Friday, July 10, 2020

Review: 43174 Mulan's Storybook Adventures

Mulan is ready for adventure. Will she bring honor to her family or be sent home in shame? It's up to you to tell the story in this book.

The box front features the open storybook playset, with the closed book shown in an inset circle against a blue-green background. The background has magical sparkles swooshing through it. The upper left part of the background is solid white which allows the set information to show up clearly under the LEGO and Disney logos. In the lower right corner there is an animation-style image of Mulan, and next to her is the pink Disney Princess logo. In the lower left corner is the English choking hazard warning. 

The back of the box shows the open book from the opposite side with three call-out circles showing more details from the set. The background features the same background colors from the front with the white running across the top instead of across the corner. The LEGO and Disney logos are again prominent in the upper left corner. Around the image of the open book are three bordered inset images. On the left is an image of Mulan from the movie. Below that is an image showing all four books in this line of Storybook Adventures. In the bottom right corner is an image showing how the book closes and locks shut. 

The top of the box is white and shows the characters included in the set but does not name them. Shown from left to right is Cri-Kee in a cage, micro-dolls of Ping and Li Shang, and Kahn. The micro-doll of Mulan is shown in the actual size image. Again, the LEGO and Disney logos are prominent on the box top. 

The right side of the box has the blue-green magical background that wraps around the box. The LEGO and LEGO Life logos are displayed along with the choking hazard warning in French and Spanish. 

The box bottom is white with the LEGO and Disney logos and the typical recycling and trademark information, as well as the UPC bar code. 

The left of the box continues the wraparound background pattern, with the LEGO and Disney logos again. It also has the set name in French and Spanish, as well as manufacturing and distribution information. 

Enough about the packaging, let's see what's inside.

Inside the box are three bags of parts. Since this is a small set with only 124 pieces the bags are not numbered. The front, back, and spine of the book are made from three large pieces that are not bagged. The book pieces are exclusive for this set as the other books in this series use different colors. The covers are 16 x 12 x 2 2/3 and the spine is 16 x 6 x 1. This makes for a small, chunky book. 

There are also two sticker sheets and a folded instruction sheet in the box. Thankfully, mine were still flat and not curled up. 

Here's a closer look at the sticker sheets. I'll have more to say about them as we go. 

Let's start with the largest bag of parts. Skipping over the new micro-doll parts and the recolored foal, which we will look at closer after all the bags are opened, the first things to grab my attention are the two printed pieces. The pearl gold 6 x 8 oval tile is a new part for the storybook adventure sets, and the Mulan silhouette print is exclusive to this set. 

The pearl gold 2 x 3 modified tile with 2 clips has a gold clasp and keyhole print. This print is used for Ariel's Storybook Adventures (set 43176) and Belle's Storybook Adventures (set 43177).

The only other new piece in this bag is the 2 x 3 tile in magenta. This is a new color for 2020 and only appears in two other sets, including 43175 Anna and Elsa's Storybook Adventures.

In the middle sized bag of parts, we get more micro-doll parts and another new print. The white 2 x 2 modified plate with 1 stud in center with the gold lace pattern is new for 2020 but not exclusive to this set. It appears all four storybook adventure sets as well as the Cinderella Mini Castle polybag (set 30554). I am looking forward to getting more of those. 

The bright pink 1 x 1 5 petal flower plates are a new color for 2020. They show up in five other sets, but no other Disney Princess sets, yet. 

The pearl gold 3L technic pin with stop bush is a new color for 2020. It is also used in Ariel's Storybook Adventures (set 43176) and Belle's Storybook Adventures (set 43177), as well as set 43179 Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse and three other sets. 

The pearl gold lantern was a new color in 2019 and has shown up in multiple sets. It's still eye-catching but not really rare anymore. 

The only part new part in our final, small bag is the exclusive print of Cri-Kee on the 1 x 1 round brick. 

Before we start looking at the characters in this set, here's a closer look at the new prints. I really like that gold tile with the silhouette of Mulan. 

All Disney Princesses need their animal companions, and Mulan gets two in this set. Khan is represented by a black foal figure. The white blaze and dark turquoise eyes are a new print, so far exclusive to the set. The foal used in set 41151 Mulan's Training Day (2018) had dark bluish grey eyes and lacked the white blaze. It's nice to get a more accurate print for Khan and the foal is a great choice for the micro-dolls. 

The pearl gold lantern is a perfect cage for Cri-Kee, but take care when placing him inside so that you can still see him and not cover the print with the lantern bars. 

These are great companions for Mulan, but I can't help wanting a Mushu figure. A recolor of the baby dragons from the Elves series wouldn't look right. 

Finally, we get to the new micro-dolls. If you are not a fan of the super deformed, or chibi, style of caricature popular in many Japanese manga and anime, you might not appreciate these dolls. For fans of this exaggerated style, the inspiration is obvious with their big eyes and oversized heads. Personally, I find them adorable. 

