I am on the fence about the LEGO® Super Mario theme. I like Minifigures, and the theme doesn’t come with any. Additionally, I am not into having a computerized Mario figurine. However, the LEGO® Group recently offered me a pre-release copy of the Super Mario 64 “?” Block. I was intrigued to give the theme a go, especially since this is not a typical play-oriented Mario set. If you are a Super Mario fan, this might be the LEGO® set for you.
This article contains spoilers for content not advertised on the set box.
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.
SUPER MARIO “?” BLOCK SUMMARY
- NAME: Super Mario 64 “?” Block
- SET #: 71395
- THEME: Super Mario
- COST: $199.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 2064
- MINIFIGURES: None
- RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2021
SUPER MARIO 64 “?” BLOCK QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 91% (Great cost-per-brick and very good length of build time for the price.)
- BUILD: 90% (Fun design that works exceptionally well.)
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- ENTERTAINMENT: 80% (Nice display piece for past and current fans of the franchise.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 87%
SUPER MARIO 64 “?” BLOCK REVIEW
The Super Mario 64 “?” Block retails for $199.99 in Canada. Additionally, the set includes 2064 pieces. The resulting cost-per-brick is $0.097. Comparatively, the average cost-per-brick at True North Bricks is currently $0.14 based on all the sets we have reviewed. As such, the “?” Block is a great value. The cost-per-brick earns a solid 94%. Since this is the first Super Mario set I have reviewed, so I cannot make theme specific comparisons this time around.
The “?” Block took me four hours and 40 minutes to assemble (280 minutes). At full price, the cost-per-minute of build time is $0.71. True North Bricks’ average across all themes is currently $0.85/minute. Consequently, this set provides a very good amount of build time for the price. That earns 87%. Averaging this with the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 91%.
The “?” Block is an interesting build. From the outside, it appears like a simple cube. However, the interior consists of really neat mechanisms that allow several micro-build scenes to fold and rotate out for display. The mechanisms themselves are not overly complicated. They function using common linkages and simple assemblies along with elastic bands. However, the motion is very fluid on all counts. Additionally, I did not need to tinker or troubleshoot to get things working like with the Roller Coaster or Typewriter. I like when things are not finicky and just work.
The cube looks wonderful from the outside too. The question marks feature simple but nice designs and I like the rounded edges of the box. The only incomplete side is the bottom of the cube. It is completely open. This is not a major issue because the set is a display piece meant to sit on the table. Additionally, if something falls inside the cube (more on that later), it would be really hard to get out if the bottom was sealed.
In terms of the experience, I found the micro-builds a little boring to assemble. That is a personal thing though. I know many out there like micro-builds. I do not enjoy them, resulting in a chunk of the build feeling like it dragged on a bit. However, I liked building the cube. Additionally, I liked seeing how all the pieces of the set came together to make the whole.
In terms of the micro-builds, you assemble Peach’s Castle, Bob-omb Battlefield, Cool-Cool Mountain, and Lethal Lava Trouble. The “?” Block also includes a surprise build not advertised on the box. SPOILER ALERT – STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT THE SURPRISE RUINED. The cube features two additional compartments on the front side. One lifts open to reveal a brick-built Bowser figurine. Pressing on him causes a second, lower compartment to open. Inside is a rotating display stand you can use to display Bowser. Incidentally, he comes out of the first compartment. You have to be careful in the process though, because he can easily fall into the cube (hence why it is good the bottom of the cube is not sealed).
In the end, I enjoyed the build experience. The micro-builds are not my thing, but I do like how it all came together. I also enjoy the mechanisms involved and how well they work. The “?” Block is a fun design for sure. I rate the build at 90%.
As a Batman fan, I found myself wishing this box was green. However, Mario fans will certainly enjoy this lovely display piece. Whether closed or open, it looks nice. I am disappointed that the Super Mario theme refuses to produce Minifigures though. I would scrap all the micro-builds on this and use the stages to display Minifigures if there were any. That would make this a permanent display piece in my LEGO® room. With that said, Mario is a household name with wide appeal. Generations of serious, casual, and past gamers have some connection to the franchise. Since this “?” Block features in every game, the set likely strikes a chord beyond just the Nintendo gaming community. Without Minifigures, I probably would not buy this set myself. However, I can see why many others would. I rate the entertainment value at 80%.
OVERALL SCORE: 87%
Do I like the Super Mario 64 “?” Block? Yes, I actually like it quite a bit. Would I have bought it? Probably not. I saw the Classic Nintendo Entertainment System set and I thought, “That’s neat.” However, I never bought one. This set falls in the same category for me. Without Super Mario Minifigures, this whole theme falls short for me. With that said, I greatly appreciate the build and the techniques used. This is a clever feat of brick-gineering. Additionally, the value is quite good. What do you think of the Super Mario 64 “?” Block? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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