Review: #40634 Icons of Play
Celebrate the 2023 Women’s World Cup with a new set featuring four world-class footballers — highlighting the way girls play. Let’s find out if the set can capture the essence of the world’s game.
In anticipation of the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup, The LEGO Group has partnered with renowned players Megan Rapinoe, Yuki Nagasato, Sam Kerr, and Asisat Oshoala to champion and encourage girls’ participation in the sport. This exciting collaboration aims to celebrate the unlimited potential of girls in the world of football. As a way to commemorate this special partnership, LEGO has released the #40634 Icons of Play set, featuring four world-class footballers.
To learn more about LEGO’s Play Unstoppable campaign visit their press release on the topic.
If you plan to attend the 2023 Women’s World Cup in person, don’t miss the LEGO Group’s celebration at the LEGO Play Stadium in Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Friday, July 14th. The event will feature an immersive experience and a remarkable life-sized Sam Kerr minifigure build. This impressive creation utilized over 33,000 LEGO bricks and took more than 200 hours to design.
Looking Back – LEGO Football
LEGO’s dedication to football-themed sets extends beyond the release of #40634 Icons of Play. One notable recent set is #21337 Table Foosball, however this set faced criticism for its high price of $249.99. It has already been discounted multiple times despite being less than a year old.
The LEGO Group also introduced a series of Football Stadium sets under the Creator Expert line between 2020 and 2022. These sets include Camp Nou, Old Trafford, and Santiago Bernabéu. Unfortunately, these larger sets have not experienced significant success in terms of sales, with some going on sale or retiring early. Nevertheless, LEGO has also offered smaller football-themed sets through BrickHeadz and as gift-with-purchase sets, providing more accessible options for builders who prefer a smaller project.
Taking a trip down memory lane, LEGO initially introduced football sets back in 1998 to commemorate the 1998 World Cup held in France. These sets featured the distinctive constructible field along with a finger flick shooting mechanism, providing an engaging play experience. This mechanism, which allowed for interactive and action-packed gameplay, is something that many fans, including myself, would love to see LEGO revisit and incorporate in future sets. It served as a fantastic play feature that was further developed and expanded upon in subsequent lines like basketball and hockey.
Following the sports line in the early 2000s, LEGO took a hiatus from producing football sets until their release of a special collectible minifigure line in honor of the 2016 Euros. This particular series depicted 16 players from the German national team, although it’s worth noting that Portugal emerged as the victors of that tournament, not Germany. Interestingly, this collectible minifigure series had a limited regional release and was exclusively available in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It was indeed an unusual decision, as we haven’t seen such region-specific releases for collectible minifigures since then.
Looking Forward – Women’s World Cup 2023
The upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20th to August 20th, promises to be an intense competition among some exceptionally strong teams. Currently, the United States and England are considered the favorites to emerge victorious in this tournament. Women’s football has been experiencing rapid growth, as evidenced by the staggering viewership of 1.12 billion for the 2019 World Cup. With an ambitious goal of surpassing 2 billion viewers for the 2023 World Cup, the momentum continues to build. Although the viewership for the Women’s World Cup final, reaching 82.2 million, falls short of the 1.5 billion viewers that watched the men’s final, there has been remarkable progress. The women’s final witnessed over 200% growth compared to the 2015 final, which garnered 28.3 million viewers. With this trend, it is anticipated that the 2023 World Cup will continue to witness significant growth in viewership as well.
While women’s sports representation is undoubtedly growing, it still faces a significant gap compared to men’s sports, particularly in terms of viewership. Bridging this gap requires proactive efforts and support to elevate women’s sports to the same level. Just like many aspects of life, certain groups in society face inherent disadvantages, and women’s sports is no exception. In stark contrast to the extensive media coverage and excitement surrounding the last Men’s World Cup in 2022, many are not even aware that a Women’s World Cup is taking place this year. If we truly aspire to achieve equal opportunities, it is crucial for us to play our part in raising awareness and promoting the sport through effective broadcasting and media coverage.
