Yesterday at Costco we picked up the Lego Friends Heartlake Lighthouse (because Legos are cool and colors belong to everyone, even if I think the Friend-figs are silly and poorly thought out), and because many years ago (1995), my sister and I fought over Dolphin Point the lighthouse from the Paradisa line (the 1990s version of Lego Friends). I was curious to see how the new version compared with the old one, and if/how Lego had changed things up in the last 20 years (has it really been twenty years?!)The boys had a lot of fun helping me put it together, commenting on the “tricky” roof, and making sure the Friend-figs took lots of photos with their camera as they rowed around the tray. It came together quickly, all the pieces came from neatly numbered cellophane bags, the directions were quite clear what went where, what pieces you’d need, etc. Lego has gotten a lot better at directions.
I really enjoyed the details put into the lighthouse, there is a bathroom — with a sink and toilet, a sleeping space — with a bed, pillow and lantern, a little ladder, and a delightful ice cream shop. Outside, a flowering vine grows on the exterior, and a giant ice cream cone greets visitors.
I understand the criticism of girls do more than just play ice cream shop, but looking past that (it is worth noting that my boys loved playing with it as well), it is a delightful build.
When the boys and I finished the Heartlake Lighthouse, I pulled up the directions for the Dolphin Point the lighthouse from the Paradisa line that my sister and I indulged in way back in 1995. I was surprised to find that while it has about half the number of pieces as Heartlake (approximately 198 vs. 472), the cost was comparable (around $30-$35).
It took a little over an hour to find most of the pieces (don’t ask where the mini-figs are they’re in a bin), and we set to work. The directions were long-lost as well, but thanks to the internet and our very old ipad, we were able to follow along and zoom-in when necessary. Zooming-in turned out to be crucial, as it wasn’t always obvious what needed to be done.
It is worth noting that, while the decals are missing, this lighthouse is also a destination ice-cream shop. We did eventually find the dolphin, but it didn’t make it into the picture.
While both of these sets are lighthouses, their building style varies greatly. The Paradisa lighthouse is simpler, has a plate base, and a build-your-own boat. The light on the lighthouse spins (Oliver thought that was the coolest thing ever). A jaunty palm tree and some after-thought red flowers are the only greenery to be seen. There is a sparsely filled room above the ice-cream shop, and a grill.
To be fair, the Friends lighthouse has more than twice as many parts, and while many of them go towards the roof of the building next to the lighthouse tower, as well as the base — it stands alone, and does not need to be mounted on a base plate, there are dozens of little pieces for accent lighting along the dock, and ice-cream bits. Little pieces add up quickly. My inner Lego geek was totally smitten by this (details and color!!!), my practical-mom side was horrified (more pieces to keep track of/misplace/step on/find again later)
Things I like about the Paradisa lighthouse
- The Paradisa lighthouse comes with four mini-figs (2 women, 2 men), where as there are only two Friends (but they do have fabulous hair).
- The Paradisa boat is awesome, it is a little red sail boat, quite sporty and fun, it also has a life jacket — the Friends boat is a molded pink plastic rowboat, if I really wanted a rowboat I could get one from my mid-90s Pirates. The Friends are also falling short on water safety, there is not a life-jacket in sight!
- The Paradisa lighthouse light spins, I could probably retrofit the Friends lighthouse to spin too, but I haven’t tried that yet.
- The Paradisa lighthouse has a modular build style, pre-molded panels make up most of the tower, where as the Friends lighthouse is largely comprised of curved corners. Pre-molded panels make for an easier build (and cut down on the over all piece-count), but the curved corners are much more interesting. While both are with in a block-height of each other, the Freinds lighthouse looks taller because there is more horizontal striping (also, the horizontal striping looks awesome).
- I like that the Friends lighthouse is not stuck on a giant base plate, this makes it easier to fit on the building boards and play tray.
- I love the details of the Friends lighthouse, the colorful striped awnings, the clever ice-cream cones and scoops, the toilet, the roof is amazing, and a 1×4 opening instead of a 1×2 opening to serve ice-cream seems like a better size.
If I had to pick just one…
If I had to choose between the Paradisa and the Friends for one light house set, I would probably pick the Friends.
If I could make my own perfect set…
I’d take the basic Friends lighthouse make the Friends lighthouse spin (duh!) and then take the Paradisa boat (and life vests)! It would also use the regular mini-figs, there would be four of them — two of each gender, and they’d have cute outfits and fabulous hair (not dated stuff from the 90s). I think the Paradisa dolphin is cooler than the Friends seal (it’s name is Satin), and the boys felt that what we really needed were sharks (that was an easy fix).
Overall, I’d say Lego did a good job updating the lighthouse (except for the friend-figs, which I still think are stupid, even if they have fabulous hair), and I agree with the boys, it needs more sharks!