From left to right we have Mulan, Li Shang, and Mulan as Ping. They all use existing hair pieces, but the bodies and heads are new and so far exclusive to this set. At first I though both Mulans used the same head, but there is a slight difference in the eyebrows. 

Mulan is wearing a bright light green dress with printed magenta, yellow, and blue details. 

Li Shang is wearing a tan shirt and dark tan pants. He also has printed armour and neck scarf. 

Ping is wearing a bright light green shirt and sand green pants. Her armour is also printed on the front and is a different style form Li Shang's. 

Here's a look at the back of Mulan's dress. It's less weird with her head on backward than I expected it to be.  

The small size of the dolls means that they have no articulation. The hands are small but they can hold something with a pin like this flower. What else are you going to do with the extra included in this set? 

For size comparison, here is Mulan in both mini-doll and micro-doll form. You can see they both use the same hair piece, and the eyes are much larger on the chibi micro-doll. They are both very pretty. 

Please note, the mini-doll does not come with this set. I pulled it from my collection for comparison.

This is such a small set, that we get a folded sheet of instructions (like you get in a polybag), rather than a booklet. Here's the front of the instructions showing how the book gets put together. 

If you don't want LEGO printed up-side-down on your book spine, pay attention which way it is sitting when you pin the covers on to it. From the inside of the spine you can't tell which way is top and bottom, and the instructions don't really point this out. Yeah, I put it on up-side-down the first time. Fortunately, I caught the mistake before I started adding the interior.

Once we have the three large book pieces pinned the correct way, we add the lock, the printed Mulan tile on the cover, and stickers on the spine and back of the book.

Once the exterior of the book is finished, we start working on the interior. The front/right cover has a small tea garden, and the back/left cover has a winter training grounds with a spinning training dummy. 

This is where I realized that my micro-dolls can't pick up the teapot, or hold any weapons to fight against the training dummy. Oh well. 

Most of the play scene will be built into the spine of the book.

First we build a gate. It looks great for such a small build. 1 x 3 jumper plates with 2 studs are used to create little steps up and through the gate. The printed 2 x 2 jumper plate creates a place to put a micro-doll passing through. 

The gate snaps into the top of the spine. 

Next, we build a little bridge that can swing up into the spine when the book is closed, but swing down when the book is opened. 

It is placed next to the gate in the spine and extends over to the tea garden. I wish it snapped into something to keep it flat and connected when the book is open, but I can understand how that could be a problem if you forgot to unsnap it before closing the book. 

The last thing we build is a second gate. This one has a plum tree on one side. It also has a bale of hay for Khan. The gate is decorated with a sword on one side and a dragon banner on the other. The banner uses the last sticker from the small sticker sheet. 

Once the second gate is placed in the book spine, we are at the end of the instructions. 

Here are the leftover pieces. Nothing has been used from the larger sticker sheet. There are no instructions for where to place these stickers. It is up to you where you put them or if you even use them. 

Here is the completed book as it looks at the end of the instruction sheet. 

A look across the book from the tea garden.

Looking back from the winter training grounds. 

Everything is lined up in the spine so we can easily close the book and take it with us. 

The finished book closed up and ready to travel or store on a shelf. But I want to add the rest of the stickers.

There are no instructions for where these stickers go. I used the pictures on the front and back of the box as a guide for sticker placement. I'm not sure how I feel about them. I like the garden side with the fish. I'm less convinced by the training side. 

With all the stickers in place, it's time to start playing. 

I had to reset the figure each time I moved this for the photos above, and found myself wishing for more studs for posing the figures. But there are enough studs to attach everything before closing the book.

While the micro-dolls fit under the arched gates, I found it a tight fit with my adult-side hands. Mulan doesn't fit well in the arch with the flower in her hair, but it can be done. Khan has just enough room to stand by the hay bale. 

Overall, I'm happy with this set. I confess that I was predisposed to like the storybook adventure sets. I love books even more than LEGO, so anything that brings them together will immediately get my attention. 

Is this the perfect LEGO story book? Probably not. But if you consider size and the limitation of getting everything to fold up into the book when it closes, I think it does a good job. This is a 5+ set with a small number of parts. Sure a brick built book might look better and give you more studs for posing figures, but this works and keeps things simple. This gives the Disney Princess line a travel set along the lines of a Friends Pod or Heart Box, but with more scenery to play with. 

Mini-dolls aren't for everyone, and I'm sure that's even more true of the micro-dolls. You either think it's cute, or you don't. If you are comfortable with the limited movement and posability in full-size mini-dolls, you probably won't have a problem with the lack of articulation in the micro-dolls. It's just a limitation of the small size. 

I think it's fun. I look forward to building the rest of the storybook adventure sets, and playing around with both the books and the micro-dolls. 

Happy building!

This set was purchased by me, and was NOT provided by The LEGO Group.
Opinions provided here solely mine.
Photographs are mine and are not directed by TLG in any fashion.

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