The Kwik E Mart set is currently a LEGO.com exclusive with free postage, and is released to allcomers in a couple of weeks, LEGO VIP cardholders can buy it now. If you buy it elsewhere you are likely to pay extra for no gain. It's a tougher build with a recommended 12+ age range, and a massive 2179 pieces. This is a big build for your £169.99.
Inside the box we have the 'big book' format instructions, (although not as big as the book for the Sea Cow), 2 full sheets of stickers, 16 numbered bags and 11 grey base plates.
The bags numbered 1 hold Chief Wiggum, Snake and the Police Car. The car is in the same style as the Simpsons family car, and can sit two minifigures in the front, plus space for a rear passenger (or convict) in the back behind the security grill. It has an opening boot and front doors.
The roof does not come off as cleanly as the Simpson's family car, but actually that's fine because it's more stable. You do need to remove the roof to put passengers in the back though.
The minifigures are strewn throughout the build, with none in the same bag as another. As well as Snake and Chief Wiggum we have Apu of course, plus Homer, Marge and Bart. I love the faces on these, they're my favourite so far and I think that they really capture the characters.
Then we get on to the real Kwik-E-Mart itself. One of the things I noticed instantly is that LEGO do not want you to get bored building huge yellow walls one after the other. In fact the build is a real to and fro between the building and the interior features. It is never boring or repetitive, and it means that almost every bag contains special elements, printed bricks and treasure.
The Kwik-E-Mart has an immense footprint. It takes up a larger area than I had expected and actually matches the Simpson's House for size really well.
The shop-fittings and stock are brilliant. There is everything you can think of that was ever in the Kwik-E-Mart, coffee and Buzz Cola machines, a lottery machine, video games, heat lamp dogs, donuts and cash machine.
A lot of time has been spent thinking through the different machines and fittings, and it really makes a difference. They're excellent. The 3-part giant Squishee on top of the Squishee machine is the thing that draws your eye, but the actual construction of the machine is incredibly clever.
The construction of the display gondolas (yep, I've worked in a supermarket, I know the technical term) is really effective. They are easily removed and really sturdy, and can store and display loads of goods. And loads of goods there are. So many printed bricks and rarer elements, it's like Christmas.
The walls of the Kwik-E-Mart are lined with a bank of fridges, more fridges, and all of the space in the shop is filled with an amazing array of goods. I doubt I'll ever hold this many printed bricks in my hand at once again...
There is even a frozen Jasper in the fridge...
Outside there's just as much attention to the little details that make it special. The telephone booths and the dumpster with it's shed are brilliantly designed to give maximum effect with minimal fuss - and nice use of the little skateboard wheels so that the dumpster can actually be pulled.
Just like the Simpson's House which we reviewed last year this is a build that is perfect for play. The Kwik-E-Mart opens right out, and my two little boys can both get in there to destroy my beautiful shop together.
The Kwik-E-Mart roof covers a couple of secrets below (and a hidden skeleton in our case) and still leaves enough room for play. It also houses Apu's secret roof garden. I'm not so impressed with the gardeniness, but the sky lights and fan are gorgeous!
A final word goes to the shop frontage. It's really nicely done (although sliding doors would have been good). The brick built E of the Kwik-E-Mart was a joy to make, and the way the sign works makes it stable with a great shape (which I cut off in this photo for reasons unknown...)...
We love this set. It will get as much play as the Simpson's House, which is now covered in sticky fingerprints and missing several chair legs and a door. It's a fabulous set for the money, with great and ingenius design features, a ridiculously huge amount of shop stock, something new to see each time you look at it, and frankly, it's a set I've wanted since I was about 6.
Apu's Kwik-E-Mart is available to LEGO VIP's now (and to everyone else any second) for £169.99 with free delivery - don't spend more buying elsewhere. Becoming a LEGO VIP involves signing up for a VIP number and email updates, it takes two minutes and gives you access to exclusive sets earlier than everyone else, as well as giving you points which you can save up towards FREE LEGO - find out more here...
All of my other LEGO reviews can be found on my LEGO page, including our two-part LEGO Simpson's House review, and our Simpson's Minifigures Series 1 review, and our Simpson's Minifigures Series 2 review (series 2 are available from 1st May).
We bought this one ourselves!