Review: #41747 Heartlake City Community Kitchen and #41748 Community Center
Let’s take a closer look at these two modular LEGO Friends sets that can be combined to create an even taller tower — are they better apart, or better together?
I was given the opportunity to review the entire Summer 2023 LEGO Friends lineup recently. This included the hotly anticipated #41757 Botanical Garden (review coming soon) and the two sets featured in this review.
I was immediately drawn to #41748 Heartlake City Community Center and #41747 Heartlake City Community Kitchen because they have strong Modular Building Series vibes — multi-story towers that can be rearranged and connected at their bases to create your own city! Between the 8+/9+ age recommendations and what looked like simpler building techniques, I was not expecting a AFOL-level building experience, but rather hoped that these sets would capture some of the same magic in a more age-appropriate way.
Let’s see how the two sets fare on their own, and we will conclude with a closer look at how you can combine the two to create your own downtown Heartlake City. I’ve also included a very brief summary of the ‘Heartlake City design standard’, so you can create custom floors that will be compatible with this set.
#41748 Heartlake City Community Center
#41748 Heartlake City Community Center was released on June 1, 2023 as part of the Summer 2023 LEGO Friends wave. This is the second wave of sets based on the rebooted LEGO Friends lineup which features 8 kids instead of just five. The set costs $139.99 (149.99€ / £129.99 / 179.99 CAD / 249.99 AUD), contains 1513 pieces, and is recommended for ages 9+.
- Box Size: 57.8 x 37.4 x 11.5 cm (22 ¾” × 14 ¾” × 4 ½”)
- Box Weight: 2335 grams (5.15 lbs)
- Box Density: 94 g/L
- LEGO Parts Weight: 1264.0 g (2.79 lbs)
- Weight-per-piece: 0.84 g/piece
- Price per piece: $0.093 per piece
- Price per gram: $0.111 per gram.
Of the two sets, I built #41748 Heartlake City Community Center first, so I am including it first in the review as well. My immediate draw to this set is easy to explain; I was excited by the rainbow color palette and the taller height of this set!
The build process takes place over 11 numbered stages, with the majority of parts for each stage contained in a clearly numbered bag. You will also find a large instruction booklet, and a sticker sheet (which I did not use because I do not like stickers.)
Bag 1: Foundation
As with any building the first bag begins with a strong foundation. In this case, we see what is clearly shown on the back of the box – this is an L-shaped tower with a cutaway back. The build process is relatively straightforward, resulting in a 1 1/3 brick tall base upon which our four-story community center will be stacked.
The most noteworthy thing about the platform was the cobblestone detailing, which uses a mix of four of the most similar LEGO Colors imaginable: 5Brick YellowTan, 18NougatFlesh, 312Medium NougatMedium Dark Flesh, and 38Dark Orange. It’s a bit muted and has a vintage 1970’s blanket vibe, but looks nice.
Build Time: 13 Minutes.
Bags 2-3: Ground Floor
Next we get out the second bag and one of the new 16x16x2/3 L-shaped plates to begin the ground floor. It turns out that the L-shaped plate is doing a lot of the heavy lifting by giving us a strong base with no need for interlocking layers of plates – we immediately commence building the walls. The walls are pretty basic, with alternating 1White and 322Medium AzurMedium Azure along the corners, a lot of tall windows, and 321Dark AzurDark Azure awnings. This will be the undisputed ‘blue’ floor of our rainbow tower.
We also add 1×2 Gold Bar (part 99563) in 1White on the exterior façade – resulting in a pretty extreme style of rusticated corners for our small tower. It is highly unusual for a building to use multiple decorative treatments, although in certain eras you may find an ornamental style for the bottommost one or two stories, a simpler style for most stories, and in some cases you will find a third style for the highest floor. (In this set, we will find a unique corner style for each of the four floors.)
The third bag completes the first floor, beginning with the completion of a stage with a rotating platform (for dance moves) and a microphone stand. Against the other interior wall there is a piano and guitar stand. Given the small size of the room, this is either a rehearsal space, or we need to assume that the room continues well beyond the cutaway section.
Build time: 19 minutes (Bag 2: 12 minutes, Bag 3: 9 minutes).
