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#2385 SET REVIEW: 21061 Notre Dame de Paris

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The latest set in the LEGO Architecture theme is the iconic cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris. With the Summer Olympics scheduled in Paris this summer and the anticipated reopening of the cathedral after its devastating fire five years ago, there's a renewed interest in this historic building and there's never been a better time to honour it in LEGO form. Join us as we take a look inside and out of this June 1st release!

#2385 SET REVIEW: 21061 Notre Dame de Paris  Picture of the Notre Dame de Paris LEGO Architecture set, with the Paris skyline in the background.  Our score: 22 out of 25. Price: 199.99 British Pounds, 229.99 US Dollars, 229.99 Euro for 4,383 parts  Regardez! Today’s review takes us to Paris for the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, the latest set in the LEGO Architecture theme.  SWIPE FOR OUR FULL REVIEW!

[Review products provided by the LEGO Group, but all opinions are our own and honest - we don’t have to praise sets to keep receiving them.]

Part selection: NEW RECOLOURS: 113 Tan Brick, Modified 1 by 1 by two thirds with Open Stud 12 Black Tile, Modified 1 by 2 Wedge Right 12 Black Tile, Modified 1 by 2 Wedge Left 8 Dark Tan Hinge Plate 1 by 4 Swivel 2 Tan Wedge, Plate 4 by 2 Right, Pointed 70 Tan Bar Holder with Handle 2 Wheel Cover 9 Spoke - 24 millimeter diameter 40 Tan Minifigure, Utensil Magic Wand  PARTS IN BULK: 181 Tan Minifigure, Utensil Candle 166 Tan Plate, Round 1 by 1 with open stud 104 Black Slope, Curved 1 by 1 by 2/3 Double 99 Tan Arch 1 by 2 Jumper 97 Tan Brick, Modified 1 by 1 by 1 and two thirds with studs on side 86 Tan Plate 1 by 2 80 Dark Tan Plate, Round 1 by 1 with open stud 77 Tan Brick, 1 by 2 76 Tan Arch 2 by 2 Corner 74 Tile, Round 1 by 1 with Bar and Pin Holder 73 Tan Brick, 1 by 1 73 Tan Slope 45 1 by 1 double 72 Black Tile, Modified Triangular 70 White Tile, Modified Triangular 70 Tan Plate, Modified 1 by 1 with Tooth Horizontal 70 Tan Minifigure, Utensil Ingot Plus 7 other parts in quantities of 50 or more!  NEW PRINTS: 1 Black Tile, 1 by 8 with "Notre-Dame de Paris" printed 3 Trans-Clear Dish 4 by 4 inverted with solid stud and rose window print  RARE PARTS (only 1 other set): 74 Tile, Round 1 by 1 with Bar and Pin Holder 6 Brick, Modified 1 by 2 with Stud on Side 2 Tan Wedge, Plate 4 by 2 Left, Pointed 47 Tan Fence 1 by 4 by 1 Lattice (Last seen in 2004!) 24 Trans-black plate 1 by 1 (New trans-black!)  Part Selection: 4 out of 5. While there are no new molds, there’s a TON of bulk here and some interesting recolours. We love the tan magic wand, and the fact that you get 40 of them!

Techniques  One of the best experiences you’ll encounter with this build is how it matches the chronology of how the cathedral was built.  For example, this back half is fully built before you begin any work on the front half.  The instructions include historical timeline references for each stage of the build!  Picture from instructions with this note: "1182 - The choir is isolated from the active building site by a provisional wall. Construction continues from east to west in the transcept and the nave.  Angled tiles help accurately depict the diamond-patterned black and white floor. Wedge tiles, including new black recolours, make room for the candle-built columns.  Picture of the interior of the Notre Dame LEGO build showing the floor. Parts 5091, the Black Tile, Modified 1 by 2 Wedge Right; 5092, Black Tile, Modified 1 by 2 Wedge Left; and 37762, Tan Minifigure, Utensil Candle are called out. A picture of the actual Notre Dame cathedral floor is included for comparison.

The exterior of the real-life cathedral includes varying architectural approaches in different sections of the building, adding variety to the build.  The iconic Rose Windows contain a lot of clever detail and include the new printed 4 by 4 dish for the stained glass.  Four images showing the rose window and surrounding fearues being built. On the last, parts 49668, the Tan Plate, Modified 1 by 1 with horizontal tooth; and 4085d, the Tan Plate, Modified 1 by 1 with vertical clip, are called out.  These trans-clear SNOT bricks (part number 8796) provide a means to attach the stained glass dish while still letting light through.  The trans clear brick with four studs on each side is called out.  Bell towers are built one corner at a time. Cheese slopes (54200) effectively represent the angles of the opaque windows in the towers.  Three images showing the belltowers being built, with another of the actual belltower for comparison. The black cheese slope is called out.

