There are several reasons why one would choose brands other than LEGO. The first is affordability and the second is the variety of themes. Take for example this set from JMBricklayer called The Puppet Show (70002). It is an example of a theme that LEGO is too busy to cover. The particular set is inspired by the world-famous fairytale character, the wooden marionette Pinocchio. Thankfully, it is not based on the original literature’s description; it is an adorable take with an appearance more in line with most people’s perception of a boy. And yes, it is super adorable. Even more so when you see it in person.
The JMBricklayer The Puppet Show 70002 Building Set is a LEGO-compatible building set from the JMBricklayer Fantastic Idea series. It packs 1,900 elements and features a handful of mold to bring the puppet to life without it looking too blocky. The set’s main character, Pinocchio, is accompanied by a diorama base of a workbench with the character seated on what appears to be a chest.
On the flip side, this “chest” is actually a mini puppet stage or castelet, complete with brick-built curtains, a miniature Pinocchio, and other decorations. The “workbench”, on the stage diorama side, is actually a functional drawer which is super cool. But it is not without caveats. More on that in a while.
As before, it comes in a simple printed carton box with tab closure, secured by tape. Fronting the box is a beautiful final product image against a black background reminiscent of LEGO UCS packaging. Also printed on the box is JMBricklayer’s branding, as well as the toy’s brand, along with the SKU number, the number of pieces, and also recommended age.
JMBricklayer is the distributor, or publisher if you will of the toy for markets outside of China. The toy manufacturer and design of the set is Wekki. There is some other information on the brand and contact details printed on one side and on the back of the box. It is worth noting that the carton quality is not exactly the best and I’d say it is not quite targeted at box collectors.
The set contains 1,900 pieces divided into 5 sections and in 9 individual packaging. Unlike other LEGO-compatible brands, Wekki paid attention to even the individual packaging. Each of the 9 individually numbered bags is half opaque, featuring print a cute mascot with a speech bubble that says “start working” along with the Wekki slogan “move bricks during the day, dreamers at night.” For the benefit of those who don’t know, “move bricks” is a reference to working-class people working.
In addition to the 5 sections with 9 individual baggies, it has two other unnumbered plastic baggies. A small bag that contains the light-up element and a big bag with special molded parts, including the face, hands, and hat. As before a brick separator and 97-page booklet that includes the build instructions as well as contacts for reaching out if you have issues with the set. There is no overview of the build, and neither is there a backstory. Then again, this little guy needs no introduction anyway.
Also included is a sticker sheet but because it is packed among the plastic baggies, it got folded in one corner but that irons out when applied on the model. Personally, I won’t lose any sleep over it. Though it would help if it is slipped inside the instruction booklet, or in the plastic bag with the instruction booklet.
The instruction is presented in a 97-page perfect bound booklet. It is professionally laid out. As before, the illustrations are great too. Like the two previous sets we have reviewed, JMBricklayer does not save on the printing quality and the paper. The printing is clear and precise. Where it needs to flip around or rotate, it has a symbol to let you know.
Again, it one up LEGO by having only the parts that matter in the specific step in color. In other words, elements from previous steps are dimmed out (but with colors still discernable), making it easy to see where each element for the step goes. Thank goodness you do not have to refer to the previous step on where that 1×1 plate goes. It may sound rather insignificant but it is less taxing on the eyes.
Another eye-stress reliever is it actually labels the plate type, such as 2×8, so inexperienced builders need not count the studs. This also applies to the studless plates, which takes the guesswork out of the build. It is a small but nice touch. Where in the build that requires special attention, it is spelled out in English to make sure you do it right. The color separation is no different from LEGO, though as it usually does; I do need a bit of context to make sure I am taking the correct shade of gray.
I don’t believe I have encountered a part representation mistake like the Chameleon and T-rex set. Finally, it does not part glossary like the previous set. It would be nice to have it so you can identify replacement parts easily if the situation calls for it. Then again, this is understandable as the brand has yet to establish the parts SKU.
The Build Time
It took me a little over 7 hours (or 7 hours 11 minutes and 21 seconds, to be precise) to complete. The build is smooth and almost complication-free. Almost. More on that in a bit.
Unlike our previous reviews, the quality of the individual elements is not quite up there. In addition to some pieces having a super obvious ‘dot’ that is left over by the plastic injection molding, not all pieces click as they should and there is some warping of plates too. The latter only occurs on the large golden plates in the early part of the workbench section build. It soon self-rectifys as more bricks and plates are added. However, not going to lie. It triggers the OCD in me. I almost wanted to forcibly bend it the opposite way. Ugh. I am glad it worked out fine and did not affect the final build.
Another thing I noticed about the quality which I never noticed in the previous sets is the tolerance between bricks. It does not appear to be consistent. Some gaps appear to be larger. This is especially annoying if it is a single stud as it would have a free play that would trigger the OCD in me and spend some time trying to get it as straight and aligned as possible. But wouldn’t say it is a deal breaker but something to note.
