For many LEGO fans, the Architecture series is the perfect marriage of love of the brick, and love of buildings -- but on a much smaller scale than the Creator Modulars. The first few models in this theme had included two New York City landmarks -- the Empire State Building (at 77 pieces and a $20 MSRP, probably the most insultingly priced of all LEGO sets) and Rockefeller Center, and later on, the Flatiron Building. Now, with what I'm calling the Skyline series, LEGO Architecture is growing up and giving multiple models in one set. #21028 contains five of them: a microfig-based Statue of Liberty, new versions of the aforementioned Empire State and Flatiron Buildings, the Chrysler Building, and One World Trade Center.
The buildings (and statue) here are all perfectly scaled. At 1,776 feet tall, 1 WTC is the biggest, and probably the most difficult to replicate in LEGO, on account of the eight isoceles triangle-shaped glass curtains forming the structure's exterior. The set's designer does that cleverly here, using two shades of tiles and slopes to imply those triangles. (This set is notable for its use of rare sand blue elements!)
The Chrysler Building is exquisitely simple, with the bulk of it comprising 1x2 trans-clear and various white plates, crowned by flat silver elements up top -- all of which nicely echoes the actual building's spire, clad in stainless steel. Points again to the set's designer, who uses the 1x1 modified "tooth" plate to great effect.
The least imposing part of the set also happens to have the deepest lineage of LEGO history: there have been no fewer than four Statues of Liberty produced by the company. This one is by far the tiniest and, for me, the most disappointing, if only because she isn't holding up a torch, never mind not wearing a crown. I guess a new mold would've been too much to ask, but the pedestal is nice, and so is the sand green color.
The Flatiron Building is the second smallest model in the set, made of 2x3 and 2x4 wedge plates stacked atop one another, looking very much like the slice of architectural cake at 23rd and Broadway / 5th Avenue in Manhattan (and, incidentally, right across the street from NYC's flagship LEGO Store!). In some ways, I find this a more pleasing version than the larger set, #21023.
And finally, the Empire State Building. Still the grandest of all New York City skyscrapers, this version of the ESB, while basically maintaining the dimensions of the first Architecture version, is quite a bit more detailed. The use of 1x2 grill plates to indicate the building's thousands of windows and the more detailed setbacks, along with an improved mooring mast and antenna structure, makes this a vast improvement over the original (seen to the left, to the left).
The base for the set, BTW, is a little flimsy -- only two plates thick, including the tile surface, which means it tends to bow quite a bit even when set down on a flat surface. I'm not sure why one more layer of plates wasn't added -- or just a thick brick base. But overall, this is a nice set with nice element use (the tooth plates, the sand blue, the grill tiles) which nicely captures the spirit of the greatest city in the world. (As the founder of NYCLUG, I admit I'm a little biased.) I imagine that a second NYC set is coming soon that will include landmarks we haven't seen yet, such as Grand Central Terminal, the old Penn Station, and the Woolworth Building. But for now, this grouping of the Big Apple's best will do!
FINAL REVIEW: Four Nerdlys!