McFarlane (set #12887)
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With the success of McFarlane's The Walking Dead building block sets, they expanded the concept to include more properties. One of those was Cartoon Network's Steven Universe, the coming-of-age story of a young boy who lives with the Crystal Gems and learns about life, love, family, and saving the world on a regular basis. One of the mid-sized sets in the series is #12887, Amethyst with Steven's Kitchen. It contains 120 pieces and a block-style Amethyst figure. The box is bright and colorful, with nice graphics that combine the animation and the actual building set and a window to show the actual figure that is included. Instructions are a full-color stapled booklet, with a small sticker sheet and three cardboard fridge inserts tucked between the pages of it. The stickers are paper, so you won't be able to easily reposition them if you miss when placing them, but they're durable enough for minor adjustments and the printing is sharp and the edges are cut nearly perfectly to fit the parts. The inserts fit into the fridge door perfectly.
This is easily my favorite set of the series. It plays to all of the strengths of both McFarlane and block construction in general, and doesn't rely on stickers or specialty parts to look great. Parts fit was excellent, even the usually difficult vinyl parts went together without much drama.
There was one error in the instruction sheet: when building the first layer of the refrigerator, the instructions tell you to use a matching gray plate for the top of the cooler drawer but no such part exists in the set. Your options are a dark yellow or purple plate. The official McFarlane build demo uses the purple plate for the stove, while the instructions tell you to use the dark yellow for the stove. I chose to follow the instructions, and used the odd purple plate as the fridge shelf.
Several neat details have been included throughout the set, from the pancakes and whip cream on the counter to the stack of Cookie Cats in the freezer. The cabinet doors aren't hinged, but they're made of hollow boxes so you can still use them for storage. There's even a little grate on the floor, a totally unnecessary but neat detail.
Amethyst follows the trend of the rest of the set by being nicely suited to the block aesthetic. She's in a mix of outfits, with the black tank and knee patches of the second but the loose shoulder strap of the first. She's armed with her whip, which fits easily in either hand and can be oriented one of four ways to make the tails look like they're either hanging or flailing. Amethyst moves at the ankles, hips, shoulders, and wrists. All of them are simple cut joints, and while she has another cut joint at the neck her hair negates any movement. She can be disassembled along any of the main vertical joints. These joints all use the same sized studs and sockets, which is the same size as the studs used throughout the rest of the set.
Of the six sets released in McFarlane's first Steven Universe series, this is the strongest. the set looks good and has lots of play functions, and Amethyst's figure translated better than any of the others.
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