Bags 4-5: Second Floor
In the fifth bag, we begin by adding a large flowering vine and two hanging plants to the exterior. They look nice, but it is a bit hard to see a few of the instructions, including the careful placement of green plant elements on green leaves. Worse still, it is completely impossible to distinguish which of the flowers are meant to be 353Vibrant CoralCoral vs. 322Bright PurpleDark Pink based on the instructions. I wish they just picked one hue to make the instructions easier to follow or improved their famously poor color printing technology to make it easier to distinguish. (Confusion over flower colors slowed me down a lot here…)
After adding flowers and vines to the exterior, we meet Zac and decorate what is pretty clearly meant to be his apartment. The walls and much of the interior furnishings use a ton of purple elements, which addresses the lack of a purple floor in this set (although as we will discuss later, you can add 41747 to add a fifth purple floor to the tower.)
Build time: 35 minutes (Bag 4: 15 minutes, Bag 5: 20 minutes).
Bags 6-7: Third Floor
The sixth bag begins the third and yellowest floor. The exterior is a bit more plain than previous floors, with a simple column on the corners instead of the rusticated treatment. Instead, we get some odd rusticated window openings. The interior has two tables, including one which has a board game which has the “Heroica” branding – based on a line of official LEGO boardgames which were released in 2011-2012.
We complete the third floor in the seventh bag, which adds the exciting slide feature as well as additional gaming options for the interior. It’s a big screen TV with two gaming controllers. I did not apply the stickers, but it clearly features a Mario-Kart inspired game.
I do need to point out that there are two issues with the instruction booklet on this phase – we have a legitimate error where parts applied in one step disappear mysteriously on the next page (only to re-appear on subsequent pages). Most people probably won’t notice this, thankfully – but they will definitely notice that the instructions do a terrible job of reproducing 353Vibrant CoralCoral, to the point that it is almost indistinguishable from 322Bright PurpleDark Pink.
Build time: 28 minutes (Bag 6: 17 minutes, Bag 7: 11 minutes).
Bags 8-9: Fourth Floor
The eighth bag is completely packed with pink and white elements and offers the most basic construction techniques of the whole building. That’s because one of the two walls is largely superficial, because it is simply covered with a massive 8×16 printed tile. Behind that wall, we find yet another corner treatment, featuring a simple stack of white 1×1 Round Bricks.
With the walls largely complete, the ninth bag is all about interior detailing, which is clearly an art room. This includes a cabinet of art supplies, paints on a shelf, a large easel, and a really substantial looking sewing machine with a foot that goes up and down if you spin a gear on one side. Unlike previous floors, there is enough space on the floor to imagine Friends minidolls having enough space to actually walk around.
Build time: 24 minutes (Bag 8: 12 minutes, Bag 9: 12 minutes).
Bags 10-11: Roof and Finishing Touches
It’s a bit surprising that the roof requires more than one bag, so let’s just jump in to bag 10 to see what’s left. This bag took longer than most of the previous ones, largely due to the need to precisely align some of the parts such as the ¼ round tiles on the frieze below the cornice. I do like that a rooftop garden is included (which I also liked on this year’s #10312 Jazz Club modular), and I also like that the rigging on the rooftop to re-paint the billboard can slide back and forth once installed.
With the roof completed, it’s surprising to see that we still have a pretty large bag of parts to go… That’s because we have three more assemblies to add to our model: a lavender water tower on the roof, an ornate lamp post with flags for the right hand side of the ground floor, and a tree with red leaves for the left side. This aims to balance the overall composition, and the tire swing on the tree adds an additional play feature. Two red doors on posts can be added to the front door if you want to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Build time: 33 minutes (Bag 10: 18 minutes, Bag 11: 15 minutes).
This set contains parts in a wide range of bright colors, with not just one color per floor, but rather a whole color family with at least three shades per floor. The completed model is satisfyingly tall and completely packed with play that will be sure to please the relatively low 9+ age recommendation. Despite the height, it is a pretty narrow tower and I would expect a slightly lower price point around $120.