Those aside, the pieces feel quite the same as LEGO’s most of the time. The colors for this set though appear to be brighter but it is perfect for this theme. There’s no discoloration among the same color elements or anything like that.
There is one single light-up element and it is something we have not seen before. It is a light-up bar with studs. It served as a stage light on the diorama.
The set boasts a number of printed elements and is divided into two parts. The first part is the puppet itself and the second part is the base which is a workbench/mini theater stage. It is nice that the details of the suspenders, the brick-built bow tie, shirt, pants, shoes, and ears, all have printed details instead of decals. There are not a lot of decals. There is one of the book cover, the open book, the ink bottle label, the clock, and the pocket watch.
As I mentioned in my intro, thankfully it isn’t based on the original literature. It would be far from adorable. This interpretation is closer to Disney’s 1940 iteration but more adorable. The joints are intentionally loose because, after all, it is a marionette and it is designed to be manipulated with strings. Speaking of which, the build does include a buildable cross brace and includes some string to let you control it like an actual puppet.
Save for the head which is rigid, the limbs are loose like a puppet should be. If you pick it up, hold it by the body, and shake it a little, the arms and arms will flop around just like an actual would. That said, it will not be able to stand up on its own, even if you plant the feet on a studded plate. It is also worth noting this build is top-heavy. The head is heavy and would require special attention if you need to move the set. Let me explain.
You see, the completed puppet attaches to the workbench via three points: a vertical fork system (pictured above) on its butt and the chest, and two studs, one on each foot, clicked onto the workbench. They are not the most secure, IMHO. The heavy head creates a CG that would disconnect all three points and fall off. I learned it the hard way but at the same time, I also learned that that head had an incredibly solid build. The puppet fell from abdomen level with the feet and arms dislodged but the head and the body remained in one solid piece. Props for the solid design.
The workbench/stage is a nice touch but it is a double-edged sword. Hear me out. There are two sides. Obviously, under normal display circumstances i.e. on a shelf, you’d display with Pinocchio facing outside. This means, the mini theater that has the light-up function will not be seen which is kind of a waste. However, if you display on say, an island display, that would be a non-issue. That said, I thought this set could benefit from a rotating base. Even better, a motorized one.
Ignoring the fact that it will not be seen often or even at all, the mini theater is really a nice touch and a homage to the Geppetto’s creation. The castelet is complete with LED light, brick-built curtains, a miniature puppet, and a bunch of decorations, including a fish bowl with a goldfish element. We love the attention to detail. There is a “life-size” brick-built pocket watch to the side. It is a shame that we will not see this often, or even at all cos it has so many interesting details.
Completing the mini puppet stage is a functional drawer that you can use to store small items. Unfortunately, because it is on the “dark side” of the set, you probably will not utilize it. On the flip side where Pinocchio sits, it is spruced with an open book with a candle on top, a bottle of ink with a brush in it, and a loose brush on the bench. This side of the set is complete with a Pinocchio nameplate on a golden scroll-like brick-built banner that gives it a fairytale grandeur. Those are not it. Completing the diorama are a cuckoo clock and a Pinocchio novel, flanking the sides of the workbench.
There is no real major challenge. The build is smooth, fun, and complication-free. Well, almost. Our package arrived with two same side hands. The hands are special molded parts and each hand is made up of two halves. One of the halves of the right hand was a repeat of the left. So we have put in our request for a replacement which I did and JMBricklayer was quick to respond. A replacement part was promptly sent out. In fact, it is not just one. JMBricklayer has supplied us with both hands just in case we got it wrong about which side was missing. Kudos for that.
I have no complaints about JMBricklayer Fantastic Idea The Puppet Show 70002 building other than those that we have picked out. But if I have picked a major con, that would be the mini castelet. It would be nice to have a rotating base like the LEGO Batmobile (76139) set, so you can truly admire the set. Also, it would be nice if the feet were attached to the workbench base with friction pins instead of just studs. We love the idea that it does come with a cross brace for manipulating the puppet which makes the set more than just a build and display set.
• Very solid build
• Super fun to build
• A functional diorama (a double edge sword, really)
• Many molded parts, including the face!
• It really needs a rotating base
• Feet attached on workbench not secure enough
The JMBricklayer Fantastic Idea The Puppet Show 70002 is now available via Amazon.com and the JMBricklayer website for US$109.99. But for a limited time, you can enjoy a 15% discount on a non-discounted The Puppet Show 70002 building set if you check out with the coupon code VIPMISH15. Please note that the validity period for the discount is ONE month on Amazon.com. The set is recommended for ages 14 and up.
There is more good news. From now until December 31, 2023, if you use the coupon code VIPMIKE15, it will apply a 15% discount on all non-discounted JMBricklayer products on JMBricklayer.com. This code is valid until December 31, 2023.
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All images by Mike for Mikeshouts.com.