Review: #21343 Viking Village
From persistent LEGO ideas submission to release. 21343 Viking Village has been highly anticipated, especially for fans of the 2005 Vikings line. Let’s delve into whether this set lives up to the hype and if it’s a must-have day one purchase!
As I opened the box, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “Vikings is back!” The original Vikings sets from my childhood LEGO days hold a special place in my heart, making 21343 Viking Village a nostalgic delight. Setting aside nostalgia, what struck me immediately was the incredible level of detail in this set. Unaware of its price initially, I thought, “This must be a fantastic $200 set.” To my surprise, it’s priced at just $129.99, a true steal for a set of this magnitude.
The elegant black box design aligns seamlessly with the Adults Welcome / 18+ product line, making it stand out on store shelves. However, the only downside is the inclusion of just four minifigures. More Vikings would have been appreciated. As a supporter of the LEGO Ideas set that inspired this creation, I must commend the designers for expertly capturing the essence of the original design while imbuing it with the rustic charm of Nordic architecture.
The original LEGO Vikings line
21343 Vikings Village isn’t LEGO’s first venture into the enchanting world of Nordic themes. The 2000s witnessed the release of one of LEGO’s most iconic and instantly recognizable themes—the Vikings line of LEGO sets. This captivating theme unfolded in two distinct waves: the first wave launched on August 1, 2005, followed by the second, equally exciting wave just a year later, on August 1, 2006. Despite its warm reception, this beloved theme sailed into the LEGO sunset on December 31, 2007, leaving behind a legacy that continues to resonate with fans.
The original Vikings theme featured a total of seven sets, each steeped in Norse mythology, inviting builders into epic battles against mythological creatures. Among the most iconic adversaries were Fafnir and Fenris, whose LEGO incarnations became instant favorites among enthusiasts. This rich blend of history and myth earned the LEGO Vikings theme high praise from fans, celebrating its unique departure from more conventional LEGO themes.
For those eager to take a nostalgic journey back in time, a treasure trove of information about the original LEGO Vikings theme awaits here.
The Viking Age, spanning from the late 8th to the early 11th century, stands as a pivotal era characterized by the remarkable maritime expansion of the Norse people. Scandinavian warriors, traders, and settlers embarked on a maritime odyssey that left an indelible mark on history. From England to Russia, these intrepid seafarers established trading outposts, founded settlements, and wielded considerable influence over diverse cultures. The culmination of the Viking Age arrived with the Norman conquest of England in 1066, orchestrated by William the Conqueror, a direct descendant of Norse forebears.
Norse architecture was influenced by various factors, including available materials, geographical conditions and interactions with other cultures through trade and conquest. Some key characteristics of nordic architecture included:
- Materials: Nordic architecture primarily utilized locally available materials such as timber, stone, and thatch. Timber was especially important, as Scandinavia had abundant forests.
- Longhouses: Longhouses were the most common type of building in Viking settlements. These were large, rectangular structures made of timber with turf or thatch roofs. Longhouses served as homes, community centers, and sometimes even housed livestock.
- Stave Churches: Stave churches are iconic examples of Nordic architecture. These wooden churches combined Norse building techniques with Christian symbolism. They featured a distinctive design with vertical staves supporting the structure and intricate carvings. Stave churches showcased the fusion of traditional Nordic aesthetics with emerging Christian influences.
- Boathouses and Piers: Due to the Vikings’ strong connection to the sea, boathouses and piers were essential components of their architecture. Boathouses were designed to store and repair ships during the winter months, and piers facilitated trade and travel.
About the set
This set is structured into three distinct sections, each capable of standing alone as an independent display or connecting to create a unified build. Eschewing the dollhouse-style approach with an open back, the set embraces a modular design philosophy, allowing for the removal of either the roof or a wall to reveal the intricate interiors. While each section boasts diverse building techniques, a common thematic thread runs throughout, ensuring they harmoniously come together. The set artfully encapsulates the distinctive elements of Viking culture, containing a fully-equipped smithy, a Longhall, and a watchtower, all thoughtfully situated against the icy backdrop of the Baltic Sea.
In the first bag, we build the smithy, starting with the creation of the 321Dark AzurDark Azure water surface. Atop this water sits the earthy base, a fusion of 1089Warm TanMedium Tan and 5Brick YellowTan hues that simulate the textures of soil, while 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray contributes its rugged, rocky presence to the landscape. This foundation artfully integrates a variety of slopes and jagged edges, effectively conveying the weathered, worn character of the terrain. Curiously, discreetly concealed on the side are rod pieces employed for interlocking the sections together. Due to the uneven configuration, an inventive combination of clips and rods is employed, deviating from the conventional technic pins typically found in modular sets.
