Just a few weeks ago, fans of 90’s sit-com Friends let out a unified exclamation of glee, as three words flooded social media, OH MY GAWD! Not only was the long-awaited reunion episode officially revealed with the teasiest of teasers, but everyone’s favourite toy company announced an extra special treat was also coming. It may have taken 18 months, following the unexpected and highly popular Central Perk set, but now one of the most iconic locations in TV history is available in brick form, with the release of LEGO Friends – The Apartments.
Set Number: 10292
Minifigures: Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, Joey, Janice
Being a teen in the 90’s, Friends has a very special place in my heart and to this day is still one of my favourite shows. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the ten series’, and whilst I agree that some of the jokes haven’t aged well against modern standards, it’s a product of it’s age, a simple light-hearted comedy about six friends getting through life as best they can, that’s it. It’s incredible to think that people still talk about the show with such excitement and passion, 17 years after the final credits rolled, it shows just how enduring it truly is and here we are now, in 2021, and the gang is returning once more, not just on the small screen with the reunion show, but also in LEGO form.
Featuring both of the iconic apartments from the show, along with a section of hallway connecting them, the new set is awash with Easter eggs from the show’s ten year run. Rather than focusing on a specific era of the show, we instead get a hodgepodge of references, ranging from The One Where No One’s Ready, to The One With All The Thanksgivings, but don’t worry if you’re a little bit rusty on your Friends trivia, because the instruction booklet itself will fill you in during the build.
As a life-long LEGO fan, and an avid, self-proclaimed Friends nerd who watched that very first episode back in 1994, I am the perfect target audience for this set. Does it do the show the justice it deserves? Let’s take a look.
The minifigure collection here is definitely a big selling point, as we’re treated to entirely new variants of the main cast, each unique when compared to their Central Perk counterparts. Much like that earlier set, which saw the gang joined by coffee shop employee and series regular Gunther, the new set also features one of the shows primary guest stars in Chandler’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Janice. Such a memorable character in her own right, Janice’s inclusion will definitely be welcomed by many fans of the show.
With 236 episodes to choose from, there’s plenty of source material for the designer to work with when designing these minifigures, and as the initial pages of the accompanying instruction booklet explain, each figure is based on a specific episode of the show ranging from series 1 to 7.
Easily the most obvious of the pack is Joey Tribbiani, sporting an interesting patchwork of printing. Based on series 3’s “The One Where No One’s Ready”, in which Joey comes up with a rather interesting approach to getting back at Chandler for hiding his underwear, the minifigure is sporting layer after layer of Chandler’s clothes. Whilst the large red neck piece scarf isn’t overly accurate, the torso and legs printing is impressively close to the show’s depiction, with the different layers of shirts, ties, and even the red and yellow shorts clearly visible. Outside of the specific scope of the set, if like me, you admire the most unique minifigures out there in the LEGO universe, this version of Joey is definitely up there with some of the more interesting and is a significant improvement on Central Perk’s fig. The figure does, however, feature the same dual-faced head and hair piece from that version of the character.
Moving on to Ross and “The One with All the Resolutions”. Over the 10 years the show ran, nobody had quite the same level of embarrassing moments as the resident palaeontologist, from a fake tan mishap, to the glow in the dark teeth, Ross suffered through a number of painful experiences for our enjoyment. One such event came after making a new year’s resolution to try something new everyday…I’m sure we all remember the leather pants. While it is an easily recognisable moment from the shows fifth series, it sadly doesn’t translate well to LEGO form, with the minifigure coming across as painfully bland with his black legs and grey shirt. Luckily, the figure does come with a bottle of talc just so you’re clear on which Ross it is. As a fan of the show, I understand the reasoning for picking this moment, but surely there were better options for a more interesting printed minifigure. Where’s the holiday armadillo?
Chandler’s minifigure takes it’s inspiration from “The One with the Cat”, the episode in which Joey is locked in the entertainment unit whilst all their furniture is stolen. Interestingly, the design for the figure is based on the outfit he’s wearing in the opening scene, which quickly gets ripped by the oversized entertainment unit. Given Chandler spent most of the run of the show in either a shirt/waistcoat combo or suit, with the former covered in the Central Perk set, I’m personally quite pleased they went with this look, it’s generic enough for the character across the whole show, whilst having a very detailed unique printing, just look at the tie, it’s beautifully accurate. Unlike Ross and Joey, Chandler’s new figure also gets a new headpiece, with two new facial expressions. The hairpiece, however, remains the same, despite him having much shorter hair in the season this figure is based on.
Moving on to the ladies, and Rachel’s minifigure is a dramatic change from the waitress design we saw in the Central Perk set. Coupled with probably the most famous hair style of the 90’s, it was obvious to anyone that this was Rachel Green. The new figure, not so much. Based on season 1’s “The One Where the Monkey Gets Away”, the outfit printing on the torso and legs is stunningly accurate, with a white top, skirt, and long socks matching what Jennifer Aniston wore for the majority of the episode. The problem is the new head and hair pieces, they make the figure look somewhat more generic and less like the character than the previous incarnation. Yes, the ponytailed hair-piece is accurate, but this combined with subtle differences to the face print somehow cheapen the figure, this could just as easily be Pepper Potts from a Marvel set, than Rachel Green from Friends, and that’s a little disappointing in my opinion.