Putting the price aside, this would be a showstopper holiday gift for the right child, offering several days of building entertainment if you spread it out over several days. (Each floor comprises two bags, plus one bag for the base and two bags for the roof/accessories. Building two or three bags per day would give up to five days of entertainment.) It is a great set for the target demographic, which is why it would earn good marks for younger builders (probably a 4/5 Excellent rating).
As an adult LEGO builder, I’m a lot more interested in the building techniques and detailing, the selection of parts, and overall value. Through this lens, the set is pretty run-of-the-mill.
One question I expect people will want to explore is how well it can be adapted to the Modular Building standard. The completed model is very fun, but it’s probably a bit too vibrant to sit alongside the more muted colors we have grown to expect. You would also need a couple copies to get enough parts in each color to build a complete floor – and you would still need to supplement with a lot of standard plates because this set relies on the awkward L-shaped double plates introduced in this set.
Ultimately, from an AFOL perspective, this set is a bit disappointing and earns a middle-of-the-road 3/5 star (Good) rating. It is an enjoyable build, but will likely get broken down for parts pretty quickly, adding some additional color to my buik bins.
That said, it isn’t a great parts pack because I do not expect AFOLs will find the large L-shaped plates especially useful (and those parts no doubt take up a large part of the parts budget.) Not to worry, there is a good chance that the 16×16 L-shaped bases will end up in my son’s LEGO bins, where I can encourage him to create his own towers filled with his favorite things.
#41747 Heartlake City Community Kitchen
#41747 Heartlake City Community Kitchen was also released on June 1, 2023 as part of the Summer 2023 LEGO Friends wave. The set costs $67.99 (69.99€ / £62.99 / 84.99 CAD / 104.99 AUD), contains 695 pieces, and is recommended for ages 8+.
- Box Size: 47.6 x 27.9 x 6.0 cm (18 ¾” × 11” × 2 ⅜”)
- Box Weight: 1116 grams (2.46 lbs)
- Box Density: 139 g/L
- LEGO Parts Weight: 569.7 g (1.26 lbs)
- Weight-per-piece: 0.82 g/piece
- Price per piece: $0.098 per piece
- Price per gram: $0.119 per gram.
While I was slightly disappointed by the Community Center, I was eager to see if this smaller set could offer something which was missing in the taller set. It helps that the box art for this smaller set has a really punchy purple and orange color palette, a rooftop patio with planters, and a nice looking curved staircase on one end.
This is a much smaller set, and it only takes five numbered stages to complete. I am especially eager to see how well it integrates with the taller set.
Bag 1: Foundation
The first bag is quick, with similar detailing to the larger set, although as you will see – this set actually has a larger base. It uses the same technique involving 1×1 half round and 1×2 rounded corner tiles to create a cobblestone effect.
Build time: 9 minutes.
Bags 2-4: Restaurant Interior
Unlike the base of the taller set, the ground floor restaurant is not raised off the ground. Rather, we continue building up the walls right from street level, and the bottommost layer of plate is the floor of the restaurant.
That’s why in bag 2, we continue building up the walls which use both 325Lavender and 324Medium Lavender colors. I enjoyed the selection of ingredients on three shelves tucked in one corner of the room. As we keep building, we see how the curved staircase goes right over the storage area, offering easy access to the rooftop patio. There aren’t any difficult techniques, which is to be expected of an 8+ set.
The third bag continues where we left off, adding the rest of the front walls, including 3 large windows and an angled entrance door. The building techniques remain straightforward and it doesn’t take very long to build. I did enjoy the awning with ironwork support and the rack of kitchen tools above the sink.
I really enjoyed Bag 4, because I like how the designers decided to really lean-in and create a realistic commercial kitchen, even if this meant that there is no space for interior dining. The kitchen is really well appointed, with a massive island featuring a four-burner stovetop, and an area to prepare tortillas into meals. I especially appreciate the prominent Tortilla Press on the corner of the island – giving this restaurant a very specific cuisine and culture makes it more interesting than the many ‘generic’ restaurants we have seen in previous LEGO sets.