In the second bag, we shift our focus to constructing the walls of the Smithy. We see a clever combination of 192Reddish Brown and 312Medium NougatMedium Dark Flesh to create a timber-like appearance, providing a pleasing contrast to the lighter surface colors. To achieve that rustic vibe, the designers cleverly use rounded pieces, lending a curved texture to the building. This curvature stands in stark contrast to the roof’s jagged slopes, further emphasized by the use of SNOT (studs not on top) techniques, which involve placing tiles on the sides to mimic wooden boards. Leading the way to the Smithy is a cobblestone path crafted using a variety of rounded tiles, jumpers, and stud pieces in both 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray and 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray. This detail not only adds visual interest but also maximizes the available space. Given the harsh, wintry Viking climate, snow blankets the scene, symbolizing the environmental challenges. Throughout this area, and in other parts of the set, you’ll discover patches of snow, created using an assortment of 1White pieces in different shapes and sizes, beautifully enhancing the wintry atmosphere.
Inside the Smithy, a variety of details and play features are build. Adorning the walls and shelves are pieces crafted by the local smith, including weapons and a finely crafted helmet. Every minor detail is considered, from a pail of water for cooling hot metal to a brick built anvil. A standout feature is the forge, where pressing down on the bellows on its side triggers a play feature, causing the flames to roar and rise, a small but delightful addition to the scene.
Upon opening the bag, one of the initial highlights is the inclusion of fern pieces, a component initially introduced in 10316 Rivendell but poised to become a welcome addition to LEGO’s plant elements repertoire, now available in fresh hues of 28Dark GreenGreen and 1White. The prospect of seeing this piece on the LEGO Pick-a-Brick wall for custom builds is an exciting one. In this set, these fern pieces are ingeniously employed to construct snow-capped pine trees nestled behind the Smithy. The simplicity of this creation lends it immediate recognizability, although one might wonder why it retains its snowy appearance, despite its proximity to the forge’s heat, which one would expect to melt the snow away.
In Norse architectural tradition, the thatched roof with its angled support structure was a commonplace sight. These angled beams not only provided structural stability to bear the roof’s weight but also allowed for the use of shorter timber sections in the construction of rafters, reducing waste and the demand for lengthy planks. The thatched roof in this set emerges through the layering of differently sized and shaped tiles and plates over a larger plate, with interlocking wedges forming an appealing ridge. The choice of 5Brick YellowTan for the roof creates a striking contrast against the building’s 192Reddish Brown exterior, adding an eye-catching accent. The clever design of the angled beams intersecting at the roof’s front is both simple and effective, achieved by leaving a one-square-plate gap in the top plate to allow the bottom plate to slide underneath, discreetly hidden by tiles that blend the connection. Beyond these structural nuances, a notable highlight is the exquisitely printed shield tile gracing the smithy’s front, featuring a dragon logo reminiscent of the emblem used in the 2005 LEGO Vikings line of sets.
Moving on to the construction of the second structure, we begin by building the foundation of the Longhall in a manner similar to the Smithy. However, this time, we introduce 42Transparent Light BlueTrans-Light Blue tiles and cheese slopes to the water to create the illusion of waves. At the base, we notice how the three structures are interconnected, as clips on the base link to rods built into the adjacent sections’ bases. Situated at the front of the Longhall, a simple yet effective dock is crafted. Despite its simplicity, the arrangement of tiles and studs on a single plate forms a diverse pattern that enhances its visual appeal. Given the Longhall’s significance, it stands one brick higher than the other structures, not only elevating its position but also allowing for the inclusion of a sunken firepit in the center of the room. This firepit serves as a focal point, reflecting the Longhall’s role as a gathering place for celebrations. The added depth also permits side construction to introduce sloped shapes, further accentuating this straightforward central feature. Leading up to the Longhall, a series of stone-built steps in 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray provide a striking contrast against the structure’s other colors. These steps employ a combination of tiles to achieve a smoother texture, adding a finishing touch to the otherwise exposed-stud ruggedness.