Breaking gender stereotypes
The promotion and broadcasting of women’s sports play a vital role in advancing gender equality. By providing equal opportunities for women athletes to demonstrate their skills and compete at elite levels, it creates a platform where their talents can be showcased, celebrated, and acknowledged. This process challenges and breaks down gender stereotypes, defying traditional societal expectations regarding women’s roles. Increased visibility of women’s sports not only empowers female athletes but also serves as an inspiration for young girls and aspiring athletes. When young girls witness women competing at the highest level, they are more likely to perceive their own potential and pursue sports and physical activities. Consequently, this leads to improved physical health, self-confidence, and fosters the belief that girls can excel in any field they choose.
Women’s football has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing sports on a global scale, with more than 30 million girls actively participating in the sport. However, despite this significant participation, the talent pool of female athletes remains relatively small. This can be attributed to persistent gender stereotypes that hinder girls from pursuing their dreams in football. By increasing visibility and providing strong female role models, we have the power to break down these stereotypes and create a more equitable sporting landscape. When girls see women excelling in football and other sports, it empowers them to believe in their own abilities and encourages them to play without barriers or limitations. By dismantling stereotypes and fostering a supportive environment, we can create a world where girls have equal opportunities to showcase their talent and achieve their sporting aspirations.
When I first learned that LEGO was planning to release a set featuring icons of modern-day football, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Being a fan of both LEGO and football, the combination of my two passions was something I eagerly anticipated. As an advocate for equal opportunities and the pursuit of dreams, I am delighted that LEGO has utilized their platform to shed light on and challenge societal stereotypes by showcasing the 2023 Women’s World Cup. It is a direction that The LEGO Group has embraced in recent years, using their influence to bring attention to important social causes. In this review, I will be focusing solely on the merits of the LEGO set itself, considering its playability and collectability.
Upon first examination, I must admit I felt a bit disappointed with the set as it only provided half a field. While I understand that including a full field would have required compromises in other areas, it almost gave the impression that LEGO deliberately aimed to encourage customers to purchase two sets to construct a complete field. Nevertheless, the side builds, particularly the stands with their built-in play features, appear to be enjoyable additions. As someone who doesn’t often build sets with motion, I found learning how this particular set came together exciting. Considering that the set is targeted towards individuals aged 10 and above, with a focus on children, I will evaluate it from both an adult’s perspective and that of a child.
Contents and Packaging
40634 Icons of Play includes 15 minifigures and a variety of football (soccer) stadium elements. Coming in at 899 pieces and priced at US $99.99 (UK £89.99) this set will be available on the 6th of June.
- LEGO Parts Weight: 891 grams (1.96lbs)
- Price per piece: $99.99 / 899 pieces = $0.11 per piece
- Price per gram: $99.99 / 891g = $0.112 per gram
The box of the set boasts vibrant colors that immediately draw your attention. Despite being a smaller set, the instructions are divided into two books, guiding the builder through the construction of both the field and the additional structures. These books are beautifully illustrated with colorful visuals, and they also showcase The LEGO Group’s partnership with the featured icons, providing information about their careers and messages. In addition, the set includes a sticker sheet with 10 stickers, each as vibrant and eye-catching as one would expect based on the box design.
The set contains 6 numbered stages and 13 bags overall. As you can see in the photo below, the four 16×16 plates are not in a bag, nor was the sticker sheet or two instruction booklets. I do not know why the booklets and sticker sheets were not in a cardboard sleeve like most recent sets.
The initial stage of the build focuses on constructing the field itself. It is created using a series of colored plates to represent the markings left by mowing patterns on the grass. However, the chosen design for the mowing patterns is a bit unusual, as there doesn’t appear to be a consistent pattern employed. This decision might have been made to add variety to the building process, as an entirely uniform pattern could potentially make this section feel more repetitive. While stickers are typically not something one would request, in this case, I believe it would have been beneficial for LEGO to include stickers for the barriers along the field’s boundary. Adding fake advertising on the plain white barriers could have enhanced the visual appeal, as they can appear somewhat plain and uninteresting in their current state.
