s A-OK.
21324 LEGO Ideas: Sesame Street will be available starting November 1st direct from LEGO.com and from LEGO Stores for US $119.99 | CAN $149.99 | UK £109.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on 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.
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