Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Review: Lego 21319 Friends: Central Perk

Originally released in 2019 thanks to a successful Lego Ideas pitch, 21319 Central Perk(ad link) brings to life the iconic and nostalgic coffee shop from the Friends sitcom (rather then the Friends Lego theme marketed towards girls!).

Friends originally ran through basically my entire childhood in the 90s. So while I was a bit young to fully get it from the start, it was a familiar part of the TV world through most of my life, and a series I've watched through at least a couple of times now and really enjoy. Ie. This definitely hits the nostalgia button for me!

That aside, I think it's simply a very good set, with great minifigures, a pleasing and diverse range of parts in nice colours, and a great display piece. Continue below for my further thoughts and lots of images!

The set includes the interior of one of the main settings of the series, Central Perk, including of course the iconic orange sofa, the window area where Phoebe often performed her music, the counter with an elaborate coffee machine, and lots of seating and other furnishings for other visitors to the establishment to get comfortable on. 

The set leans into the notion of this being a sitcom setting, with the fourth-wall being represented by the lack of a wall in front of the sofa area, giving the most typical view of the Central Perk interior as seen in the series. This is emphasised by the built-in studio lighting placed either side of this non-wall. I think that's a cute feature, but if you don't fancy it the light-heads are only attached by ball-joints, so it would be easy enough to pop them off.

The other walls are not designed with display in mind, with very busy assortments of colours reflecting the features built up on the inside of the build. The semi-exception to that is the exterior door-side of the model, which has a hint of the street-scene outside the coffeehouse, including awnings, a bin, a poster of Joey, and a very slim impression of a pavement. The pavement quite abruptly drops down however, so it feels an awkward half-finished design choice. Given the exterior was a fairly often visited setting in the series, I feel like at least fully building out the pavement (even just a couple of studs so minifigures had standing space) would have greatly enhanced this side of the model, and given it a lot more role-play and re-enactment potential.

The interior is rightly where all the design effort went on this, and it's a very good interior indeed, packed full of details, including lots of furniture that can easily be tweaked and repositioned to set-up different scenes. You can move and remove so many pieces it feels quite dollhouse-esque in potential play style.

A couple of the rugs very easily pop out of the base (the third one by the window is more rigidly held in place with clips). This gives a fun display options of just have the sofa area stand-alone, so if you're more minifigure orientated in your interests, or want to consume the parts from the rest of the set while keeping a little display piece, this is a really cute way to have all the friends in a smaller build.

The raised performance area by the doors has a couple of options provided, with Phoebe supplied with a guitar to sing her unique songs with, or a keyboard ready for Ross to show off his musical skills.

Here are the fiends in minifigure form. We get all six of course, in suitably typical costumes for each member, plus Gunther the manager of the coffeehouse. I think these are just about perfect minifigures; the costumes, the hair-pieces, the facial expressions, are all flawless. I think Monika especially is just so very Monika! If there is one imperfection, it's that Rachel is supplied with a serving plate for her role as a waitress, but the chosen shield piece cannot be held flat, so she appears to be perpetually mid-dropping a mug of coffee!

The set comprises over a thousand pieces, and they suit my personal colour tastes very well, with lots of lovely dark green, dark red, and dark blue, plus numerous earthy shades of brown, tan and orange, and a little sand green and sand blue too. I find this set to be a really pleasing parts pack!

The dark greens are a particular highlight, including three dark green lampposts for the distinctive columns running through the interior of Central Perk. This is both a really pleasing part of the actual setting and the set, with a perfectly chosen part that also has some great MOC potential to add lampposts in other than standard black or white. As of 2024 this part in this colour remains exclusive to this set. Not as rare there are also several dark green window frames, which I find particularly appealing parts!

The set features a mixture of printed and stickered decorative parts, with the highlight for me being the iconic Central Perk sign.

There are also, befitting of a coffeehouse, many many mugs!

If you're a fan of Friends, this set seems a very obvious winner to me. a charming rendition of the classic setting, with abundant and fun detailing, lots of potential for roleplay and display, and prefect minifigures. And even if you're not mega into Friends, it's still a really nice build with great parts. Seems like a real winner to me!

This set is now retired, but it's not a rare one just yet as time of writing, so easy to pick up at a not-extortionate price on the secondary market. If you fancy a copy you might try hunting via my ad-links to eBay, or Amazon to support this blog :)

Please do check back soon for more of my Lego reviews of sets new and old! You can keep up to date with The Brickverse, by following me on social media; you'll find me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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