Many popular film and television series have found themselves adapted into LEGO models and minifigures nowadays. The first licensed theme was 1999’s LEGO Star Wars, and during its 25th season, we finally got LEGO versions of Fox’s long-running, animated sitcom, The Simpsons. The initial release included one set, 71006 The Simpsons House, and a lineup of 16 collectible minifigures based on the show’s primary characters. The minifigures had non-standard, custom-molded heads to better represent their likenesses from the show, and sold quite well at retail to both LEGO fans and Simpsons fans in general. The show even aired a unique episode, entitled Brick Like Me, wherein the characters and scenes were all depicted using LEGO elements. (As an aside, I would highly recommend that episode to any LEGO fan, even if you don’t watch The Simpsons anymore — it is episode 20 of season 25) Overall, the timing was a bit curious since the LEGO Simpsons products were released during the TV show’s twilight years, but nonetheless there has been consumer interest in the product line. After two years now, The Simpsons license agreement with The LEGO Group will be ending soon and that signals potential retirement for two interesting, exclusive sets.
LEGO 71006 The Simpsons House
LEGO 71006 The Simpsons House is a somewhat-accurate representation of the family house from the show and was released in February 2014. It is somewhat-accurate in the sense that it looks like the house from the exterior, but the arrangement of the interior rooms has been changed to accommodate the LEGO model. This model is quite large — comparable to a modular building, though wider and shorter — and it features a hinged design that allows it to be easily opened to display the inside. The house includes a detachable garage and the classic pink Simpsons family sedan parked inside. 2523 pieces are in the box, including some exotic colors such as bright orange, pink, light blue, and purple. Six minifigures are present: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and Ned Flanders. None of the minifigures are truly unique, they are just different prints of some of the Simpsons Series 1 Collectible Minifigures and they have attracted some criticism for their strange “half-closed” eyes. Overall, the piece count and variety is quite good but the minifigure inclusions are nothing special.
LEGO 71016 Kwik-E-Mart was released in May 2015 and depicts the famous convenience store from the TV series. The model is quite well designed, faithful to the store from the show, and features countless references to products and moments from various episodes. Squishees, Buzz Cola, and the frozen ice man (Jasper) are all present among many other humorous references. There are 2179 pieces included to construct the Kwik-E-Mart itself and Chief Wiggum’s police cruiser, with perhaps the most noteworthy piece being a custom-molded part to depict a Squishee cup complete with the lid and straw. (A Squishee cup had been included with Apu in the series 1 minifigures, but it was simply a coffee cup piece with Squishee printed on the side — the Kwik-E-Mart includes an entirely new, highly detailed and accurate cup.) Of the six included minifigures, three are Simpsons family members — Bart, Homer, and Marge — and the other three are Apu, Chief Wiggum, and the career-criminal named Snake Jailbird. Bart, Homer and Marge are nothing new, Chief Wiggum is a different print from his earlier release in the series 1 minifigures (he has doughnut frosting printed on his face and shirt), and Apu has the same head as his series 1 minifigure but he is wearing a work uniform with a custom printed torso piece. The real story here though is Snake, as he is completely new and exclusive to the set. Overall, the grocery store item pieces, and one of the six minifigures, are excellent inclusions to a well-designed, accurate set.
Which of the two LEGO Simpsons exclusives are worth buying, if any? There has been some pessimism about this theme because of the deteriorating quality of the television show, but I would caution against weighing that too heavily. The Simpsons was considered excellent in its early years and created lifelong fans who will always love the show even if they do not watch the new episodes regularly. A more important factor to consider is your region: The Simpsons was and is more popular in North America than in Europe, for example. Which of these sets is more investable or collectible though? It has to be 71016 Kwik-E-Mart. It hasn’t been out for as long and it contains an exclusive minifigure whereas the house does not. That said, 71006 The Simpsons House is a good set too, it’s just not as good because the minifigure inclusions are not great. It is not clear that stockpiling significant quantities of either set is prudent, but both are probably worth owning based on the quality of the models and strength of the license. There is definite longer-term investment potential in this theme.