Review: #70425 Newbury Haunted High School
The Hidden Side theme debuted in 2019—this was the flagship set. Let’s see if it holds up to our scrutiny as a great LEGO set (and check out the Augmented Reality features too)!
Despite a large number of licensed sets in recent years, the brand new Hidden Side theme was introduced in 2019. Hidden Side is differentiated from other themes because every set includes both a fun build experience, and all of the sets can be enhanced for virtual play through augmented reality (using a tablet or phone).
About this set
The flagship set in the 2019 wave is #70425 Newbury Haunted High School. This set comes with a total of 1474 pieces including 8 minifigures. Priced at $129.99 this comes at 8.8 cents per piece, a great deal compared to an average 10 cent per piece across many LEGO sets.
As with other sets in this theme the set can be displayed in two forms; first as a normal school but after activating some built-in play features we see the “Hidden Side” come to life for all to see. Something unique to all sets in this wave is the box art. Rather than displaying the sets as usual LEGO boxes do the box features a stylized rendition of the set being sold. In my opinion this makes it very difficult to see what you are buying at first glance and may actually deter people from buying the sets.
The color palette, set design, and even the sticker come together to make this set stand out. Let’s take a closer look at the colors, the exterior, the interior, and the augmented reality experience.
An immediate stand out wow factor of this set is the color palette. The use of 154Dark Red with an accent of 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray to accent the façade of this building makes the surface come to life. These distinct yet contrasting colors are reminiscent of #10197 LEGO Fire Brigade, a long discontinued modular set. Aside from using varied colors the designer also uses a mix of Bricks and Profile Bricks of varied sizes to modify the texture. On larger bricks the designers opt to add stickers to add yet an extra layer of detail.
All windows and frames make use of 192Reddish Brown, 138Sand YellowDark Tan, and 5Brick YellowTan pieces. These bright colors against the backdrop of the dark red allows the windows to stand out. These colors are also used on the first floor for the school entryway, a centerpiece of this set that we will go into detail later. To top off this set (pun not intended) there is a 26Black roof. The sloped pieces on their own do not add too much detail, but the designers decided to add stickers to try to add some detail. Unfortunately, these stickers did not wow me and instead just looked out of place as they look randomly placed along the roof shingles.
Not immediately visible, a variety of pieces in 326Spring Yellowish GreenYellowish Green color are hidden as part of the play features. This piece color is currently unique to the Hidden Side theme and really accentuates the ghostly feel that it attempts to emulate.
As highlighted in the color palette earlier, the exterior shade of color is spot on. All of the different textures, colors, and even stickers blend together very well to add a nice element of detail to the exterior wall. To give a feeling of nature reclaiming the building there are a variety of vines and trees growing out of the side of each wall. Although not a must, this addition really helps accentuate the “haunted” reclaimed vibe that the set is going for.
Amongst all of the details that stand out, I think the windows are the most eye-catching. The windows are placed to be architecturally appeasing and juxtapose the rigid blocky walls with round curves of contrasting colors. Stickers have been added to the windows to help give them a broken look, a small yet useful sticker for both this set or your own MOCs.
The balconies that litter the front wall add depth to the build breaking up the flat surface. It’s a shame that any realism in these balconies dies when you realize there are no doors opening up to any of the balconies. In addition, due to the narrowness of the balconies it can be difficult to place figures on these balconies unless you plan to always have them be facing forward. Had it been one stud deeper this issue would have been alleviated.
Sitting on top of the school is a bell tower. Despite its simple design, there are a lot of small pieces used when building the bell tower. Once again, the tan and black contrast is used to accentuate this feature as it draws your eyes away from the rest of the set, acting as a very nice close to top off the building.
You can’t talk about this set without talking about the ornate entryway at the base of the school. Sticking out with a contrasting color, this entryway is the first thing your minifigure will see as they walk towards the school. The ornate flourishes and gold toppings add for a very regal feel, something that will quickly change once the play features are activated!
