The latest set from LEGO® Ideas arrived in the form of the Fender Stratocaster (21329). As an Ideas set, it is the brainchild of fan designer Tomáš Letenay from Slovakia. He won the 2020 Music to Our Ears contest, resulting in his music-inspired design turning into an actual kit. Truthfully, electric guitars are not my thing, and my initial reception of this concept was lukewarm. I did not hate it, but I also lacked interest in buying it. However, True North Bricks received a pre-release copy of the set directly from the LEGO® Group. As such, we’ll take a closer look this week and see whether or not my first impression was wrong.
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use my usual rating system (click here for more information) and provide my honest opinion.
FENDER STRATOCASTER SUMMARY
- NAME: Fender Stratocaster
- SET #: 21329
- THEME: Ideas
- COST: $139.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 1074
- MINIFIGURES: None
- RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2021
FENDER STRATOCASTER QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 67% (Satisfactory cost-per-brick, low build time for the price.)
- BUILD: 95% (Nice techniques and parts usage.)
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- ENTERTAINMENT: 70% (Very much a niche interest set but has city building potential.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 77%
FENDER STRATOCASTER (21329) REVIEW
Upon receiving the press kit for the Fender Stratocaster, I noted a decent cost-per-brick. At full price, the set retails for $139.99 in Canada. Additionally, it contains 1074 pieces. The resulting cost-per-brick is a respectable $0.13. Compared to LEGO® sets in general (average = $0.14/brick), it earns 83%. However, on closer examination, my bubble burst. LEGO® Ideas is one of the better value themes in my experience. On average, the sets I have collected thus far have an cost-per-brick of $0.10. By that comparison, the Fender Stratocaster earns 61%. The average of these two scores is a merely satisfactory 72%.
The guitar takes another hit in terms of build time. The kit contains 1074 bricks, but you do not use all of them. Incidentally, there are two variants of the guitar, but more on that later. Because the design does not require all the set’s bricks at once, you do not build for as long as would in a standard 1074-piece set. I assembled this set in two hours and six minutes. FRIENDS Central Perk (also LEGO® Ideas) has approximately the same number of bricks but took 50 minutes longer. Additionally, Central Perk costs $50 less. The cost-per-minute for the Fender Stratocaster works out to $1.11. Whether compared to LEGO® sets in general ($0.85/min) or just other Ideas kits ($0.77/min), that is really expensive. I rate the build time value at 62%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score yields an overall value rating of 67%.
Despite its impact on the value of this set, including two alternate color builds is a nice idea. Additionally, the kit achieves realistic curves and looks through a variety of interesting build techniques. Studs-not-on-top (SNOT) methods appear all over. However, the amp also uses a technique previously considered “illegal” in the LEGO® building repertoire. An illegal technique is one that LEGO® Group designers do not use because it is not a standard way that bricks are meant to fit together. One such technique is placing plates upright in between the studs of a brick. This set places a number of tiles in that fashion, albeit small ones. I am not complaining about that. I just thought it was interesting to see in an official set. In this case, the technique really adds to the authenticity of the amp.
The amp is my favorite build. It has parts designed to look like magnets, knobs, fuses, circuit boards, and wires. The build really looks like an amp. Additionally, sections open up to reveal interior details. However, that is not to say that the guitar’s design is poor at all. I just think the amp has more detail. The guitar looks really nice as well. The only minor issue I have with it is the head. Structurally, it is a little weak and breaks easily. Since this set is a pure display piece, that is not a major issue though.
The Fender Stratocaster has some new parts too. At least, they are new from my perspective. Firstly, the guitar strings are longer than any I have gotten before, and they are grey. In the past, I have only seen white and black. Secondly, the set comes with a new type of rubber flex tubing used as wiring from the amp to the guitar and wah-wah. I cannot say if these parts are completely new or not. All I am saying is I have never seen them before. Overall, in terms of design you get interesting pieces and some solid build techniques. I rate this experience at 95%.
Has building the Fender Stratocaster (21329) changed my early opinion? Marginally. Ultimately, the set does not inspire me to display it. However, that is more personal preference than an issue with the set. As I mentioned before, the build is nice. Guitars and other instruments just do not interest me on a personal level. With that said, I did imagine a potential use for the set in my LEGO® city. Ever seen the giant guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas? Or the one outside the Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Disney World? This design makes an awesome prop for a Minifigure building. From that perspective, I could see myself displaying at least part of this set. While short, the build was fun, and I see MOC potential here. However, the set is a hardcore niche interest in my opinion. I rate the entertainment score at 70%.
OVERALL SCORE: 77%
The Fender Stratocaster (21329) is not my favorite LEGO® set. A lot of that stems from my lack of interest in musical instruments though. I can see how a fan of guitars would enjoy it. It has a nice design, and the product is visually appealing. As a builder, you gain some interesting assembly techniques as well. Sadly, the Stratocaster suffers from a bad value though. Sets with similar brick counts are often cheaper, and you get more build time. The alternate build is a nice idea, but it costs you assembly time with bricks you don’t use and hikes the set price. You get a LEGO®-fied Fender sticker for your laptop or notebook though. What are your thoughts on the Fender Stratocaster? Feel free to comment below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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