The Great Wave (31208) Review

The Great Wave (31208) Review

The first 2023 addition to the LEGO® Art collection is the Great Wave (31208). Similar to previous sets like Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and the LEGO® Ideas Starry Night, The Great Wave is a beautiful recreation of an actual art piece. In this case, it was originally a woodblock print designed in 1830s Japan by Katsushika Hokusai. LEGO® designers did a masterful job of creating a 3D, framed piece worthy of hanging on your wall. Let’s take a closer look!

NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. True North Bricks’ usual rating system applies (click here for more information).

Front box art for the Great Wave (31208)
Front box art for The Great Wave.

SUMMARY OF THE GREAT WAVE (31208)

  • NAME: Hokusai – The Great Wave
  • SET #: 31208
  • THEME: Art
  • COST: $139.99 CAD ($99.99 USD)
  • BRICK COUNT: 1810
  • MINIFIGURES: None
  • RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2023
Rear box art for The Great Wave (31208)
Rear box art for The Great Wave.

QUICK REVIEW OF THE GREAT WAVE (31208)

  • VALUE: 93% (Pricier per brick than average Art sets, but still an excellent value.)
  • BUILD: 90% (Beautiful set, but a little repetitive to build.)
  • MINIFIGURES: N/A
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (The soundtrack really adds to calming build experience.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 94% (Excellent set.)
The Great Wave (31208)
The Great Wave.

THE GREAT WAVE (31208) REVIEW

VALUE: 93%

The Great Wave is actually $10 cheaper than your average LEGO® Art set in Canada. However, it also comes with fewer pieces. $150 CAD Art sets generally come with brick counts in the 3000-4500 range. At $140, The Great Wave includes 1810 bricks. Consequently, the resulting cost-per-brick is much higher than your average Art set. The theme averages around $0.04/brick. The Great Wave costs $0.08/brick. It is quite hard to rate this set compared to others in the theme because past Art sets we’ve reviewed have consistently been about $0.04/brick. This set is double that. With that said, you get a lot more variety in terms of bricks than a standard Art set. Additionally, compared to LEGO® sets in general, the value is still excellent. In fact, compared to all other LEGO® sets reviewed at True North Bricks, the Great Wave still earns 100% in this category.

Rear view of the Great Wave.

This set took three hours and 25 minutes to assemble from start to finish. At full price, the resulting cost/minute of build time is $0.68. That is pretty much average for an Art-theme set. Compared to LEGO® sets in general, the build time value is also quite good, though not what I would consider excellent. Considering both these comparisons, I rate the build time provided by this set at 85%. Averaging this with the cost/brick score gives an overall value grade of 93%.

BUILD: 90%

Let me begin with the most obvious. As soon as you open the box, you realize four of the six canvas plates are a different color. They are a peach, or light nougat. These Art plates are super versatile since you can build both above and below them. I have yet to incorporate them into a MOC, but I can easily imagine doing it. To get the plates in a new color is fun, refreshing, and opens up loads of possibilities. Here’s hoping we get more colors in the future!

New peach colored art plates included with The Great Wave.
New peach colored art plates included with The Great Wave (31208).

Among the more interesting design choices is the use of a frame. Though not an Art theme set, Starry Night also featured a frame. It added so much presence and finesse to the piece. The frame around the Great Wave does the same. It is a substantial frame to boot. While other Art sets include frames, this one is nine studs wide. It has presence, for sure. You get a seven-stud-wide white area bordered by a further two studs of tan frame. The white portion and base of the actual art piece are inset a little, making the whole set look professionally framed.

The frame is nine studs wide.

In terms of the build process, the layered technique to add relief to piece is very nice. It is not as pronounced as in Starry Night, but it works well for this set. The layering certainly makes this build more interesting to assemble than a standard Art theme set. While I like the Art sets, I know many others find them a bit monotonous. Additionally, the Great Wave features a lot of nice-parts-usage (NPU). The wave crests feature white leaf and bird elements. Looking head on, the effect is very effective. Finally, the color selection is quite nice. It has a calming effect, and the muted scheme goes well in multiple locations and displays.

Layering in the Great Wave (31208)
Layering in the Great Wave set.

Compared to Starry Night, The Great Wave does not have as much depth. That might be an issue for some. Parts of the build are also repetitive, so if you have an issue with that, this might not be for you. I think it is a beautiful build and I will hang it up on the wall for display. Overall, I rate the build at 90%.

The Great Wave and Starry Night compared.
The Great Wave and Starry Night compared.

ENTERTAINMENT: 100%

Like other Art sets, The Great Wave comes with a soundtrack. I really like those. Perhaps that is why the monotonous aspects of the build do not bother me as much as in a set like the Eiffel Tower. However, Art sets are also colorful, and the Eiffel Tower was not. It was a sea of grey. Placing the colored tiles and watching the image come together in an Art kit is soothing in a way. However, the soundtrack really adds to experience. It is like a podcast about the piece you are building. Not only do you learn about the set itself, but authorities on the subject matter also lend their expertise.

White birds and leaves form the wave crests.

In this case, several experts on Japanese art joined the LEGO® designer to discuss not only the set, but the actual art piece as well. I learned a lot about the real Great Wave and gained a lot of appreciation for the piece. Did you know it wasn’t considered a piece of art form when it was produced? Or that Hokusai only drew the initial picture, he did not complete the color selection or do the actual carving or print? You also learn a lot about the process of making this style of art and how the LEGO® design team went about recreating it. I only wish the soundtrack was longer. The main soundtrack and bonus online episode come to about two hours of listening time together. The build itself was almost three and a half hours.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack included with this set.

As mentioned earlier, I also plan to display this piece. Therefore, even after the build, the enjoyment continues. Everyone needs wall décor, so why not have some built from LEGO® bricks? It is a great conversation piece for guests as well. The Great Wave is a wonderful LEGO® Art set, possibly the best so far. I rate the entertainment value at 100%.

OVERALL SCORE: 94%

I like the Art theme. I know it is not for everyone. However, I find the builds to be calming. The Great Wave (31208) takes the series in a new direction by adding some three-dimensionality to the set. That really changes the build experience by adding some more variety. I like experiencing how images come together with colored bricks in this theme. On top of that, the soundtracks are great. They are really interesting and informative to listen to. Despite a worse value that other LEGO® Art sets, you still get a lot of bricks for the price compared to LEGO® kits in general. I highly recommend the Great Wave. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or reach out on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

The Great Wave (31208)
The Great Wave (31208)

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