Today, we will continue our discussion on the new buildable road plate system that will be available in several of the 2021 LEGO City sets. In 2021 LEGO City Road Plates System Review – Part 1, we talked about the #60304 LEGO City Road Plates starter set, and the #60290 LEGO City Skate Park. This time, we will take a closer look at the #60291 LEGO City Family House, and in future articles we will explore the #60292 LEGO City Town Center, and the #60306 LEGO City Shopping Street.
As we mentioned in Part 1 of this review series, the new road plates come in two different sizes; 16×16 studs and 8×16 studs. They are two plates tall with a mostly smooth surface and indentations with studs to connect them together with tiles as well as to attach various accessories. We also discussed that the road plates have tubes on the bottom for additional connection points. In summary, these new road plates provide a modular system for building customized roads or use them in other applications where large building elements are needed. And we also talked about the downsides of the new system, including the flimsy connections between road plates and the unsightly seams around the indentations when they are filled with tiles.
Now let’s discuss the topic of the day, the #60291 LEGO City Family House. According to the official description, this eco-friendly family house features a lounge, kitchen, hobby room, bedroom, bathroom, and lots of green-living features, including a solar panels, charging station, and an electric family van. When built, the family house measures over 8 in. (22 cm) high, 10 in. (25 cm) wide and 10 in. (25 cm) deep, while the EV measures over 2 in. (5 cm) high, 4 in. (11 cm) long and 1.5 in. (4 cm) wide. The included family members are mom, dad, daughter, son, and a Labrador retriever. The set comes with 388 pieces and costs $59.99. It will be available on January 1st at the LEGO City section of the Online LEGO Shop.
The set comes with two instruction booklets; the first one is to build the family van, and the second to build the house and the roller hockey court in front of the house. There is also a small sticker-sheet with just seven stickers for decorations.
The design of the family van reminded me so much of the van from the #4207 LEGO City Garage released in 2012. In fact, the building steps are almost identical except for some minor details. Maybe in the world of LEGO City, they are made by the same car manufacturer! The license plates are stickers, but the console is a nicely printed piece. Good-looking vehicle overall, and because it’s only four-studs wide, it fits the narrower lanes of the new road plates perfectly.
Once you build the vehicle, you are ready to move on to the second instruction booklet. which starts by building the house… actually, no… the very first step in the building instruction is to place a pile of dog poop on a green baseplate. Although there is a lot of interest in these sets from adult builders, this first step reminds you right away who is the target audience; five year olds!
The age of the target audience is also evidenced by the very simple building steps; adding only one or two new elements per step. If you are an experienced building, you can easily skip every second page, or even more.
Having said that, the building looks very nice from both front and back with refined design elements and lovely color combinations. In fact, this is my favorite LEGO City building in a long time. It’s great as it is, and it could easily be turned into a high-rise or other larger complex by repeating the same design elements.
The interior features a garage, kitchen and lounge on the first floor, a bathroom and hobby room on the second floor, and a bedroom on the third floor. All of the living spaces are very small. For example, there is only one bed in the entire house for a family of four. Also, there is no way to access one living space from another (no doors, staircases, etc.). However there is easy access for us humans by providing an open back layout and removable floors. Even though the interior is not meant to be realistic, the design elements are nice enough that if you’re inspired, you can use them in a larger layout.
Five stickers are placed inside the house, all nicely designed. I especially like the sticker that goes on the big screen TV in the lounge, featuring the Ninjago game. I should also mention that the game console is an awesome printed piece. The boy in the family is obviously a Ninjago fan as he also wears a Ninjago hoodie and has an awesome red katana.
Outside, there is a charging station for the electric car, a picnic table, a washing bin for the family dog (remember the poop?), and a roller hockey court built with two of the new road plates; one 16×16 and the other 16×8.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this review series, I’m not convinced that the new road plates work very well for roads due to the flimsy connections and ugly seams, but for smaller surfaces like a skate park or hockey court, they are perfect. Both the #60290 LEGO City Skate Park and the #60291 LEGO City Family House demonstrate very well how various equipment and accessories can be attached to the new road plates. The flimsy connections are still an issue, but since these sets only use one or two road plates, reattaching them is not a big deal.
Although I like the #60290 LEGO City Skate Park, the $40 regular retail price is way too high for what you get (21 cents per piece). The price of the #60291 LEGO City Family House is also on the high side (15 cents per piece), but it’s not totally unreasonable like the skate park. You get a nice building, a car, two of the new road plates, four useful minifigs, and a cute dog. If you want to check it out, it’s already listed at the LEGO City section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? How do you like the new LEGO City road plate system? Are you planning to give it a try? And how do you like the family house? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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