How LEGO Ideas Sonic The Hedgehog differs from the original concept
It’s a good time to be both a LEGO fan and a video game fan.
Over the past couple of years, LEGO has leaned more into video game franchises as it increasingly offers lines aimed at adults rather than kids. We have had Monitoring LEGO, Mario-themed LEGO, a brick-built NES, and now we have a Sonic the Hedgehog LEGO set.
LEGO 21331 Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone is a product of LEGO Ideas, a scheme in which budding set designers can create their own LEGO concepts. They are then opened for public voting and, upon reaching 10,000 votes, a panel of LEGO employees will consider them for commercial production.
Few sets are made from LEGO Ideas submissions; typically, a semester exam will contain between 30 and 50 sets. It is unusual for more than two or three of these sets to be selected for production. And of course, out of thousands of sets uploaded to the LEGO Ideas set, only a handful will ever reach 10,000 votes.
But Sonic Mania – Green Hill Zone did. Submitted to LEGO Ideas in February 2019 by user toastergrl, it took until March 2020 to amass 10,000 views. And it was a year later in February 2021 that it was approved by LEGO for production. Almost a year later, here we are, and the toastergrl set is available on store shelves. Like all LEGO Ideas sets, however, it has undergone some modifications; a team of LEGO experts worked with the original design to create a set suitable for production. But what exactly has changed?
Unusually, the final set contains more parts than the original toastergrl submission. The LEGO Ideas page cites around 700 pieces, while the retail set has 1,125. There are also some significant changes to the characters included in the retail set. While the LEGO Ideas submission includes “Heavy Gunner” and “Heavy Magician” brick-built minifigures, these were dropped from the final set. Perhaps they were deemed not iconic enough, or perhaps an unnecessary addition. In their place we instead have a crab, synonymous with Sonic’s Green Hill Zone levels that the set emulates. They are accompanied by Dr. Robotnik and a Motobug, both of which were featured in the original submission.
The design of Dr. Robotnik – or Eggman – has changed somewhat, however. The finished construction of him gives him a rounder shape, with unique molded hands. The biggest change, however, is in his craft. The LEGO Ideas submission sees him in a walking robot costume, while the finished model places him in his “Eggmobile”. Both are equally iconic, at least.
The finished LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog set also refines the Green Hill Zone layout a bit. The key elements remain the same: there is a palm tree, a red spring, a bridge and a loop-of-loop. But LEGO designers have reworked the designs to make each element more visible. More brown “pixels” have been added (probably where the number of extra bricks comes in) to more effectively recreate the look of the video game. The way the pieces fit together has also been reworked, creating a more uniform track for Sonic.
There’s no denying that the finished piece is a more refined version of what toastergrl created, although it still retains its original concept and ideas. Adding more details, like gold rings, a checkpoint, a “lives” marker and an extra TV, makes this an even more detailed depiction of the game. It’s a shame some details were lost , like the Flickies, but overall the final set is a delightful tribute to SEGA’s most beloved video game character.