To achieve a convincing timber effect, the designers use a of wood bricks with rounded edges to emulate logs. They also employ SNOT (studs not on top) techniques, alternating between 308Dark Brown and 192Reddish Brown plates to craft a diverse wooden plank texture at the front of the structure. To add a finishing touch, 1×1 printed stump tiles are used, enhancing the room’s wooden ambiance. Among these details, you’ll find a splendid printed tile featuring Viking knotwork, a design influenced by the cultural exchange between Vikings and Celts during their conquests in Europe. At the rear of the Longhall stands an imposing, ornate throne where the Jarl, a noble rank in Scandinavia, presides. “Jarl” in Old Norse means “chieftain.” This majestic throne incorporates horn elements to symbolize the Viking’s deep connection with nature, and 297Warm GoldPearl Gold accents emphasize the noble stature associated with the position of Jarl.
From the rear perspective, the effectiveness of employing SNOT (studs not on top) techniques to elevate the build becomes evident. At the base, slopes are strategically utilized to craft rugged, jagged rocky edges. Meanwhile, around the windows, a clever use of railing pieces positioned on their sides forms a 1×4 297Warm GoldPearl Gold lattice window. This simple yet ingenious window design serves as an excellent detail, effortlessly accentuating the overall texture of the build.
Along the side, 297Warm GoldPearl Gold horns poisitioned above the window serves as a striking accent. This gold contrasts beautifully against the deeper browns employed in the walls. The walls themselves predominantly consist of wooden bricks in 192Reddish Brown, cleverly achieving the rounded timber aesthetic. To further enhance the depth and texture, SNOT (studs not on top) techniques come into play, creating protruding wooden frames in 308Dark Brown, culminating in a smooth tile finish. This smooth surface not only enriches the overall texture but also adds an extra layer of intricacy to the design.
Inside the Longhall, details enrich the space, from weaponry and printed shields adorning the walls to a bustling cooking station at its heart. These well-placed elements bring vitality to the room, ensuring that meticulous attention to detail extends beyond the exterior and fills the interior with character and depth.
While constructing the Longhall, the familiar arched frame for roof support emerges. Instead of opting for a straightforward triangular build, the designers thoughtfully incorporate a range of colors and shapes, achieving a weathered and rugged appearance while ensuring structural integrity for the gable roof. At the front of the Longhall, we assemble a substantial 6-stud tall door that hinges open, providing easy access for minifigures. The choice to employ a brick-built door rather than a pre-fabricated door piece allows for a diverse range of shapes and patterns, making it a standout feature that immediately grabs one’s attention when gazing upon the structure.
Serving as the crowning detail of the Longhall is the roof, resembling the thatched design of the Smithy but on a larger scale. Positioned at a 45-degree angle, it is cleverly secured with clips, resting on the earlier constructed frame. This design allows for easy roof removal, granting a glimpse of the interior. Grille pieces in 312Medium NougatMedium Dark Flesh create a textured, straw-like appearance, with intermittent patches of snow artfully interspersed. While each side of the roof mirrors the other, their orientation cleverly conceals the repetition, ensuring it doesn’t detract from the overall appeal. 297Warm GoldPearl Gold once again adorns the front of the frame as an accent piece, effectively emphasizing the building’s significance. Ingeniously utilizing technic pieces, the designers connect them to the technic elements used in the ridge roof, enabling the addition of side-facing studs. On the front of the roof frame, the beautifully printed knotwork, adorning the door frame, adds a splendid finishing touch, showcasing the attention to detail woven throughout this remarkable build.
Perched atop the roof is a dormer window, strategically placed above the fireplace below, facilitating the escape of hot air into the surroundings. Despite its modest size, this window boasts intricate construction and snugly sits atop the roof, while serving as a convenient handle for easy removal when you wish to explore the interior. To capture the horn details seen elsewhere in the set, the designers creatively incorporate sausage pieces in 297Warm GoldPearl Gold. Despite its diminutive size, this piece proves remarkably versatile, finding an ever-expanding array of creative applications within builds.
Transitioning to the final structure, we commence with the foundations, applying the same techniques employed for the first two foundations. However, this time, there are no waves incorporated into the base, distinguishing it from the Longhall.
Among all the natural structures in this set, the mineral cave stands out as my favorite. Crafted primarily using slopes, inverted slopes, and arches, the designers skillfully capture the rugged angles of weathered and worn stone. To avoid a flat surface on the side of the cave entrance, SNOT (studs not on top) techniques are used to construct a sloped surface with vertically oriented wedges. Inside the cave, layered slopes and variations in height and depth effectively evoke the foreboding darkness characteristic of caves, which, despite sounding less than ideal, perfectly suits the ambiance this scene aims to achieve.
