(Written by William)
Dogs, cats, and pandas, oh my! LEGO released three new BrickHeadz sets this year featuring cute brick-built animals. The #40466 LEGO BrickHeadz Chinese New Year Pandas is a seasonal set, and the #40440 LEGO BrickHeadz German Shepherd, and #40441 LEGO BrickHeadz Shorthair Cats are part of the new LEGO BrickHeadz Pets line.
At their heart, BrickHeadz are much like Funko Pop figures but with a very distinct LEGO feel and branding. There is the oversized super-deformed head and small body to give that cute factor. Meanwhile, the blocky aesthetic is meant to represent the iconic look of the LEGO brick.
I’ve always appreciated how LEGO has managed to give an interesting and different building experience with every BrickHeadz character. I’ve gotten quickly bored with building too many catapults in LEGO Castle and countless helicopters in LEGO City, but I’ve never tired of building BrickHeadz. This is quite an accomplishment, considering just how many BrickHeadz sets there are.
And just like in any series of sets, BrickHeadz all have to work in the same scale and style as all the others. You’d think this might get at least a little predictable with so many sets in the collection, but incredibly, this is not the case. This is because LEGO designers manage to find small but effective ways to create freshness in the line. Case in point, the new LEGO BrickHeadz Pets line features beds for the characters. This even goes beyond the decorative elements we typically see in the seasonal LEGO BrickHeadz sets, like the #40466 LEGO BrickHeadz Chinese New Year Pandas. The beds in LEGO BrickHeadz Pets are the first time we see larger items specifically scaled in the BrickHeadz world.
The sets we’re discussing here were received as review copies sent by LEGO, but I also bought them myself. The review copies just happened to come a day or two before my purchased ones did. I collect the LEGO BrickHeadz line (and have pretty much all of them besides the extra rare ones) because I find them fascinating. And it didn’t hurt that these characters looked extra cute. However, I’m also aware that these sets won’t appeal to everyone. BrickHeadz is a style that people either like or don’t like, and even if they like them, they will usually pick and choose just a few of their favorites.
#40440 LEGO BrickHeadz German Shepherd
This $15 USD set gives us two dogs and a dog bed to display them in. It’s nice to have a new take on the way you display BrickHeadz. Until now, we’ve gotten the very basic 6×6 stud plate for the figures to stand on, or the slightly more built up displays for the seasonal BrickHeadz. In both cases the display has been rather uniform and not all that noteworthy. Getting beds in the new LEGO BrickHeadz Pets line adds additional context, which comes off as rather charming. Though it is interesting to note that the bed is built around the standard 6×6 stud base, so if you wanted to stick with the original bases you still get them.
Both dogs feature tails that you can position, and the larger dog has angled back legs that can pivot outward and get repositioned. The scale of the dogs is as you’d expect from BrickHeadz. The adult dog’s head is built on a 4x4x4 cube, while the puppy’s head is a 3x3x3 cube. An interesting detail is the focus on getting the colors right. This does mean that these two dogs are a bit more fragile than other BrickHeadz characters. In fact, the puppy’s legs are attached only by a single stud. Given the amount of offsetting done to build the model, this makes everything rather delicate.
The set does feature two stickers. They go on curved slopes to help decorate the dog bed and give it slightly more customization. It is nice that you get enough slopes to apply all the stickers instead of forcing you to choose one or the other.
Provided you are someone like me who enjoys the artistic style of BrickHeadz, this set is incredibly adorable. The only downside is that I know many dog lovers are particular about the breed of dog they enjoy. I’m hoping that we’ll either see more breeds released in the future, or a set like the #41597 LEGO BrickHeadz Go Brick Me, so you can customize your own doggies.
#40441 LEGO BrickHeadz Shorthair Cats
The next set in the new LEGO BrickHeadz Pets line is the Shorthaired Cats. I know more cat lovers who are indifferent about the breed of cats, so I imagine this might sell slightly better than the dogs. There are also two more sets coming in the line, the #40442 LEGO BrickHeadz Goldfish, and the #40443 LEGO BrickHeadz Budgie. A fun fact is that the ‘Pets’ logo uses the shapes of the four different pets; the ‘P’ looks to have a wing and clawed feet, the ‘S’ has a fish tail, the ‘E’ looks like a cat, while the ‘T’ looks like a dog. I’m not sure if this means those will be all the pets we’ll see in the collection, but four sets tend to be the average size for a full BrickHeadz series.
Building the cats is very similar to building the dogs. One difference, though, is that the cats are made to have more rounded paws, which fits the general characterization of cats. They also feature the long claw pieces to make up their whiskers, which is another great distinguishing mark for the cats. Just like with the dogs, a great deal of attention was paid to the coloring of the animals. This does look fantastic, but it comes at the cost of making the models rather fragile.
The cats have the same style bed as the dogs based on 6×6 stud plates, but the edges are more rounded at the corners to create an oval shape. You also get two stickers to customize the bed. Choosing between cat paws and fish is a nice bit of extra detail.
#40466 LEGO BrickHeadz Chinese New Year Pandas
This is the third LEGO BrickHeadz set celebrating Chinese New Year. We got the #40354 LEGO BrickHeadz Dragon Dance Guy in 2019, the #40436 LEGO BrickHeadz Lucky Cat in 2020, and now the Pandas. This is a larger set than the previous ones, featuring three Pandas (one adult and two cubs) as well as a bit of scenery with a tree and a lantern.
I like that there are two different types of lanterns; one larger one on the lamppost, and two smaller ones hanging from the tree. (I believe that this was done to avoid making the tree look out of proportion. The minifigure head used for the smaller lanterns are small enough that they don’t dwarf the limbs of the tree.)
It’s also interesting to see that none of the pandas are built to stand up. Two of them are sitting, and one of the cubs is lying down. We have seen sitting BrickHeadz before, but as far as far as I know, this is the first time a BrickHeadz was built to lie down. That was a nice surprise.
2021 LEGO BrickHeadz Sets – Overall Opinion
Now that we have over a hundred LEGO BrickHeadz to choose from, it is less of a question as to whether or not these BrickHeadz are a must buy. Rather, they are a personal choice. These models are more about showing off something you love. I can’t think of anything more personal to many people than their pets, or just animals in general. But you also have to like the BrickHeadz style.
I doubt these will be the best selling BrickHeadz of all time, as these fall into the niche within a niche category. With that said, I’m always impressed with Brickheadz because they manage to reinvent themselves with each and every addition. As a builder, I find this fascinating.
As far as interesting building techniques, one technique that stands out with these three sets is that they contain a larger and smaller scale of the same creature. Most LEGO BrickHeadz characters have been the same size, so it’s worth paying attention how LEGO designers were able to scale them down a notch with just a few minor changes. This technique also demonstrates how you can convey a ton of personality in something nearly identical. This is especially visible with the Panda cubs.
I think the best thing about these new sets is that they appear to be great gateway models to get animal lovers you know into LEGO. The sets aren’t too complex to build and, if your animal lover doesn’t mind the artistic style of BrickHeadz, they make great little showpieces. I didn’t find any particularly rare pieces in the sets, so although their prices are right, I wouldn’t get them just for the parts. I also wouldn’t put them on top of my shopping list, but they are solid buys if you need a small project to work on, a small display piece, or if you are looking for a gift for an animal lover. If you want to check them out, they are available at the LEGO BrickHeadz section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? How do you like the new LEGO BrickHeadz sets? Do you collect BrickHeadz? Are you planning to get any of the new sets? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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