Creator is probably one of my favourite LEGO themes. It was the theme that really led me out of the dark ages and as such I’m generally pretty keen on anything Creator that shows up. So the answer to the question of whether you should buy 31116 is obviously going to be yes, right? Well my verdict may surprise you.
The main build of 31116 is pretty simple. Its a tree house, used for watching wildlife. It’s pretty much all there in the name.
In terms of actual wildlife you get three brick built animals; giraffe, flamingo and hornbill. I know that is a bit of a point of contention for some people but I usually don’t mind brick built animals.
I think the flamingo is really well executed. There is some great part usage, like the use of the heart tile to get the shape of the wings.
What I found to be a bit of a letdown was the execution of the giraffe. Yes it looks like a giraffe but the leg design makes it a bit clunky. Overall it’s just a bit off.
I actually forgot about the hornbill until I was re-reading the product page.
You can’t have a wildlife safari without people looking at the animals. That would just be called nature. For our safari-goers we get two minifigures that I am assuming are mother and son. I’m not sure how well dressed these two are for an African safari.
The tree house is another mixed result in my opinion.
I don’t really get why the tree was built with a round mid section and on a turntable. I can only assume it’s to introduce certain parts for the alt models but again it looks a bit off.
I also don’t understand the two sand green plants at the base of the tree? They just feel like filler.
There are parts of the tree house that I really love. In particular the area with the couch, elephant print and bottle. Combined with the veranda it’s super cute.
But then the rest of the tree house is taken up with a bathroom. I’m all for a LEGO bathroom, if it’s part of a larger build or the inclusion is funny. Here it just feels like the least interesting way to use that space.
The thing with a LEGO set is that you can leave out a bathroom and nobody will question it. If this was a bedroom, or a research lab for example I wouldn’t be going “sure, but where do the minifigures go to the toilet?”. But LEGO went with the toilet and now I’m wondering, should this set have actually been called Safari Wildlife Outhouse?
I also don’t love the colour choice of the tree house. I think one less colour would have helped.
The alternate builds
Biplane with Lion
I really like the concept of this one but the execution is somewhat limited by the fact that this is an alternate build. Some parts it is just obvious that they’ve used an element because that is all that was available. The lion looks more like a big dog.
Catamaran with crocodile
This is easily my favourite of the two alternate builds. The catamaran still feels a bit pieced together but I think the end result is surprisingly good. The crocodile also works better than the lion.
This is set kind of falls in the medium range of Creator sets coming in at 397 pieces. You can pretty easily find it for around $39, such as Amazon [affiliate link]. This might be one set that ends up crazy cheap at the Big W toy sale.
But getting back to the question at hand – should you buy it? No. This is a pass for me. There are better sets available, particularly in the June releases, and because of that I don’t think I can overlook the few misses enough to recommend this one.