The 40 tan wands must be meticulously placed and turned to the appropriate angles, but the result makes the effort worthwhile.  Two images of the placed tan magic wands; one after the initial placement and another showing them within the completed build.  Telescopes, technic gears, and a sword on top are among the interesting parts used in the spire, which was destroyed in the 2019 fire.  Image of the spire with part number 93550, the minifigure epee sword; part 64644, the minfigure telescore, and part 10928, the technic gear 8 tooth with dual face, called out.  There’s a very subtle detail on these mini-trees: The larger trees and one small tree have dark green leaves on their east side, meant to suggest they are facing away from the sun.  Image of the side of the build where the greenery is, with dark green leaf parts called out.  Techniques: 4 out of 5. Most of the techniques used are quite novel and clever! Like many architecture sets, there is plenty of repetition involved. However, the original building has enough variety section-to-section that you’re able to move on quickly from repetitive steps. The walkthrough of the history keeps you engaged while building.

Accuracy Accurately portraying intricate real-life detail on such a small scale can be a challenge! How did this set perform? Let’s take a look at the hits and misses.  They nailed the western façade, especially the different arch angles on the three portals!  Two images, comparing the front of the build with the western facing side of the actual Notre-Dame, showing their similarity.  The number and location of the buttresses match the original building exactly.  However, the candle build makes them look round rather than flat on top, and they just rest on the main structure.  Two images, comparing the buttresses from an angle facing the belltower on both the build and the actual Notre-Dame.  The curvature of the east side, done with several hinge plates, matches very nicely.  Two images comparing the east side of the building from the same angle on both the build and the actual Notre-Dame.

Sand green statuettes are perfect to represent the statues of the apostles on the cathedral spire!  Close-up image of the base of the spire showing the statuettes surrounding the base, with the statuette part (number 90398) called out.  LEGO sidesteps the religious significance of Notre Dame by identifying one of these statues as a restoration architect in the instructions. While his likeness was indeed used as a reference for this statue, it is meant to be St. Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint of architects.  Image from the instructions of one of the notes: "The single statue facing the spire has the face of Eugene-Emmanuel Viollett-le-Duc, one of the architects of the Cathedral. He gazes at the spire in appreciation of the building, while the others watch over Paris.  We were pleased to see a new printed 4x4 dish for the larger, lower rose window.  Image of the rose window on the build, with the upper window part, a wheel cover (part number 90398) called out, and the lower rose window, with the new printed dish called out.  We would have preferred a 3x3 dish print for the upper window, instead of the wheel cover (90398).  Image of the actual Notre-Dame rose window for comparison.  Accuracy: 4 out of 5. Sure, there were some nitpicks with certain details but overall, this is a very faithful representation of the original cathedral. The most important and recognizable parts were perfectly portrayed.

Images of the final build from the front, back, and each side.  Thinking about where to display this? The footprint is 22 x 41 cm, and it’s 33 cm high!  Display Value: 5 out of 5. The finished product looks great from every angle. The greenery on the southern side adds just enough colour to break up the tan. You can even peer inside to look at the interior finish. This is certainly something you’ll want to show off!

Value for Money: 5 out of 5. When a set features many small parts, it’s especially important to look deeper than an amazing 5.3 cent price-per-part. This set is also well-priced relative to similar flagship Architecture sets, so it’s still a great value.  Background image of an interior look of the build, from the perspective of the front entrance.  We caught up with the designer of this set at LEGO Fan Media Days last year. Check out what he had to say on the final slide!

From the Designer Set designer Rok Žgalin Kobe, seen here, talked to us about the build and his philosophy!  Two images of Rok Žgalin Kobe, sitting in front of the build, talking about it with members of the Tips & Bricks team who are off camera.  "[Notre Dame] transcends what it was built for. No matter your belief or ideology, we can all agree this is an amazing work of architecture and a legacy for the entire world."   In 14+ Architecture models, Rok has never commissioned a new mold. It is part of his design philosophy, and "showcases the strength of the LEGO system." This allows for more creative part usage and clever techniques.  If he could add a new part for this build, what would it be? "I make life easier for myself and just say no - it's not a consideration." He added that new molds increase costs which could force other undesirable changes, like a less detailed interior.  What do you think? Will you be getting this day one, waiting a bit, or skipping it entirely? Let us know in the comments!


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