On the opposite side of the cave, we employ SNOT (studs not on top) techniques and additional slopes to construct a sequence of steps. While these steps appear smooth, the designers introduce exposed studs on a few steps to accommodate minifigures, allowing for potential posing on the steps. Along the cave’s side, a small drying rack for fish is assembled. Regrettably, owing to the top-heavy nature of this structure, the stand can be somewhat fragile and prone to fall if accidentally bumped. Although not exclusive to this set, the stand does include a fish in a vibrant 326Spring Yellowish GreenYellowish Green, which starkly contrasts with the 199Dark Stone GreyDark Bluish Gray backdrop behind it.
Given the irregular shape of this section, the foundation is constructed in two separate parts, eventually connecting at the center. This modest instruction bag continues to build upon the foundation, employing the same techniques previously utilized in the construction of the foundations throughout the build.
When the two halves of this section are joined, the scene takes form. Spanning the gap between the two natural outcrops is a 192Reddish Brown wooden pier, an extension of the pier observed in the Longhall, designed to provide ample room for ship docking. On the floor of both sections, snowy patterns once again grace the terrain, with rounded pieces artfully portraying surface stones. Similar to the cave, SNOT (studs not on top) techniques are artfully applied to create vertical texturing on all the rocky portions of this space, enhancing its overall depth and realism.
The barrels are thoughtfully constructed in an upright manner, incorporating a hinge piece that enables them to be positioned horizontally—an inventive choice, considering barrels typically rest vertically. Adorning the barrel lids, we encounter the iconic logo from the 2005 line of Vikings sets, a nostalgic homage to the past that adds a charming touch to the scene.
Sitting tall at the front of the section is the watchtower. This build is rather small but captures the elements of a lookout point well. The structure itself is built up using a 1×1 pillar that is clipped in place at the base for added support, opting to use this technique rather than just using 1×1 rounded bricks allows it to be more sturdy. Sitting atop the designers adjusted the height of the planks to give the structure a more natural look, while also adding defensive rigidity as the varied heights lets archers both hide and aim more easily.
Atop the caves is a storage room. The diversity of pieces, encompassing a wide array of colors and shapes, contributes to the remarkable level of detail achieved. Alternating between smooth 5Brick YellowTan bricks and rounded 308Dark Brown bricks introduces a contrast that sets this building apart from the others in the set. The back wall of this section, situated on the left in the image below, is designed to be removable, unveiling the interior details and lending a semi-modular structure to this segment, adding a layer of engagement to the build.
Both the windows and doors are constructed with captivating details. The windows utilize the lattice window piece, but the designers use wedges to create an angled arch surrounding the window. To enable the arch to be constructed at a 90-degree angle, an extruded rod piece serves as the anchor onto which both sides of the arch are clipped. This is made possible by using both a 1×2 1 clip plate and a 1×2 2 clip plate, allowing each side to be securely attached to the rod, with the clips perfectly spaced to accommodate this arrangement. This technique is consistently applied to all the windowed arches within the building. The door is a relatively straightforward design, but it includes wand pieces to emulate weather-worn hinges. This elementary yet effective technique, due to the affordability of wand pieces, is something I intend to incorporate into my custom builds in the future.
A bridge is constructed between the two previously unconnected buildings in this set, offering a simplistic yet somewhat delicate design. The build effectively conveys the appearance of a weathered bridge, and a string with black rope climbing grips piece is utilized as a handrail to enhance the sinking effect. Unlike previous sets with single-piece bridges, this set adopts a brick-built approach, a choice I appreciate. Atop the storage room, additional walls are introduced to complete the final layer, accompanied by a small thatched roof for the first floor. On each of the four corners of the structure, angled claws in 192Reddish Brown maintain the consistent wooden theme woven throughout this set.
In the final bag, our attention turns to completing the building’s intricate details, starting with the walls. The second floor of the storage room mirrors the design on each of the four sides, excluding the removable side, which utilizes slopes at the top rather than a continuous connection. At the pinnacle of the structure, we add the last thatched roof, employing the same grille techniques employed in the other roofs within this set. A roof ornament graces the top, serving as the crowning touch and bestowing the building with a distinctively traditional peak.
