When news of The Simpsons coming to LEGO hit, I was pretty apprehensive. I haven’t watched any new episodes in several years (I think I’ve watched through Season 23 or so), yet I watch the old stuff with a great deal of regularity.. it’s one of the shows that’s tame enough, for the most part, to watch around my daughter. Basically, I’m that old guy who won’t listen to music made in the past ten years* when it comes to my Simpsons… I’m content watching Mr. Plow or A Millhouse Divided over and over.
Worse, the Simpsons House was a pretty lackluster looking set, the CMF line looked good but were expensive compared to the regular series, and had some pretty notable holes in the lineup. Of course, I still bought the CMF line, because memories often trump my cynicism (though my cynicism doesn’t like to admit it), and I have a lot of memories of the Simpsons, watching it with friends, etc. I purchased the House recently in a moment of weakness, because it was one of those sets that, even if it wasn’t just calling to me, I’d likely regret owning once it vanished.
Then LEGO released the pictures for the Kwik-E-Mart, and it was perhaps the most mid-seasons Simpsons moment ever, a rare jewel in a pile of average stuff. The Kwik-E-Mart is probably more iconic than The House in that everyone sees stores like that around them, and the jokes that even the idea of the store have just resonate. It’s given us some great characters and moments, and there’s just so much to love about it. The pictures revealed more than a few easter eggs buried in the set, like a frozen Jasper or copies of Angry Dad in the news rack. There were features that looked great, like the Squishy machine or getting a Snake minifig. Even at a hefty $199, this set had a whole lot of things to love about it, and was one of those reveals that actually made you want to click through all of the pictures to see what was going on with it.
LEGO was nice enough to provide FBTB with a copy right as it went on sale for VIP members, and I was “tasked” with the Kwik-E-Mart review. I’m using the quotes there because this set may have been the most enjoyable set I’ve put together in a long time, up there with the Ecto-1 for fan service and enjoyablishnessocity. Even if I wasn’t reviewing this set, I would have likely picked it up. In fact, there’s so much goodness to it, I may just pick up another**…
*There’s a certain irony that I’m listening to Styx while typing this, right?
**Sorry to those wanting more cynicism in my review. You can wait for me to get back to the Star Wars stuff or something.
I was binge watching the Simpsons for the entirety of the build, photography, and writing of this review. It’s a good enough set that it makes you want to go watch the show. I’m pretty sure this thing is made up almost entirely of slopes and Easter Eggs, given that there are so many things tucked away in it.
It’s also kind of odd where we’re looking at probably the weakest link in the set is the minifig lineup. LEGO has emphasized minifigs above all for years now, and in the House set, the minifigs were probably the strongest part (even with their half-baked eyes). Here, four of the figures are unique, but only one of them is new. Two have only minor changes, with Apu getting a whole different look.
Snake, Springfield’s resident larcenist extraordinaire, is a great addition, and a great rendition of the minifig here. The tattooed arm is a great touch, and having the guy that’s robbed the Kwik-E-Mart dozens of times. There’s actually a whole lot of use with this particular torso, even with his “unique” tattoo. Obviously, the head, less so, but that’s true for all of the Simpsons figures.
Police Chief Wiggum is one of the two “minor” changes to make a character unique, in that he now has jelly donut filling on his lip and shirt. That fits the character quite nicely, but still feels like a bit of a waste of a figure. I assume he was in here because they wanted a vehicle, which they could have done just by giving us the Marge’s orange station wagon, since it figures into the show (and Kwik-E-Mart) far more prominently. Or, if they were going for nothing but Easter Eggs in this thing, they could have gone with the Homer (which doesn’t fit at all) or maybe the Canyonero (which would have been awesome).
Other than the Jelly Donut stain, there’s no difference to the character at all. While I don’t really care about the lack of a “fat” torso here (I think printing handles it in the LEGO style just fine)… the lack of the lines on Wiggum is kind of a a let-down. The face is fat but the torso doesn’t match it in printing.
