After a seven-year hiatus, LEGO has come out with an all-new Mindstorms system. We took a look at the new 51515 Robot Inventor set last week, but when it went on sale yesterday via LEGO’s website and stores, it also included a matching gift with purchase. 40413 Mini Robots is available with any order over US $100 | CA $100 | UK £100 and includes 366 pieces. The promo runs until Nov. 1 or while supplies last. The set builds tiny versions of the five robots from the full-size Robot Inventor Mindstorms kit to let everyone get a piece of the new Mindstorms, whether you intend to plunk down $360 for the big kit or not.
The box and contents
At 366 pieces, this is a hefty kit to get as a freebie. The box is about the size of a $20 kit and hinged to open. Like the main Robot Inventor set, it’s got a strong purple and teal color scheme that makes it stand out.
The 366 pieces inside are divvied among five bags, though the bags are unnumbered and are sorted by part type rather than corresponding to the five robots. It would have been nice if you could choose to build each of the five robots in any order by opening a single bag at a time. Thankfully though the box serves as a handy container to dump all the pieces into while you build.
The single instruction manual is a perfect-bound booklet–quite a rarity for a set of this size. The thick 112-page guide is a welcome surprise in a free set. Crack it open and you’ll dive straight into building the robots one at a time. Sadly, the set contains no references whatsoever to the robots’ names, which we know from the big set are Charlie, Tricky, Blast, M.V.P., and Gelo.
We start off with Blast, a bipedal humanoid robot armed with a firing blaster. Here in the mini version, the big, two-cylinder dart-shooter is swapped for a smaller Star Wars-style dart launcher, though a spare dart is included. Blast’s four limbs and head are all poseable. Sadly, he’s missing the outboard wheels on his legs that the big version sports, but otherwise is a decent facsimile of his larger kin.
Moving we have Charlie, which in our review of the big version we called a “chubby little dancing bot with a treasure-chest belly.” Despite its minuscule size, Charlie packs a lot of personality and reminds me a bit of Rosie, the Jetson’s robot maid. Charlie’s stomach opens to display a pink 1×1 heart tile, and as I was building it, the torso gave off distinct vibes of the Companion Cube from Portal. The arms, head, and lower jaw are all poseable.
Up next is Gelo, a precocious quadrupedal robot dog that’s more than a bit reminiscent of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot. Each of the four legs has only a single point of articulation at the hip, which is actually pretty spot on to the big one, which hobbles along rather than seamlessly strides between footsteps. Gelo, more than any other robot here, looks ready to drop into your futuristic LEGO city to accompany the police state in monitoring the populace. It did throw me for a loop when building it that the front and rear legs have different attachment points–I’m brave enough to admit that it took me more than one try to get them all correct after screwing them up first one way then another.
Now it’s time to play sports ball with Tricky. A glorified forklift, Tricky is a little wheeled vehicle with a huge set of prongs to capture and fling the ball. In the big version, Tricky can aim and kick a ball into a goal, but here the process is a good deal more manual. The Technic frame that attaches at the car’s back and extends to the big forks in front is just a simple hinged mechanism, so any movement is left entirely up to you. I feel an opportunity was missed here to include some sort of rudimentary catapult or spring-loaded system. The ball is a red Zamor sphere that originally hails from Bionicle and has been in red in about a dozen sets before but isn’t especially common.
And finally, we have the M.V.P. It’s not actually the best (that’s Gelo, in my opinion) but when you name a robot M.V.P. you expect great things. And actually, M.V.P. is a fun build. It’s a simple vehicle platform equipped with a crane. The arm doesn’t have the extending capabilities of its big brother, but it is fun to snake around. And I was pleased to discover that the design is modular. The crane module can be removed and replaced with a stud-shooter module, in case Gelo needs some law enforcement backup, as the shooter module gives M.V.P. the distinct look of a riot suppression robot.
Once you’ve assembled your crack team of teal-and-white robots, you’ll have a nice fleet of AI-powered machines to fill out your LEGO city or ornament your desk. While the play features may be relatively limited, that doesn’t distract much from the clean aesthetic lent by the slick color scheme, or the fact that you’ve got fun microscale versions of the latest Mindstorms kit. If only we could get LEGO to include microscale versions of every big set with the purchase!
And at the end of the day when you’re ready to pack up, all five robots and the instruction manual pack neatly back into the box with no disassembly, making them the perfect road trip or coffee date accompaniment.
Conclusion and recommendation
On one hand, it’s hard not to recommend a set that’s included for free when you’re buying other things. But at the same time, not all gift-with-purchase sets are created equal, and some of them are worthy only of being relegated to the parts bins. And while it’s doubtful many LEGO fans will be buying $100 worth of LEGO solely to get this set, it’s a solid enough set that most people will be pleasantly pleased with this freebie, even if they have no intention of getting the $360 Robot Inventor kit. And with 366 pieces, it’s a great parts pack, especially accounting for the narrow color scheme (only about a dozen pieces are not white, teal, black, or light/dark grey).
For the next few days, through Oct. 20, LEGO is also running double VIP points on all purchases, which does stack with this freebie.
40413 Mini Robots includes 366 pieces and is available now until Nov. 1 (or while supplies last) from the LEGO website with any order over US $100 | CA $100 | UK £100. It may also be available on the secondary market from sellers on Amazon and eBay.
Don’t miss our review of the new full-size LEGO Mindstorms 51515 Robot Inventor set this one is based on.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products guarantees neither coverage nor a positive review.