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LEGO Architecture Shanghai skyline & more!

The LEGO Architecture Skyline series was first introduced in 2016 with the #21026 LEGO Architecture Venice, #21027 LEGO Architecture Berlin, and #21028 LEGO Architecture New York City sets. Instead of featuring a single building, like in the traditional LEGO Architecture line, each set from the LEGO Architecture Skyline series includes a selection of some of the most iconic structures from a particular city. The variety of buildings, nice packaging, and reasonable pricing makes the sets appealing to a wider audience, and are often found as souvenir items at gifts shops and tourist centers. 🙂

In 2017, three more sets were added to the LEGO Architecture Skyline series; #21032 LEGO Architecture Sydney, #21033 LEGO Architecture Chicago, and #21034 LEGO Architecture London. They followed the same pattern of reasonably priced sets with miniature skylines of a featured city.

At the beginning of 2018, the #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set was added to the collection, and there is also the #21038 LEGO Architecture Las Vegas set that will be released sometime in the near future. If following the same schedule as in previous years, there will likely be a third set later this year as well.

As the #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai skyline was just released, we will take a closer look at it today. The set is packaged in the same type of black sturdy cardboard box with a flip-up lid as all the other sets in the LEGO Architecture series. I really like these boxes as they double as storage containers for the pieces and instructions, or even for the completed model. The included booklet includes not just the building steps, but also information about the designer, architecture and history of each structure, as well as historical facts about Shanghai and its architectural heritage. This is a very nice and educational feature of all the LEGO Architecture sets that I always appreciated.

The buildings in the #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set include the Chenghuang Miao Temple, Longhua Temple and Pagoda, Radisson Blu Hotel, Bund area, Oriental Pearl, World Financial Center, the Shanghai Tower and Huangpu River. The model also includes a printed Shanghai nameplate, which is a traditional feature of LEGO Architecture sets.

The #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set is one of the largest in the LEGO Architecture Skyline series (597 pieces – $59.99), and is comparable in both size and price to the #21028 LEGO Architecture New York City set from 2016 (598 pieces – $59.99). New York City is 10” (26cm) high, 9” (25cm) wide and 1” (4cm) deep, and Shanghai is 9” (25cm) high, 11” (28cm) wide and 2” (7cm) deep. So Shanghai is just a bit wider and deeper, although New York City remains taller.

#21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set includes some very tall buildings, and some short buildings from the iconic skyline of the city, with a good mix of shapes, colors, and architectural styles. In fact, amongst all the LEGO Architecture Skyline sets, Shanghai is the most colorful to date with splashes of red, magenta, and medium-blue, amongst the more traditional tan, white and grays. The colors come together very nicely.

All LEGO Architecture sets are quite dense. In other words, the models appear to be small compared to the piece-count. This is because the focus of the LEGO Architecture sets is to recreate real-life buildings as closely and as authentically as possible, using small pieces and some of the most advanced building techniques. Building a LEGO Architecture set is a very different experience compared to building regular LEGO play-sets. They are more like modeling kits. Even if you are not into the LEGO Architecture line, and you prefer play-sets, I highly recommend trying out at least one LEGO Architecture set just to see how serious LEGO can be as a modeling medium.

Because LEGO Architecture sets are heavy on small parts, they are an interest not just to fans of the LEGO Architecture line, but also those who are looking for unique pieces and colors in a larger quantity. The #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Some of the more notable pieces are sixty-two 1×2 jumper-plates in medium-blue, thirty-two medium-blue and four light-bluish-gray 1×3 tiles with two studs (a new piece!), six medium-blue and four dark-bluish-gray 2×3 tiles, seven light-bluish gray and fifty dark-bluish-gray curved LEGO Technic pieces (used for the body of the tall twisty tower), and lots of other tiles (always useful), and decorative small bits.

While I think that the #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set is well designed and appealing, it does have a couple of features that I feel could have been done better. The set looks a bit unbalanced with going from the smallest to the largest building. This draws the eyes to the tallest buildings, pretty much ignoring the smallest ones. I like the layout of New York City and Chicago better in this regard. They both include very tall and very short structures, but their mix is more balanced in my opinion, creating an interesting and realistic skyline. Also, I think this is the first LEGO Architecture set that only looks good from the front. The medium-blue building has a very strange back side. In the video-review below, JANGBRiCKS will show you the set in more detail, so you can see it from all sides and angles.

All in all, I would say that the #21039 LEGO Architecture Shanghai set is a worthy addition to the collection, although the larger size and higher price may make it less appealing than the other sets in the LEGO Architecture Skyline series (most LEGO Architecture Skyline sets are either $29.99 or $39.99, except for New York and Shanghai both going for $59.99). If you would like to check out the set, along with other sets in the collection, visit the LEGO Architecture section of the Online LEGO Shop.

