Lego’s Sonic The Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Set Is A Love Letter To The Old Blue Blur

Lego’s Sonic The Hedgehog Green Hill Zone Set Is A Love Letter To The Old Blue Blur

Sonic the Hedgehog has just turned 31, so presumably, his back and knees ache when the weather changes. It also means that now is the perfect time to look back on his legacy with nostalgic wonder.

That’s the theme of this latest Lego Ideas set, which recreates a scene from the iconic Green Hill Zone level in the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, which first launched back in 1991, a simpler time when hedgehogs presumably looked and behaved very differently to how they do now.

The Lego Ideas program truly makes some of the best Lego sets around, using popular community designs that are then massaged into an official set by professional designers after going through a voting process and getting final approval. The Ideas Piano from 2020 (designed by a bloke from Sydney) is one of the most exquisite and detailed Lego sets I’ve ever built. I can’t speak highly enough of the Typewriter, Dinosaur Fossils, Birds, Wall-E, Maze, Apollo Saturn V, Old Fishing Store, Ship in a Bottle, and oh god I’ve spent too much money on Lego. They’re also a dumping ground for slightly lazy licenced sets, like The Big Bang Theory apartment and the world’s saddest TARDIS. So, going into this Sonic set my hopes were simultaneously extremely high and a touch low.

Lego Sonic instructions
The first page of the instruction booklet. Photo: Alice Clarke

The first thing that hit me upon opening the box and unpacking the set was just how adorable the instructions are. A lot of love and care clearly went into it from genuine Sonic fans. The instruction booklet had a vibe closer to that of a smaller Architecture set, filled with fun facts and details for both newcomers and nerds. It’s not quite as detailed as some of the other incredible Ideas sets listed above, but it’s also smaller and less expensive, so it strikes an appropriate balance.

Finished product from bag 1 of Lego Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone
Bag one. Photo: Alice Clarke

Bag one starts with the basics: a stand for the Sonic minifigure to be displayed on, a brick-built figure of Crabmeat, and a palm tree on a platform. The blocky style really works, because it matches the textures of the original level so well. It’s made up of simple building techniques, broken into small parts, which makes the build appropriate for young and old Sonic fans. It also means you don’t need a large table to build it on, and would get away with using an Ikea tray on the couch.

Bag two. Photo: Alice Clarke

Bag two is where things get a bit more Sonicy, with a bridge over some trans-blue water. Here, the 8-bit style is really cemented with the contrasting shades of brown to recreate the aesthetic of the original level. Once again, it uses lots of parts in simple styles to make a cohesive model.

Bag three. Photo: Alice Clarke

In bag three the circular ramp is built. It’s instantly iconic and recognisable, and though there’s surprisingly few studs on the inside on which the Sonic minifigure can be displayed, they’re easy to mod in, should you desire it.

Bag three, though, is also where my least favourite element of the set comes in: stickers. There are a bunch of new parts for this set, like the 1×4 printed tiles with pixelated grass pattern, 2×2 dome with Dr Eggman’s glasses, the figure of Sonic himself, and some other recoloured parts. But Lego clearly decided against special printing of all the parts, so we’re stuck with stickers. Two sticker sheets’ worth, to be exact.

On the 2×2 wedges, the use of stickers makes sense, because it’s impossible to get that brick pattern in that shape without them. But the 2×6 bricks for the outside of the ramps just seems lazy. The set is already full of 1×1 plates to make up textures in the base, there’s no reason why they couldn’t have been used in these sections instead of stickers. Turning them into bricks, each requiring three stickers, is just plain irritating. Perhaps it was to keep the part count down, perhaps it was for structural integrity reasons, either way I don’t like it. And no, I did not get the stickers straight. The rest of the bag is fun, though.

Bag four. Photo: Alice Clarke

Bag four is a bit more adorable and technical: building a flower, a Moto Bug, and a little platform from which Sonic can be launched to collect rings, or just to shoot small objects into the air while you laugh maniacally, which is mostly what I used it for. The launcher uses a little rocker switch hidden in a hedge. It’s simple, but lovely.

Bag five. Photo: Alice Clarke

Bag five adds rings and smaller details into the mix, including item boxes that contain an extra life, Speed Shoes and Blue Shield, plus a save point and life counter. It’s what takes the build from looking kind of OK, to earning a proper display spot on any gamer’s Lego shelf.

One highlight of this part is a little Easter egg sticker of high scores, which I won’t spoil, but did enjoy. (It’s not as cool as that makes it sound, but I thought it was neat.)

What even is this face? Photo: Alice Clarke

Bag six is where you can tell fan designer, Viv Grannell, really freaking loves Dr Eggman. This whole bag is dedicated to making a brick-built Dr Eggman in an Eggmobile. It’s utterly glorious, and the build techniques are genius. This is the part that all the work seems to have gone into.

The brick-built body is beautifully designed, but the face is a mess. Nowhere near as good as the face in Viv’s original submission. It doesn’t ruin it by any means, however to go from such excellent building to the least impressive face (it looks like his head is being split open by a slice of watermelon pushed from behind, and his eyes are on his forehead) is a slight letdown.

Each stage of the build comes with an emerald to add to Sonic’s stand, which is a really nice touch to mark your progress.

As it is technically an 18+ set, it’s more designed for display rather than play, but there are very few parts that, say, a 7-year-old would struggle with and I think there’s a lot of play value here. I appreciate that the set has more display value than the set originally put up for vote on the Ideas website, the proposed model and the finished set have few structural elements in common. Fans who want to expand or play with it more might be tempted to buy another set and build the alternative modular parts Viv suggested on Twitter.

Overall, this set is fine. Sonic fans will love it, Lego fans might want to take a beat before committing, however. The $119.99 price tag feels a bit high, as it builds and looks more like an $80 set. Yes, the 1125 piece count and licenced elements would normally mean a price of around 10c a piece would be good value, but so many pieces were small and generic, and aside from Dr Eggman, it’s not exactly the most thrilling build. To paraphrase 10 Things I Hate About You, we must be in Europe, because I am simply whelmed by Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone. It’s in a category closer to the Friends Ideas set, than it is to the Lego Super Nintendo set. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, it just means that if you want to get it, you may as well wait until Myer has a 20% off sale, or Lego offers double points to pick it up.

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