The goal construction utilizes Technic pieces to capture the shape of a goal, but it lacks a net which could have enhanced its realism. However, the goal does have a built-in play feature that allows a player to be connected and moved to save goal attempts. The set is designed with playability in mind, with figures placed on colored plates representing the teams aiming to score into the net, while one player acts as the goalkeeper. It would have been great if LEGO had kept the shooting mechanisms from their earlier football sets to enhance the play experience, as currently, the ball is moved by physically manipulating the figures, which can be a bit hands-on.
On one side of the field, there is a meticulously designed broadcasting camera that accurately captures the details of real-life broadcasting cameras. The level of detail in the camera construction is impressive, and it can even be rotated to capture different moments on the field. The set also includes extra footballs placed beside the goal, allowing for a seamless continuation of play if a ball goes out of bounds. However, I was taken aback by LEGO’s choice to use a yellow ball in this set, considering that the iconic white and black ball was recently released as part of a collectible minifigure accessory. This decision seems odd, especially considering that the official match ball used in the 2023 World Cup features white, black, and blue colors that do not match the yellow ball included in the set.
A small but fitting accessory included next to the field is the creation of the video assisted referee (VAR) monitor. This monitor represents a recent addition to the sport, allowing for assistance in monitoring in-game infractions to ensure fair play. However, it is worth noting that VAR has faced controversies in the past year, with mistakes being made using the technology. While the monitor itself lacks a screen, which could have added more value to the set, it presents an opportunity where a sticker could have been utilized to enhance its visual appeal and provide a more realistic representation.
The stands are probably my favorite part of the build. Built with masonry bricks, the base of the stand houses a mechanism that allows figures to jump up and down in a motion of a wave. The creative way this is hidden while capturing the essence of a stand is done well. The details are supplemented through proper use of big stickers that add colors and details that bricks could never do. Even without the figures the stands are lively with energy. Behind the stand standing tall are floodlights with a scoreboard. The score can be adjusted by spinning a 2×2 round brick with stickers along the side adding more playability. It is odd however that we see a home and away banner given the players are wearing the same colored kit. To achieve playability each figure has a base that they stand on built with an inverted plate and jumper plates denoting the team color. The smooth surface allows you to slide the figures across the field easily. Unfortunately however this limits the players’ ability to be posed on the field.
The mechanism integrated into the stands is a simple yet creative addition, offering an excellent opportunity for builders to explore motion in their creations. Unlike other activation mechanisms that can disrupt the aesthetics of a build, the barely noticeable crank on the side seamlessly blends into the overall design. Turning the build around reveals the impressive Technic magic at work, and I appreciate that LEGO chose not to cover up the back, allowing us to fully appreciate the motion in action. The figures attach to a brick-built platform that slides through a hole in the stands, resting on a Technic cam piece (6575) that, due to its irregular shape, raises or lowers the platform as the crank is turned. Gravity plays a key role in this captivating motion. As someone who isn’t particularly fond of Technic, this build has given me a newfound appreciation for incorporating motion into my own creations and has inspired me to experiment with adding motion to my MOCs. Overall, this mechanism is a fantastic enhancement to the set and, in my opinion, the highlight for both adults and children alike.
While the stands in this set are impressive, the quality of the auxiliary builds falls short in comparison. One such build includes a set of cones and water bottles, which, in my opinion, do not contribute much to the overall play value and feel somewhat forced to justify the set’s price. The build itself is quite basic, and the cones can be frustrating to remove from the plate due to their small 1×1 plate base.