The interior of the school is built like a doll house cut out showing a variety of rooms. Despite the small space to work with, the designers packed a ton of stuff into what is a relatively small space. An immediate stand out addition to this build is the inclusion of a bathroom stall. Although creatively built with details ranging from the toilet itself to toilet paper all the way to bathroom stall doors, this bathroom, unfortunately, does not offer much privacy to its users as the doors are too short and barely fit in the space… Anyone familiar with public bathrooms in the United States (and their large door gaps) may say that this feature nails the lack of privacy on the head.
Besides the bathroom is a small cafeteria stocked with all the overpriced goods you would expect to find in a cafeteria. However, this cafeteria offers no space for your minifigures to actually eat their meals so they will need to grab their meal to go. The cafeteria is also where you can find the play feature used to activate the augmented reality addition to this Hidden Side set.
While the kitchen has details and interesting additions, the library space falls short. The only stand out portion of this room is the creative use of stickers for the cabinet and the grandfather clock. The rest of the space looks very randomly filled with various tables and what looks like an unfinished build underneath the window. I think the designers could have done a lot more with much less in this quadrant and that unfortunately is not the best use of the space.
No school is complete without a classroom and this school is no different. On the second floor of the building you can find a chalkboard in the middle of the hall and three rows of chairs for students to sit on when attending class. Hidden behind the chalkboard is a fun hidden surprise waiting for you to play with. Unfortunately, due to the positioning of both the chalkboard and seats we will need to use a bit of imagination when picturing students reading the chalkboard. Despite the beautiful chalkboard design and the photocopier behind the seats adding a nice touch, I am disappointed in the weakness of the design of the seating arrangements.
The last addition to this school is the science lab and the trophy cabinet. While the creative use of stickers in this area provide a nice touch, I feel that this top half of the school looks random and out of place, as if the designers had a lot left that they wanted to add but very little space to work with. Seeing what was done with the library I feel they could have done better flushing out the science lab and moving the trophy cabinet down in the library. Where the exterior has its strengths in its creative use of parts, the interior in my opinion falters, with all the strength coming from sticker usage. I do think with a bit of work this interior could have seen a significant improvement.
The Hidden Side
As with all Hidden Side sets the play feature for this set exposes the Hidden Side. Despite personally not being a huge fan of the play features and instead having purchased this set for the structure, there are a ton of nifty modifications made as play features. From turning the clock to pulling on a column the entire building can quickly be ghoulified and transformed with spring yellowish green accentuating and contrasting against the greys, reds and blacks of the exterior structure. For my own personal build after this review I will opt to remove these modifications however and instead use the space occupied by play features to expand upon the interior.
This set comes with eight minifigures of which four are exclusive to just this set. Alongside these figures are a variety of animals of which the most notable animal is the ghost dog that comes with all Hidden Side sets.
As is the case with other Hidden Side sets a variety of the minifigures in this set come with a ghostly transformation. Three of the included minifigures each come with three additional heads and hairpieces to visualize their transformation to ghost form. In addition to heads and hairpieces this set comes with two new molded wing pieces made of a flexible plastic.
Each of the heads, hair, and wing pieces come in a combination of transparency and a 326Spring Yellowish GreenYellowish Green color that stands out greatly. These colors and additional parts can easily be used for your own builds if you opt to keep the minifigures in their “normal state” in your build.
Stickers and Printed Pieces
As this is a large set it should come to no surprise that there are a large number of stickers included. Excluding pieces used to create minifigures, this set comes with five printed pieces including one printed piece that is exclusive to just this set.
Rather than investing entirely into printed parts, the designers chose to keep prices low and create a variety of detail by incorporating stickers. Since most of the details on stickers would be exclusive to just this set, the use of stickers makes sense. From Haunted Einstein to the School Achievements this set comes with a total of 44 stickers. I am normally not the biggest fan of stickers but I feel the stickers provided in this set are very powerful and add some necessary detail to this school without driving up the cost.
As with all other Hidden Side sets that LEGO has released this set has augmented reality play capability through the Hidden Side mobile application. By pairing your build and minifigures with the instructions in the application you can see your set come to life as you use your mobile device to vanquish all the ghosts haunting your set. As an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO) this addition did not really appeal to me as the game felt very repetitive; however, I can understand how younger builders will find this addition a great enhancement as now they have yet another way to play with LEGO.
The app can be downloaded on your Apple and Android devices on your device’s application store.