Draco House is another office for the Downtown area of Micropolis. It has a simple construction with SNOT bricks inside, holding two 4×6 black plates vertically on each side. The corner gaps are filled in with 1×1 round bricks to give the impression of impressive pillars which hold up the roof.
I this article, I’m going to be exploring one of the range of Friends Play Cubes which was first released in January 2020, 41400 – Andrea’s Play Cube – Singer. There were 4 others in same series, one for each of the Friends characters (41401 – Stephanie Baker, 41402 – Olivia Researcher, 41403 – Mia Veterinarian and 41404 – Emma Photographer).
I picked this one up a few weeks ago as I was intrigued to see some of the new parts available in the series, and what could be done with them. I always like to build any set as per the instructions first, just to get a feel for it, even though this is quite a small set! However, I decided not to apply any of the stickers as I knew I was likely to be using the pieces for other things eventually.
64570 – Bracket 2 X 6 – 1 X 6 Inverted was first released in January 2020 in bright pink in all five cubes, and so far has only appeared in this colour in two other sets, both from the Trolls theme. However, a version in Tan is now available in 4 sets ranging from a Speed Champions Lamborghini (76899) to the Creator Expert Haunted House (10273). That might be a slightly more desirable colour for many builders.
Subsequent waves of the Friends Play Cubes have now seen this piece appear in Lime and Lavender.
Geometry-wise, it is very similar to its little sibling the 1X2 upward bracket, so there isn’t really much to tell on that score, although the larger size may well help MOC builders with bigger projects requiring such SNOT elements.
6293665 – Flat Tile 1X2, No. 278 is an excellent little printed piece representing one octave of a piano keyboard, which will no doubt come in handy for folks wanting to make realistic looking instruments for their MOCs, who perhaps don’t have enough room to use its bigger brother, the 1X4 tile variant (6284099). It is so far only included in 4 sets ranging in size from this cube up to the Creator Expert Haunted House.
One aspect of these Play Cubes which may be a source of frustration to collectors is the presence of a blind bag containing one of four colour variations of pet, with a different creature included for each Friends character. In Andrea’s case, she is accompanied by a bird, and in my example I received the Dark Azur version, 6289278 Bird, W/ 1.5 Hole, No. 12. While this mould has been around since 2018 in mostly Friends or Elves sets, the four dual-moulded colour combinations which come with Andrea’s cube are all new for 2020. You might receive 6287745 No. 10 in Bright Reddish Violet, 6287746 No. 11 in Lavender or, if you really strike it lucky, 6287744 No. 9 in Pearl Gold. They all share a slightly metallic darker lavender patch around the eyes, with Vibrant Coral accents.
In this wave of Play Cubes, you can expect to find a puppy to beg for treats from Baker Stephanie, a Hamster for Olivia to conduct her research on, a bunny for Vet Mia to care for and a cat for Emma to photograph. The bird, of course, will happily warble along to Andrea’s singing and piano playing.
As for Andrea herself, the hair and legs assembly are nothing new, but she has a face exclusive to this Play Cube, notably 6289290 Mini Doll, Head, No. 213. It looks like the yellow stripe of makeup above her left eye is about the only difference I can see. Also her outfit, 6259889 Torso, Girl, W/ Arm, No. 292 is another piece unique to this cube. Unfortunately, I inadvertently picked up the wrong Andrea when I came to photograph this set (it has been a while since I first built it), and I have used the version from 41373 Funny Octopus Ride which I built more recently. But you can see what she should look like from the image on the instructions! Incidentally, Olivia and Mia also get unique torso prints in this wave of cubes, while those for Stephanie and Emma have both appeared in only one other set to date.
And finally, of course, there are the two halves which form the cube itself, one of the main reasons I wanted to get this set! I must admit, when I first picked them up, I was expecting them to be a bit larger, but no matter.
This release has the front of the cube (64462 Box 3X8X6 2/3, W/ Hinge Male) in Transparent Bluish Violet with Glitter (6286239), which is common to all 5 of the Friends. In subsequent waves, the colour of this front element changes and we now also have it in Transparent Medium Violet Opal (6294380) and Transparent Violet Opal (6288478).
