Nearly two years after the Central Perk set was released as a LEGO Ideas product, LEGO has come back with a sequel: The Friends Apartments.
This set will be available on June 1, just a few days after Friends: The Reunion airs on HBOMax on May 27. VIP members will be able to get the Friends Apartments 10292 as early as May 19. It will retail for €149.99 / $149.99 / £134.99.
Much like its predecessor, this LEGO set is styled as a television production set with a live audience so there is no roof and the front is completely open.
Friends Apartments includes two apartments, a hallway, and 7 and half minifigures. A half?! Well, yes… Phoebe’s creepy work of art Gladys has a head, torso, and hair piece. That’s more than Oscar the Grouch has in the Sesame Street set and somehow that garbage can with a ball qualified as a whole minifig to LEGO.
The other 7 minifigures are Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, Joey and oh my God… Janice!
Janice appeared in 19 episodes over 10 years of FRIENDS (and will appear in the reunion show) but she’s really a standout character. Her animal print torso, hair, and her dual facial expressions are so Janice.
Monica, Chandler, Rachel and Joey all look pretty good in LEGO form, each in a very memorable look.
Ross’s face is on point but I’m not sure that the skin-tight leather pants outfit really comes across. If I hadn’t read the tips in the instructions, I wouldn’t have guessed it.
Phoebe is a miss. Over the course of the show, Phoebe’s had a lot of memorable outfits so I’m not sure why the pastel cardigan was the one that the designers went for. Her hairstyle is also rather unremarkable but at least it’s a new piece (hard plastic at that, not that rubbery stuff).
There are three sections in this set: the two apartments (Monica and Rachel’s and Chandler and Joey’s) and a hallway.
These three sections aren’t connected to each other with any clutch power. Instead, they are just slotted together with tile pieces that jut out from each of the apartments which can slide under the hallway section.
The marketing says that you can display all the sections together or as individual apartments. That makes for easier building and transport, I suppose.
For LEGO photographers, it’s convenient to just take the apartment we need for our shot rather than have to find a large shooting area for the entire set.
Like the Central Perk set, each of the area rugs in both apartments are built like a wall and then laid into a recess in the floor.
My favorite mini build is the TV console in Monica and Rachel’s pretty lavender apartment but I had more fun building Chandler and Joey’s ugly beige apartment overall.
I think the details added in that apartment were more related to episodes than there were in the girls’ apartment. The canoe, Pat the Dog, the chick and the duck (for which a white bird and white rooster stand-in), and the milk in the kitchen all triggered memories for me.
One build that didn’t trigger anything was the yellow sofa. I couldn’t recall ever seeing that nor the coffee table in the show at all. Of course, Google proved me wrong.
I might be a fan of the show, and I will tune into the reunion, but this set is not for me. At 25 by 12 inches (64cm by 31cm), it’s just too wide to put anywhere in my home. And short: 4 inches (10cm).
I could separate them as the marketing copy suggests and maybe float one over the other so it looks more substantial together, but that would disconnect the storytelling somewhat.
Nevertheless, I’m sure that the Friends Apartment will be a hit for LEGO especially with the timing of the reunion airing. The price of $149/149€ doesn’t seem too bad considering it’s almost double the bricks of Central Perk. Plus Janice. Janice is priceless.
Behind the Scenes
I was looking for some info about lighting on the actual set and this video popped up at the top of the results:
In the first few seconds of it, the cast is introduced to the live TV audience and immediately I thought that was the shot I was going to do.
At around 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, the gaffer explains that their goal is to get the set uniformly lit. It’s pretty predictable lighting for a sitcom since there is no time to set up different lights for different shots.
I already had a LED panel installed in my studio nook that produces a wide, soft, and even light so I just placed Monica and Rachel’s apartment directly underneath it.
Behind the set, I put up a large black foam core board and tilted it slightly forward so it wouldn’t catch any of the light from the LED panel. If I didn’t tilt it, that light would show up as glare, unnecessarily calling attention to the black background and spoiling the scene.
I added in a front-row audience and some camera operators on either side to create some foreground interest. I also placed a couple of LEGO cords over the set and on the ground to add to the idea that this is a TV production set. Inside the set by the coffee table, I added a workman to suggest that this is all pre-show stuff that’s going on.
I positioned a flag over the audience to block the light from the LED panel and put them more in shadow.
In post, I lowered the exposure of the foreground since studio audiences are generally in the dark and to direct the attention towards the cast.
Shooting the FRIENDS set was fun and definitely a departure from how I typically like to light. So while I am not really a huge fan of the way the set looks, I still enjoyed taking photos of it.