Given how recently the movie was released, this review deliberately contains absolutely NO SPOILERS for the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. This doesn’t, however, protect you from any bad magic-related puns or a serious overuse of the word “fantastic”.
The wizarding world of Harry Potter is once again on the big screen with a brand new tale to tell. Set long before ‘the boy that lived’ ever made his way to Diagon Alley, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them takes us back in time to 1920s New York and introduces us to a new unlikely hero, Newt Scamander. While the movie is wowing fans in cinemas around the world, TT Games has done what they do best and created their own bricked homage to this new magical adventure.
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Set Number: 71253
Release Date: Out Now
The LEGO Dimensions series two opening wave set the bar pretty high for everything that has to follow. With new franchises, new characters, new worlds, and new game modes to play with, the toys-to-life Goliath feels as fresh today as it did back in September 2015. One of the major new features of series two is the story packs, expansion packs which not only provide a full campaign of new levels in-game, but also include a full new scene build for your LEGO Dimensions toy pad.
Continuing the LEGO Dimensions tradition of franchise and genre-hopping, the follow-up to the last wave’s story pack takes us from horror comedy Ghostbusters (2016) to magical fantasy Fantastic Beasts. This is, of course, not the first time that J.K. Rowling’s universe has appeared in LEGO Dimensions, having already made it’s debut with the Harry Potter team pack back in September. Where that pack offered nothing more that an open-world hub to explore, Newt and his beastly friends are bringing so much more to the multiverse.
While fans of the new movie – the start of a five-movie franchise – will be excited to get their hands on a new minifigure and six brand new levels for the game inspired by the big screen adventure, there’s a great bit of LEGO building to sink your teeth into before you jump into the virtual world. As this is a story pack, you’re treated to a brand new scene setting for your toy pad, a LEGO recreation of America’s answer to the Ministry of Magic, the Magical Congress of the United States of America.
After a year of playing around with spare LEGO and trying to come up with my own less than adequate toy-pad designs, the excitement of building the Ghostbusters HQ facade a couple of months back was indescribable. Now, however, we’re into Harry Potter territory, a franchise that has seen some amazing LEGO recreations over the past decade already, expectations were so high. Having now had the pleasure of building this new set, and as much as I loved the Ghostbusters creation, I’m going to be extremely blunt and say, this one is better.
Much like the last scene build, it’s a good thirty minutes of fun construction and while it’s not filled with quite as many smaller details when compared to the Ghostbusters HQ, it does have one ace in the hole. In addition to doors that can open, the two platforms on either side of the entrance can be raised and lowered via levers at the back. Added to the this, the fact that they are the perfect size to fit a circular toy tag on means that you can comfortably fit a couple of figures on the scene while they’re not in use – I had Harry Potter and Voldemort overlooking Newts adventure throughout, who better to jump in, right?
What makes this such a stunning addition to your LEGO collection is the uniquely designed gold gate pieces which make up both the doors and the platform walls, they look fantastic and have so much potential with other designs should you wish to use them elsewhere. The other big win with the Fantastic Beasts scene build is there are no stickers anywhere. From the golden wings on the doors to the brown flower tip pieces, every bit of detail has been included without the need to plant a sticker, this even includes MACUSA emblem which sits above the door, which is pre-printed.
This is definitely a design to admire, though no pictures seem to do it the justice it deserves. The only disappointment comes from the lack of any detail towards the front of the toy pad. In comparison to both the original portal and the Ghostbusters HQ, the golden studs and grey flat 3×1 bricks seem a little spartan compared to what they could included. Turning a negative into a positive, though, it does leave extra space for spare characters.
Moving on to the most important part of the physical set, the minifigure, and the vehicle/accessory. In the Fantastic Beasts set it is really no surprise to see Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander as the minifigure, he is the protagonist of the movie after all. Joining him on his magical LEGO adventure is Niffler, one of his fantastic beasts.
Our new wizarding hero has made the jump to LEGO brilliantly, the figure being not just an accurate recreation of the character’s outfit, but a pretty decent likeness for Redmayne himself. Of course, this is the character’s debut so it is safe to say that, like many of the LEGO Dimensions figures, this is a set exclusive.
Starting from the top down, the hairpiece is a fairly common one for figures, appearing on multiple characters, including the most recent version of Marvel’s Hawkeye. This is, however, the first time I’ve seen it in this particular shade of very light brownish orange. It seems a little light for the character, in my opinion, but that is a minor issue at worst. The head comes complete with two different faces, as is now the norm, one passive and the other angry. The face, while reasonably generic, does feature additional facial lines, hinting at Redmayne’s own very defined bone structure.
