SONIC THE HEDGEHOG – GREEN HILL ZONE (SET 21331) REVIEW

Everyone’ favourite hedgehog has come bursting onto the LEGO® scene in the fan-inspired set, Sonic the Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone (21331). This set is part of the LEGO® Ideas theme and was actually part of the 2020 Review process. After a long wait, the official set was finally revealed in December 2021. It hit shelves shortly after, in January 2022. This playful set is based on the fantastic project submission by fan designer Viv Grannell that celebrates the best of 90s video game culture. With a great price point and lots of play value, this set is sure to be a fan favourite. In addition, this set is sure to appeal to the nostalgic side of many AFOLs.

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. I will use the usual True North Bricks rating system (click here for more information) and provide my honest opinion.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG – GREEN HILL ZONE SUMMARY

  • NAME: Sonic The Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone
  • SET #: 21331
  • THEME: LEGO® Ideas (18+)
  • COST: $89.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 1,125
  • MINIFIGURES: 1 (plus three brick-built figures)
  • RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2022
Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone set

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG – GREEN HILL ZONE QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 86%
  • BUILD: 77%
  • MINIFIGURES: 88%
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 85%
  • OVERALL SCORE: 84%
Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone instruction book about the fan designer page

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG – GREEN HILL ZONE REVIEW

VALUE: 86%

The price for the Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone set is $89.99 in Canada. With 1,125 pieces, that is an excellent cost per brick ($0.08/brick). The average cost per brick of all sets reviewed by True North Bricks is currently $0.14/brick. This translates to a value score of 99% for Sonic. However, LEGO® Ideas sets tend to have a better price per brick value than most other themes. When compared to only LEGO® Ideas sets reviewed by True North Bricks, it is closer to the average of $0.10/brick. This translates to a value score of 94%. Taking the latter into consideration, I would rank the value at 96%.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Green Hill Zone set bags

In terms of build time, this set took me one hour and 46 minutes to complete. This converts to a cost-per-minute of $0.85. This is equivalent to the current average for all sets reviewed by True North Bricks. At $0.85/minute, the build time translates to 80%. However, when compared to only LEGO® Ideas sets, the build time value decreases to around 72%. This measure favours those who like to take their time building. Generally, I build quite quickly, but I decided to take my time with this set and yet I still seemed to build too quickly according to the True North Bricks scale. I purposefully slowed down this build so I could build mindfully and really feel all the 1×1 plates softly joining together as I stacked them (see my article on LEGO® and mindfulness for more details). The overall cost-per-minute score is 76%.

After averaging both scores, the final value score is 86% (good value).

Sonic closeup entering the loop

BUILD: 77%

The box for this set is the same style used for the Architecture series. It is my favourite type of LEGO® box. I decided to use the box as my building tray, just as I often do with Architecture sets.

Inside the box there are 7 numbered bags (1 through 6), an instruction booklet with awesome artwork from the Sonic the Hedgehog game, and two sticker sheets. The instruction booklet begins with the usual history about the fan designer that you see in all LEGO® Ideas booklets. In addition, it also includes a nice visual timeline of the 30 years of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Like most of the current LEGO® Ideas sets listed on LEGO.com, the Sonic the Hedgehog™ – Green Hill Zone set is listed as 18+. I imagine this is for two main reasons. First, it is based on the original Sonic the Hedgehog game introduced by SEGA Genesis in 1991. Therefore, it will certainly have a special appeal to AFOLs who grew up playing the game. Second, this set uses a lot of 1×1 plates. I imagine this would be rather tedious and challenging for younger kids. Teens and pre-teens accustomed to building LEGO® sets should have no problem with this set.

One of the less appealing aspects of this set is the choice of life preserver as the iconic golden rings that Sonic needs to collect (you get seven). While it makes it easy to attach the rings throughout the model, the hoop element (design ID 35485) would have been a better choice. However, I do like the use of the transparent bars to give the effect that the rings are floating.

Sonic and Motobug on the bridge with 3 rings in the background

Pixilated Landscape

The iconic Green Hill Zone happens to be the same level I recreated in my own MOC (My Own Creation) a few years ago. With the pixilated landscape, I anticipated a significant number of 1×1’s needed to recreate the checkerboard look. In fact, it comes with 110 1×1 plates in dark orange and 107 1×1 plates in reddish brown (regular brown). Interestingly, this set must have been designed prior to LEGO® coming out with the new 2-plate high 1×1 brick. That certainly would have made for a friendlier build experience. It also comes with 61 1×1 plates with bracket – 31 in bright green (lime) and 30 in bright green. Great for MOCs!

Mini Builds

The LEGO® designers break up the monotony of stacking all the 1×1 plates by introducing mini builds throughout the build experience. Some of my favourites are the bridge, palm tree, and vertical loop. The bridge uses some great techniques with a combination of bars, 1×1 round bricks, and my favourite pieces – the rounded 1×2 plate.

A neat feature of the build experience is that after you complete each segment or mini build, you receive a new Chaos Emerald. There are seven Chaos Emeralds in different colours. You also build a stand to display the emeralds along with a spot for Sonic. Sonic is appropriately positioned in a running pose using the bar with angled stud. Throughout the build experience you also build the three brick-built figures and Dr. Robotnik’s ship. I will go into more detail about the characters in the minifigures section.