The bench is a decent build but lacks complexity. While the parts used in the stand are visually appealing with vibrant colors and unique colored chairs, the overall design falls short. The chairs themselves are poorly designed, as there is no space for minifigure arms, preventing two figures from sitting on adjacent seats. This oversight is disappointing and stands in contrast to the bench designs in earlier sets released in the early 2000s. It seems that space-saving considerations may have compromised the functionality of the seating arrangement.
The podium in the set is relatively simple, but it effectively showcases the power of stickers with sponsorship banners adorning the top. It’s a missed opportunity that similar stickers were not utilized for the boundary barriers, as it would have added more visual interest. However, the trophy stand is a standout feature. The clever use of stacked curved plates creates a gradient effect with red and white, providing a visually appealing display for the trophy. The attention to detail in terms of color and varying heights is a nice touch, even if it isn’t necessary for this particular section. Unlike the benches, the designers ensured that the figures can be posed in a way that they can stand next to each other on the podium, further highlighting the oversight in the bench design.
The set includes an impressive number of minifigures, a total of 15, which is quite generous considering the price range. These figures encompass both real-world personalities and generic characters. The attention to detail in each figure is evident, from their accessories to their clothing pieces. This set provides an excellent opportunity to expand your collection with a diverse range of figures, representing various genders and skin tones, highlighting the multicultural nature of football. Additionally, the inclusion of extra hair pieces adds a level of customizability. The figures are undeniably a standout feature of this set, offering great value and making it feel like a robust figure pack.
Among the included figures, the players are the clear standouts. While it may initially seem that LEGO reused torsos from the foosball set, a closer look reveals that each of the four icons has a custom-printed torso featuring their names on the back. The on-field players, including the four icons, are accurately depicted, capturing the nuances of their real-world counterparts, from hairstyles to expressions. In addition to the icons, the set also includes a goalkeeper, referee, and coach, providing a comprehensive footballing experience. Each figure is printed on both the front and back, with face and torso details, allowing for a range of moods to be portrayed through the figures. This attention to detail adds to the overall quality of the set.
The figures in the stands provide a significant amount of variety in this set. From different hairstyles to torsos, skin tones, and facial expressions, each fan figure is carefully designed to capture the excitement and enthusiasm of football supporters. These fan figures have a more generic appearance, allowing for customization according to personal preferences. What sets them apart is the wide variety of accessories they hold, showcasing their passion for the game. The fan figures feature detailed front and back printing, and some even have alternate colored jerseys, providing the option to create opposing teams on the field (though back printing would be sacrificed in this case). Overall, the stands feel like a valuable addition to any LEGO figure collection, offering a diverse and lively group of supporters.
I really appreciate powerful message behind this set, but the set falls a bit short due to relatively basic building techniques and relatively low value. With a price-per-piece of $0.11 and a price-per-gram of $0.112, it offers slightly below average value. However, it’s important to note that the set includes an impressive total of 15 minifigures, including 4 iconic real-world personalities, which may tip the scale in favor of this set in the eyes collectors and fans.
The jumping play feature in the stands is undoubtedly my favorite aspect of this set while the other side builds didn’t quite meet my expectations. For example, I would have preferred a full field rather than just a half field as it would have added more realism to the play experience. Additionally, I believe that including two sets of kit colors for the figures would have been a nice touch, allowing for more diversity on the field. However, it is worth noting that the alternate-colored torsos among the audience members can be used to address this issue. Some of my disappointment stems from the fact that the play features in this set don’t live up to those found in earlier LEGO football sets, especially the ones from the early 2000s. I would have loved to see similar engaging play features re-introduced in this set.
As an adult reviewing a set intended for children, my perspective is different than that of the target audience. While I’ve considered both viewpoints, I recognize that I am no longer a child. Through my eyes as an adult builder, #40634 Icons of Play set earns our 3/5 Star (Good) Rating — It is not a bad set, but rather a reflection that it didn’t meet my expectations for a $100 set. Some small improvements to the model including a full football pitch (or more favorable pricing) would help it earn a higher rating.