If you were curious what the other “minor” variation figure was, it’s Bart. He’s more or less unchanged from the CMF line, except he’s now missing the printing for the slingshot on his back. I guess if you needed some plain red torsos that’s a bonus, but the real upside is on the pants now just being a plain blue and yellow.
I suppose the let down is that there are a lot of different things they could have tried with Bart here. I would have loved to see him in a Jr. Camper uniform or something like that instead.
He comes with a can of spray paint, which is kind of crazy when you think of the level of throwback that it is. Bart as that sort of graffiti delinquent died by the end of the second season. But he’s also a character that kind of has to be in a Kwik-E-Mart set, just as much as Homer does.
Marge comes with the set, curiously without Maggie. I guess Lisa is watching her or something. This is an identical version to the CMF one, so if you got her there (and I think I go more duplicates of her than any other figure), nothing special.
Again, a character they could have done better. If they wanted to include a police car, they could have gone all-out and given us Marge from The Springfield Connection. After all, it was at the Kwik-E-Mart where she busted Homer for parking across three handicap spots.
Speaking of Homer, he shows up in this set identical to the CMF version, unfortunately. He at least has the fat line on the torso and those arms with the shirt sleeves are still pretty awesome.
Give the sheer number of ways that Homer has showed up on the show, it’s kind of disappointing that they didn’t do more here. The House at least gave us an early-season version of him going to work (back when he still did that), so it would have been cool to see him with something like the pink shirt or just a variation on the regular character. Or maybe just give him a giant hat to smash.
Apu is obviously hugely different, with an outfit you don’t see much on the show. He is, however, wearing this particular shirt during the events of Homer and Apu. That particular episode provides a couple of other Easter Eggs that show up in the set as well, so it’s great to see it here.
He still has the chest hair, so it’s basically win-win for everyone involved. It’s a shame that his sticker doesn’t tell us about their fried pickles though.
The build of this set is kind of interesting, in that it probably starts with the low-point of the set, the cop car. On one hand, it’s a decent representation of a Springfield cop car, I suppose, blocky and stylistically sound. And it most certainly looks better than the Pink Sedan did with the house set…
There is a sticker on the dash for a radio and another for a half eaten donut. Another set of stickers with the Springfield Police logo, and another couple for the license plates, and we’re starting to see a theme here: this set has a whole lot of stickers. Two sheets of them, actually. The strange thing about that realization is that it’s actually not that terrible of a thing.
You’re quickly past the car after the first bag and into building the set. This set is a pretty sharp contrast to the House set, which had a whole lot of little things to clutter up around the build. The grill, chairs, skateboard ramp kept you from he heart of the build. Here, you’re right into it, and that’s a very nice touch.
The front of the exterior comes with some real nice touches. The sign is obvious, but stickers / posters for Jack Pot lottery and Buzz Cola are just fun (and accurate). Sure, there’s a lot of repeating colors in this thing, but it actually works on the build pretty well.
To the left, we get some boxes stacked out front and the first of two parking signs. Purple bricks and tile/plate hybrids in dark blue? Yes please!
It also features a bike rack and a wonderful little payphone setup, complete with the wiring. The phones are actually pretty fun to build, since it doesn’t quite come together until the end. Of course, it’s also a reference that anyone in LEGO’s normal age range have no idea what it is. Stickers here are the phone logos on the side of the page only. The keypad tiles are printed. Lots of stickers, but not everywhere.
The dumpster area is pretty plain inside, but the roll-away dumpster is a solid little build. The side of the enclosure features three more stickers. A No Dumping sign that no one ever reads, a “Wanted for Treason” sign (from Lisa the Iconoclast) and an El Barto graffiti sign (compliments Bart’s spray paint). We also get a Crazy Cat Lady missing cats sign (or twenty-five of them), as well as the security box.
