As any LEGO fan will tell you (male or female), the LEGO Friends line has a lot of neat pieces and colors for use in custom creations. For my part, I had never purchased one of the bright purple Friends boxes until I saw set #41118: Heartlake Supermarket. I'm always a sucker for food pieces - and I've had an idea of doing a grocery store (or maybe Farmer's market) for my custom city at some point - so I figured this was a good choice for my introduction to the Friends line.
Upon opening the box, I was greeted with the usual plastic bags full of pieces (all numbered) along with two instruction books and a sheet of stickers (the set has 15 stickers in total)! According to the box, the set contains 313 pieces - but mine happened to be packed with a bunch of extra pieces as well (including some nice extras like a printed sushi piece, printed cookie, and a printed coin).
The first part of the build has you construct the two minidolls (more on those in a moment) along with a shopping cart, cart stall, and small newspaper stand.
Looking at the small builds first, I have to say that I generally like all three builds. The shopping card has a lot of stickers - but it probably could have used two more small stickers for the sides of the front gray piece in order to really make the entire cart look like it's made of wire. The cart stand isn't anything special but it gets the job done I guess (I would have liked to see the "base" be tiled rather than studded but otherwise it's ok. I did find the use of the pink flowers in the middle of the stand to be a bit extraneous (and perhaps bordering on sexist)...LEGO friends (based on this set alone) sure seem to have a lot of flowery pieces. And speaking of flowers, you can see a big bouquet of them next to the newspaper stand (which actually makes sense for a grocery store)!
Looking a bit closer at the minidolls, I can honestly say that I don't care for them at all. The hair pieces will fit on "regular" minifigure heads, but that is it in terms of compatibility. The minidolls' heads are connected via a peg system (like the small bars in some sets) rather than the usual minifigure neck connector. I also didn't previously realize that the minidolls have a sort of oval shape to their heads with pronounced chins. It's weird and definitely feels more doll-like than I would prefer.
Although I don't care for the dolls, the reason I bought the set was for the building structure (and all the food pieces) so let's take a look at that. The next part of the build has you construct the front of the grocery store.
As you can see, there is an nice awning and the small sticker on the one door makes for a more "authentic" look as well. The base plate that you build the majority of the supermarket on is a light purple - and I think that's my first such purple plate of that size in my collection!
For my money, I actually like the stuff on the "wing" more - plenty of printed pieces (though it should be noted that the watermelon is actually a sticker). The pineapple is printed at least, though not quite all the way around (it's a minifigure head piece). Inside the cooler is a single milk container which might be hard to see in the photograph.
After that, all that is needed to finish up is the interior of the main portion of the supermarket.
Here, we see a small vegetable stand, a seafood counter (with sushi pieces and a single fish) and a make-up stand. There is also a checkout lane with a single basket for all the groceries (though it should be noted that the fish, carrot, and certainly the watermelon wouldn't really fit in the basket well at all).
You can swing the side of the store so that it has a larger "front" footprint (such as above) or so that it forms the back of the store (sort of - it looks weird that way in my opinion). I much prefer to keep the supermarket in the form of the above photo.
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun: 8 (is grocery shopping actually fun, your score might vary here?)
Play Value: 9
Kid Value: 9
Adult Value: 10
Overall, for a $30 MSRP, you get a bit over 300 pieces which puts it on par for the usual 10 cents/piece average that people judge sets by. However, I would say that this set is actually better than that - the printed pieces are fantastic, and the stickers (mostly) add value to the set as well. I'm actually tempted to grab another one of the Heartlake Supermarket sets simply to be able to have bigger, better food stands (i.e. two watermelons rather than one)! For my money, this set is highly recommended - even if you don't get any useful minifigures out of it!
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