LEGO Ideas 21335 Motorized Lighthouse – a beacon of brick-built class… and cost [Review] – The Brothers Brick

During the COVID lockdown, thousands of people all over the globe found themselves with a significant amount of extra free time and the ability to create wonderful builds. The LEGO Ideas page was overwhelmed with submissions, with an unprecedented number of builds being approved for production. Many of these have been officially licensed products like the Fender Stratocaster, Home Alone, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
While licensed LEGO sets can be very cool, it is always nice to see the LEGO Ideas team approve projects that are wholly original and appeal to a wider range of people. Often these sets don’t have the extra cost associated with licensing, but sometimes they do – as is the case for the newest addition: LEGO Ideas 21335 Motorized Lighthouse. This 2065 piece set will be available September 1st and retail for US $299.99 | CAN $379.99 | UK £259.99. Join us as we take a closer look and see if that high price tag is worth it.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box reflects the standard “grown-up” flair that we’ve become accustomed to. It certainly looks classy at first glance. What is most intriguing about this box, though, is the lack of “reveal” on how the lighthouse actually works. Considering that “Motorized” is boldly called out in the title, there is next to nothing in terms of indication as to what electronics are used and how the mechanisms are accomplished. Typically LEGO set graphics include an image depicting how the magic happens. But not here! We have to learn by opening it up.
Additionally, a knowledgeable eye will notice that the original Ideas submission was a microscale lighthouse, while this one is minifigure scale.
Inside the box are 19 parts bags numbered 1-13, as well as an unnumbered bag of larger elements, the battery box, and motor. Now we know that the set runs on Powered Up elements, specifically the new standard battery box, a medium (WeDo) motor, and a set of lights. Despite Powered Up elements replacing Power Functions several years ago, these parts are still quite rare, only showing up in a few sets collectively. The instructions and baseplate come in protective cardboard envelopes. The latter of which appears here for the first time in dark blue – a very welcome addition to the available offerings.

Like many of the other adult-oriented sets, particularly from the Ideas line, the instruction manuals contain details about the inspiration for the model and its creators. It’s also kind of fun to see that the steps for the base are in a landscape oriented manual and the steps for the tall lighthouse are in a portrait/vertical oriented manual.

The stickers in this set are minimal, which is nice. It’s also neat that when we must have stickers, those stickers come with a story. In this case the designers explained that the individual portrait is a nod to the 19th century, when Fresnel lenses were first used in lighthouses. Also, the sepia family portrait is an artistic recreation of one from the fan designer, Sandro Quattrini. Finally, the map is that of the Gillespie coastline – a tribute to the family trip that inspired the original build. Unfortunately, no explanation was given for the most prominent of the stickers: the boat name, “LEDA”. We have to imagine it’s significant for one of the designers though.

Out the gate we go ahead and put some benches and other small features on the boat. While the mold has been around for ages, this element has never appeared in white before now.

We start the main build by quickly covering up the majority of that lovely new dark blue baseplate. Sad, but necessary. Here we find a simple and subtle nod to fan designers who may not have loads of parts at their disposal: 5 1×2 plates of different colors are crisscrossed to help anchor one of the 2×4 pin pates for the motor. This sentiment is explained in the instructions. Another welcome new color variant is introduced here, in the form of trans clear quarter-round tiles.
Some people are confused by or complain about multi-colored assemblies in the belly of builds. Why are they done that way? Well, apart from the aforementioned nod, it’s my understanding that there are a small handful of reasons for this. First, bright and diverse colors make it easier to follow the instructions and see what you’re doing with a model. It’s also fun, and otherwise breaks up a build with primarily neutral colors. Other things you might not have thought of include part availability and cost of production. (i.e. Why do a whole run of a new part color when it’s just going to get covered up and you have others on hand?)
After the base layer, we get a little fancy. A pier juts out at an angle, which will eventually look really nice. The mechanical guts follow, with an interesting attachment for the motor. Rubber Technic connectors are used here, presumably to limit vibration, noise and binding.

From there we begin to add the rock structure that forms the base. This includes a cave with hidden access to the “on/off” lever. The cave is also complete with a bat and jewel-filled treasure chest.

Next we begin to enclose the electronics within a BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece) shell. At this stage it’s pretty chunky.