The dumpster inside does have a couple of black trash bags, which you see Snake carrying on the box art. That’s kind of a theme in this particular set… not a lot of brand new parts, but a whole lot of parts that show up in unique colors, like these bags.
The other side continues the panel look, with stickers for the three-eyed fish seafood (a double-joke, as the three-eyed fish turned into a seafood dish… given that it tasted awful in the show that first had it). Spider-Pig is probably the newest reference in this whole set, since that was from the movie. It’s a double-dig, referencing that awful Spider-Man musical from a few years back and one of the most memorable parts of the movie. I guess the musical was referenced in an opening billboard as well.
The back of the build as the obligatory mouse hole, which almost all modular buildings have for some reason, but also an employees only door and yet another Easter Egg sticker, directions to Flander’s Leftorium at the Next Right. I have a feeling that the stickers for this particular set will actually have a decent amount of demand on the aftermarket. I know that I’d love to get more of them.
The roof is inset quite a bit into the shop, which is why there are so many slopes in the set (well, that and accuracy). It’s the last thing you build, and is made up of fairly basic builds. It does sort of sit in place, but since it’s flat, it doesn’t have the “sneeze too hard and it’ll fall off” like the roof in the House set does.
It does also have it’s own little “hidden” feature, Apu’s secret garden. No Beetles up here, but we do get some fruits and veggies. Honestly, the most interesting part of the build is the little AC unit, which features black wheel hubs (not silver, like they look here… they were extra shiny). There’s a lot of purple there, and I always like more purple parts.
The set has a folding design on either side that opens to reveal the set. Unlike the House, which has an awkward mix of hinges, removable roof panels, and tiny gaps, this thing can be displayed closed or open and just look fantastic. The hinged pattern works great here, and shows off the different parts.
Inside to the left (or the right, if you’re looking at the front), we get the ATM Machine, hot dogs, donuts, a couple of coolers, and a coffee station. I’ll break down the individual parts later in the review, but that section is probably the coolest in the whole store. Inside the main section on this side, we get the counter, magazine rack, Squishee machine, Buzz Cola dispenser, juice machine, and what you can’t see here, a couple of video games. There’s also a nice reference you can only see when it’s open, the hot dog on the ground that eventually gets caught on tape and gets Apu fired from the store (again, in Homer and Apu).
The other side is mostly coolers, as well as a Powersauce bar display on the back. Here we get our frozen Jasper from Lisa the Simpsons. Sadly, it’s just a sticker on a round panel, not a full minifig. That would have been a great touch to the set. Inside the coolers, however, is all bricks, where you get to build a pretty huge variety of things. For people that use food items in their builds (like me with Modular buildings), this set is turning into a cornucopia of parts.
The Squishee machine is certainly a highlight of the little builds, and one of those rare circumstances where a sticker was the best choice. They could have printed this, but the two-tone white is an important part, and we get that with a sticker. There are spills on the floor as well, so the trusty machine is leaking. The featured sticker on the side is the bad check list (something else, along with payphones, that kids won’t understand). I’m always amused by Reverend Lovejoy being on the list.
What makes this such a fun build is just how much brick building goes into making… everything. There’s some real designer creativity on display in the set that still conveys the look and feel correctly. I kind of wish we got some hot dog rollers here, but that’s a pretty minor quibble in the light of everything else.
All of the machines pop out of their places fairly easily, so you could change or update them if you feel like it. The real highlight for me in this is kind of a toss-up between those fantastic coffee pots (made with just a transparent minifig head, a hinge, and a black tooth) and the Bonestorm and Great White Hunter video games that are sometimes seen in passing (no word if they have the console version available for Bonestorm). Oh, and those are plain white coffee cups, if you were curious, using the same mold that we got in the LEGO Movie CMF line.
There are two sale racks on the right side of the interior. I can only assume that these are packages of opened and on-sale meat, but it’s mostly up to your imagination. It really does work though, and looks nice on display. The real maker is the sign above, given that the cheapest item in the store is a 6-oz bag of chips for $5.99… their penny candy is surprisingly expensive.