LEGO Newt’s outfit could not be more fitting, matching his movie counterpart perfectly with a design which covers both the torso and legs. As he’s wearing a long blue coat, there isn’t a great deal that could have been added to the back of the torso, but there is still a black outline of the folds and buckle you’d expect to see. The front, on the other hand, is superb, featuring the blue jacket running from the shoulders right down to the knees, with his brown suit, light brown waistcoat, white shirt and bowtie well defined in the detail. Unsurprisingly, the wizards weapon of choice is, of course, a wand, which in LEGO terms in a small brown rod.
Much like his wizarding brethren, in-game Newt comes with a wealth of abilities, most of which are tied to his magical skills. These include levitation, a magical shield, Diffindo (Cut through stuff), illumination, repair machinery, flight, target, water spray, hazard cleaning, and many more of the standard, but extremely useful skills. There’s also a couple of new abilities which are specific to the character, apparation (also available to Harry and Voldemort), and, of course, his Fantastical Briefcase has specific access points where you can grab a little help at points in the story.
Niffler is an interesting addition, he’s a rodent-like magical creature who, by the looks of the trailers, looks like he has a talent for mischief (still not spoiling the movie). In LEGO Dimensions, he serves as the accompanying accessory which can be used for digging. Where he differs from almost every other vehicle/accessory, though, is that he can be controlled independently, you don’t need to have a character jump on his back to control.
In the movie world, he is quite a small creature, his LEGO version isn’t. An interesting design has been used to create this creature for the purposes of Dimensions, the black body and different shaped peach coloured clips make up a very blocky approximation of the rodent. The reason for this build is to allow for the reconfiguration of bricks based on the two in-game blueprints that you can unlock. The two configurations are the Sinister Scorpion and Vicious Vulture, both far less friendly look, though each brings their own new abilities, including fire breathing and flight.
As fantastic as the physical LEGO side of the pack is, there is so much more for you to enjoy once you’re in the game. As this is a story pack, there is a full story campaign to enjoy which is made up of six brand new levels. Each level is inspired by key scenes from the movie so I won’t jump into too much detail. What I can say, however, is how impressively expansive these new levels are. From start to finish, the campaign has several hours of gameplay available for a first run, set across some stunning environments which show off the movie locations brilliantly.
The gameplay utilises many of the already established mechanics as well as introducing a new keystone, Creation, which allows Newt the ability to create new creatures based on the combination of the three areas on the toy-pad. These are exceptionally handy during the puzzle solving, though, the keystone wasn’t the easiest keystone to figure out if I’m honest. The aforementioned briefcase access points also make an appearance throughout the story, but it’s the new apparation points that play the key role in navigating the levels many puzzles.
There are, of course, a huge number of easter eggs and hidden areas scattered throughout the story levels, some of which take you into other franchises. Recently, LEGO Dimensions let it slip that a Red Dwarf area now exists within the game, this is the pack you need should you wish to visit the big crimson one.
Adding to the brilliance, the movie’s soundtrack can be heard throughout, from the opening intro to the closing scene, there’s a clear sense that you’re in the Harry Potter universe, thanks in no small part to the ambient music. In addition, a number of the key character’s vocal talents have been lifted straight from the movie, though there are few voice-doubles throughout which, while doing a great job, are hard to miss sometimes. Another great addition is how Newt interacts with some members of your collection, namely Harry. While playing through the story and stumbling on to a puzzle which needed an extra set of hands, I had Harry jump in to assist. As he appeared in-game he was greeted by Newt saying, “Ah, a Gryffindor, I’m a Hufflepuff myself” – The little details get me every time.
Once you’re finished with the story, there’s still plenty to keep you entertained for hours thanks to the brand new Battle Arena and open-world hub for the franchise. The Fantastic Beasts world is exactly what you’d expect to see, the New York city cityscape brimming with side quests and collectibles, much like you’ve surely seen from other franchises.
Overall, the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Story Pack is one of the best things to come out of LEGO Dimensions to date. With a magical story that will keep you entertained for hours, some great new gaming mechanics and some beautifully Harry Potter’esque LEGO to build, there’s very little bad I can say about this set.
While there may be only six level in the story campaign, they are lengthy by LEGO game standards and the variety of stunning environments mean this is never a boring moment throughout.
It’s a shame that Harry didn’t get this much attention in LEGO Dimensions, but this is certainly a worthy substitute for any fan to enjoy.
- The new toy-pad scene build is stunning and features a couple of interactive play points.
- The six-level campaign provides a brilliant rendition of the movie, yet minimising the spoilers for those who are yet to see the movie
- The figures, in-game abilities and additional gameplay all ensure hours of additional LEGO Dimensions fun
- Newt’s hair is a little lighter than I would have expected
- The new keystone isn’t overly intuitive
A fantastic beast brimming with stunning new content
Yet again TT Games have worked their magic (no pun intended) and created a fantastic LEGO recreation of a Hollywood blockbuster with all the charm of the movie mixed with the infamous wit of the series. A lengthy campaign across six beautiful levels, mixed with some well-timed soundbites, new puzzles and a couple of superb figures, you’d be foolish not to invest in this for the Potter fan in your life.