The inclusion of only 4 minifigures in a set of this size and price point was somewhat surprising, especially considering the limited availability of Viking figures in the market. For those interested in expanding their Viking minifigure collection, acquiring figures from the Minifigure Series 20 line can be quite costly, with prices currently around $23 per figure on Bricklink. Furthermore, as demand for these figures as army builders continues to grow, prices are expected to rise. Another option is the Creator 3-in-1 set, “Viking Ship and the Midgard Serpent,” which does include four minifigures. However, it’s worth noting that this set is slated for retirement at the end of 2023 and retails for $119.99, making it a relatively more expensive choice.
This set features four minifigures, each equipped with their own accessories. The minifigures represent a blacksmith, a chieftain, a shield-maiden, and an archer, and they all boast intricate and distinctive torso and leg printing. Additionally, the set includes eye-catching wooden shields. Notably, all the minifigures are single-sided in terms of facial expressions, which is somewhat unusual in contemporary LEGO minifigures. As mentioned earlier in this review, there are historical inaccuracies with these figures, particularly the horned helmets, but considering the overall quality of the minifigures, these inaccuracies can be overlooked.
In the summer of 2022, LEGO had a significant price increase of up to 20% on their sets. While the common benchmark for assessing LEGO set prices is often 10 cents per piece, it’s also worthwhile to consider the price per weight, especially for sets that contain numerous small pieces. As my sentiments may have already conveyed throughout this article, the price point of this set stands out as a remarkable feature. Given recent pricing trends from LEGO, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see this set retail for $200. However, it’s possible that this promotional set’s favorable pricing could be attributed to its partnership with the retailer Target, similar to how LEGO values Chinese New Year sets competitively to tap into the Chinese LEGO market, although this is purely speculative. With a favorable price per part ratio, let’s now compare how this set stacks up against other similar sets, both in terms of price per piece and price per gram.
|#31203 World Map
|#21056 Taj Mahal
|#21058 Great Pyramid of Giza
|#10278 Police Station
|#71741 Ninjago City Gardens
|$0.052 per piece
|#71043 Hogwarts Castle
|#10292 Friends – The Apartments
|#10297 Boutique Hotel
|#10312 Jazz Club
|#10282 Adidas Originals Superstar
|$0.081 per piece
|#10305 Lion Knights’ Castle
|$0.089 per piece
|#10303 Loop Coaster
|#75290 Mos Eisley Cantina
|$0.126 per piece
|(This set) #21343 Viking Village
|$0.062 per piece
As this set is an unlicensed set it gives the designers more opportunity to play with lower prices with only #71741 Ninjago City Gardens being comparable at the price per piece count. Factoring in that this set contains printed pieces and minifigures that is a big plus for a set in this price point as it is difficult to find a set of better value under $150. Where this set does fall behind is with the minifigures. If this set had 2 more minifigures and a small boat I am sure LEGO could have raised the price to $179.99 and people would still be satisfied with the price. That being said price point is not something to complain about for this set. When looking at the price per gram we see this set sit comfortably in the middle at $0.09 per gram. This is a better ratio than most licensed sets but is worse than most of the modular sets LEGO has released. In addition to the metrics discussed we need to mention this set’s presence. The designers look to have been playing with negative space by putting the bridge and slender tower on a seperate section, making great use of the space available giving this set feel big in real life than the pictures may indicate. All in all, this set is a great price looking at it from a value lens and I am sure many will pick this up on day one rather than wait for it to go on sale.
As someone with a passion for history, architecture, and Vikings, I make an effort to provide an objective review of this set, but there’s truly not much to criticize, especially considering its price point. Even at its full price of $129.99, this set offers exceptional value, boasting a fantastic selection of pieces and a diverse and enjoyable building experience that can provide hours of entertainment. While it would have been nice to have more minifigures, especially given the current aftermarket prices for Viking figures, this minor drawback doesn’t significantly detract from the overall quality of the set.
Whether you intend to play with it or showcase it as a display piece, this set caters to fans of Vikings, history, or LEGO enthusiasts in general. The diverse and enjoyable building experience is one you won’t want to miss. The only thing that would make this set better than it already is if it it included a small boat, similar in size to Vikings 7016 from 2005 and a few more minifigures. At this price point however this is asking for a lot. Were both of these included and the price raised to even $179.99 then in my opinion this would still be a great set. An important thing to note is that LEGO did not hold back from ensuring this set is displayable from all angles. Whether dispalyed from the front, back or even seperated, every angle is appealing to look at.
With its abundance of printed parts, diverse colors, shapes, and piece types, this set excels in set design. Taking all of these factors into account, #21343 Viking Village earns a solid rating of 5/5 (Must Have).