I think the LEGO® Group has missed the mark by a long shot with their January 2023 gift-with-purchase (GWP). The set is Houses of the World 1 (40583), featuring a South American-style home. It is the first in a series of four GWP sets exclusively offered to VIPs throughout 2023. While brightly colored, I found the build scale felt off in many places. Additionally, the price point to get one left my jaw on the floor. I would not rush off to the LEGO® Store for Houses of the World 1. Let’s delve more deeply into why.
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).
Houses of the World Summary
- NAME: Houses of the World 1
- SET #: 40583
- THEME: VIP GWP
- COST: Free with purchases over $350 CAD ($24.99 Value)
- BRICK COUNT: 348
- MINIFIGURES: None (but you get a Chihuahua)
- RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2023
Houses of the World Quick Review
- VALUE: 60% (Horrible timing and way too high price point to get one.)
- BUILD: 70% (Suffers from major scale-related issues.)
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- ENTERTAINMENT: 60% (This is a dust-gatherer for you shelf, or recyclable parts.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 63% (Flop)
|What I liked:||What I didn’t like:|
Some nice build technique ideas
|Way too high price point|
The scale is completely off
Minifigures don’t fit
Lacks successful GWP traits
Houses of the World Review
I always give GWPs 100% in the value category because they are free bricks and free build time with a purchase you were probably going to make anyway. However, some GWPs make you want to make a purchase just to get it. Right off the bat, this one did not inspire any such emotions in me. Maybe if the price point to get one was a bit lower, I would feel more inclined. But you have to spend $350 in Canada to get one. You don’t even qualify for this GWP if you buy the latest modular collection set (the Jazz Club is $299.99 CAD). Even the Sanctum Sanctorum does reach the minimum buy ($309.99 CAD). Sets like Mighty Bowser and the Batmobile Tumbler JUST qualify.
Another point to note is that the holiday season is now behind us. Many collectors already bought the large sets they wanted through Black Friday, Double VIPs weekends, Christmas sales, or Boxing Day. Additionally, we just came off of a major GWP for AFOLs (Blacktron Cruiser). Not only have fans already spent a lot of money recently, but there is nothing in the January 2023 wave of new sets that qualifies for this promotion as a one-off purchase. Houses of the World 1 is a poorly timed promotion with a price point that is much too high.
Houses of the World 1 is a poorly timed promotion with a price point that is much too high.
Speaking of the price point, why on Earth is it $350 CAD? This set has the same value as the recent Winter Elves Scene and Santa’s Workshop sets. Winter Elves Scene came with purchases of $220 CAD or more, while Santa’s Workshop came for $190+. The Blacktron Cruiser had a $39.99 CAD value, and it came with purchases of $250. Those sets included Minifigures and were Minifigure scale. Houses of the World is neither of those things.
I can’t bring myself to give this set 100% for value. I am breaking with my norm, but this set is not worth a price point $100 – $160 above its recent predecessors. I will pass it based on the free bricks and build time (if you happen to have a large purchase left to make after the holidays). However, the high price point, the lack of new sets to meet that price point, and the poor timing of this exclusive make it a terrible value in my mind.
Houses of the World 1 is cute and colorful on a quick first glance. However, as the build progressed, I became less and less enamored with this set. Firstly, I find the scale is simply off all over the place. The paintings on the walls are as tall as the fridge. The dresser drawers are bigger than the chairs and couch. The potted plants are larger than the oven. The windowsills are wider than the doors and windows. The list goes on.
Secondly, what scale does this represent? It is not micro-build, it is not Minifigure scale, it is not architecture scale. You get a chihuahua with it, which suggests Minifigure scale. However, a Minifigure can’t fit inside, and all the furniture is too small. Effectively, this is an oversized doghouse.
Houses of the World 1 doesn’t make sense from a scale perspective.
In terms of build techniques, the window design and roof tiling are nice. However, neither is a new technique. They serve as good reminders for experienced fans, and a good introduction for new fans. However, you can learn these techniques through other sets for a lower price. It is a cute build from the outside, but it just doesn’t make sense from a scale perspective.
The LEGO® Group markets Houses of the World 1 as “modular”. Yes, it is technically modular. The floors separate and the roof comes off. Additionally, the LEGO® website advertises that you will be able to exchange modules of this set with future additions to the Houses of the World series. That’s an interesting concept. But if you think about it more, why would you want to? If each house represents a different style of home from a different part of the world, why would you muddle them up?
The modular aspect also offers nothing in terms of play. The LEGO® Group advertises some Friends sets as modular. You can customize the look and interiors of those sets in a similar fashion to these Houses of the World sets. However, you can play in the Friends sets. While geared towards adults, you can also play in the modular collection sets by separating the modular sections. As mentioned earlier, you can’t fit Minifigures in Houses of the World 1. I just don’t see the benefit of making this set modular. I suppose kids can play with this as a giant dog or cat house… but coming back to the price, how many kids’ sets meet that $350 mark? Only 18+ sets fall in that category. I suppose parents can buy things for themselves and give the freebie to the kids afterwards.
Houses of the World 1 lacks staple traits that make AFOL GWPs successful.
From an AFOL perspective, I also see little value in this set. It is too small for city builders. It has no functionality. This is a shelf ornament that will gather dust. The LEGO® Group has had big success in the past with GWPs like the Vintage Taxi, Forest Hideout, and Blacktron Cruiser. The price point of Houses of the World 1 and lack of playability puts it squarely in the adult collector market. However, it doesn’t offer any of the staple traits that made its predecessors successful with adults. There are no minifigs, no nostalgic value, and no tie-ins to larger sets or themes.
Perhaps displaying the entire collection of these sets together will make a nice display. We’ll have to wait and see about that. However, with a $350 buy in per set, I can’t see too many people collecting the entire series. Of course, I don’t know if the price point will be the same for future houses, but it stands to reason it will be. This set is nice from the outside, but I have no use for it. Since I always enjoy building with bricks, I’ll pass this with 60%. However, for me, Houses of the World 1 offers nothing beyond the build experience (which wasn’t that great to begin with).
OVERALL SCORE: 63%
I rarely come across GWPs I don’t like. Eiffel’s Apartment came close. However, Houses of the World 1 takes the cake. I can’t believe how much you have to spend to get a set that offers so little. The scale is completely off and doesn’t match anything else in the LEGO® Group’s current offerings. The build techniques are interesting, but nothing new. The modular marketing is questionable, and the set offers little play potential. The only aspects I like come from my preliminary first glance of the set. It is cute and colorful from the outside. Opinions vary on every topic, so I would love to hear what others think of this set. Will you get Houses of the World 1? Imagining the price point was lower, would you want it? Let me know in the comments below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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