LEGO Ideas continues its rich legacy of delivering unique building experiences with 21342 The Insect Collection, an utterly delightful LEGO model that outclasses nearly every other set in this price bracket.
Unless you have a fear of creepy crawlies, The Insect Collection is a deeply satisfying model that blends creature-building with a hint of LEGO Botanicals, all wrapped in a set that’s priced at a very accessible US$79.99 / AU$124.99, making it incredibly accessible for what’s on offer.
Who is this set for? LEGO fans and Insect enthusiasts who want an amazingly fun build experience for a model with superb display presence that won’t break the bank.
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Special thanks to LEGO for sending this set for this review!
21342 The Insect Collection Set Details
Name: The Insect Collection
Set Number: 21342
Pieces: 1,111 pieces
Price: US$79.99 / AU$124.99 / £69.99 / €79.99
Exclusive to: LEGO.com / LEGO Stores
Release Date: 4 September 2023 (LEGO Insiders Early Access)
LEGO Designers: Jordan Scott, LEGO Ideas Design Manager, (@jdezain), and Kirsten Bay Nielsen, LEGO Ideas Graphic Designer
Unboxing and Instruction Manuals
Opening up the box, you’re greeted with these 4 instruction booklets, with each corresponding to the photos of the insect on the front, which allows you to split up the build and share it with 2 other people at the same time.
Oh, and there are no stickers in the set which is something we’re beginning to see as a consistent trend with sets aimed at adults.
The booklet with all 3 insects is a thin one, and contains information on the insects featured, a profile on the set designers, Jordan Scott and Kirsten Bay Nielsen (graphics), as well as a feature on the fan designer hachiroku24, a prolific MOC builder and Youtuber.
In his profile, you can see his original designs for his successful LEGO Ideas submission, which is a nice contrast against the retail LEGO set, which has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis.
I also like the back of the booklets, which have these wireframe blueprints of the insects, and their scientific names.
Each Insect build has 2 components – you start building these small diorama bases, which consist of a thin black octagonal border, a patch of dirt, some foliage and a large piece of bark for each insect to rest on.
These are really enjoyable, will feel familiar for those who are into building sets from LEGO’s Botanical Collection. They also function as LEGO “palate cleansers”, to break up the builds and vary between Insects and bases.
I really like how unique each base is, with each having their own identity, incorporating organic elements that look like small branches, or pieces of bark that you’d expect Insects to climb, crawl and rest on.
Now let’s check out each individual LEGO Insect!
Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho Peleides)
First up, we have a Blue Morpho, a beautiful iridescent blue butterfly that’s native to Central America and northern South America. The colour and distinctive wing shape make for a really attractive and eye-catching model.
I really like the composition of this diorama, with the Blue Morpho proudly displaying its wings, but also balanced out by the presence of a flower blooming from the base.
This is the build that feels most like something you’d encounter in a LEGO Botanical set, and I especially like that you get so many of these new green leaf elements, which first made their appearance in LEGO DreamZzz and Donkey Kong sets.
As a nod to hachiroku24’s original Ideas submission, the Honeybee has been shrunk down so that it’s in scale to the Morpho Butterfly, whose wingspan can measure up to 20cm long!
The Honeybee is really cute, using a bucket handle for its head and antennae, minifigure fairy wings, as well as a decorated Egg element which does a fantastic job at mimicking the shape of a honeybee’s abdomen!
The trans-curved rod also gives it a dynamic sense of movement, as it makes a beeline (sorry), for the delicious nectar in the flower.
Chinese Mantis (Tenodera Sinensis)
Up next we have a sensational build from start to finish – the Chinese Mantis! Praying Mantis are some of the most distinctive and interesting insects, miniature but deadly predators that adopted their nickname from their ability to stay absolutely still and strike quickly with their serrated forelegs.
That and females eating males after mating with them.
The LEGO Mantis was such a joy to build, and features impressive articulation that allows you to pose it in a myriad of ways. The forelegs here cleverly use these lime green ghostly sword blades which look fantastic at mimicking the Chinese Mantis’ serrated legs.
To really bring the mantis to life, LEGO have printed on these round ball elements to give it the Mantis’ signature bulbous compound eyes. These can of course be swiveled around, allowing it to keep an eye on multiple threats or prey at once.
Here’s the Mantis from the back and side.
Winning the award for Nice Part Usage (NPU) is the use of revolves for the tips of its legs! These are recoloured in sand green for the very first time and make for an excellent and accurate-looking element to mimic the Mantis’ pointy legs, with the added bonus of being able to swivel in multiple directions.
LEGO Ideas Design Manager Jordan Scott must be a huge Insect enthusiast, because I really like the inclusion of these spiracles across the side of the Mantis’ abdomen!