The side of the rack has candies, green boxes (got me on that one), and these great printed 1×1 round bricks labeled Soup for One, a favorite of the late Edna Krabappel. The inclusion of the tiles here is certainly a highlight. Normally you have to buy several Friends sets to get this number of tiles (and believe me, I have)… so this adds a bunch of value to the set.
On the other side, I’m sure we get some lovely affordable Valentines gifts, as well as some “Dry Diapers” for sale. That’s good, because as a parent, no one wants wet diapers. The Sale stickers are three different colors, used on both racks, but could have a lot of utility outside of this set.
The other rack doesn’t have as funny of a sign, but does have chocolate milk sitting out, room temperature and likely to send you to the hospital. We also get dog food, with stickered tiles for it here.
The standout here is on the side, where we get boxes of Krusty O’s. No word on if they have Jagged Metal O’s randomly included, but they’re just a great touch. Those are also printed, not stickered. We also get another can of Soup for One.
The other side has some nice “jars” set up, along with some fresh fruit in bins. We get some red apples here, which had been making a comeback in Friends sets (as well as a LEGO movie one). I have so many green apples that I welcome the chance to get red ones in more sets, so they’re welcome here.
There are a number of different food items included. The real star in the early pictures were the little Squishee cups, which have a transparent lids (that are attached). They’re quite a bit lighter and thinner than the ones that came with the CMF Apu, but they look just great. Buzz Cola, Krusty O’s, milk, juice, soup, and even diapers (which aren’t really food, I know). You get multiples of all of these except the Green and Purple Squishee cups.
Scattered through the store are also several magazine racks, where we get all kinds of jokes mixed in. We get Mom Monthly, which Marge is reading in the line at the Grocery Store during the opening credits. There’s also Angry Dad (Bart’s Webcomic), the Springfield Shopper (this particular cover story was from an opening sequence for Three Gays of the Condo), a Lego News paper we’ve gotten in other sets. The Springfield Inquisitor (from Homerazzi) is probably one of the more obscure gags in the set, but the cover is certainly a good running joke. The real highlight for me is the inclusion of the “Let’s Bee Friends” valentine’s card from “I Love Lisa,” which is a fantastic episode. The You’re A Pealing card is a valentines card from a different episode, but it’s only funny because they’re monkeys.
This was easily one of the most fun sets I’ve built since the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 set. It had so many little bits of excellent building that it would be fun to put together even if you’re not a big fan of the show. Being a fan just takes the enjoyment and cranks it way up. There’s also a huge variety of parts that are typically somewhat rare or only in certain lines, or new color varieties, or just some great printing. We also have a set that has two sticker sheets that are used to their full potential. That makes this set a very solid five out of five in my book. You get your money’s worth in the set, and there’s enough here that I want to either get another one or wait for the parts to show up across the aftermarket.
What I liked
- Fantastic use of brick-built sections to make up the individual parts of the store
- Stickers are used well in the set, with so many little jokes and Easter Eggs for the Simpsons fan buried both in the stickers and in the build
- Opening of the Kwik-E-Mart with the hinge and pin design works far better than a similar build did in the House set
- It gave me an excuse to binge watch classic Simpsons episodes for three days. Any good licensed set should make you want to go enjoy the stuff the license is based on
What I didn’t like
- My arbitrary limit of only 3-4 bullet points for the “What I Liked” sections of my reviews
- The minifigs are the weakest part here, with only two truly “unique” figures in the set, while two others are just minor art changes. There was a chance to fit even more in here
- The police car really didn’t need to be here (even though it was a better build than the Sedan in the House); the Orange Station Wagon would have been a much better fit in the set
Verdict: Five Stars. This is a fantastic set that makes up for the “eh” nature of the house and packs in a whole bunch of fun features and jokes for any Simpsons fans. You can, and should, go buy 71016 The Kwik-E-Mart right now on LEGO Shop@Home.