Another interesting parts usage within the model is on the transfer shaft. A gold ring is used as a spacer rather than a 1/2 bush. While only one is used, we’re actually provided with three! Score!
The designers have done the best they can to gussy up the BURPs and prevent them from being too blocky. There’s only so much that you can do, and to cover all the guts with other brick-built rockwork wouldn’t be feasible. It really doesn’t look too bad, and I’m a fan of the cover for the battery box door. There’s even a giant anchor to distract your eyes from the chunkiness. And again, the angled pier with steps wrapping up to the top looks nice with it as well.

After the base we’re ready to switch to the vertical manual for the lighthouse itself. This portion of the build begins with a funny-looking, narrow alcove. Our lighthouse keeper is going to need to be pretty skinny.

Switching gears for a moment, we focus on the keeper’s quarters. To start, this includes a cozy room, complete with bed, side table, chest of drawers, stove, logs, tea set, and a map. Inside the drawers is a letter.

Completion of the interior includes a clock, a pan and fork, a shelf with a bottle and cheese, a quill, and a broom. Finally, the sepia tone family portrait hangs above the bed.
One of the lovely techniques used on this build is the staggering of tan ingots and tiles on the corners. It gives the build a great cottage vibe. My only complaint is that the door is a bit short. You’re never going to keep out the chill of the sea with a door gap like that.
At the top of the rock base is an impression with a turntable base inside. It is now apparent that this is how the keeper’s quarters attach at a 45 degree angle. With a 4×4 round brick, the connection is pretty solid and unlikely to move. But to make it extra stable, an axle with stud anchors the wall to that of the lighthouse itself. A fish is used to cover the stud and provide further decoration. It’s really lovely how it feels like the two buildings are truly connected as one.

We can only go up from here! The next two sections of lighthouse framework are very similar and go up fast. It’s now apparent that the cord for the lantern light strings up a channel on one side, and the axle that rotates it is hidden within a channel on the other. It’s quite clever and well hidden once the wall panels go on.
Speaking of wall panels, they utilize a combination of lots of plates and a few slope types. The quantity of 3×2 curved slopes (80) is only beaten by the massive Saturn V Rocket (148). I also like how some texture is added with 2×2 studded curved slopes.

Windows are added next, with the thin new mudguards for decoration. They are only seen in tan in 75330 Degobah Jedi Training.

Before we get to the lantern room, the cottage needs a roof. The dark red is a nice addition to the color palette, and the shape suites a lighthouse well. A macaroni tile hangs above the doorway with “Aurora Point” printed on it. This is interesting because it’s a departure from the stickered elements, and because, like the boat name, it seems like a prominent thing to have no explanation or back story for.
As we reach the top, the structure changes slightly and we run out of light cord in the nick of time. Minor details included in the lighthouse column are an axe, a wrench, and the old portrait. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to the interior than that, and there is no room for a spiral staircase, instead including ladders. But a detailed interior is a lot to ask of a build this size in addition to moving components. At least the sides come on and off pretty easily. One side even relies on more of a friction fit and only a couple-stud connection.

Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to put together the lantern room. As previously mentioned, the cord for the light is just long enough. You have to admire the LEGO System! There are a couple clever building techniques going on here as well. For example, little chassis plates with pins for tiny wheels are used as eventual connection points for the railing. One thing I’m not as fond of, though, is the odd little door. I’m not sure how it could’ve been better, but it doesn’t feel right. Plus, there’s no way the keeper is crawling through this area. But then again, this is more of a “display” than “play” set.
To recap on the mechanism, the motor turns a worm gear, which meshes with an 8-tooth gear, transferring the axis 90 degree. This also greatly reduces the speed and bolsters the strength and torque of the motor. (A worm gear cannot be forced to go backward.) After the motion spans the length of the lighthouse, another small gear meshes with a small Technic turntable, returning the axis to horizontal. This turntable is mounted onto a little frame where the light is inserted into the center of a connector beam. This allows the light to stay in place while shining through the center of the turntable. The frame itself is connected to 1×2 plates with upward bars via red friction half pins.

The only brand new part mold in the set is the trans clear 2×4 LEGO-fied Fresnel lens. According to the designers, they went through a bunch of ideas and prototype iterations before they settled on this design. Several of those prototypes are actually pictured in the instruction manual. Using the mirror sticker adhered to a 2×3 tile angled with hinge plates, light can be redirected through the lens.