Build time: 38 minutes (Bag 2: 11 minutes, Bag 3: 13 minutes, Bag 4: 14 minutes)
Bag 5: Rooftop Patio
In the fifth and final bag, we add a railing to the stairway and then move on to the rooftop patio. The patio continues the purple and orange color palette in a striking way. I especially like the row of curved elements across the back wall of the patio, mimicking the aesthetic of curved brick roof tiling. The large table with four chairs looks like a great place to celebrate an important family event, thanks to the trees on both sides and the lanterns hanging from a string between them.
Bag 5: 15 minutes.
The taller set has more play value, which makes sense given that it is more than double the cost. That said, each of the four floors are a bit too small to tell a complete story and feel cramped when you try to add minidolls to the scene. By contrast, this set has a much better division of space. We get a large dedicated kitchen area that is actually quite realistic, and separate dining areas out front and on the rooftop patio.
I also absolutely love that they leaned in to a specific global cuisine instead of making this a generic restauraunt. The printed quesadilla and cut lime tiles are an excellent touch, livening up the scene even for purists like me who refuse to use stickers. Best of all, they included a Tortilla Press, which is a very specific regional kitchen appliance that can be used for just one thing.
On the other hand, this set offers an even worse value in terms of price-per-part or price-per-weight. That’s why I think the two sets are very comparable overall, both earning 4/5 star (recommended) for the target audience of young kids, and a 3/5 Star (Good) rating for the primary audience of this website – Adult Fans of LEGO!
Heartlake City Community Standard
There’s nothing complicated about how these modules stack together, and I think that’s a good thing since it may encourage families to add additional stories to reflect their personal style, hobbies, and interests.
The core of the standard is Part 2612: a new L-shaped element that is 16×16 studs with an 8×8 corner removed. (So far, it is only available in two LEGO Friends sets and one LEGO City set) You might expect it to be the same thickness as a standard LEGO plate, but it is two plates thick with notches on the sides that allow you to connect it with similar parts such as those in #60304 Road Plates set.
Because this new part is not widely available, I have included very simple instructions to build one yourself. All you need are about a dozen relatively common plates. (There are lots of different ways to create this shape using existing parts, this example uses the fewst parts.)
While you could make a module that is any height, the four modules included in #41748 Heartlake City Community Center are all the same height: 7 bricks and 4 plates tall. In practice, this works out to the two-plate thickness of part 2612 on the bottom, a wall that is 7 bricks tall, a layer of plate near the top to hold everything together, and a final layer of smooth tiles with four 1×4 with two studs to attach the next floor.
They also all employ an empty 1×4×6 door frame on either side to add strength while allowing you to reach through and access the play features. This positioning of the doorway is leveraged by certain modules. This includes when a module placed above the slide — The minidolls go through that empty doorway to go down the slide. Likewise, the staircase in #41747 Heartlake City Community Kitchen lines up with the empty doorway of whatever floor you place above it.
As noted in the individual set reviews, these are very good sets for the target audience with a pretty typical price/value. They do not represent an exceptional value, but aren’t an especially poor value either. In this closing section, I want to explore the two sets combined, and will explore whether the two sets combined offer a better value and play experience than the sets by themselves.
Given that the sets were designed to combine to create an even larger model, I wanted to take a moment to review the combined model, and use the combined price of the two sets as an estimate of the cost if they were sold as one larger set. If you were to buy both of the sets, they would cost you $207.98 (219.98€ / £193.98 / 264.98 CAD / 355.98 AUD) for a total of 2208 pieces.
For comparison, the most expensive LEGO Friends set released to date is #41732 Downtown Flower and Design Stores which came out in January 2023. It costs just $159.99 (159.99€ / £139.99 / 219.99 CAD / 249.99 AUD), contains 2010 pieces, and is recommended for ages 10+. The combination of the two sets in this review gives you about 200 additional pieces for an additional $50. I will acknowledge that these sets include some larger parts that balance the scale slightly, but the Flower and Design Stores set is a better choice for AFOLs and older kids. It has received largely positive reviews, offers a greater overall value, and features more compelling architectural detailing and furnishings.
But all is not lost — these are good (if not great) sets individually, and they combine well if you decide to purchase them both. That’s why I feel like they earn the same rating combined as they got invividually: 4/5 star for kids, and 3/5 star for adults.