Review: Hot Dog Van 
I do not generally collect LEGO Friends sets. This is actually the first one that I have ever built. I bought another one a couple of years ago, but I never actually put it together. I bought it because it was on liquidation when Target went out of business in Canada. It had lots of windows, which I needed for a custom project. This one caught my eye a while back because I want more food trucks in my LEGO city, and I love hot dogs. It also recently went on liquidation at Walmart. As I write this, it is 25% off, which is a pretty good sale. So, let’s see how it measures up.
Name: Amusement Park Hot Dog Van
Set #: 41129
Cost: $39.99 CDN
Brick Count: 243
Minifigures: 2 (they are actually mini-dolls)
Of Interest: You get a hot dog suit!
Release Date: August 1, 2016
Summary Review: 72%
VALUE: 70% (At full price, you are paying slightly more than average per brick.)
BUILD: 50% (I like the idea of this set, but the execution is lacking.)
MINIFIGURES: 83% (Well designed dolls, and very good brick-to-fig ratio.)
ENTERTAINMENT: 85% (Good build time for the price, but needs modifications.)
With 243 bricks, and a price tag of $39.99, this set clocks in at $0.16 per brick. This is two cents more expensive than the average cost of a brick for the Friends theme, based on the January 2017 LEGO catalogue (click here to read my analysis). It is also three cents above the average cost of a brick across all themes in the catalogue. This would normally earn the set a value score of 70%. As I am writing this, the set in on liquidation at Walmart for 25% off. I paid $30.00 for it, which brings the cost per brick down to $0.12. That brings the score up to 90%.
Overall, I like the look of the Hot Dog Van. I also like the design for the stools. I suppose you don’t see this build much in regular LEGO sets because the seat tops are flat and cannot accommodate a real Minifigure. But, I think they look neat all the same. The roof of the van is also built to come off easily to access the interior, which is sadly a little sparse and only contains a grill, cash register, and steering wheel. Additionally, you get a photo booth set-up. There is one of those cut-out boards where you insert your face on a drawn body, and a camera with a little photo (sticker on tile) that comes out. The camera is not a camera piece though, but rather a 1×2 technic brick. There is a funhouse mirror as well. The cut-out and mirror are stickers which I chose not to use. The cut-out sticker goes on a large window which I don’t want to ruin with a sticker since I plan to repurpose the window. The mirror sticker is one that I want to save for a future custom project. The last little build is a hot dog sign, which is also a sticker on a tile. I really like the little sign though. In building this set, I found that it has too much pink. The choice of alternating pink and red for the awning is also questionable. It is, however, a Friends set, so pink kind of goes with the territory, and I won’t deduct points for that here. I was also not a fan of the build for the roof of the van. The base of it consists of three 2×14 pink plates. It is rather flimsy with no central support. It bows and bends when you try to attach pieces to it. LEGO makes 6×14 plates, so I don’t see why they couldn’t just use one of those. The awning is also a little flimsy, and it causes the rounded bricks on one side of the roof to be higher then the same bricks on the other side of the roof. I am not a fan of the asymmetrical look. Finally, I wish they had just completed the bun look across the roof. As it is, LEGO has designed this set with a dining area on top of the van. That is completely unrealistic in my opinion. Who is going to climb onto the roof of a van after buying hot dogs and drinks? Have you ever bought a street dog? I don’t see myself climbing too many ladders with those. Overall, again, I like the general look, but the design is certainly not up to the standard of comparable City sets. I will give it 4 points for the general look, the stool design, the hot dog sign, and the ease of interior access. Out of the five points that I start every set off with, it only gets to keep one because of the weak design, asymmetry, pointless dining area, and sparse interior. They could have left out some of the little side builds and made an overall better van. Overall, I give the build 5/10 (50%).
While technically not “Minifigures”, you do get two mini-dolls with this set. The Friends characters all come with names, so in this kit you have Stephanie and Nate. Starting with Nate, I was interested to note that his hairpiece is a regular LEGO Minifigure hairpiece. Despite the strange head shapes of the mini-dolls, it would appear as if they are still compatible with regular LEGO head accessories, which I did not know before. Nate has a striped shirt on, but the stripes do not extend to the back of the torso. He is wearing what appear to be cargo style capris as well. His greatest feature is that he comes with the hot dog suit from Minifigures series 13, even though it does not fit him well. I don’t really like the design of mini-dolls in general, but putting that aside, I would give Nate 7/10.
This set took me 65 minutes to build going at a leisurely pace. At full price, that would mean about $0.62 per minute of build time, which is already pretty good (90%). However, since I got this set on liquidation, each minute actually cost me $0.46, which is amazing (100%). Will I keep this set as is for my LEGO city? No, I will make some changes. I will probably modify it so that the interior is a little more complete, and so that it is overall sturdier and less pink. I will also repurpose all of the side-builds, except for the hot dog sign. The mini-dolls will also get replaces by Minifigures. I will, however, keep the general look of the van. For that reason, I will give it 80% for enjoyment. Coupling the build time value and enjoyment scores give this set 85% at full price, and 90% on sale.
Generally, the look of this set is really nice. It has an ok value at full price. But, as I mentioned before, it is on liquidation in Walmart stores in Canada for 25% off as I write this. That makes the value great. I found the actual design to be a little weak, and I will modify mine structurally and aesthetically before adding it to my city. I don’t like mini-dolls, but for those who do, these ones seem well designed. I do like that their hair pieces can be used on regular Minifigures too. Overall, buying this set at full price, I would rate the Hot Dog Van at 72%. But, buying it on clearance gets it 78%.
Are there any Friends collectors out there? How does this set measure up to other sets from the theme? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time,