Meanwhile, each Friends character has their signature colour for the rear of their cube (64454 Box 3X8X6 2/3, W/ Hinge Female), which does not change from wave to wave:
- Andrea – Flame Yellowish Orange (6288310)
- Stephanie – Medium Azur (6288312)
- Olivia – Bright Purple (6288311)
- Mia – Bright Yellowish Green/Lime (6288313)
- Emma – Medium Lavender (6288309)
None of these cube elements have so far been seen in other sets, so let’s take a closer look at them.
The first thing I noticed was the clasp which keeps the cube shut and your Friends character safely stowed away for travel. It has pleasingly rounded corners to protect little fingers, which follow exactly the same curve as the Plate, Modified 1 x 2 Rounded with 2 Open Studs which has been around for a couple of years. I’m not sure what practical use this will be, but it was worth noting!
As the name of each half suggests, it is the equivalent of 3 bricks tall, and when the cube is closed, the studs and antistuds on top and bottom line up so that a single 1X6 plate will fit snugly across the join.
The cubes are therefore easily stacked on top of each other, open for display, or closed for storage, a nice touch that could see a reasonably large collection remain stable rather than teetering on top of each other on a shelf. And, of course, it means that they could attach to any other suitable System elements if required.
The hinge mechanism takes its geometry directly from the 6X8 Trapdoor Frame (92107) and Plate 4X5 W/ Shaft Ø3.2 (92099) which have been in common use for over 10 years. The bottom half of the cube hinge will also comfortably accommodate a 4L bar piece, which may provide alternative mounting arrangements in a MOC.
I decided to see how they would fit togther directly with the trapdoor and frame pieces. The cube front presented no trouble in the “open” position, but would not close as fully as I would have liked. A little bit annoying, but not much you can do about it. So what about the other half?
The trapdoor element can be mounted in the hinge in one of two ways to give studs up or studs down on the plate. Neither is very satisfactory due to the edge of the plate fouling the edge of the hinge mechanism of the cube. So it’s probably not much practical use either way up.
I then decided to see what would happen if I attached an 8X8 plate to the box, by way of adding a couple of plates to the closure studs. Does the plate sit flush? Nope!
Once again, the tiny extra bit of plastic at the hinge side prevents the plate from sitting flush and tightly covering the box. Oh well…
Moving inside, there are two studs and two antistuds in each half of the cube, arranged at 6 studs width apart. These are the main attachment points for the 2X6 bracket piece at the bottom of the cube (into antistuds) and the 1X6 plate used for decoration at the top (open studs). However, these two end up at different depths from the back of the box.
I did a quick experiment to try and reconcile the two, but it still left an annoying gap, which looked to be about half a plate high. Perhaps some advanced SNOT-work would sort it out, but it won’t be easy in the given space.
Making My MOC
Of course, in the tradition of such reviews, I decided to make a MOC of my own from the set – using the two big cube elements. And as a well-known Microscale worker, it will come as no surprise to see that I have come up with a tiny fold-away city in a box!
The two halves represent the same cityscape seen at night (with lots of twinkly stars in a twilight sky) and during the daytime. I’m not convinced about the yellow background here, and I’m sorely tempted to get the bottom half from one of Stephanie’s Cubes which will provide a much more suitable blue sky backdrop. And perhaps change the bright pink brackets for tan. But otherwise, I’m quite pleased with this, which is even smaller than the Micropolis scale I normally work in.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my analysis of this little set, which has potential for many unusual uses, I’m sure. Perhaps some GBC…? Who knows?!
This is Magma House, the headquarters of the Micropolis Geological Survey. It came about because I wanted to use up some of the many hundreds of 1×1 cheese slopes I have, in black, orange and transparent orange.
The structure of this build was heavily influenced by a Micropolis block built with several Nexogons by Little Brick Root, for a New Elementary parts festival back in 2017. When I saw photos of it, I knew I wanted to attempt something similar myself. Fast forwards 2 years and I have Nextogons of my own begging to be used, and Elementary Place is what evolved.
Having used quite a few of the 1×1 quarter round coral pieces on Totem Tower, I still had plenty left for this model, along with the larger 4×4 macaroni tiles which I got from recent trips to Pick A Brick walls.
The Architecture: US Capitol Building (21030) set is the biggest I got for Christmas. It kept me amused for most of Boxing Day while I was still feeling grotty with the lurgy. It’s a lovely model with loads of details and a shed load of Erling (headlight) bricks (4070)! It took a few hours to build but was very satisfying.
All that sand green for the roof! Lovely!