March 7, 2021

RDB-Design

Specialists in home design

It’s always time for adventure with the new LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31116 Safari Wildlife Tree House! [Review] | The Brothers Brick

A couple months ago some marketing material put out by the LEGO Group seemingly, accidentally...

A couple months ago some marketing material put out by the LEGO Group seemingly, accidentally teased an image of an unknown new set. Gasps ensued. An adorable giraffe?! Where can I get that?! Well folks, now it’s here. The new Creator 3-in-1 set 31116 Wildlife Safari Tree House is coming to shelves near you! This kit will be available March 1st, and will retail for US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £29.99. Join us as we don our safari vests and tour this fun new addition to the LEGO Creator line.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.


The box and contents

The colorful box is sure to catch your attention from across the room. The front features the customary picture of the main build alongside smaller images of the alternate models. The back gives you a better look at the play features of all three. It’s clear that the boy isn’t great about staying clear of danger, as he tries to take pictures far too close to the wildlife. Meanwhile, his carefree counterpart is wholly unconcerned.

Included in the box are 4 polybags, the largest of which has a tiny bag inside. Additionally, there are 3 full-page books, one for each model. The main book has a QR code so the builder can use digital instructions if they choose.

A few of the most interesting and less common parts include several sand green sausages/hotdogs, a couple of black twigs (including the extra), the cool new 1x2x1 half-cylinder in light bluish grey, and the excellent printed tile. While the hotdogs came in a handful of sets, the twig and half-cylinder have only been in a few so far. Of course, the beautiful printed tile is unique to this set, but it’s cool enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes a cameo somewhere else.


The main model

Out of the gate, the main build has you putting together the flamingo first. As far as brick-built flamingos go, it’s pretty cute, especially with the heart tile for wings. Second, and most exciting, is the giraffe. If you’re familiar with Toys R Us, you may have exclaimed, “Geoffrey!” and you wouldn’t be alone. It’s the first thing that came to our mind too! This adorable build is one of the best things about the set. It makes particularly great use of the black twig for a tail, the reddish-brown inkwell/nipple element for the horns, and the small truncated cone for feet.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the cactus(?) is the weirdest I’ve ever seen. Perhaps someone in Africa will know exactly what the odd plant is, but if it’s truly a cactus, it’s not the best representation. It’s the only use of hotdogs in the set, which seems like such a strange choice.

Another interesting choice was the use of a black 4×4 turntable tile on the tree trunk. The tree doesn’t turn, and it would likely look more natural and organic with a 4×4 reddish brown plate. On the plus side, this is (surprisingly) the first appearance of the new dark brown 2x4x2 half cylinders.

Arguably most interesting of all was the addition of indoor plumbing to the treehouse. Aside from the literal treehouses of millionaires, how many have you seen with bathrooms? And with so many windows?! I didn’t see any when I went to South Africa, but my partner saw something similar in Zimbabwe. You learn something new every day! I guess I’m just stuck on little backyard treehouses… In any case, they probably could’ve done something a bit cooler here, but at least the half-cylinder makes for a perfect little sink.

Back to back with the bathroom is a great couch for observing the savannah. Here’s where we find that lovely printed tile of a mother and baby elephant under a setting sun. Capping off the slope-textured dark blue roof are a little hornbill and a weather anemometer. The latter makes great use of eye-catching azure inkwells. Throughout, the color choices of the whole build are a little hodge-podge, but it definitely makes for having an interesting parts selection.

When all is said and done, there is a fair quantity of cool leftover parts. Thank goodness for sets containing extras of the small elements! If you treat them like some people treat their pocket change (by putting them into a jar when they empty their pockets) over time you’ll become rich with exciting greebly bits!

Build two

Moving along to the second option in the kit, we take to the air!  It starts with a cute lion, which could actually also pass as a dog. Simple, but nevertheless sweet. The tree and bird are pretty run-of-the-mill, but that’s to be expected. I do appreciate the attempt at a bare-bone carcass of some long-gone herbivore.

The triumph of the second build is certainly the biplane. It’s an excellent alternative use of the pieces from the main model. I love the accent colors, and that the red column elements were used to achieve the illusion of a rounded fuselage. There’s also a seat for a pilot.

At the end of this build, there are naturally a large number of unused pieces. On one hand, you can lean toward saying, “using the extra pieces they should have added that here, or this there,” but on the other hand, it leaves a lot of potential for using your own imagination to add to the model. A hut perhaps? Or more animals? Possibilities abound!

Build three

The final option for this 3-in-1 brings us to the water! Like before, we begin with the wildlife. The “marabou stork” isn’t terribly exciting, but like the lion, the simple crocodile is pretty cute. While birds are one of the most common critters you encounter in the wilderness, it would’ve been nice to see the designers branch out and offer up a hippo or some other cool creature.

As with the plane, the catamaran raft is excellent and a triumph for the set. It’s difficult to choose a favorite between the two, but this one may take the win. Also like the plane, it employs great use of the available pieces. And of the three, it probably has the most appealing color scheme. There’s even a little cubby under the sail to stash your treasures.

Again, in the end, we have a good pile of extra parts. What I find most interesting about these piles are the parts that were exclusively used on the main model. Unique parts such as the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this article. While it gives the builder lots to work with, it feels like a missed opportunity for the designers to do something else interesting.


The minifigures

Yet to be discussed, but not to be forgotten, are the pair of minifigures. One side of their heads shows smiling faces, while the other shows concern on the boy and a laugh on the girl. I imagine them as a pair of siblings, and she thinks his healthy fear of the wildlife is funny. The boy’s turquoise legs have only been seen in a few brand new sets. The rest of their parts are not new, but the torsos would still make a good addition to any collection.


The completed models

Now to reveal the final products! The namesake build is cute, but a bit less exciting than most of TLG’s other treehouse sets. The most interesting parts about it are the pops of color and few unique parts. But where this wins is with the animals. Both the flamingo and giraffe are adorable, but I can see most people buying it simply because of the giraffe.

As previously mentioned, the lion from the first alternative build is cute, but both it and the tree are far from standouts. While the giraffe of the main model pulls you in, the biplane of the second one keeps your attention. It provides a clever departure from the treehouse.

Finally, the second alternate model seals favor with its pontoon raft. The crocodile has the same appeal as the lion, and the bird isn’t worth much mention. But the raft is just as cool as the plane, if not more. As a 7+ set, things aren’t going to be overly complex and intriguing, but there’s enough there to love.


Conclusions and recommendations

So, does the set measure up to others? The treehouse itself may not sit atop the list of best LEGO treehouses, but in its overall presentation, this set has far more hits than misses. If you’re someone looking for a gift for a kiddo in your life, I would definitely recommend it. There is something fun and worthwhile about each of the models, and the array of parts offer lots of potential for imaginative creators. Even as an adult, the colorful, interesting, and useful elements would make this a great parts pack. The price per piece makes it a decent value as well.

Feel free to tell us in the comments what you would do with the extra pieces in each of the photos above! And while you’re here, why not drool over the goliath of LEGO Tree Houses, LEGO Ideas 21318 Treehouse.


LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31116 Wildlife Safari Tree House will be available March 1st and will retail for US $29.99 | CAN $39.99 | UK £29.99.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.