And as a nod to the original Ideas submission, three 7-spotted Ladybugs are included in this diorama, munching away on the leaves and organic matter!
These are completely new prints, and a sign that LEGO really prioritised accuracy and adapting hachiroku24’s original design, as this new ladybug looks more realistic and less cartoony, and of course features seven spots on it!
Hercules Beetle (Dynastes Hercules)
And last but not least is the majestic Hercules Beetle, with its magnificent horn making it one of the most recognizable and iconic beetles in the animal kingdom!
The Hercules Beetle is a sensational build from start to finish, and a truly remarkable model that does push the envelope at what’s possible to be created out of relatively common LEGO elements.
I really like these two mushrooms sprouting from the bark, which are not only aesthetically-pleasing but also function to give the beetle a sense of scale, relative to its surroundings.
Oh and the best bit? The Hercules Beetle has elytra (the hard case that protects the hind wings) that can open up, exposing its segmented abdomen AND you can also attach wings to it for an alternate configuration!
It’s s cool and adds another dramatic dimension to the already fantastic Hercules Beetle model, as it deploys its wings and gets ready for lift off!
Here’s a closer look at the Hercules Beetle’s head and thorax which again feature a masterful mix of elements used to give it a convincingly accurate look.
If that’s not enough, there’s another really neat Easter Egg hidden underneath the piece of wood. Two white LEGO Croissants used to represent Hercules Beetle larvae!
So cute and it will probably forever change how you view LEGO croissants now that they’ve officially been used as literal grubs.
For insect and Beetle enthusiasts, I also really appreciated that during the build, you kinda build the Hercules Beetle to mimic its different life cycles, including the pupal stage, which looks so realistic and life-sized!
With the Beetle Larvae, you can pretty much get each Beetle stage, and here’s a quick video I made demonstrating this cool and educational feature!
That said, I prefer the Hercules Beetle in its ground mode without the wings, as it looks much cleaner and more Beetle-esque.
What I liked:
- Great example of LEGO’s Design Team enhancing an already novel Ideas submission
- Sensational build that feels fresh, fun and engaging throughout every stage
- Wonderfully realistic rendition of super-sized bugs
- No stickers and tactical use of printed elements and recolours
- Biome dioramas make for exceptional display presence
What I didn’t like:
- Could use a printed tile with the Insects’ scientific name printed on them
21342 The Insect Collection looks absolutely sublime and is one of the most enjoyable LEGO builds I’ve had the pleasure of building this year.
These have incredible display presence thanks to their little biome dioramas and stands which set them up in attractive poses, and also lend a sense of scale, to these oversized LEGO bugs
The Design Team’s decision to add these stands, and adjust most of the Insects to scale is absolutely the right call which further enhances and transforms the essence of hachiroku24’s original idea of brick-built bugs into a mature and sophisticated model.
As the stands are optional, you can still remove the LEGO Insects and display them on their own, which is closer to hachiroku24’s original design. One of the things you’ll immediately notice is that the LEGO Bugs are absolutely huge – here’s a minifigure next to them for scale.
Their size also lends towards playability, as the articulation allows you to display them and pose them in a myriad of different poses. It’s not only fun, but could have plenty of educational applications too for budding entomologists.
After building them, I couldn’t help but feel like they shared a kinship with 21301 Birds, one of the earliest LEGO Ideas sets from 2014. Putting them side by side just demonstrates just how far LEGO design has come.
This is hands down, one the best LEGO sets at its pricepoint. LEGO fans who have been slugged with high prices will be delighted with the US$79.99 / AU$124.99 pricetag, which I think is incredibly reasonable for such a fun build, and a model brimming with display presence.
When you build these incredible Insects, you’ll encounter the use of familiar and common elements throughout the build, and when you’re finished with each bug, it just cements the notion that you can literally build anything out of LEGO, especially highly detailed accurate renditions of a Chinese Mantis, Hercules Beetle and a Morpho Butterfly.
21342 The Insect Collection has everything you could want from a modern LEGO set, a delightful build, inventive use of elements and a display model that looks greater than the sum of its parts.
The buzz on this set is real, which is why I’m awarding it a rare 5-star score.
Rating and score: 5/5 ★★★★★
Build  – An extremely fun build that feels fresh with plenty of clever parts usage and variety
Real Value  – Really good value and unmatched in its price bracket
Innovation  – Builds upon creature-building, dioramas, the botanical collection and hones it to perfection
Coolness  – I really like bugs, and these are so much fun to display, build and play with.
Keepability  – Really easy set to display, on its own or with similar creature builds or The Botanical Collection.
Thanks so much for reading my review of 21342 The Insect Collection!
Special thanks to LEGO for sending this set over for an early review!
What do you think of the LEGO Ideas Insect Collection? Will you be adding this set to your wishlist or collection?
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