Next from The LEGO Group’s VP of Design Matthew Ashton is the 974-piece modern loft used by the cast of Netflix’s Emmy-award-winning reality show, Queer Eye.
I’m a fan of both the ground-breaking Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and this reboot, which dropped the rhyme and became simply Queer Eye to allow for “heroes”, or guests, of all types.
I’ve watched more of the former than the latter but each time I watch an episode, often with my young son, I laugh a little and I tear up a little. It’s truly one of the few shows that leaves you hopeful and feeling good.
The Queer Eye Fab 5 Loft is also the first set The LEGO Group has created that features real people, not fictional characters, so representing the Fab 5 in LEGO form had to be spot on. And it is! Let’s get right into it…
CORRECTION: The Women of NASA was the first set featuring real people.
Each of the minifigs in this set is instantly recognizable: Bobby with the leafy pattern shirt, Karamo with his bomber jacket, Jonathan with his long hair and groomed facial hair, Antoni with the neckerchief, and Tan with the silvery hair.
My favorite person on the show is Jonathan Van Ness because he’s just hilarious and upbeat. I watched his Game of Thrones recap parody web series, Gay of Thrones, so I knew he was just going to be amazing in Queer Eye. He looks great as a minifigure and his expressions are so fun!
His dual-molded legs have a print of high heels on the sides, which may be another first for a LEGO minifigure. (I don’t count Unikitty as a minifigure even though she came in a CMF series.)
All the other cast members look great as minifigs and I imagine they must be thrilled to be captured so well by the designers. My one gripe about the minifigs is that Tan’s awesome hair doesn’t fully cover the alternate expression on the back. I mean, I guess it could be a fade?
On Tan’s clothing rack are three torsos that are alternates for Karamo, Jonathan, and Antoni. But of course, you can put them on any minifig you want! You should probably take the hands out of the torsos before putting them on the rack, unlike what I did here. Creepy.
The set also includes before-and-after minifig versions of one of the show’s special heroes, Jonathan’s old teacher Kathi Dooley.
It’s pretty unusual to have two distinct minifigs for a guest on a show but I suppose LEGO included them so the transformation chamber play feature could be used.
Of the 974 pieces in this set, 85 are white 1×2 masonry bricks and 102 are light bley which make up the walls of the loft. That means a lot of stacking but the effect is great and there’s enough building variety in the other parts of the set to mitigate that redundancy.
Bobby collaborated on the design of the LEGO set and designed the actual loft in Atlanta as well, so if there is an expert in the room, it’s him. Of course, the LEGO set is not a scale model, and areas were added to represent the 5 areas of the cast’s expertise.
The kitchen looks really great with the large island and the hobs printed on black tiles. Behind the island is a counter which is made up of 2x2x2 container boxes and drawers that are new recolors: all black, of course.
There’s a fun espresso machine with a sticker and the “Yaaas Queen” print on the wall. I thought that expression originated with Ilana Glazer on Broad City but I schooled myself after I put the sticker on the tile and found it goes much further back:
The fridge opens to reveal some stickered food items, which are 1×2 SNOT bricks that hold the white tiles on the right side of the mini build. The fridge sits on jumper plates so it’s easy to take out of the set and open the door.
The other large area in the loft is the living room where the Fab 5 watch the heroes use their new knowledge on their own. It features a large removable carpet like in The Friends Apartments 10292 set but is mostly covered in tile.
The lamp was a fun little build as was the black armchair. I’m not a fan of loose furniture like the coffee table though. The legs are corner tiles so there’s no way to secure them to the set.
Beside the living room is another area with the “Style Taste Class” neon sign, a vitrine, and a very large plant.
There’s also the Fab 5 brushstroke artwork on the other wall.
Behind Jonathan’s salon, there’s an accessory area with shelves of pants and hair pieces as well as the back entrance to the transformation chamber.
I’m pretty sure the dark brown hair is meant to change Jonathan into his different looks: a man-bun for when he’s working on someone else’s hair, for example.
As with the other sets based on TV series or movies, the Queer Eye loft is a no-brainer if you are a big fan of the show. There are a lot of Easter Eggs in here and the minifigs are on point.
The feel-good nature of the show translates into the minifigs in particular.
I really appreciate that the alternate torso designs can be used for any minifig since there’s no “skin” in the designs. I also like that Jonathan’s legs are printed on the side with the high heels!
I rather like the ultra-modern look of the set: it’s a welcome departure from the apartment-type sets we’ve seen. There’s a nice depth to it with the kitchen behind the living room. Even though it’s deep, it’s easy enough to get to the kitchen because the living room set can just be lifted out.
The transformation chamber was a fun little play feature that I didn’t expect for a set targeted at AFOLs. It’s also discreet, so if you weren’t interested in playing, there’s no harm to the look of the set.
On that note, I think it’s unfortunate that this set has the 18+ label when the show itself is 7+. The subject matter as well as the build is entirely appropriate for younger audiences.
I give the set a 10/10.
Queer Eye The Fab 5 Loft 10291 will be available on October 1 for £89.99 / $99.99 / €99.99.
Behind the Scenes
So the Queer Eye set isn’t a studio set like the Friends Apartments or Seinfeld, so I dispensed with the flat sitcom lighting and went for something more real-looking, like sunlight streaming in through the kitchen window.
You can see that in the featured image and the kitchen details shots.
Here’s the same setup for this portrait of Jonathan working Kathi Dooley’s before look:
To get light streaming through the window, I just placed a flash outside of it, to simulate the sun. I used a flash and mixed it with the ambient light.
I exposed for what I thought the room should look like without flash, which was a shutter speed of 1/10 at f/5.6 in this situation. Then I just added the flash at a low power outside the window to send in some directional light.
For me, whenever there is an opportunity to light a window, I use it. Light always adds more interest and depth to a scene.
This is easier to do with flash than with continuous lights because I don’t have to consider the shutter speed when lighting the subject. If I did this with a LED panel or other continuous light source, I would have to balance the camera settings and light intensity/distance because light would build up equally over the exposure time.
I know this sounds strange if you have never worked with flash before, but shutter speed doesn’t affect flash exposure. You basically have a fourth setting when working with flash in addition to the camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings.
Here’s more info about that if you are curious:
I hope that tip helps you out! Always try to light windows or other obvious light sources in your scene (fireplaces, candles, etc) to make your photo more alive.