Nearly a year ago, I received a building model set made by JMBricklayer, which was a new company. Since that time I have built many of their building sets which have included a pirate ship, a dinosaur, buildings, siege weapons, a submarine, an astronaut, a chameleon, and even plants and flowers. It seems each month the company releases new models in a variety of themes. I recently had the opportunity to build one of their more unique sets: The Puppet Show.
The Puppet Show building set comes with 1900 plastic building pieces which can be assembled into a 13 inch puppet of Pinocchio complete with a detailed stand on which to display it. It even comes with a light brick that illuminates part of the display stand. The set is suggested for builders ages 14 years and up and is made by JMBricklayer.
It is currently available directly from JMBricklayer as well as the JMBricklayer store on Amazon. The Puppet Show normally sells for $109.99, but the company has provided a special coupon code for GeekDad and GeekMom readers. Use code VIPMHALE15 on Amazon for one month for 15% off the non-discounted price of The Puppet Show for one month. That drops the price to only $93. You can also use code VIPGEEK15 to save 15% on all non-discounted items at the JMBricklayer site until the end of 2023.
I have always appreciated how JMBricklayer organizes the pieces of its sets into many smaller numbered bags. The full-color instruction manual for The Puppet Show is divided into similar numbered sections so you can only open the bags you need for that part of the build. The instruction manual is easy to follow. Each step lists the parts needed for that step and then shows where those new pieces go with the pieces for the step illustrated in color while the color for the rest of the build is faded out. This helps builders focus on where to attach the new pieces. I also like that some steps have an illustration of a part to scale to builders can actually place the piece right on the manual to ensure they have the right size piece. This is great for pieces that don’t have studs to count.
The Puppet Show has a lot of small pieces and can be a bit of a challenge to build at some points. The instructions divide the build into five parts. The first two parts are building the display stand while the final three steps are for building the Pinocchio puppet. The stand is fairly straightforward to build and probably one of my favorite parts of the set. I am very impressed with the detail of the display. The front looks like Geppetto’s workbench with a large chest which supports the puppet. However, on the desk are a pocket watch, a cuckoo clock, a couple books, one of which is opened, a candle, and even an ink bottle with two brushes. However, if you turn the display stand around, you find a drawer which opens as well as discover that the interior of the chest is actually a miniature stage with a scene of Geppetto’s workshop. A light brick is placed at the top behind curtains and can be turned on to illuminate the little scene.
Building Pinocchio is a bit more challenging. While the body is not difficult, it does have some interesting building techniques in its design. The head also has a unique structure with studs pointing in five different directions! Since it has many small pieces, it is important for the builder to pay close attention to the steps. Luckily, the instructions for the entire model are divided into over 400 individual steps so that for most steps, you are only adding 3-6 pieces. When you do add more, they are often several of the same type of pieces. I like how both the head and body use blue and red bricks in their interiors to help designate the right and left sides of the model’s infrastructure. Just has the display stand features a lot of detail, so does Pinocchio. The puppet has only a handful of visible studs, and some of those are for the details of the hair. In fact, the design of the hair on the head is pretty cool since it has curls and waves which don’t make it look like real hair, but the carvings of a wooden head to look like hair. There are also two sizes of nose pieces so the builder can decide whether the puppet has been honest or not. While the puppet is made to attach to the display stand, there is also pieces and string included to make a cross brace. However, this is just for looks and does not actually let you control Pinocchio like a puppet.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had the opportunity to build several sets by JMBricklayer. Some of them I have built by myself. Others I have worked on with my children. I built the puppet show all by myself over the course of several evenings. I find building these types of models relaxing and a great way to decompress after a busy day. It also helps maintain hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. I prefer building these types of models as compared to putting together puzzle pieces. The suggested age of 14 and up is appropriate for this set since there are lots of little pieces and details. I think that The Puppet Show is one of my favorite sets so far. I really like the detail and how great the finished model looks. Plus it was fun to build and exposed me to some creative ways to assemble bricks together. In fact, there were several steps where I was thinking “I would have never thought of doing it that way.” Maybe this was because I grew up building LEGOs decades ago when studs were always facing up except in rare circumstances.
I have always been impressed by the quality of all of the JMBricklayer sets I have built and like that their prices are lower than comparable products by the big name brands. The company is constantly coming out with new sets from a variety of themes, so there is something for everyone. JMBricklyer also has a following on social media with builders posting their creations on their Facebook Group. This group offers monthly contests and discounts to followers so be sure to check it out. Members share their builds and tips for JMBricklayer sets as well as products from other companies. I enjoy seeing what other builders are doing and have learned some great methods for tricky assemblies from their discussions.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a sample of this item for review purposes.