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Lego's 2013 Treehouse
on June 30, 2013
Nut-job Lego-loving parent here. Ignore my star rating. I don't get free Lego for these reviews...
This set arrived on the market mid-2013. MSRP is 29.99. It is often wise to cross check with Lego on price and availability.
This is a great set, partly because tree houses have natural playability for kids, partly because it is from the Creator line (see below). I think this is the best Creator set for 2013.
Lego released a Friends theme tree house #3065 in 2012 that was a great set and, I believe, one that sold well. It was also a great price at 19.99. This set, 31010, costs a little bit more, adds a larger structure and has a more gender neutral color scheme. As a Creator set, 31010 has directions for three models (you build one at a time): the tree house, a waterside building with a small dock, and a two story barn-like structure. The set includes one mini-figure (a boy) with a walkie talkie, a frog, treasure map, and pizza. The tree house features a folding ladder (very nifty design), a tipper with "water" in it, winch with hook and trash-can, telescope, clubhouse with attic and lift-off top, bed, a hidden compartment (in the tree) for the treasure map, a brick-built wagon, and a brick-built dog. The waterside structure has a small oven with a lift-off top. The little barn features the winch.
I think most kids will stick with the tree house design as it has the most going on. Play-wise, this set works well with a wide range of Lego's other themes. It is mini-figure size, unlike some of the other Creator sets. The set makes a great gift because if the child does not like it, they have the ability to make a wide range of other structures. At the very least, it is a good collection of very useful bricks.
This is Lego's second Creator structure for 2013. The first was #31009 which is less expensive, but probably not as much fun. The third structure is #31012 which I also like very much but it is substantially more expensive at 69.99 MSRP. I also recommend #5766 which came out in 2011, is a favorite with kids, and is still available as I write this.
Creator sets are made primarily out of general-use bricks and come with instructions for multiple builds. This is closer to how Lego was when I was a child, and it encourages kids to rebuild the structures either as the other designs or their own. The Creator sets, however, use more ingenious building techniques than what Lego offered decades ago. These are really marvels of miniature design. Set 31010 has many good bricks including plates, angled pieces (many in brown, a more useful color than you might think), and four windows.
Finally, at the risk of sounding like a shill for Lego, the Creator section of the Lego website has a nice collection of short videos that feature their own designers explaining advanced building techniques. These videos mesh nicely with this set.