Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe is an iconic piece of American pop art. it’s an instantly recognizable image with a very important place in art history. It’s a smart choice for inclusion in the first wave of LEGO® Art mosaic sets. Aimed at adults, the LEGO® Art theme debuted in September of 2020 with four sets. The mosaics are an interesting, mature-focused product that I think will appeal to some younger builders as well. This is my first set of this kind and it happens to coincide on the one year mark of the product’s debut. I also chose Marilyn because of the great bold colours that fit right in with my home decor. With that in mind, let’s have a look at this vibrant and actually very fun theme one year on.
NOTE: This set was provided by The LEGO® Group to True North Bricks for review. This does not guarantee a favourable review and all opinions are my own. For a breakdown of the rating system, please click here.
- NAME: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe
- SET #: 31197
- THEME: Art
- COST: $149.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 3341
- MINIFIGURES: None
- RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2020
- VALUE: 97% (an unmatched cost-per-brick value with a great cost-per-min value to boot)
- BUILD: 95% (a simple but fun build that actually provides a relaxing experience)
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- ENTERTAINMENT: 94% (an informative ‘soundtrack’, alt images allow for further enjoyment)
- OVERALL SCORE: 95% (a very unique building experience with lots to admire)
Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe retails for $149.99 in Canada. With just over 3300 pieces, this gives us a very impressive cost-per-brick value of $0.04. It’s a total win from a cost perspective, but like all things, it depends how you look at it. The vast majority of the pieces are flat, 1×1 round tiles. Bricks and plates make up the rest, with the biggest piece being one of nine 16×16 technic base squares. Is this as satisfying a parts selection as you want? Probably not, but it’s still a really great value and gets a perfect score of 100%.
I don’t know if I quantify myself as a fast builder. I certainly like to take my time but not absurdly so. My start-to-finish build time for Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe clocks in at roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes (151 minutes). This gives me a cost-per-minute of $0.99. I hit that sweet ‘operators are standing by’ number haha. With the World Map (31203) as the only other reviewed LEGO® Art set, we don’t have a lot of stats for this theme as a whole. But Comparing it with all our reviewed sets to date, it still earns a stellar score of 94%. Averaging both criteria, this sets gets a super solid Value score of 97%.
Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe features the traditional LEGO® Art packaging. I like that this is consistent across the entire theme regardless of the subject matter. Having the same dimensions for the sets certainly allows for that. It’s a small detail that my art student brain appreciates. Inside the box we find: 7 bags of coloured round tiles, 2 bags of traditional pieces (bricks & plates), a 133 page instruction book and nine 16×16 technic base squares. I really appreciate how everything is packaged, it’s almost like unboxing a smart phone.
Set Up And Enjoy
The build goes very smoothly if you set up properly. This is a paint-by-numbers style approach to building. And creating a mosaic doesn’t allow much room for error. A tile off here or there would look pretty glaring. All the colours are assigned a number and should be separated into bowls, trays, etc. Then it’s a simple matter of following along line by line and putting down the right amount of tiles. A nice trick is to put a ruler under each line to not get too confused. Each 16×16 square is done in order from top to bottom. It’s very easy to follow along and each grid is given a full page to reference.
Technic pins then connect them all the squares into a 48×48 grid. The final assembly is the outside frame, done with traditional plates and bricks. The end result definitely feels like an art piece. It’s like stretching a canvas or framing a photo – takes me back to my art school days really. That’s a fun feeling I did not expect going into this build. The fully enclosed frame feels very solid and sturdy. The new clip part make for easy hanging on a wall as well. Hanging LEGO® just feels like a gamble, but here it’s a safe and simple process.
This is not a complicated build. But it is a very soothing one. If you’ve ever done an ‘Adult Colouring Book’ or something similar, you know there’s some nice relaxing energy to just playing with colours. I also appreciate that it’s a completely different build experience. There’s repetition for sure, but It’s not a grueling process that takes hours, nor is it over in a flash. Given the smaller colour palette to work with, this is probably one of the more straight forward and faster builds for the theme. It’s a great time from start to finish and the set gets a great score of 95%.
At first glance it might be difficult to see the entertainment value in a set like this. In particular any repeat or long-lasting value. But I have to say this was a very enjoyable experience. This is in equal parts thanks to the build and the recommended ‘soundtrack’ custom-made for this set. Each of the LEGO® Art sets has an accompanying audio featurette that you can access through the LEGO® YouTube account. Plug in some earphones and listen along while you create.
The soundtrack is less a collection of music and more a series of talking points and interviews. In this case we get to hear from some current modern artists, a Warhol biographer, the curator of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the set’s designers. Overall it’s a really deep dive into the artist and his art. Much more time is spent on Warhol compared to the set itself. And that is definitely the right call as you learn quite a lot. The designers come in towards the end with some great insights on the set/theme’s development. It’s all great stuff. The soundtrack clocks in at roughly 98 minutes. This covered me for about 3/5 of my building time with Beethoven helping out for the last bit. It’s definitely a ‘one-and-done’ experience, but it’s a great value-add for this theme.
4 X The Fun
Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe helps you build a static image with ease. The real creativity and entertainment for these LEGO® Art sets comes from being able to choose from either 3 or 4 images. I created the ‘hero’ image as it were, the one on the box cover. But should I want to, I can simply unframe the main section, grab the handy-dandy industrial brick separator and untile poor Marilyn to start again. You really appreciate all the planning that goes into getting just the right amount of pieces to make 4 different images – it’s pretty impressive.
Although there are a number of extra pieces included, you can’t simply make another. But you certainly can buy another three sets to create the full range of 4 images. That’s a costly and tall order and when I first heard of this I did balk at the idea. But now that I have one, it just seems silly to stop there. I think I’m hooked folks. The other colours are also great and have such a lovely vibrant palette. I have a FULL bowl of turquoise tiles – it’s practically yelling at me to keep going. Graphically they’ve made beautifully cohesive images that will look fantastic as a group. Curses…
I am officially on board the LEGO® Art train. The build is great, the audio soundtrack is very well done and the end result looks fantastic on the wall. I originally assumed these sets would have limited appeal, but I have been happily corrected. They’re a great adult-focused product but I see no reason why a younger builder can’t find the appeal as well. MOC makers can also flex their creativity with the product as is, or just use the base plates as a great starting point. There are also a ton of themes and IPs that have potential for great images. The already released themes like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Marvel have already proven big sellers. I look forward to more!
NOTE: This set is retiring at the end of 2021. If you’re interested in grabbing this one, don’t delay too long 😉
Real Life Warhol
In a great bit of timing, an exhibition on Andy Warhol’s art is currently at the Art Gallery of Ontario here in Toronto. I took in the show and got to see a small sampling of the Marilyn Monroe prints. It’s always great to see famous artwork in person. And this was especially fun since I had just built LEGO® Marilyn. Here’s a couple of pics.
This is a great set and theme with great value. But as always, we want to hear your feedback. Have you picked up a LEGO® Art set? Do you have a favourite theme or is there one you’re hoping to see? Please leave a comment below and as always, keep on brickin’.
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