Based on “The One with All the Candy”, Monica’s minifigure features an apron over a blue outfit and accurately portrays the character from the episode, with one exception, the hairpiece is too short. This isn’t a major issue, however, as the choice to base her minifigure on something cooking related means that, much like Chandler, the figure works both as a episode specific design, but also more generalised. Whereas the Central Perk version definitely takes more inspiration from Monica’s early days in the show, as a chef, she spent so much of the show cooking and so the new figure encapsulates that much better.
Phoebe’s new figure is another dramatic change from the Central Perk set. What is odd here, however, is that the inspiration comes from “The One where Phoebe runs” and yet rather than going with the running outfit the episode hints at, the design is based on the outfit she’s wearing early on in the episode. As I’ve already said, I’m a big Friends nerd, and I didn’t get the reference on this one. Looking back at the episode for this review, however, and the printing on the torso is absolutely spot on. The pink flowery top is wonderfully recreated here, it’s just a shame there isn’t any print on the arms. The head-piece is the same as that from the previous sets, though I’m less of a fan of the hair-piece. It’s a minor grievance, but in my opinion, it’s too flat. As odd as that sounds, there are plenty of existing pieces that could have been used for Phoebe’s long center-parted hair, what we get, however, seems to be a piece from the other “LEGO Friends” franchise.
My favourite figure of the bunch has to be the newest addition to the line-up, Janice. Just looking at the minifigure you can hear that very distinctive voice of hers and the unique personality of the character shines through here. Based on “The One with Ross’s Library Book”, which sees Janice’s reappearance in season 7. Sporting big hair, a big mouth on the head-piece, and the leopard print only Janice could pull off, this figure could be Janice from any season, it’s fantastic.
Featuring both of the iconic apartments from the show, as well as a hallway section connecting them, this is a sprawling set at more than twice the size of Central Perk. Much like that previous set, these large room areas are designed as TV studio sets, rather than the in-show versions as they feature studio spotlights. It’s an interesting design decision that piqued my interest back in 2019, especially when you consider that similar sets such as the Big Bang Theory didn’t go down the same path.
As you’d expect from a 2000+ piece set, this was not a quick build. At a casual speed, I spent about six hours putting this together, with the 15 bags of pieces split evenly between the two apartments, with a bag for the hallway. As a huge fan of the show, the build was so much fun to complete, with each step adding Easter egg after Easter egg to the model, the nostalgia is strong in this set to the point where an hour in I couldn’t help but open up Netflix and put the show on in the background. Most of the time, I’ll buy a LEGO set for the finished build, the completed model to add to the collection without focusing too much on the build, but this one was an experience in itself during the construction stages.
Off to a great start, bag one sees you building Joey and Chandler’s la-z-boy recliners on a floor section which, like the sofa area in Central Perk can be easily removed from the main part of the build. The ingenious design uses multiple Technic axle and pin connectors in the floor to allow both chairs to fully recline, though not independently of each other, in this world roommates recline together. From there, you begin the task of constructing the entirety of the boys apartments, complete with chick, duck, greyhound statue, canoe and so many more nods to the series, each page of the instruction manual throws up yet another reference. Similarly, the girls apartment is just as fun to build, the sofa area, again, being detachable for convenience.
As you can imagine for a set with such a specific look and feel, stickers are aplenty, with 15 of them adding additional detail to the two apartments. They’re all tiny details really, but important ones that are needed. From the posters on Joey and Chandlers walls, through to the famous picture frame around the door spyhole, these stickers don’t cheapen the look of the set in any way and it is clear that the designer has done everything that can built as a LEGO build and only used said stickers where that would be impossible at the scale.
Much like the Central Perk set, it’s the intricate details that make the set what it is. For me, one of the biggest highlights of the older set was the coffee machine area, the amazing complexity that went into that design without the need for set specific pieces, it was an impressive feat for the designer. Similarly, the two apartments kitchen areas are brilliantly designed, adding so much source material accurate design, but using elements seen elsewhere. The Fussball table is a definite standout piece in these wonderfully detailed environments.
The final part of the model is the hallway segment which connects the two apartment builds together. There’s nothing overly exciting about this section, other than the broken cheesecake on the floor. In terms of build, it keeps a consistent look and feel to the apartments. The most important thing of note is that the apartments are never physically connected to the hallway, rather than a standard connector like what the modular builds use, these three segments slide into place, but easily separated.
Taking the time to read the introductions in the initial pages of the instruction booklet, the first line from designer did concern me, “I wasn’t that familiar with the show when I started working on the model”, and yet he has achieved something truly great. LEGO Friends – The Apartments is not just a brilliant companion set for the Central Perk set, but it succeeds brilliantly as a true homage to an almost universally loved TV show.
Despite a decades worth of ever changing characters and stories, this set throws the best bits together into an amalgamation of awesome which any fan will not only enjoy the finished model, but also love every stage of the build.
In my opinion, a couple of the minifigure designs could have been better, or chosen different episodes to focus on, but the fact that we get seven brand new exclusive figures to add to our collection certainly adds to the value of the set as a whole.
As a fan of the show, I adore this set, I enjoyed building it, and I have a new-found urge to rewatch the referenced episodes.