This nifty little block of parts connects to a Technic hinge element on the turntable to get the light headed to where it’s really supposed to go. (Don’t worry, we’ll turn it on soon!)

Finally, one of my favorite building parts and techniques is utilized to complete the model. I’m a big fan of using garage door panels, both transparent and opaque, to create unique windows and rounded walls, and do so frequently in my own builds. Here the shape is held with a round frame in the top and the ends are secured by inserting them into the holes of rounded 1×2 pates and jumper tiles.

When all is said and done, we’re left with a classy model that is actually quite large. From base to lightning rod (fencer’s foil), the height is 21.5 inches (54 cm). It also looks good from all angles. Plus, it’s pretty solid – you can pick it up by the column. (At least, temporarily. I wouldn’t suggest trying to swoosh it around.)

You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging, did you? This review wouldn’t be complete without flipping the switch and seeing how this baby works! The reaction from the top is mostly joy and excitement that it actually runs smoothly and looks the part. Although, there is a tiny bit of disappointment that it’s not terribly bright. It’s not bad, but it also doesn’t pack a huge punch.

The previous GIF was in moderate light conditions. This next one is pure darkness. The backdrop that it reflects off of is about 1.5-2 feet away. It’s pretty feeble at that distance, but it’s way better than nothing. I do really like the prismatic look that the garage doors give as well.

From the bottom, the view couldn’t be better. The light, filtered through the trans orange of the stove, creates a wonderful glow that fills the whole cottage and can be seen through every window. It looks extremely cozy. You’ll have to take my word that it looks just as nice in the dark too, because the light from the glow is so mellow that I couldn’t get a decent picture.
There are only two minifigures included in this kit, aside from the animals. It feels like there should be more, but then again, lighthouses are kind of lonely places…

Before we meet the figs, let’s look at the animals. We have a seagull, which is rubbery and came in its own individual baggie. Aside from a stint in the Build-a-Mini bar at LEGO retail stores, this little guy has only been in a few sets. It first appeared in 2013 as an accessory for the Series 10 Collectible Minifigure, “Sea Captain”. We also got a little grey kitten, which is new this year. Pretty adorable, I have to say.
Now let’s finally meet the figs. First up, we have an ambiguous character. She could be related to the keeper. They may both be keepers, though she doesn’t wear a uniform. Or she could be a seafarer, grateful that the lighthouse kept her from being lost. Whoever she is, she’s got a nice new torso and a fisherman’s hat, only seen before in light bright orange and sand green in a couple of Hidden Side sets.
The keeper wears a captain’s hat and a nice dark blue uniform with a pocket watch. This would be a great outfit to have in quantity for a ship or train station build. He also has a kindly face (maybe even haggard or worried) with a grey beard and mustache.
There are a few things I like to consider when acquiring a new LEGO set. First, does it look awesome? Yes, I would have to say I love the look of this set. The color palette is very classy and it’s a nice conversation piece. Would I display it for a long period of time? Yes, again, this is a great display piece with a grown-up vibe. Would I take it apart to reuse the parts? This partially depends on cost, but also on the usefulness of the elements. There are a lot of useful pieces here. In particular, the electronics are expensive items that could be used elsewhere, especially considering they would not be in constant use while displaying. But overall, even with its great parts, the cost does not make this a great parts pack.
What does this mean? Well, to be honest, if I didn’t receive this set for review, it’d be a major toss-up on whether or not to buy it. Overall it looks great and is a very pleasurable build. But the cost is prohibitive. $300 is a lot of money to throw around, and I could get more bang for my buck on other sets. The electronics are nice, but to steal them and get a third-party light kit with a wall plug as a replacement means spending more cash. Do I love it? Yes, absolutely. Do I think it’s worth the price? That’s debatable. So it’s down to the ratio between your heart’s desire and your budget.

If you like this article, please check out our other recent reviews and all things LEGO Ideas.
LEGO Ideas 21335 Motorized Lighthouse will be available September 1st and retail for US $299.99 | CAN $379.99 | UK £259.99.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Regarding the boat name. Maybe as simple as LEDA….LEgo – DAnmark. (Danish spelling).
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