I was 20 years old when ‘Home Alone’ hit the cinemas: just old enough to escape the kiddie joy of feeling smart enough to outwit grownups, and to enjoy the cartoonish, unrealistic, slapstick for what it was; and not yet old enough to buy into the conservative, family-values messaging the film lays on with a trowel. The cinemas were loaded with ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘The Grifters’, Fellini’s ‘Hamlet’, ‘Misery’, ‘Dances With Wolves’… ‘Home Alone’ did not stack up to my second-year-of-an-arts-degree sensibilities.
Of course, now I’m a fifty year old grandfather with five kids of my own, and a high school teacher to boot. To whit: I’ve seen it way more than is good for me over the last couple of decades. The movie has not aged well. But, and most importantly for this review, it has generated an enormous sense of nostalgia amongst fans. It’s a perennial Christmas favourite, and with Lego having finally clued into the fact that a large portion of its paying fan club are – like me – possessors of disposable income with a firm belief in keeping our childhoods alive as long as possible, it’s fair to say the nostalgia market is alive, well, and booming in Legoland at the moment.
Friends. Queer Eye. Seinfeld. Typewriters. Old-school sneakers. 21330 Home Alone joins a definite rose-tinted theme. And whether or not you are a fan of the movie, the real questions are: is it a good Lego set? And for the price, and with all the little extras that come with the name, is it a good Ideas set?
TLDR: Oh, yes. Yes indeed.
21330 Home Alone is a big set, just shy of 4000 pieces in total. It comes in 31 bags, totalling 24 separate steps, and is easily the biggest Ideas set to date. At $400 retail, it just passes the ’10 cent test’ in terms of part cost, and the range of in dividual parts is enormous: for dedicated MOC builders like myself it is an absolute treasure trove of parts, colours, and techniques for later use. Sticker haters should beware: rather than printed parts there are no fewer than 37 stickers. However, they almost exclusively consist of accessory elements such as toothbrushes on 2×1 tiles and pizza box tops on 2×2 tiles. You won’t lose much if you don’t include many of them, and removing them later for MOC use won’t break your heart.
Five minifigures complete the ensemble. They represent Kevin, his mum Kate, the robbers Harry and Marv, and the neighbour Marley, although the figures themselves are so generic they can be added to your minifig collection without standing out in any way. The exception is the reverse face on Marv, which must go down as one of the best face prints Lego has ever produced.
The build itself takes place in four major parts. Bag 1 consists of the van in which Harry and Marv arrive to do their dirty work. It’s a simple build, very much a standard Lego van, but the sand blue colour scheme is appreciated. The cab allows both minifigures to sit inside, which increases the playability, but otherwise this is a completely generic vehicle with nothing at all distinctive, and it does not start the build off with a bang.
The house itself is far more impressive, not only for its size (it’s 32cm wide and 27cm high). The attention to detail is incredible, and as a builder you feel as if every one of the nearly 4000 pieces you put down means something. I consider myself a relatively quick builder: even so, it took me the better part of ten hours to put the whole thing together. The build takes place over three levels, and each one comes apart to reveal a wealth of interior details.
The house itself is fully enclosed, which means you build right round the model: the rear of the building is as detailed as the front, and comes with a treehouse, so no area feels underdone or neglected. And even if it weren’t identifiable as the McAllister house, (and keeping in mind that the house itself is a real house, not a set), the whole thing is wonderfully constructed. It is a genuinely beautiful set.
The interiors are rich and varied, and perform a passable imitation of the McAllister house from the movie. A particular highlight is the inclusion of working traps from the movie: now you, too, can cripple a grown man by dropping an iron on his face, rolling the contents of a bookshelf onto him, or smashing him in the mush with a paint can on a string, before sliding down the stairs and out the front door on your sled! For an expensive, highly detailed set that is clearly designed for display, 21330 Home Alone is playable as all get out. And even after you’re finished, and you’ve taken it apart to show your friends, and spun the train set, and swung Kevin down to the treehouse on the zip-line, and exhausted all the superlatives about just how pretty it all looks, it has one last surprise for you.
Like a doll house, it opens up to reveal the full breadth of its contents, giving you an entirely different vista that encompasses all the hard work you’ve put into that beautifully detailed interior. None of your hard work and time is hidden. Even in a completely closed building, you can see everything the set has to offer, giving you a sense of the beauty throughout the whole thing.
I’ll be honest. I went into this build prepared to hate it because of my antipathy towards its source material. But 21330 Home Alone encompasses everything that is good about a well-designed Lego set. It is visually beautiful. It combines a range of colours, including ones that you will not have a great deal of in your collection. It has a plethora of different parts. It allows you to practice a considerable number of building techniques, including some fantastic NPU. And while, as a large Ideas set, it is listed with an 18+ recommended build age, it errs on the side of the complex rather than the complicated—there is nothing in here that should daunt a builder of even moderate experience. And every single aspect of the Lego experience has been considered, from building, to playing, to display.
It isn’t perfect—the van is a relative disappointment, and the treehouse is somewhat basic in comparison to the rest of the set – but overall, 21330 Home Alone is an an extraordinary set.
Available November 1st from lego.com, $399.99
Words by Lee Battersby
Photos by Lee Battersby and courtesy of The Lego Group.
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