LEGO® Friends sets do not often interest me. However, I admit to purchasing the occasional set. Every now and then, the theme pumps out a building with an interesting design, or a set with neat elements. In May 2023, Friends dropped such a set. The early images of the Botanical Garden (41757) caught my attention with the large dome structure of the building. Further examination revealed realistic butterflies and some great NPU (nice parts usage). Fast forward to August, and I had a couple expiring VIP points coupon redemptions to use up. I decided against a massive purchase in hopes of nice future GWP (gift-with-purchase). Instead, I ordered two Botanical Garden sets in two shipments (so I could redeem both my VIP coupons). My goal is to build a larger mod of the set. But let’s take a look at the Botanical Garden as intended first.
Botanical GARDEN sTATS
- NAME: Botanical Garden
- SET #: 41757
- THEME: Friends
- COST: $99.99 CAD
- COST/BRICK: $0.093 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 1072
- MINI-DOLLS: 3
- RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2023
Quick Review of the Botanical Garden
- VALUE: 87% (Good cost/brick and build time.)
- BUILD: 95% (Excellent design with clever parts use.)
- MINI-DOLLS: 75% (Nice designs, loads of accessories, but too few dolls.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 90% (Lots of fun, but not ready to drop in your city.)
Full Review of the Botanical Garden (41757)
The Botanical Garden costs $99.99 in Canada and includes 1072 bricks. Consequently, the cost/brick is $0.09, which is surprisingly good. This is only the sixth Friends set reviewed at True North Bricks, but that is the best cost/brick I’ve experienced in this theme. Even compared to LEGO® sets in general, the Botanical Gardens holds its own well. I rate the cost/brick at 98%.
I assembled the Botanical Garden in two hours and 10 minutes. At full price, the cost/minute of build time is $0.77. Based on my limited experience, that is pretty much average for the Friends theme. However, it is pretty good compared to LEGO® sets in general. Consequently, I rate the build time at 87%.
I enjoyed this build. I like the architecture and I love the plants. Additionally, the set employs a new pond technique that probably works well with the MILS system everyone raves about. I am only considering making my first MILS build, so I can’t say for sure. However, the ground around the water is raised one brick height above the baseplate, which from my understanding should work. In any case, the raised surface of the water looks great, adding a degree of depth we don’t typically see in LEGO® water builds. In fact. It is high enough that the koi fish tiles and frog remain under the surface. Additionally, building the waterfall that feeds into the pond as part of the building is a clever idea.
The building is stunning too. The domed roof drew me in initially, but the arches and detailing around the sand green windows are quite nice too. Then there’s the building interior. The gardens feature curved edges that make the scene seem more alive than rectangular flower beds would. And the plants? Chef’s kiss. The NPU in these plants is wonderful. To build the flowers, you use mop ends, mohawks, and saxophones to name a few pieces. And the box images do not do the trees justice. I like both the interior and exterior trees a lot more than I anticipated I would. I might customize them to be a bit fuller though.
Another minor complaint I have is the mobile for the butterflies. The mobile structure is actually a clever way to hold the tops of the dome elements together. However, I don’t like the clunky arms holding the butterflies to it. They ruin the gracefulness of the figurines. I’d much rather have the butterflies sitting around the garden. Otherwise, I’m thrilled the LEGO® Group put in the effort to make the butterflies representative of actual species.
The biggest aspect I don’t like about the Botanical Garden is the open back. But that is why I bought two of these. I fully intend to customize this set and make it modular. However, I noticed in building the actual set that the interior spaces will be quite cramped when you seal off the back side. The two wings of the building need widening if I intend to place Minifigures inside through removable roofs. But that’s a whole other discussion. Overall, my issues with the build for this set are small. I rate the it at 95%.
I am not a fan of mini-dolls. That’s one of the main hinderances I have when considering buying Friends sets. I much prefer Minifigures. With that said, the Botanical Garden includes three mini-dolls. According to the box, they are Liann, Niko, and Adi. This is my first exposure to the “new” Friends… and something about these mini-dolls is a little less creepy than the older ones. However, I can’t quite put my finger on what makes them more aesthetically pleasing.
I have always liked that mini-doll hair and accessories are Minifigure compatible. Where the mini-doll itself deters me from buying Friends, the hairpieces and accessories often make up for it a little. Case in point, this set has two hairpieces I did not already have. While neither is technically rare or new, they did not previously come in any set I would collect. In terms of accessories, you get:
- 5 x butterflies
- 4 x frogs
- 3 x shoulder armor
- 3 x paint pallets (used as lily pads)
- 2 x koi fish tiles
- 2 x pens
- 2 x cherries
- 2 x scissors
- 2 x ducks
- 2 x saxophone
- 2 x minifig collar ruff
- 1 x egg
- 1 x watering can
- 1 x mop end
- 1 x mohawk
- 1 x cell phone tile
- 1 x croissant
- 1 x book
- 1 x basket
- 1 x camera
- 1 x bottle
- 1 x bird
- 1 x pumpkin (dark tan)
Despite the characters looking decent and the huge number of accessories, I still think the set needs more mini-dolls. It’s hard to compared sets with mini-dolls to sets with Minifigures because the production process is different. I don’t know if it is more costly to produce a mini-doll than a Minifigure. However, in my experience, Friends sets include far fewer characters than minifig-based sets do. Based on the few Friends sets I’ve had, the theme averages around 218 bricks/fig. Comparatively, Minifigure based sets average 191 bricks/fig. The Botanical Garden offers 357 bricks/fig. In my opinion, that is a really low character count for a set this size.
The Botanical Garden comes with nicely designed characters as far as mini-dolls go. Additionally, they come with a huge number of accessories for a set this size. While I am inclined to give the character designs and accessories top points, the pitiful figurine count really yanks that score down. I rate these mini-dolls at 75%.
This is a tricky topic to address with a set like this. I enjoyed the build process. I loved the clever use of parts throughout the build. It gave me some great ideas. However, from a AFOL perspective, the open back just sucks. You can’t plop this down into your city layout as is. From a kids’ perspective, the open back works better for play. Additionally, I am super excited to mod this set, and I will get hours of entertainment from that. But I typically grade this section based partially on how ready the set is to display right after following the instructions. It looks nice, but like I said, you can’t just put it in your city without major modifications. As such, I rate the entertainment value at 90%.
OVERALL SCORE: 87%
The Botanical Garden (41757) is a good set, even at full price. The cost/brick is excellent. I am not a Friends fan, but this set inspired me to buy a second copy and create a custom, modular version. The techniques used are sound and interesting. You also gain a lot of accessories for your minifig collection, even if the set only includes mini-dolls. My main complaints about the Botanical Garden are the extremely low number of figurines and the open back concept. With that said, it was a set designed for kids and not adults. I’ll certainly enjoy modifying this to suit my needs. What do you think of the Botanical Garden? Let me know in the comments or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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