Stickers and Prints

Perhaps the most iconic element of this model is the loop. The loop is a key feature of the Green Hill Zone level of the game. Tapered wing palates are used on top of regular and inverted arch bricks to create the illusion of a loop. The loop feature also utilizes pixel-printed stickers on the 1x2x5 column bricks. I found it particularly painstaking trying to line up the tiny squares of the pixel-printed stickers on the different sides.

Sonic closeup in the loop

This set also uses stickers for the five power up icons (on 2×2 tiles). These are interchangeable and go on the two item boxes (they look like old school tube computer monitors). Another notable sticker indicates that Sonic has 3 lives left. You can find it on a 2×4 tile on the front left of the model. This really helps connect the model to the original video game. On the back you will find another fun nod to the video game. There is a small sticker that highlights the top scores. The entries are for Viv, the fan designer, and the two LEGO® designers. Overall, the number of stickers wasn’t too bad. Thankfully, the 18 1×4 bright green tiles are printed with the pixilated grass pattern.

Item boxes and power up icons

Overall the designers did the best job they could balancing out the monotony of building with 1x1s by adding interesting mini builds. For that reason, I rate this build at 77%.

MINIFIGURES: 88%

With only one minifigure in a set this size, it is a very poor brick-to-fig ratio. However, if you include the four brick-built characters then it improves significantly. This isn’t the first time we have seen a Sonic minifigure. However, this Sonic is unique to this set. A different Sonic was first introduced in the Sonic the Hedgehog LEGO Dimensions Level Pack in 2016. The older Sonic has green eyes and Sonic’s mouth is on the opposite side. The printing is also slightly different. The shape on the torso is different, the arms and lower face are a slightly different colour, and the feet don’t have the printing on the sides.

Badniks

There are three additional brick-built characters. The first one you build is Crabmeat. I thought this was a wicked little build. It makes good use of weapons as legs and I love how the eyes stick out. The second character you build is Motobug. This is a decent little mini-build and it comes with two tiles, and two stickers, for different expressions.

Dr. Robotnik and the Eggmobile

The last of the three brick-built characters is Dr. Robotnik, also known as Eggman, and his Eggmobile. The Eggmobile ship is a fun little mini-build with lots of off centering and snot techniques. These help to create the rounded shape of the Eggmobile. The ship also utilizes the relatively new 1×5 plates. A couple more stickers help add detail to the outside of the ship. The ship also goes on a stand created using trans clear 2×2 round bricks. Be sure to push the pin in all the way otherwise you can’t attach the ship.

Dr. Robotnik is another great mini-build. His legs are particularly well designed using various technic elements. Dr. Robotnik has a nicely rounded figure using various bows and cheese slopes. His hands make good use of white bigfig hands. Unfortunately, Dr. Robotnik’s head and face are not executed as well as the rest of the mini-builds. From a distance the look is passable. But once you look closely, it is hard to tell which is the nose versus the mouth. Dr. Robotnik fits nicely into his ship and is secured with a single stud.

The terrible brick to minifgure ratio technically earns this set a score of 22. However, I don’t think it is a fair assessment since this set is more of a display model rather than a play set. Moreover, there aren’t any other characters that would have made sense to have in minifigure form. If you consider the additional three brick-built characters, then the score is 88.

Sonic on the stand with the Chaos Emeralds and the brick-built figures in the background

ENTERTAINMENT: 85%

This set is made up of four modular segments. This allows you to rearrange the layout or create a larger layout by adding multiple sets or adding your own custom segments. However, first you have to pull off the strip of black plate and tile on the bottom of both sides of the model. This reduces the flow of play a bit. Interestingly, this set has a number of play features that don’t work well in practice. For example, moto bug easily tips over, especially when on the bridge. Also, there is too much resistance on the hinges when you try to tip back the transparent bars holding the rings and they just fall off. In addition, trying to get Sonic to stand on the lever-activated spring is rather difficult.

Sonic the Hedgehog modular segments

That said, this set is rated 18+ and was likely intended more as a display model. And it certainly looks great on display. The narrow profile means it can fit on a narrow shelf or even in a shadow box to hang on the wall. If you are a fan of the original SEGA Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog game, then it will bring you a nice sense of nostalgia. The Sonic minifigure looks sharp and the other brick-built characters are nicely done. The model itself has all the features of the Green Hill Zone that are found in the classic game. For me, the entertainment value comes from the overall look of the final model which I think is excellent (I just wish I could mount Sonic upside down in the loop). As a display set, the Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone set earns a score of 85.

Sonic the Hedgehog set with characters

OVERALL SCORE: 84%

When I first saw Viv’s s Green Hill Zone submission on LEGO® Ideas, I was super excited. I was a big fan of the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog game when I was a kid. I even created a Sonic Green Hill Zone MOC a few years ago. Overall, this set looks great and provides a nice balanced build experience. This set is not large, measuring 17cm tall by 36cm wide and 6cm deep. However, the final model makes a great display piece and is both compact and modular. The designers included lots of great details from the Green Hill Zone level of the classic Sonic game. Plus, you get a lot of pieces for a great price point. Overall, the outcome is awesome and earns this set a final score of 84!

What is your favourite mini-build in this set? Have you tried building any custom layouts? Tell us in the comments below or share your thoughts on social media!

Play well folks,

-Krista (she/her)

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