What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Architecture Skyline series? Do you have any of them already? Which on is your favorite so far? What do you think of the Shanghai skyline? And what other cities would you like to see in the collection? Feel free to share your thoughts and own review in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • DavidH January 26, 2018, 10:49 AM

    I really appreciate the architecture line. As you said, they are different from regular sets, and they won’t appeal to everyone, but they make nice office decorations. The boxes are almost always surprisingly heavy for their size because of the high piece count.

    • admin January 26, 2018, 11:59 AM

      I was actually going to mention that about the weight of the boxes, but then I forgot. I’m always surprised when I fist pick them up. So heavy for the size! 😀

  • jabber-baby-wocky January 26, 2018, 11:37 AM

    The Shanghai set is okay. The buildings could have been positioned better, like you said in the review. But what I’m really looking forward to is the Las Vegas skyline! It’s beautiful!

    • admin January 26, 2018, 11:59 AM

      I like the Vegas set too. They layout and colors come together really well.

  • Rob January 26, 2018, 11:46 AM

    I’ll probably get the Las Vegas one as I lived there for about a year, though I only got down to ‘The Strip” once that year. Fremont Street really needs to be seen at least once and at night.

    • admin January 26, 2018, 12:01 PM

      I have been to Vegas a number of times, and I agree; everyone has to experience it at least once. It really is an amazing city!

    • Håkan January 26, 2018, 6:31 PM

      I’m completely fascinated of how it’s possible to actually live in Las Vegas, outside of staying on a hotel.

      I try to imagine people doing normal things in the city, like watching bad television shows, finding expired milk in the fridge and going out to buy some milk and bread, but I have a hard time actually processing it. The whole place just feels like some sort of surreal Salvador Dali painting.

      • Rob January 26, 2018, 9:40 PM

        Lots and lots of suburbs. You also see lots of stucco and red tiled roofs.

        • Rob January 26, 2018, 9:44 PM
          • admin January 26, 2018, 9:57 PM

            Yes, exactly! Most of Nevada and Arizona has that same style of architecture in the residential neighborhoods. I lived in Arizona for three years. I never, ever want to see a desert ever again… but visiting Vegas is always fun.

          • Håkan January 27, 2018, 7:00 AM

            Yeah, I kinda figured as much, although I guess there are various staff and personnel who pretty much live at their workplaces.

            Los Angeles seems to be pretty much the same, I guess. It’s a city I can understand better, due to all depictions in Hollywood films.

            • admin January 27, 2018, 2:45 PM

              LA is much more spread out. It is a huge city. I would say that if we are talking about comparing to normal large cities, Vegas is closer to Chicago. It has a defined downtown area with all the tall skyscrapers, museums and historic buildings that’s not too big and overwhelming, then there are the residential areas, etc.

              There is another cool feature of Vegas though that I find fascinating. Each casino is basically like a small city on its own, with incredible amount of money poured into making the interior fascinating. The buildings aren’t just full of casinos. They have everything from shops, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, and everything else you can imagine. And staying in Vegas is cheap. They expect you to spend your money on gambling, so they are making it easy to stay at some really nice places. For those who don’t gamble, Vegas can be a very memorable vacation.

              • Håkan January 29, 2018, 5:05 AM

                I think I read somewhere that Los Angeles really had no center, t was just different enclaves connected by highways.

                • admin January 29, 2018, 11:59 AM

                  Yes, that’s basically how it is. It’s not as structured and planned as some other large cities.

      • admin January 26, 2018, 9:54 PM

        The downtown area what you always see on pictures/films is actually not that big. You can comfortably walk from one end to the other and see everything in one day. The rest is just residential neighborhoods in the standard cookie-cutter style, then it’s just desert in every direction. I should add that I’m a day person and never really experienced Las Vegas at night, when it is the most surreal. During the day it’s pretty much a family-friendly tourist attraction. We usually go for the amazing shows they have. Cirque du Soleil is our absolute favorite, and they have a number of shows playing simultaneously.

        • Håkan January 27, 2018, 7:01 AM

          It’s not big, just high, I guess… Sorta like Norway or Switzerland…

          • admin January 27, 2018, 2:47 PM

            Yeah, they really take advantage of space very efficiently. As I mentioned in my other comment, each building is like a whole small city in itself. And you can also walk between casinos underground. I highly recommend visiting at least once. 😉

            • Håkan January 28, 2018, 9:10 PM

              I’m kinda wary, the whole vibe rubs me sorta the wrong way, although it might be worth considering in the future.

              • admin January 28, 2018, 9:33 PM

                Naw, don’t be wary. The place is actually really cool. I wouldn’t want to live there, but for visiting it’s great. 🙂

  • Tito January 26, 2018, 11:57 AM

    Not my favorite in the series, but it has some great parts. Especially that Technic piece and all those blue tiles. Good to see some different colors in the Architecture sets.

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